Tag Archives: author

The Writing Day (of mice and men)

 

 

Planning is the essence of successful writing. I learned the excellent skills of timetabling at university. Here is my plan for a typical writing day.

8.00 Breakfast in bed while writing notes for next chapter of novel.

9.00 Get up and take dog for walk

9.30 Go to workroom and begin writing next chapter (by hand).

11.00 Coffee

11.15 Continue writing

12.00 tidy house and make lunch

12.30 Lunch break

1.30 check emails then edit morning’s work onto laptop.

3.30 take dog for walk

4.00 coffee and craft work

6.00 Social media networking with other writers and writing groups

7.00 supper

8.00 family time, TV etc.

10.00 notes and timetables for next day

10.30 reading in bed

What really happens

8.30 Wake up late, start reading book I fell asleep over the night before, grab a cup of tea and a banana. Get immersed in final chapters of book and abandon notetaking.

9.30. Take dog for walk

10.00 Write rushed notes and settle down to writing the chapter

10.30 Distraught friend calls to discuss her partner’s latest infidelities.

10.45. Friend rings off, pick up pen.

10.47. Son rings to ask for lift to work

11.35 Arrive home desperate for coffee. Sit in garden to avoid phone and write in peace. Can’t settle due to very irritating weeds growing in the flowerbeds. Forced to go and pull them all up.

12.15 Partner arrives home for lunch. House is a tip. No food ready. Rush in kitchen and throw two sandwiches together.

12.30 Stare at Bargain Hunt and Lunchtime news while obsessing about not having written anything.

2.00 Decide to tidy house before starting to write. After all, who can concentrate in the middle of a clutter?

3.00  Check emails, send a few tweets and just have a quick peek at Facebook

4.00  Dog crying to go for  a walk. Useful time spent thinking about next chapter. Dog rolls in horsemuck and falls in mudhole while I am daydreaming.

4.30 Bath dog and clean bathroom

5.00 Sit down for coffee. Good film on TV so get out my patchwork, after all this is a time for back brain thinking – I will reap the creative benefits later.

7.30 Shove a pizza in the oven and throw a salad together. Guilty feelings about not writing, less guilty feelings about neglecting partner.

8.00 Daughter rings to talk about her new job

8.30 Go to workroom and try to write.

8.45 Partner comes to ask if I want a cup of tea.

9.00 Partner comes to ask if I am coming to watch a good programme on telly.

10.30 Partner comes to say he is going to bed. Reluctantly get up and get ready for bed.

11.00 Scribbling furiously in bed, nearing 1500 words.

11.15. Partner asks why I am always writing. Turns out the light and hands me a torch.

Time to write?

‘I’d love to write a book, if only I had the time,’ I wish I had a pound for every time  someone has said that to me. I think it’s one of the most insulting things you can say to a writer. it implies that writing is a time-wasting activity of little importance, indulged in by those who neglect the duties of life for their own self-indulgence.

The  opposite is usually true, most writers fill in writing around career or day job and family responsibilities. Even if writers make a living they work as hard if not harder than many people in traditional jobs. There is no switching off at five o’clock , weekends or on holidays and who else carries a notebook at all times, ears flapping and eyes on stalks for the next original idea?

Actual writing is only a small, if the best, part of the job. There are the endless revisions, the critique groups to attend, the process of self-publishing or working with agent and publisher and increasingly nowadays writers must constantly promote themselves by attending literary events and readings, preparing and running writing workshops and courses and maintaining a plethora of social media profiles.

Finding time to actually write can be so difficult. One writer told me she wrote for ten minutes in the toilet each morning as this was the only place she could find privacy from her large family.  I can’t help wondering how she managed to access creative thinking in such a short space of time. Even if you do have space and time to write, self-discipline can be a major problem, there are always a million things you suddenly need to do before you can actually get down to putting pen to paper. The time you spend prevaricating however is not wasted, it is usually the first step in getting your unconscious to work on the piece of writing ahead of you.

Dedicated writers often have a separate office or garden room to separate home and working life but only those making a good living can afford this. Timetabling set periods for writing can be very useful, hopefully more than ten minutes at once. I find I need thinking time to recap what went before and preview what is coming next. I work well first thing in the morning before getting up. An hour with a cup of tea to start never fails to produce results. During the day there are too many distractions so I confine myself to research or typing up and editing work already handwritten. I always take my writing with me when I go out and generally wangle a coffee in a cafe  somewhere along the line. 30-40 minutes with a large latte will usually produce upwards of 1000 words. Funnily ambient noise doesn’t bother me, yet the slightest sound at home will drive me insane.

I’m a fast writer once I get started but tend to spend quite a lot of time in reverie playing out scenes in my head and I do spend time planning out a scene or chapter loosely before getting down to it.

So this is how I find time to write. I do believe writing is a compulsion and those of us who must write will find the time to do so somehow. This is why we are writers while others just wish they had the time. But, I wonder can you write too much? That’s a subject for a whole new blogpost.

Running a giveaway competition

I just tried out another self-publishing experiment – the giveaway competition. This was organised through my publisher Feedaread. You post an extract which people are invited to read and then complete an entry form to win a free copy so it is very simple for people to do. You have to pay the cost of the prizes and postage and you choose how many copies you want to offer as prizes.I chose to run the competition for my new short story collection, Plotlands. I did quite a bit of social media advertising of the competition  over a few weeks as the entry period runs for a month. Problem is to reach people without boring them to death with constant bombardment so I tried to stagger posts/tweets etc between different media over time.I was interested to see that each time I posted something, entries resulted, though there wasn’t a huge number of entrants. I also got more views on the page I had created on Facebook specifically for the book and even a few purchases, though whether that was due to the competition or just due to word of mouth/responses to reviews buyers, I don’t know. I enjoyed monitoring the competition and finding out who had won, funnily enough it was won by someone I  know, so it was a good job I had nothing to do with the selection, which was done by Feedaread. So although I didn’t get a mega response it was a fun experience and made me feel more connected with potential readers. I’d definitely do it again and am planning to run a comp for my other short story collection in the near future.

Marketing, marketing

Well, it’s now several months since my first venture into self-publishing with  my short story collection Triple Death. Has it been worth it? Most of the copies sold so far have been print copies I have sold at writing venues and by word of mouth and to be honest, all the internet campaigns and online marketing I’ve done have not had much influence on online sales. I haven’t really gone down the path of paying for marketing agencies to promote my book. In comparison with my previous traditionally published book, I’ve actually made about the same amount of money because the royalty on the self-published book is much higher. And maybe because this book is a short story collection rather than a genre novel, it is less visible in the online marketplace.

I’ve also been told that it takes time to build up an online presence in the market and that when you have several books out, you are more likely to build up a following. I don’t know if this is true but time will tell. I have just published a second short story collection Plotlands which has sold out its first print order in two days. I plan to release a novel in the spring of 2017 but meanwhile Triple Death is available on kindle countdown for the next 24 hours at just 99p before reverting to its original price of £2.39.img336quarter

Who Needs an Agent?

It’s about six weeks now since I parted company with my agent. My original agent left for another agency and didn’t take me with her as she hadn’t managed to sell my work. Despite several near misses, I got the impression that my books didn’t quite fit the mass market appeal that agents and publishers are looking for.

Obviously agents are only going to deal with fairly large scale publishing houses and because I was under contract to the agency, I couldn’t submit to anyone else. All that’s changed now as once set free, I plunged into a frenzy of submissions which has already resulted in two short story acceptances and a shortlisted entry for a competition  http://www.ouenpress.com/9.html. The novels have gone out to a variety of smaller publishers so I’ve got my fingers crossed there.

However, I do miss my agent, mainly for her unwavering support in the face of rejections. Her constant encouragement and belief in my writing kept  me going when I felt like throwing in the towel. She also put in a good deal of unpaid work reading and suggesting edits to my manuscripts and I learned a good deal about tailoring my work during the time I was with her.

So, even though I’m enjoying the freedom at the moment, especially being able to write whatever I like in whatever genre and offer it to a variety of publishers without being typecast, I think I may eventually look for another agent. I’m hoping to find joint representation for an autobiography I’m currently ghostwriting and once that’s finished I’ll be taking stock and deciding which road to take next – maybe even dipping a toe into self-publishing waters though that’s something I’ve been afraid to tackle so far.