Posts Tagged With: novel

Setting priorities should be a priority!

Imagine this. You have a few hours (minutes!) free and you want to spend them writing. If you’re anything like me you have a couple of projects on the go. How do you decide which one to work on?

I can be very fickle. As well as this blog, I have two novels on the go, and several short stories (one of which I hope to submit for a competition in two weeks). I have dreams of submitting to literary publications, and more competitions. I have a list as long as my arm of books I want to read (and some I want to review), but I also need to make time for my paid work, daily housework tasks, several different art and craft projects I’ve been working on…oh, and don’t forget some semblance of a social life!

So how do you choose what to work on? In those few precious spare minutes, how do you decide what is going to be the most productive? My first instinct is to choose sleep, and there are times when I’m so tired that rest is the only useful thing I’m capable of. Unfortunately, sleeping doesn’t put words on the page (although I’ll admit several times the inspiration for my stories has come from dreams!)

Since starting this blog, it has become a priority. There have been times when I’ve missed a few weeks – either because I’ve been too busy to write, or haven’t had anything to share – but generally it’s the first thing I’ll open when I’m planning to write. I think in part it’s because there is a sense of achievement in writing and publishing a post of a few hundred words, and it’s something that can be done relatively quickly.

Competition entries come next. The strict deadlines should be a strong motivator, but there are times when I’ve just had to admit defeat. I had hoped to submit the story I’m working on at the moment to last years’ competition, but I was burned out at the time from finishing a huge project. I realised that with a week to go until the deadline, it would be a waste of my time to try and rush the piece, and I wouldn’t be happy with it.

Sadly this leaves me with little time to work on the things that might, eventually, earn me some money. I have nothing ready at the moment to submit for publication. I’m going to have to bite the bullet at some stage, set a firm deadline, and get something ready…but I’m not sure where I’m going to find the time!

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Is There Anything Original Left to Write?

Every writer (I think) has two main dreams
1. Publishing a bestseller
2. Writing something truly original

However unlikely it might seem, number one is always a possibility…if you keep plugging away at it: writing, editing, showing your work to people, eventually you might get lucky and have your ‘E. L. James moment’. Someone who’s well-placed in the publishing industry might read it, love it, and next thing you know you’ve got enough cash to fill a swimming pool! (Like I said…writers dream…)

Number two is actually much harder…

I read somewhere the other day that something like 107 billion people have lived on this planet. Realistically what that means is that unless you are a bona fide genius, or a mad keen thrill-seeking explorer, you are unlikely to be the first or only person who has done or experienced whatever it is you’re planning to write about. You’re probably not even the first person to write it down. Heck, I’m 100% certain I’m not the first person to make this point!! (Warning – link contains some coarse language!!!)

The good news is, odds are you are the only person who has your exact set of combined experiences. Therefore, even though the themes you are exploring in your story may have been written about by dozens of different authors in a dozen different languages, even though there have been hundreds of fictional detectives solving thousands of fictional murders, hundreds of different fantasy or sci-fi universes invented, thousands of tacky romances read on planes and trains…there is a good chance there is something new you can bring to the table. It may not be completely original – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a bestseller!!!

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The Disciplined Writer

This is totally not me. Discipline is probably my greatest weakness as a writer. Don’t get me wrong…I’m not saying that I have perfect technique, spelling or grammar, and sometimes my ideas turn out to be a waste of time…but these are all things that would improve much quicker if I had the discipline to work on them more often.

My discipline has improved greatly in the last few weeks. Firstly, I now carry several notebooks with me everywhere I go, just in case an idea hits when I’m out and about. Never again will I have to regret losing a great idea because I didn’t write it down in time.

Secondly, I now make a concerted effort to write something every day – even if it is only scrawling a few lines in my private journal. Having a blog has also helped motivate me to write more, although some days I find that I haven’t got anything to say that I’d be prepared to show the general public!

I mentioned in an earlier post that I have chosen a list of competitions to enter this year, and I’m finding that this has also helped to motivate me, although the long deadlines of some of the competitions have left quite a lot of scope for procrastination… I have also found that focusing on short stories leaves me less motivated to work on my novel…

I suppose in some ways, in some circumstances, this places short stories in the category of distractions – another reason my discipline suffers. People are another distraction. I find it very difficult to concentrate when there are other people around. I doubt I could ever be one of those writers who sit in caf├ęs typing away, because I’d just be too distracted by the other people. I need a certain amount of background noise to concentrate, and I can usually ignore the TV in the background, but real people in the room is just a few degrees more distracting…

A few weeks ago I mentioned NaNoWriMo, more particularly my concern that writing such vast quantities of text in such a short period could lead to inferior quality writing. I discussed my thoughts with a friend who is a two time NaNoWriMo participant after publishing that particular post, and she pointed out that the aim was just to get ideas down on paper as fast as possible, and that although editing it afterwards was hard, there was plenty of time to do so after the writing period was over.

I am aware that at least a few of my regular readers are participating in the April ‘Camp NaNoWriMo’ and I wish them all good luck!!! If I’m still struggling as much with discipline by November as I am now, I may just have to sign up too…

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