New Years Goals 2017 #SundayBlogShare #Writing

Happy 2017 folks! Hope you had a great Christmas and New Year!

New Years always brings a flurry of hope and optimism with them. After the last year, I think we all need it! This optimism leads to people making resolutions and promises to themselves and others. If you have been around here long enough, you will know I don’t do resolutions. I break them the moment I make them! Instead, I set myself goals I want to achieve. These are either for my own well-being or in the interests of improving my writing.

To say the least, I have had limited success with the goals I set myself last year.

Try to write something every day or every week. Writing every day is not easy. I was either being too lazy or life was taking too much of a priority. Looking at my spreadsheets, it shows that, on average, I wasn’t writing 11 days each month. I was achieving my word counts most months, until I gave myself a new word count after achieving it. This was a short sighted move. I ended the year with a deficit of 4,848 words. I am still proud of that when I compare it to 12,700 word one I went into November NaNoWriMo with.

It hasn’t been all bad on this front. I have been reviewing my word goals every three months. This has proven helpful. It made me reset some of them because of life and how that was going to impact on my writing. This is something I wouldn’t have done without the Word Nerds talking about it in their videos.

Post once a week, every week on this blog. Partial success again that fell by the wayside at the end of the year. I did achieve this, putting November and December aside. I was writing or reblogging something roughly once a week.

Read more. Uh, yeah. I am calling this one a failure. I did read stuff, like the Rivers of London comics and started reading books but did I finish them? Not many. Going by my GoodReads Reading Challenge, I set myself a target of 25 books and read 23. Some were rereads, like Doctor Who Writers Tale: The Final Chapter, quite a few were comics, like Kingsman and Green Arrow New 52 Vol. 1, then there were indie books like Witch At Heart and Preternatural Affairs. So a mix and I did complete some books but I still feel like that I just didn’t read enough or finish enough books.

Participate in as many writing/National Novel Writing Month events as possible. Done and dusted on the NaNoWriMo front but definitely not on the writing event front. I participated in the DraeBox Writers Club challenge, which was a lot of fun. I will be again this year and I am looking forward to it. I am not resetting this goal for this year though. Instead I am replacing it.

Reason being, I think the universe has been trying to say something. Few recent experiences have made me think this. Firstly, I was talking with good friends of mine about drafting. We noted that we seem to always be starting or restarting drafts but never finishing them.

Secondly, I have been seeing tweets about committing to finishing 1 draft of a manuscript in 2017. It’s just typical I can’t find any of them now. This is what got me considering this new goal.

Thirdly, as I was writing this and reflecting on the past year, I realised something. I have spent more time on just one story than I have done in a long time. That story is the dark witch story. I have had some detours but I have always gone back to this one.

Spending so long on it, talking with friends and seeing the tweets have made me want to get at least one draft done. I want to be able to say I have finished something.

So my goals for 2017 are:

  1. Write something at least once a week, every week.
  2. Post once a week, every week on this blog.
  3. Read more and finish books.
  4. Complete at least one draft of one story.

What goals are you setting or pursuing this year? Had any luck with your goals or resolutions last year? Wishing you all the best for 2017!

#CampNaNoWriMo July 2016 Analysis

CNW_Participant

Final Word Count: 15,242 words

No win here obviously but 15k is still pretty good.

The vampire/slave story was a rewrite of the very first completely original work I wrote about 8 years ago but I wanted to rewrite it from a new angle I had in my mind. I found it really worked well once I actually got onto that part of the story. I think a bit more work, it could really be something. However, this story seems to have suffered from a problem I have noted before: I spent too much time setting stuff up.

The time spent setting the story up is good I suppose for like my April one where I needed to do more set up. I had to figure out world and plot issues to get it working but for a story like last month’s, when I knew exactly what the story was, it proved very annoying. The werewolf and family stuff is interesting and has a place in the world but was it needed here? No, I don’t think so. It is possibly why I didn’t hit my 20k target. I also spent the equivalent of a week and a bit not writing. I think that’s because I got bored with the story due to the set up stuff.

My thoughts need to turn to how I am going to combat such issues in the future. Admittedly, I am uncertain except to say planning. I think we all know how I am with that now. On the other hand, like last month, planning possibly wasn’t the answer for last month’s issue. I need to figure out WHY I am focusing so much energy and so many words on the beginning of the story. Surely it should be the middle that is the bloated part.

If anyone can offer any insight or help on this, I would be very grateful for it.

Going forward for the next month, I am returning to my April story. During the time I wasn’t writing, I was thinking about that one, which is good because it means my plan to take a break and recharge to continue writing that one has worked. However, I am considering being a little patchy and jumping scenes. I have started writing a scene from the end of the story where my FMC meets her father. It’s a scene I have played with for a while and if it gets me back into the story after my break, maybe it will be good. If it doesn’t work, jumping scenes, so be it. I will go back to being linear but I want to at least try it.

How did the last month go for you? A Camp win or a personal victory? Got a plan for the story or just binning it? It happens and that’s good I think. Sometimes, something is just not good. No matter what happens or did happen, know you are amazing for taking on the challenge.

Happy Yorkshire Day folks!

Camp #NaNoWriMo April 2016: Days 27-30 and Review

CNW_Participant

Final Word Count: 22,304 words

Know what I was saying last time about having a winners banner at the top of the post for yesterday? Well, obviously, I didn’t. I spent two days curled under a blanket, cold and feeling ick, so no writing happened. The knock on effect was that I just didn’t have the time to write the words remaining.

The love interest didn’t get his full introduction, intended to happen in the book store, and instead my FMC might be getting a kitten instead who is very similar to her, I think. I guess I will have to see. That’s actually about all I’ve really written, so minimal.

Over all, last month was rambling, bouncing around and far too detailed for the start of the book. I am not sure entirely how that happened. I know it is partly because it was quite heavily changed from the original draft and I went down the wrong path when I started writing. But quite how it went all over the place so I am not even hitting the school stuff, I have no idea. I have noted the odd issue already on here when I have written updates, including the fact that I think I have started the story too early in story time.

I have wondered if part of the reason that the story is going so slowly is that I have my FMC alone so much. In the other draft, my FMC had someone to talk to, a friend of sorts. This is something I have noticed and why the love interest and the cat has dominated my thinking a bit. I need another character who she can interact with before she gets to school. Perhaps the cat is the way to go for now.

Another issue that has slowed the story I think is the domestic abuse storyline. I think I may have gone a little far with that and it has no use with being so close to the surface. The way I’ve introduced it doesn’t feel perhaps as it should.  Of course, it is something that jumped into the foreground suddenly. It has its place but it shouldn’t be appearing much as it is.

That will get sorted eventually, should I ever rewrite this, but for now I know I need to keep writing. Once I get those words written and the story is finished, I will know how to rewrite it in a much tighter form. At least that’s the idea. I already know one or two parts that needs removing and reworking, but as I said, that will all be sorted later. For now, writing.

Congratulations to anyone who got their word count and if you didn’t, know you are amazing for taking on such a challenge. Some words are better than none. How do you think you got on? Good? Bad? Are you continuing your story, planning to rewrite and edit or just putting it aside? Don’t be afraid to comment below.

Camp #NaNoWriMo April 2016: Days 23-26

CNW_Participant

Current Word Count: 21,339 words

FMC is still on her shopping trip but that’s because getting her uniform equalled her finding out more about Halowin, how she got in and getting advice about extracurricular activities. Getting her lunch meanwhile has revealed another bad deed her family committed against the family owners of the diner but all of this has actually resulted in Hallie gaining 2 possible friends. Her return to the hotel gets her thinking about relationships between her and others and she concludes that she may find someone in the future who does actually love and care for her. Of course, this means her love interest (who has shown up briefly already) is about to have his full introduction.

It’s all good information but I have already concluded that this is going to be a pain to edit. I mean, I am on 21k words and the real story hasn’t fully started. Of course, that’s a consideration for later. Also, when I was last wrote an update, I said that the story took place in an AU, high fantasy location. Writing a bit more has revealed that no, it is firmly in this world. I am glad I realised this now as it means I can focus on the story again and have fewer concerns about this should I go back to editing this draft.

So whilst not a lot has really happened, information is being gathered and I have no doubt things will work out. How are you feeling in these last few days? Close to target or just writing for the story now? Will you continue with the story or are you putting it aside? Feel free to comment below.

Monthly #Writing Update

3278e-writerWord Count: 1,852 words

Monthly Word Count (so far): 9,728 words

I am aiming to hit 10k tonight before Camp starts tomorrow. I might have hit that target this weekend had my laptop not died on Friday and resurrected itself on Monday. No, I have no idea how it managed to do that either. All I do know is that it made me rethink my Camp idea.

Before my laptop failed on me, my MMC has been released from prison and has visited my FMC, explaining his part in the story and has announced he is going to help my FMC with her housing problem (she’s been evicted from her flat). It wasn’t much but it pushed the story on. It is a story I have enjoyed writing this month, even if it has been a bumpy ride of sorts with it. I know where that story needs to go and I will have to go back to it at some point. I just hope I actually do.

As for this week at least, I ended up having a wobble over my NaNoWriMo story whilst my laptop was down. I had planned something heavily inspired by Tom Clancy’s The Division, as I have previously discussed. Last week, I asked if I should have a second story due to writing outside of my genre once more, trying to learn my lesson from Camp July 2015. That second story also happened to be the magic school from the same Camp session. I had harboured thoughts of going back and rewriting it but I had no idea when.

Without any access to my files and struggling to write, I started to rethink my story. I started wondering how excited I truly am about The Division story. I do like the idea but that’s all it is I suspect: an idea that I need to work and hone more before I can truly write it. I know this sounds like the muse has left sort of problem and it is in a way. I also know though when to trust my instincts. This is one such occasion.

Of course this left me with no story for a short time as I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back to my July 2015 story. Again, instinct kicked in and told me that I should go back so my Camp story is now a rewrite. It sometimes really pays to listen to your instinct.

I know I seem to be rambling about this but I think it’s important that I do write this down and share my experience, perhaps maybe help others if possible. I know it has helped me because I feel I am able to think about this with a lot more clarity that I had done.

How has your writing been going this week and this month? Entering Camp next month? Had any wobbles or do you know what you are doing for definite? Whatever your plans for April, good luck and happy writing!

#Writing Update

d7a3e-writingWord Count: 1,137 words

Nothing much to tell. Most of what I have written is redrafting of some writing I did last Sunday on the WAY On The Go app which failed to send to my e-mail address once more. I am starting to wonder if it just does not work on Kindle. So it’s only been my characters finally becoming a couple that has happened.

On the other hand, I have done some thinking and it is mostly surrounding a potential new idea for Camp in April and maybe some rewriting or the continuing of writing of other past NaNoWriMo stories. Camp is the place to do rewrites I think, at least for the first few drafts when it’s major changes being done. Of course, this is just my opinion.

The first story under consideration is my November 2014 hotel story with the witch and the werewolf. The direction of the story differed from my original thinking and I think that was the story’s undoing. I would like to go back and rewrite that story, if only to follow the original story idea.

The other is my July 2015 story about the witch from the dark family background. The only reason I stopped writing it is because I needed a break I think, along with the Post-NaNo Blues. I may completely rewrite the story as certain aspects kept changing and I never fully ironed out. Since I’ve had a break and whilst I was writing the story that took place years later, I realised that there was character stuff that needed changing and completely redoing.

Another reason I been thinking about it is because I have bought an etiquette book, reproduced from the 1800’s, for general research as I’ve noticed a lot of my writing lately has required me to think about or research etiquette and deportment among other things for stories. Having a go to guide on hand hopefully will help, especially with my July 2015 idea.

If course I still have nearly two months to think about and decide, as well as the fact I still have the new idea to flesh out and consider. In the meanwhile, I do have my current writing to be doing. Hopefully it will be a little more successful this next week. How’s your writing going? What do you think of the idea that Camp is a good place for rewriting or continuing old stories? Are you thinking about Camp yet or am I thinking too far ahead? Do comment below.

A Question about Rewriting

Muslim Beauxbatons student by Celeste Doodles. Source: Celeste Doodles Tumblr Page.

This isn’t a post so much as me asking for advice. I hope folks don’t mind.

I recently started rewriting an old story, a story that I started in college (that’s 16-18 for folks outside of the UK) and only finished in 2012 as part of my NaNoWriMo for that November. The rewrite was inspired by the picture, left, on Tumblr of a Muslim Beauxbatons student, by Celeste Doodles. (If you click on the image, it takes you to the page of the original picture). It got me thinking about my FMC in the story and her appearance.

Now, I have thought about rewriting the story in question a few times, mostly through changing the FMC as well as some other characters but none of the angles seemed to work. As I said, when I saw the picture, it got me thinking about the FMC and her appearance in the first instance. I considered giving her a headscarf and then thought, why is she wearing it. The reasoning I have come up with since after talking to others for her headscarf is to do with vanity but I am also considering maybe giving some underlying spiritual reasoning. (She’s not going to be Muslim as she lives in another world to our own).

From this, my mind turned to other aspects of the character in general. That led to me reconsidering other parts of the story and the new set up that I have developing from those decisions makes it fairly far removed from the original story that I had written over the years.

I know changes to characters and the story are normal during the rewriting process but I am wondering how big changes to the story a writer should make from one draft to another? Should they be far-reaching, heavily changing lots of aspects of characters/story all at once or should the changes come slowly and be introduced slowly over a succession of drafts?

Curious to how others view this issue as I am a little intimidate with how big the changes are whilst also being comfortable with it. It’s crazy.

Writing only looks easy. But it can be learned.

Some great words of advice here. Never throw away your old stuff. Keep everything. Maybe, in the future, you can go back to it and realise you can use or recycle some of it.

Matthew Wright

Writing isn’t something you can sit down and do without training. It only looks that way.

Spot my title in the middle... Spot my title in the middle…

I’ve noticed, of late, various posts and comments around the blog-o-sphere along the lines of ‘my book is good, because I got positive comments on Good Reads (or Amazon, or Smashwords), so why did an agent say it was terrible?’

Or ‘I got positive comments on Good Reads, but the agent said the book needed this-and-this-and-this…’

Why? There’s no soft way to say this. Fact is that neither writer nor on-line reviewer actually knew what constituted a good book – meaning not just an abstract measure of quality and authorial competence, but what’s required for a specific market.

Agents do. So do commissioning editors.

What’s happened is that the aspiring writer’s sat down and thought ‘I want to be a writer’ – usually, meaning ‘novellist’. They’ve then churned out…

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Sorry

Sorry for the lack of posts this week. This one is to apologise, explain why I haven’t been posting and really just me talking other things out to just get them out of my system.

So why haven’t I been posting? Well, I am still job hunting and it seems to me that I am having worse luck last and this week than in previous weeks with my job hunt. I’m not sure if this is just my experience or if others are also having this issue. I am looking to extend my voluntary work with the National Trust to at least give me something to do that will keep me sane and give me extra experience. Might also distract me from constantly looking at post-grad courses I cannot afford to do. A habit that shows itself when I get particularly downhearted by my job search.

So far, the issues I am having with my job hunting are coming out as me being unable and/or struggling to find the motivation to write, edit or rewrite anything. In saying that though, I am thinking and considering editing and rewriting things, including a story to post on here. This might sound weird to some people but the characters have been playing and shouting at me in my head for the past week or so and I just need to get it out of my system I think. That is, if I can finally force myself to do anything as it is only thinking and considering.

In relation to writing, I am finding my thoughts are also starting to turn to Camp NaNoWriMo and the first session in April. I am not sure if I should even be thinking about doing the sessions when I have a job to hunt for and, potentially, could clash with assessment days, etc. related to job hunting. I have however had an idea or actually a thought to play around with which came to mind whilst watching the Harrow series on Sky 1.

It surrounds the idea of house masters, the children of the house master and their schooling. I am still playing with it and trying to figure out what exactly I could do with the idea but I think there might be something in it. If I decide to do camp, this would probably be the story I would do.

So yeah, that’s pretty much what is happening in my head at the moment and why I haven’t been posting lately. Sorry again!

Camp NaNoWriMo Update and Reflections

2013 Banner 1

Okay, I am more awake now so I can finally do this update.

As you all probably already know, I failed NaNoWriMo. If you want the numbers, here you go:

Day 29: 28,900 words

Day 30: 30,450 words

Day 31: 33,061 words

So, as you can you see, I was writing a fair bit but unfortunately, it’s because I hit a wall with the fan fiction, just like I did with the crime novel. I also spent part of day 31 procrastinating and not actually, you know, writing.

So what have I learned over the last month?

Firstly,  whilst being able to rewrite a book quickly and efficiently is the mark of a professional writer, I cannot do it whilst doing NaNoWriMo. It’s a logistical nightmare to count up new words written, check up on information from other parts of the novel and do a bang up job of rewriting the novel properly.

Even if I had written a crib sheet of important and a running order of what happens in the novel, I don’t think it would be possible for me to actually write the novel in NaNo.

Secondly, planning what happens and doing a bit more research beyond a certain point helps to actually write any story of any type. This is what stopped me in both the crime novel and the short fan fiction story.

The short story was just badly unplanned and written out of boredom. In the case of the novel, I only actually planned up to and including the trial. I did not actually think the second part of the novel through properly. Shame on me and I have attempted to learn this lesson for the past year or so when I realised this personal flaw in my method in working last year.

Still, another bump on the road. Another lesson to learn.

Thirdly, I need to stop procrastinating and writing too late at night. Well, within reason.

Many writers procrastinate and it can be a good thing (providing it doesn’t go to the extreme) but I seem to spend a lot of time not writing and thinking a bit too much over the last month. It wasn’t even spent productively! This was especially the case on Day 31.

As for writing too late, that’s more about the fact I seemed to START writing too late at night. If I am on a roll, then I will keep writing beyond midnight as I will eventually tire and finish but I really need to actually start writing earlier in the afternoon. I might actually get more written! I struggle to settle and write in the morning but can get work done in the afternoon.

There’s probably a few other lessons I have learned that I haven’t realised yet but those three, they are certainly the most important ones.

So here’s to learning lessons and improving as a writer.

Here’s to those amazing people who finished July and to those, like me, who didn’t.

Here’s to the fantastic staff at the Office of Light and Letters who have run the event and the website.

And here’s to the next session and the one after that and the one after that to challenge and improve everyone as writers of any kind.