Tag Archives: fiction writing course

NaNo ready … (*** list alert ***)

NaNo-2015-Participant-Badge-Large-SquareSo, much of the past few weeks has been NaNo prep work.

Yesterday, I added a few extra guidelines to my plot and now I think I have enough to be going on with. I’ve left later chapters/scenes/days’ work a little vague but I’m hoping that, as the story progresses, some of those parts may write themselves. I also tweaked the sidebar a little – did you notice?

The diary has been completed for the first week, and “NaNoWriMo” features at 11am every day for 2 hours. Every day.

I’m not setting an additional word-count target for other work as I really, really want to do this this time. Anything extra will, therefore, be a bonus. Had I included the usual 1,000 words per day, then my target for November would have been 71,000 words, which once I’d calculated had the complete opposite effect to motivation.

Here, then, is how next week looks:

Saturday

  • NaNoWriMo kick-off party Leeds (apologies and good wishes sent)
  • collect Dad from Brum
  • Monkey Dust fancy dress Halloween gig

Sunday

  • NaNoWriMo 2015 begins
  • 11am – 1pm: NaNoWriMo

Monday

  • 8:30am: housework
  • 9am: BREAKFAST
  • 9:30am: gig list admin
  • 10am: daily competitions
  • 11am: NaNoWriMo
  • 1pm: DINNER
  • 2pm: blog
  • 3pm: client editing
  • 5pm: housework
  • 5:30pm TEA
  • 6pm: take Dad home

Tuesday

  • 8:30am: housework
  • 9am: BREAKFAST
  • 9:30am: daily competitions
  • 10am: pro-bono work
  • 11am: NaNoWriMo
  • 1pm: DINNER
  • 2pm: study work (aka EXTRA writing time)
  • 3pm: client editing
  • 5pm: housework (inc take bins out)
  • 5:30pm TEA

Wednesday

  • 8:30am: housework
  • 9am: BREAKFAST
  • 9:30am: daily competitions
  • 10am: blog (diary of a freelance writer)
    • + renew car insurance
  • 11am: NaNoWriMo
  • 1pm: DINNER
  • 2pm: study work (aka EXTRA writing time)
  • 3pm: client editing
  • 5pm: housework (inc bring bins in)
  • 5:30pm TEA

Thursday

  • 8:30am: housework
  • 9am: BREAKFAST
  • 9:30am: daily competitions
  • 10am: diary work
  • 10:30am: gig list admin
  • 11am: NaNoWriMo
  • 1pm: DINNER
  • 2pm: pro-bono work
  • 3pm: client editing
  • 5pm: housework
  • 5:30pm TEA

Friday

  • 8am: Tom the Gas coming to drain down/overhaul hot water/central heating systems
  • 8:30am: housework
  • 9am: BREAKFAST
  • 9:30am: daily competitions
  • 10am: blog
  • 11am: NaNoWriMo
  • 1pm: DINNER
  • 2pm: client editing
  • 4pm: invoices, admin, pc mtce
  • 5pm: housework
  • 5:30pm TEA

I know this looks a bit too structured for some, but for me it works, and it keeps me on the straight and narrow with less procrastination and lots of ticks. Often a specific job doesn’t take up the entire allocated time slot, so then I either chill by playing a game or surfing the internet, if it’s been a heavy job, or I start the next one early.

Sometimes a job takes longer than planned or something unexpected happens. For example, we’re on standby to go and collect the poet’s car any day, which will mean shifting things around. So the diary is always written in pencil as it looks much nicer with things rubbed out and replaced rather than lots of ink crossings-out and hatchings.

How does your working week look? Today I have one editing job to finish and another one to start. I’m also awaiting a delivery.

As you can see, we have another busy weekend planned, and we’re still only down to one car. It’s the gig buddy’s birthday this week (yesterday) and we’re hoping they’re coming to tomorrow’s gig. We’ll be picking them up on the way if there’s just the 2 of them and Dad will be pet-sitting so we don’t have to worry about dashing back.

It’s a busy month ahead for me. Good luck to everyone else reading this who’s also doing NaNoWriMo this year.

Diary of a freelance writer, 30 September 2015

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Where does this go? What do you find? (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I managed to come in on my regular Wednesday this week. That must bode well.

How did your week go? Did you try those 10-minute exercises? Or the extra homework on Friday? Much of my week has been hidden beneath a mountain of other work again, but I think I’ve kickstarted myself again.

Thursday
Last Thursday I resumed the heavy edit I’d abandoned for the heavy proofread. I started the electronic edits, but it really is proving quite tedious and tiring.

My day was also disrupted by (a) a running overflow, and (b) waiting in for and then entertaining the plumber. The only writing work I managed was the diary of a freelance writer. Oh, and a few notes.

Friday
I managed a little writing work on Friday, general stuff, nothing huge. I continued with a little more of the heavy edit and I raised one of the 2 invoices (hurrah!).

There was some thinking time too on Friday, and a bit of a Eureka! moment.

Last month, when I started my think/query/write/submit process, I got fixated on thinking April 2016 pieces and then querying them too. And when I didn’t receive a full set of replies, I started to consider chasing them. However, it hit me than that I only needed to be thinking April. Had the routine already been in place, I would also be querying March, writing February and submitting January. It was too early to be querying April too.

So, this month, that means that while I would normally be thinking May, querying April, writing March and submitting February, what I really should be doing, as it’s only the start, is thinking May and querying April. Had I already done the other work, then I’d be writing and submitting too.

Still with me? Cool.

Basically it means I can stop beating myself up about the April stuff. I can query 3 new magazines this month, with 3 new ideas, and stick to just thinking about May.

Weekend
Due to a 2-gig weekend, much of the rest of the time was dedicated to domestic stuff rather than extra writing work. On Saturday I managed more notes, more “5 ideas for 7 days”. But generally, we were busy doing other things.

Monday
On Monday I hoped to be back in the saddle, but after writing the blog for the day, the rest of the day just went downhill. I wasted good writing time waiting in for a delivery that never arrived. I wasted more good writing time writing emails, Facebook posts, Tweets and making phone calls. And I wasted good editing time going out to buy the goods that never arrived from somewhere else instead.

I managed a second blog, although it was quite the rant. But it did push the word count up a little for the day.

I chased the plumber. He should be arranging a day to come and do the work, which will mean more disruption.

Tuesday
Tuesday was better. Much better. I joined in a current WiP meme on Facebook that got me back in touch with CATCH THE RAINBOW. I wrote a further “5 ideas for 7 days” plus an extra 5 too for good measure (so I have a choice, and so I have some throwaways). And I wrote 2 brand new scenes for CATCH THE RAINBOW.

I also checked the current requirements for one of my favourite short story markets, and as they’re working on January/February at the moment, I looked for a few vague February-related topics I might be able to weave a story around.

I completed module 9 of my fiction writing course and am now ready to tackle the next assignment. I had to study modules 5 – 9 for this assignment, but I see from the next assignment that I have to go back and study modules 4 – 9 again.

And then I continued with the heavy edit. I need to get that one shifted and invoiced so I can start the next one. It’s boring me now and that’s never good.

Homework
Your homework for this week, should you wish to join in:

  1. Look at the photograph above. Imagine yourself following that path. Where does it take you? What do you find? Who is down there? Write a short story based on your findings.
  2. Start preparing for your think/query/write/submit tasks this coming month. They’re going to be (in order) May/April/March/February.

Diary of a freelance writer, 24 September 2015

10 minutesSorry this is a day late this week. I had an inadvertent day off. You’ll notice a repeat picture too, more on that further down.

How did you get on with your homework last week? I got a bit busy again with a couple of heavy edits/proofreads, so didn’t do as much as I’d like on my own work.

Wednesday
On Wednesday I started a new book on writing short stories. It’s another Teach Yourself book that I saw while I was writing last week’s diary, and I thought I had it somewhere already … and there it was, unread, on my bookshelf in the study.

When I usually read these books, I tend to do the exercises as I go along, but then I run out of time or motivation, or something else comes up, and I abandon them. So I decided to read this short stories book all the way through, and then go back and do the exercises – just like it suggests in the opening. And I’m getting through it a lot quicker.

I also managed an hour of study, and completed module 8 of my fiction writing course. Just one more module to go and I can start the next assignment.

Thursday
Thursday I instigated some credit control and chased a payment I was waiting for. My due date was 28 August, but as it was a new client, I thought I’d give them chance to set me up as a new account before complaining too loudly.

I read more of the book on writing short stories, and I also started to read the book on writing young adult fiction in much the same way, and I’m getting through both much quicker than normal, but still utilising things that I’m learning. For example, the young adult book suggested writing just 5 ideas for stories each day for 7 days, and I did start to do that on Thursday.

Friday
Errands day is back to Fridays again, and this time I had one errand in the morning, one in the middle of the day, and another at the end of the day. But the end of the day brought itself forward to the middle of the day and I had to abandon my original middle of the day errand – I do usually lump them all together, honest.

In between errands I wrote another 5 ideas for short stories, and I read more of my 2 writing books.

Hmm.  I don’t actually seem to be doing much writing – but these days were all filled with a heavy proofread.

Weekend
On Saturday, we had personal errands to run and the poet had a gig Saturday evening. But I still wrote out 5 ideas.

On Sunday he was fishing in a match, and I had hoped to get a lot more work done then. I managed lots more reading, and there are lots of things percolating away in the background now. I even started to think about NaNoWriMo, and there’s another whole month before that starts but I may use October as planning and prep time.

I didn’t do any ideas on Sunday. I need to carry on with that soon. I’ll have a 10-minute blast later … (see below)

Monday
On Monday I had another heavy edit to carry on with, and a follow-up new patient check at the doctors.  I also chased that overdue payment again, and finally got to speak with someone. Another overdue account was finally settled, but it was much, much smaller than this one. It was also much, much more overdue – about 6 weeks overdue. Tut tut.

Tuesday
The errand that got postponed on Friday was delivering the heavy proofreading job I’d just finished. I had hoped to drop it in another time, but by the end of Tuesday, I decided it would be easier to just post it special delivery. They should have had it back by 1pm the following day.

I read a bit more, but I also carried on with that other heavy edit. I need to be more disciplined with my own work again.

Wednesday
The overdue payment I’ve been chasing finally hit my bank account today. That’s good. It meant I didn’t have to set the business manager onto them! 😉 It was a biggie, though, and I’ve been waiting for it for a long time. So when it finally arrived, I had a lot to go out and buy. That’s why I had an inadvertent day off yesterday. I didn’t expect it to take ALL DAY. But it pretty much did. It felt good, though.

Ten minute blasts
WRITE A NOVEL IN TEN MINUTES A DAY is a book I promised myself as soon as the next person paid me. So once that first payment came in on Monday, that’s what I did. It’s a good book (so far), but not so much about “write a novel in ten minutes a day”, more “write a novel in ten-minute bursts, at least once a day if you can”.

Now then, I’ve always been an advocate of 10-minute writing sprints, or 10-minute proofreading sprints, or 10-minute editing sprints. I used to use the kitchen timer, but then I downloaded the clockwork tomato app for my phone, which you can tailor to suit your preferences. (The i-phone will no doubt have an equivalent.) But I’ve never used it to do 10-minute housework sprints.

The author, Katharine Grubb, claims that she can empty and refill a dishwasher in just 10 minutes, or she can put a washload on or make a bed.

So this morning, I timed some of my own household chores. In my first 10 minutes, I was able to empty the dishwasher and put everything away, but because I filled it and started it last thing last night, there wasn’t much to put in there just yet. So I looked around for something else to fill my 10 minutes. I also put a washload on, filled the washing up bowl with a couple of things that can’t go in the dishwasher, cleared up the paraphernalia left behind by the poet whenever he gets up to go to work, distributed 3 loo rolls to the downstairs toilet, and made my breakfast – okay, cereal and fruit juice, but even so …

Then, when I’d had my breakfast, I had another 10 minutes. This time I distributed the remaining 6 loo rolls between the other 2 loos, upstairs, made the bed, fed 3 pets, topped up the bird feeders, and I got dressed.

I usually have half an hour in the morning and half an hour at the end of the day to do housework (the end of the day is good for fetching washing back in or bringing back the dustbins). But if I can sneak in just 6 x 10-minute sessions to my normal working day, that might give me a whole extra hour slot in which to schedule some work. And if I can apply it to work and to Facebook/Email time too, I may see an increase in production.

As ever, I’ll keep you informed.

Homework
Here is your homework for this week:

  1. Does anyone owe you any money? Chase them for it now. Start with an email and be prepared to follow it with a phone call if you get no joy. Know that you can threaten bad payers with the small claims court, and that you can legally charge both interest and admin fees on late payments.
  2. Have you tried writing – or anything – in 10-minute bursts? I call it a 10-minute writing sprint. Using the timer on your phone, or a kitchen timer, or download an app, do it now. Write free for just 10 minutes and see what happens.
  3. What else can you do in 10 minutes? Time yourself doing chores or job-related work and see how much you can achieve in just 10 minutes.
  4. Oh yeah, and do a bit more writing than I managed this past week …

Don’t forget to let us know how you get on.

Diary of a freelance writer, 16 September 2015

young adults10 minutesHow did your homework go last week? Did you join in and send anything off? Aside from the first acknowledgement I received, I’ve not heard anything about mine. I might schedule in a chase session next week.

There are 2 books featured in today’s diary, GET STARTED IN WRITING YOUNG ADULT FICTION by Juliet Mushens, and WRITE A NOVEL IN TEN MINUTES A DAY by Katharine Grubb. Both are available from Teach Yourself Books. (The TYB link is to the creative writing section, but there are loads of other departments too in this series.)

I’ve already started the young adult book, but I’ve not even bought the 10 minutes a day book yet, although it is on my wishlist … and the more I read about it, the more tempted I am. I love good writing books, and I love good time management books too. If anyone has it and has read it, I’d appreciate your opinions. 

Wednesday
On Wednesday I wrote the second instalment of my freelance writing diary. I also had a recall from an editing client, where the client’s client wanted 3 spaces at the start of each paragraph. Every. Single. Paragraph. And they had to be physical spaces too. I couldn’t set an auto-indent throughout. They’d asked for a very quick, very light edit … but they got considerably more. So I’ll be thinking more carefully next time they approach me with work.

Thursday
I had the day off on Thursday due to a series of appointments arranged throughout the day. In between time, though, I did start a heavy edit I should have started the day before.

Friday
The heavy edit took up most of Friday, so I didn’t get time to do any writing or admin work. I didn’t manage a blog post either.

Weekend
We didn’t have any research trips arranged for the weekend. Instead we had to do shopping stuff, band stuff, and family stuff.

Monday
On Monday morning I received an email from one of my overseas markets itemising what they’re planning for their November issue – wow, a 6-week lead time. As it happened, I had a short story reprint I thought might fit their brief. So I checked it through, repackaged it and sent it off. Almost by return.

I finished the heavy edit on the hard copy client book I’d started. I was so busy with that, though, that I didn’t have time to write a blog post for the weekend.

Tuesday
I needed a rest from the book I’d just edited, before starting the electronic edits, so I started what I thought would be an easy proofread. However, it’s actually a heavy proofread and is taking longer than I thought. If I get it done today (Wednesday), then I’ll drop it in overnight. Otherwise they may get it Thursday night or Friday morning, when I have more errands booked.

I managed a blog post on Tuesday, started to read the young adult writing book and did a few of the exercises, and I managed to study a module of my fiction writing course.

Homework
Your homework for this week:

  • If you have WRITE A NOVEL IN TEN MINUTES A DAY, let me know what you think of it.
  • If there’s anything you didn’t manage to complete last week, do it this week. But make sure it is done this week.
  • If you’ve already had responses to queries sent last week, start to schedule the work in – research and writing.
  • If, like me, you’re waiting for responses, is there something else you can be getting on with? A longer piece of work or something that’s been nagging at the back of your mind?
  • If you don’t have anything to do this week, read a writing book with exercises and do the exercises, or research writing books to buy or writing courses to study.
  • Let us know how you get on.

Do diddle weekend

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Duck enjoying the rain at Baddesley Clinton. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We didn’t do a lot at the weekend in the end. The weather forecast was a bit mixed so we couldn’t really plan anything ahead.

On Saturday, we did nip out to collect a regular prescription, get some fish bait in case he decided to go fishing, and buy our first holiday clothes and a beach towel each. Then he spent the rest of the afternoon prepping while I spent it reading.

On Sunday he decided not to go fishing in the end, so the bait is saved for later in the week. We went to the farmers’ market at Wentworth, but it had already blown away in the gales by the time we got there. So we went, instead, around the garden centre and bought a few exciting things … watering can, weed killer, path clear … And on the way home we visited his parents.

So, pretty much a do-diddle weekend. We got up, thought about what we wanted to do (or not) and then did it.

This week I have one big editing job to get on with and another smaller one to start if the big one is finished. I’ve already fielded some invitations to pitch for work, and accepted just one, but with more than 2 weeks holiday looming, I’m now telling folk I’m available for work from w/c 18 May.

I’ll also be doing more work on CATCH THE RAINBOW and I’ll be studying my next module on the fiction writing course.

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