Saturday, 23 January 2016

7 Quick Tips for Achieving Your Writing Goals

In my previous post on Planning, I showed you how I use my Filofax planner to plan my goals.  However, knowing what your goals are and actually achieving them are two very different things.  Here's 7 quick tips to help you achieve your writing goals:

Set Goals  

What do you want to achieve this year?  Write it down and then break it down into smaller tasks.  If your goal is to complete your novel by the end of the year, work out what your word count needs to be every day, week and month.  Write these deadlines down into your planner.  Factor in time for editing, beta-reading and add an extra 10% for when life gets in the way.

Be Committed

Dedicate yourself to your goals.  See yourself achieving your goals.  Don't leave anything to chance.  Make steps towards your goals every day, no matter how small.

Stay Motivated  

Find out what motivates you and do it often.  Don't wait for the muse to turn up - drag him to your writing space every day, kicking and screaming.


Be Proactive

It's no use thinking about your goals, and planning them if you don't take action. You are the only person who can achieve your goals, so make a plan and then stick to it.  Take charge of every area of your life and guard your writing time with a blood-stained sword.

Be Productive  

Work out what time of day you do your best writing, then use any techniques necessary to get the job done before you stop.  If your daily word count target is 500 words, don't leave your computer/notebook until those words are down.  The Pomodoro Technique works for me.  Set a timer for 10/15/25 minutes and focus solely on your writing until the timer runs out.  Have a 5/10 minute break then go again.


Keep Track  

Regularly review your goals - at the end of every month works best for me.  Take a look at what steps you have completed and what you didn't complete.  Why did you do well/not so well?  How can you do better next month?

Don't be Discouraged  

If life gets in the way, like it has a tendency to do - don't despair.  Just re-evaluate your goals and plan forward accordingly.  After all, they are your goals!  If you have to extend your deadline by a few weeks, it's not the end of the world.  What's important is that you stick with it and Never Give Up.


If you sign up for my Monthly Newsletter here, you will receive a FREE Monthly Planning PDF in your inbox within 24 hours. 

Happy Planning!

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Wednesday, 20 January 2016

A Planning Addict 2 - Filofax

In my previous Planning Addict post, I shared with you how I plan my day using the Mslexia diary.  I'm a mum, full-time writer and run an event management business, so I have to plan my time carefully in order for anything to get done.

My Filofax is an A5 Finsbury in Aqua, and I absolutely adore it.  It's one of my best buys of the past five years.  I use it as my goal and progress tracker, as well as a monthly calendar and review space.

I'm a firm believer in setting goals in order to progress, and I do this for my personal life, my business and my writing career.  I'm using some inserts from Passion Planner and if you post or link their site, you can download the inserts for free here.


I've set my Filofax up into the following sections:

  • Goals and Targets
  • Monthly View and Review
  • Blog and You Tube Schedules
  • To Do's and Day Planner Sheets
I like to decorate my planner so it has a pleasing aesthetic - I do have to look at it every day - but I'm not keen on over-decorating.  I find that if it's too overly decorated, I don't see what I need to see.  It has to be functional.  You can have the most beautifully decorated planner, but if it doesn't do what it is supposed to do, it's just procrastination.

Most of the stickers you can see in my planner are downloaded from Jessica Brown at My Planner Envy and then printed onto sticker sheets.  The gold project life cards are from Becky Higgins.  If, like me you are in the UK, you can buy these on Amazon.

I love seeing the insides of other people's planners and finding out how other people plan their life and goals, so please get in touch if you want to share yours!

Keep an eye out for the Vlog versions of the Planning Addict posts, where I'll take you through my planning process and give you an in-depth look into my planners - I'll add the links once I've finished filming.

Happy planning!

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

A Planning Addict - The Mslexia Diary


I've been a massive planning addict for a while now.  My first planner was an A5 Filofax Finsbury in teal.  It's a monster of a planner, but I loved that I could fit everything in one place when out and about.
Now that I work from home, I don't need to carry large amounts of information around with me, so I have swapped to a smaller planner.

My new planner of choice is the Mslexia diary.  For those who don't know, Mslexia is a writing magazine for women writers and I have been a subscriber for a good few years.  I've used their diary for the past three years' now, but up until this year, I've always used it as an extension to my main planner.

Before I go into the pro's and con's of the Mslexia diary, let's just go over the benefits of planning.  I'm a full-time writer with two girl's under the age of five, so I have to be super organised.  Having a planner and utilising it properly is essential to me if I want to get things done, on time.  Whether it's reminders for school events, bill payments due or a writing deadline, planning my day helps me to focus on what needs to be done.

The Mslexia diary is specifically made for writers and has many features to help make a writer's life easier, but it can be utilised by anyone.  It's the perfect size to fit into your handbag or a large coat pocket, but also gives you plenty of room to write inside.  Each page is set up with a week on one side and a blank page for notes on the other.

I like to plan my days in more depth, so I use Pinterest to search for handy little print-outs I can paperclip to the pages to give me more space to plan.  You can see an example of this in the images below.




As well as the usual features like a contacts section and information page, the Mslexia diary also features plenty of blank pages for scribbles, a period tracker for women (which can be used to track pretty much anything, in case you are of the male gender), writing exercises and loads of information for writers,  I can't recommend this diary enough.  You can purchase one from the Mslexia website for £15.99 or £13.99 if you are a subscriber.

Look out for my blog post 'How to make the most of a small planner', coming soon, where I will share my tips and tricks for getting the most out of a small planner, and my vlog version of this post where you will be able to see the Mslexia diary and my planning methods in more detail.

Please let me know if you have any planning tips or recommendations you would like to share.

Switching Genre

I'm closing in on the halfway mark of my current wip and the writing, so far, is going surprisingly well.  I wanted to explore that.  Why is the writing process much easier this time around?  Why am I enjoying it more than usual?

The answer is that I am writing what I enjoy reading.  My first book was in the women's fiction genre.  It wasn't my best piece of work.  I had only written short stories previously and all of them had been in the crime/thriller or horror genre.

So why did I turn to women's fiction for my first novel?  I suppose I thought it would be easier.  Very ignorant of me, I know.  The writing was a hard slog.  I wrote for two years', had a two year break, then wrote for another year until it was finally finished.  I hated every second I worked on that book.

I then took a break.  I wrote short stories, articles and a couple of non-fiction books - anything to stop me thinking about writing another novel-length piece again.  During this time, I was also reading a lot - as I always have.  My favourite author's include Stephen King, Mo Hayder, Michael Connelly, Gillian Flynn...  You can see the pattern here.  It was reading a Stephen King novel at the age of twelve that made me want to be a writer in the first place.

I asked myself why I like reading in these genres.  Why do I love to immerse myself in world's occupied by serial killers, stalkers, monsters and the odd killer clown?  It's because I'm interested in the dark side of human behaviour.  I want to know what makes the killer tick and what dark choices humans make to survive.  THIS is what I should be writing about!

And now, I am.  My new wip includes a serial killer, a stalker and a DI who also has a dark side.  And I'm loving it.

Even my short stories always seem to have a murder or crime involved.  I tried writing a story for The People's Friend a while back, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't stop myself writing a murder and arson attack into the plot.  At least I tried!

Changing genre has been the best thing I have ever done.  It has made me fall in love with writing again.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Head Space

This post is all about organisation, de-cluttering and finding some head space so that you can concentrate on your writing.
I decided last weekend that I needed to have a massive clear out.  I'm quite monkey-minded when it comes to my writing, and it effects my productivity - so, tidy house, tidy mind.

I bought a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo.  She is the creator of the KonMari Method and this book explains the concept.  To summarise the book, you have to basically throw anything away that doesn't inspire joy for you, and instead of sorting by location, sort by category (clothes, then books, then paperwork, etc).  This is hard, especially when you have two children and a hoarder husband, but I gave it my best shot.

I ended up with over 20 black bin bags and six boxes full of  'stuff' to be thrown away.  I can't tell you how good it feels.  I feel lighter, and the house gave a huge sigh of relief.  I completed all that in two days, then spent another two days cleaning.  Now, with only things that inspire joy around me, I'm much better able to concentrate on my work.  It has also made housework a lot faster to get through, because I'm not having to move clutter to clean or tidy clutter away - so I get more time to write!

Do you have any de-cluttering or cleaning tips to share?


Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Magic

I'm reading Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, and I feel like I'm reading a letter from an old friend, or a younger me.

In my teens and early twenties, I saw ideas as magical entities, like fairies that floated around until you caught them and did something with them.  I had the notion that writing was magical - that magic played a big part in how ideas came to me.  Over the past decade, I've had to grow up, and during that growing up, I've lost that notion.  Don't get me wrong, writing still feels magical, but I have lost that feeling that magic is involved and the hard slog has taken over.  When I was 'on a roll', or 'in the zone', when the writing just flowed, I used to think of it like fairy dust had been sprinkled all over my keyboard, pen or notebook.  That was inspiration.

I love the way Gilbert talks about ideas and inspiration.  It's inspiring to me. Reading this book made me realise that I wasn't the only one to think of writing and ideas in a magical way.  If you haven't read Big Magic yet, I'd highly recommend it.

I still firmly believe that hard slog has a huge part to play in getting work done.  I'm a scientific type of person and don't necessarily believe that 'magic' is real.  It's just a nice way to think of it - don't you think?




Saturday, 26 September 2015

Winter Staples for the Writer

I'm full of flu and feeling very sorry for myself, so I thought I'd create my list of absolute essentials to get any writer through winter and/or illness.

I'm what some people would call a 'mard-arse' when it comes to cold.  I'm always cold, even when people around me are sweating.  I hate winter, and in my wildest dreams, I'd have a holiday home somewhere hot to escape to during the British winter.  But, I don't, so I have to suck it up and get through it somehow.

I have all of these items, and I firmly believe that I could not survive winter without them, and I most certainly wouldn't get any writing done.  Some writers have a lucky talisman - these are mine.

  • Hot water bottle - I can't live without my hot water bottle.  Well, it isn't actually mine.  I broke mine by filling it with boiling water, so I've pinched my 4 year old's.  It's a giraffe called George, and can be found stuffed up my top during the day, or under my feet at night.  When I'm writing at my desk, I swap it between my lap and my feet.
  • A good blanket - By 'good', I mean not itchy, not too thick and not made of any fluffy, 'artificial' fabric.  My favourite is a 100% wool, multi-coloured blanket I found on Amazon.  It's large enough to wrap around me, but not too large to be cumbersome.
  • A favourite mug - I don't know about you, but when I'm writing I drink copious amounts of coffee and green tea.  I have a couple of favourite mugs, that nobody else is allowed to use...  And this brings me to my next tip...
  • Drink lots of hot fluids - I find that when I have a cold or flu, drinking anything hot helps - it soothes my throat and clears my sinuses.  I tend to drink coffee during the day, then at around 4pm I switch to flavoured green tea.  If I'm feeling really poorly, I'll have a Lemsip in bed before I go to sleep.  So stock up on all of your favourite hot drinks.
  • A warm cardigan/jumper - It's obvious really... Wrap up and feel warmer.  It's no genius tip, but an important one.  A scarf can also come in handy.  As a parent, I find wearing a long scarf comes in handy in a variety of ways.  My kids use mine as a comfort blanket, nose wiper, mouth wiper, hand wiper... mostly to wipe things.  They also come in handy if you spill coffee on your papers/laptop and there isn't a tea towel in sight... Just me then..?
Stock up on the essentials, and make writing in winter a little bit more bearable.  I hope every writer out there has a warm, cosy and productive winter.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Sunday is Funday for Mummy...

I work from home, so my week is pretty hectic.  After the school run, I work for a few hours' on my event management business, Pink Lace Events.  This is followed by a quick lunch, if I remember.  I then do my daily workout and squeeze in a quick shower before I'm out of the door for the school pick-up.
Once the kids are home, it's all cleaning, cooking and play, with the occasional trip to the park or play centre, until D arrives home in time for tea, baths and bed.
I record all of my favourite TV programmes (mostly soaps), so I can relax and watch them once the kids are in bed.  I will then have a couple of hours' to get some actual writing done before I collapse, exhausted into bed.
This happens from Monday to Friday.  Saturday runs along the same vein, but with more tantrums and mess (mostly from me).
Sunday, well, Sunday is heaven for me.  D is home all day, which means I can sit at my desk and write until the well runs dry.  I like to get some housework done early, so that I can write without guilt, and have a break to cook a roast dinner (again, to ease the guilt).  But, the most of the day is spent feeding my brain, writing and daydreaming.
Without Sunday, I'd have no energy to get through the following week.  It's my solace; my rest day; my day for filling up the well.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Dear Friend,

One of my New Years' resolutions was to write more letters.  Not emails or Facebook messages, but handwritten letters.

I love receiving a handwritten letter through the letterbox.  I like to analyse the handwriting to see if I can guess who it is from before I open it.  There's nothing better for me than curling up with a cup of coffee and a letter from a friend.

So, I decided to write some letters, with the hope of getting some back.  One Saturday afternoon last month, I sat at my kitchen table with some crisp white paper, envelopes and stamps.  When I was in school, I used to write letters to my best friend and send them to her house, even though I saw her every day.  She still has that bundle of letters, so I thought I'd add to it nearly fifteen years later.  I also thought that my Gran might appreciate a handwritten letter, so I wrote one for her.  The last person on my letter-list was my little sister.  She's only ten, but like me, she has a love of writing, so I thought it might give her something to do while she was off school.

For the next few days I was rushing to the door every time the postman arrived, expecting to find a letter or two addressed to me.  Unfortunately, the only letters addressed to me were bills and statements.  I resisted the urge to send off a quick text asking if they had received my letters.  That would defeat the whole point, wouldn't it?

A week later, I received a Facebook message from my friend, 'I received your letter, LOL.'  I was greatly disappointed.  My sister Skyped me, telling me she had received hers, and my Gran sent me a text message.

I'm not going to let it stop me from writing letters.  I'm going to inundate my loved ones with handwritten accounts of my week, every week until they start replying, via a handwritten letter and not Facebook, text message or Skype.  Or, they'll move house and not tell me...

Monday, 23 March 2015

To outline, or not to outline...

Until recently, the closest I had come to writing an outline was a few lines on some sticky notes.

This book is the first I have written in the crime thriller genre.  Whilst jotting down some notes in the idea stages, I quickly realised that if I didn't want to be bogged down with plot holes and extensive rewriting, I needed an outline.  I bought Outlining your Novel by K.M. Weiland, and the workbook that goes along side.
It's a nifty little book and it taught me how to outline my novel in less than a week.  Obviously, most of the ideas were years' in the making, but I also came up with new ideas and twists through the 'what if' questions and 'what is unexpected' questions.  I now have a full notebook crammed with scenes, character profiles, themes, what if's...

The most important thing having an outline did for me though, was it brought up lots of questions.  If I had ploughed straight in with the writing, I would have had to stop quite frequently to answer questions that I didn't know the answer to.  Most of these revolved around police procedure.  Luckily, I know some very kind people who used to work for GMP, so I compiled my list of questions and sent them off in an email.

By having an outline for my book, I have made the writing process much faster, easier and more fun.  I don't think I'll start a book without one again.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The Death of a Library

My local library (Hyde) has moved from a beautiful building (which should be listed, in my opinion) to the town hall.  I went to have a nosey on Monday and I was greatly disappointed.

Instead of a whole building, the library is now two small rooms.  Each genre now has a shelf or two, rather than a whole aisle.  Fiction consists of a few rows of small shelving, housing crime, romance and horror (that's it!).  The second room has three computers squashed up against the non-fiction which consists of history, true-crime and literature.

That's it.  Honestly, I've never been more disappointed.  If you want to borrow a certain book, you would have to ring up and reserve it, then they will have it shipped in from one of the larger libraries (which are miles away).  This defeats the whole object for me.  When I go to the library, it's because I don't quite know what I'm looking for.  I want to browse the shelves and choose books based on their content.  I might see the title of a book I think might be useful to me, but on flicking through it, it doesn't actually fit my needs.  That's why I like to browse the library.

Now, I have to search for a book online, see if I can get a preview or read reviews, then order it and wait 2-3 weeks for it to arrive at my local library.  I might even find that searching the internet for the information I need is a lot faster than waiting for a book.  This is okay for some people, but I enjoy browsing the library and gleaning the information I need from proper paper books.

To top it all off, the librarian was far from friendly.  I asked her if they might be getting any more crime books in (basically, I was trying to say 'is this it?' without being rude), and she shrugged her shoulders without looking up at me.

I'm hoping if I keep ordering more books and chipping away, they might stock more.  Or is this really the death of Hyde Library?


Tuesday, 17 February 2015

How do you rate your own success?

How do you rate your own success?  Do you compare yourself to others in your chosen field, or by how much money you bring in?

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about how I rate my own success, or failure as it might be in some cases.  I suffer from depression, and 2014 was a dark year for me.  It meant that my writing slowed, almost to a stand-still which in turn made me feel worse.

After some jiggling about with my medication, I'm feeling brighter and more optimistic.  I felt like I needed to take stock of my achievements and make a plan going forward.

I love a plan.  I'm addicted to lists.  Just seeing those boxes being ticked off, one by one gives me the motivation to carry on and achieve more.  An added benefit of making a plan and taking stock, is that I saw how much I had achieved already.  Even while I was being suffocated by the black cloud of depression I had managed to achieve something.  I sold a few of my books, I took on more editing clients, and I even outlined a novel.  I was making myself feel worse because I was feeling guilty for not writing, where I was in fact, still moving forward and achieving.

I rate my own success by how much I have achieved in the short term.  Every year I write a list of goals, long-term and short-term and evaluate how I did in the previous year.  I always find out I've achieved more than I thought.

Right now I'm working on my next book.  The outline is coming together and my characters are chattering away constantly.  This is a good sign.

As for success; if I get this book drafted by October, I'll consider this a successful year.  If I make progress towards that goal today, I'll consider it a successful day.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Author Interview: Augustine Nash


Augustine Nash is a 77 year old prolific author of over 25 books.  She has been writing for over twenty years' and her work spans many genres including historical, murder-mystery, romance, comedy and fantasy.  Her novel Shadow of the Eagle was entered for the Booker Prize in 2001.  She has been one of my favourite authors for a few years now, and it is with great excitement that I get to interview her for my blog.

  • Your latest novel, The Last Rose of Summer has just been released.  Where did the idea for the book come from?
My new book The Last Rose of Summer is a sad love story set during World War I and II. I was prompted to write this book by an article which I read on the internet, so the result is a mixture of fact and fiction.


  • What was the time-frame for writing the book?
There was no real time frame for this book, I actually wrote when the ideas began to flow.
  • Where do you write from?
I write from my home, in the living room on my computer. I write from my armchair because I am disabled.

  • Have you got a writing routine?
My routine is generally to write for one to three hours in the afternoon. I sometimes need to do a lot of research at points in my writing as and when it becomes necessary, using my computer. Sometimes ideas for and within a story come to me  from other reading or even conversations with others.

  • Who was your favourite character to write, and why?
Black Eagle the Indian was my favourite character in my book ‘Shadow of the Eagle’. He was a prominent character in the History of the North American Indians. He was proud and fearless and fought a desperate battle to save his people when they were ordered  from their natural environment into a reservation, pursued by the American army on their flight to Canada to obtain their freedom which ended in tragedy and has gone down in history.

  • What is your favourite book to read by another author, and why?
  I like Stephen King’s macabre books, because he chooses unusual subjects and from start to finish the reader feels the fear and tension growing throughout. Several of his books have been made into very successful films.

  • Tell us something surprising about yourself...
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of my writing is that I left school aged 14 years with no qualifications. Three years ago at the age of 75 I decided to do an external English ‘O’ level and succeeded – probably to prove to myself that I could do it, since I was told by my teacher in Primary School that I would never amount to anything - an unjust comment which has stayed with me all my life.

  • What are you working on now/next?
At the moment I have not started a new book as I am researching to find a new subject for a story.

  • What is the best piece of writing advice you can give?
If you are certain you wish to become a writer be prepared for your books to be rejected often.  However, if you have a dream of one day seeing your name ‘in lights’ keep at it however long it takes – you may need to overcome your disappointment many times but always have faith in yourself and look for the light at the end of the tunnel. Take heart that after ten years of rejections my first book was published and was entered for the Booker Prize competition which gave me a big thrill.

Thank you Augustine, for taking the time to do this interview.

You can find a link below to her latest novel, The Last Rose of Summer and I strongly suggest taking a look at her website, where I promise you will find one of your next favourite reads.



Augustine's website is at: http://www.augustinenashbooks.co.uk/










Friday, 14 November 2014

Chipping Away at the Dreaded Block

Up until recently, I hadn't written anything in just under a year.  I might have squeezed out a couple of blog posts and maybe a few journal entries when the fancy took me, but I hadn't written anything of any substance.  My new book got thrown in the bin, any short stories I was working on went the same way.  I was frustrated, highly stressed and writing seemed like the last thing I wanted to do.  Even when the urge to write took hold, I would sit for an hour, staring at a blank piece of paper or writing the same sentence over and over again.  This added to my frustration.  I honestly thought I would never write again.

My friends were asking when my next book would be ready...  I lied.  I told them that I was working on it, and it would be ready soon.  In actual fact, there was no next book.  I had screwed up my notes, thrown them away and viciously murdered every single character in my head.

A few weeks ago, I decided to leave my full-time job as a mental health support worker.  It was causing me way too much stress, and I wanted to concentrate on de-stressing my body so that hopefully, my creativity could find its way back.  It worked.

I started small.  I bought a 'one sentence a day' journal, so that every night I wrote a sentence that summed up my day, trying to concentrate on positives.  This followed with longer journal entries and blog posts.  I have now written six short stories, and ideas are flooding my brain.  I have had to set up a 'running idea' list where I write down every story idea so I don't forget it, and I can work my way through them.

I can't explain the relief and excitement I am feeling, finally being able to sit down, write, plot, daydream and be creative with words once again.  I feel like 'me' again.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

In Pursuit of Happiness

I've been doing a lot of thinking recently, about what actually makes me happy.  I am happy in general, but what would make me happier?  More time to write, lots of money..?  Those would help, but I wanted to concentrate on the things that I could realistically achieve in the next few months.

The first item on my happiness list was my job.  I am a community support worker, and even though I enjoy the job, it's not what I want to do forever.  I don't wake up in the morning thinking 'Yeah, I've got work today!'  So I asked myself, what job would make me think like that?  The answer... work in a book shop!  Some people might think I'm crazy, especially with the job market being how it is at the moment, but I am now planning to leave my current job and find a job in a book shop.

A major block in my way of happiness is stress.  I get stressed because I give myself challenges and tasks that are almost impossible to achieve, which is bad for productivity.  So another goal on my way to happiness is to give myself smaller, more achievable goals.  I was going to have another crack at NaNoWriMo this year - 50,000 words in 30 days.  I've only achieved it twice in five attempts.  So, I've decided to create my own NaNo challenge this year.  I am challenging myself to write 10 short stories in 30 days.  That's a short story every 3 days.  It's still a challenge, but smaller and more achievable for me at the moment.

What small, achievable goals could you set for yourself to increase your happiness?

Monday, 18 August 2014

Back in the Game...

I have a confession...  I haven't written anything since January.  My baby ended up being two weeks overdue, and stressed to high heaven wasn't the best mental state for me to be in to write productively.  I am making excuses up now, but honestly, I've had a rough time.

My little Fern is now four and a half months old and I have to go back to work in a few weeks.  Now is the time to get back in the writing game.  I think that the break has actually benefited me.  I am bursting with ideas and all I want to do every day is write, but I'm taking it slow.  I don't want to burn out.

All I need now is a little peace and quiet.  Normally, I could write in the middle of a battlefield without being distracted, but for some reason over the past few months, I have developed the annoying trait of only being able to concentrate in extreme silence.  I have even resorted to my old trick of writing on the toilet and in the bath, but my three year old, Niamh likes to follow me into the bathroom now, so that doesn't work any more.

I managed to persuade the other half to take Niamh out to the park for a few hours yesterday.  Two minutes after they had walked out of the door, the Father-in-Law called me to 'discuss holiday arrangements'.  Half an hour later, he was still waffling down the phone to me and in walked the OH and Niamh.  Apparently it had looked like it was going to rain (it stayed sunny for the whole afternoon).  So, my imagined afternoon of quiet writing bliss was none existent.

So, I'm going to be a terrible parent and ply Niamh with computer games, apps for her tablet and new DVD's.  It's the only way, I'm sure of it.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Know Your Process

Recently I have found myself thinking about my writing process.  Every writer must have a different process that they go through when starting and completing a new piece of work and I am always fascinated when I read about another writer's process.  I'm nosy like that.
There's three main processes that interest me and I have detailed my own processes under those three headings below.  I think it is important as a writer to know your own process and what works best for you.  As I am starting the writing of my third book, I am only just getting to know my own processes, quirks and superstitions.  I'd love to hear about yours too!

Leading up to...
It takes anywhere between three and twelve months for the idea to form and come together in my mind for a book length work.  During this time I don't do any writing, but I might collect bits of notes, photographs and pictures that link in with the idea.  Most of this part of the process is done in my head though and usually starts from a dream.  During this stage I am normally working on the previous book, so I am always working on something.
Then there comes approximately a month of planning.  During this month I will complete character profiles, brief chapter outlines and a simple synopsis to make sure that the story has legs for a novel-length work.  This is my favourite part of the process.  I don't like to plan in too much detail otherwise it takes all of the creativity out of the actual writing, but I like to have enough planned so that at each writing session I know what I am doing and the general direction the story is going.

The Actual Writing...
This part of the process takes me approximately six to ten months and I will end up with around 60,000 words of a first draft.  This is because I only write the bare bones of the story, leaving any description and embellishment to the second draft.
The second draft will take around three months, where I will edit and rewrite until the book is complete at around 90,000-100,000 words.  After a few weeks of 'sitting time', I will do a final proofread.

My Routine...
This is actually an extension of the actual writing.  This is all about my little quirks and superstitions - my preferred equipment, time and place.  This is always the most interesting to me when I read about other writers' processes and routines.

  • I have to write my book long-hand in a Pukka Pad Vellum 80GSM (with the yellow pages), with Paper Mate Flair Original felt pens in an assortment of colours (blue or black for writing and brighter colours for planning and editing).
  • Above are some photographs of my office at home.  It is sandwiched between the master and guest bedrooms.  This is where I like to write - with the door closed.
  • My optimal time for writing is in the middle of the night when everyone else is asleep - in complete silence, except for the weather.
  • I have to have a cup of hot tea or coffee and a million cigarettes (naughty I know, but my only vice).
  • I write for half hours at a time with ten or fifteen minutes break in between.  I can write around 500 words in half an hour long-hand.
  • My house has to be completely spotless and organised around me.  Any mess and I can't concentrate.
  • I like a nice scent - spicy, orange or anything citrus.  Airwick Plug-in's are my favourite.
  • I like to write with no time pressures - no where else to go and nothing else to do, which is probably why I like to write in the dead of night.
So there we are!  I hope you enjoy reading about my writing process and I hope that you will share yours.