The Joys of Editing

So, as I mentioned last time. I’ve been kind of here and there lately. I lost my job in June and spent the summer getting another one. That’s done and while it’s a very good job and I’m really enjoying it, it is causing challenges.

The time it takes to travel to and from work is much longer now than I’ve been used to since finishing uni…actually, since I started working eleven years ago! This is tiring for me and I don’t want my life to be work, write, sleep and repeat. I’m still trying to get that balance.

One thing I have been doing is writing.

I’ve been putting off editing my novel thus far – I’m just not ready. So, when I’ve finished the draft of my current project (which involves a fair bit of editing) I’ll come back to it and take another look and decide whether the time is right.

After discussions with a few friends and writers, it’s interesting to see the different ways of editing a project so I thought I’d take a look here.

Digital vs print

When it comes to editing, I find it very difficult to do on a screen. I find that my eyes start glazing over after a while, which makes me miss even the most obvious mistakes. When I notice this happening while I’m writing, I know it’s time to take a break since, for me, it’s easier to get on a roll while writing compared to editing. It’s a big problem.

My method is generally a quick once over to spot glaring mistakes and then I print it. In its entirety. I find a pen (of any colour though red is a popular choice) and make notes. Scratch out words and letters, put arrows to rearrange things, make notes to re-write parts and a lot more. I find this is also good to help me escape the increasingly digital centric world we live in.

It’s amazing the things I can spot – and often ask myself how thick I am to make such a silly mistake in the first place!

I’ve found a lot of people actually agree with me on this and do something similar although some handle editing digitally better than me. Kudos to you all.

It leads on to the second part of the discussion, however.

How long should you wait?

This is actually more fascinating and there’s a much bigger divide here.

So, let me pose you the question: how long should you wait upon completing your draft and beginning to edit it again?

Unless I’m faced with a tight deadline (possibly due to being lazy or a change of plans) I try not to edit anything without giving it at least a month’s breathing time. This is because I feel like I’m too close to it. When I read a book and pick up mistakes, it’s because of a fresh set of eyes. The more often I read a book, the less mistakes I notice. I become used to it, and know what to expect.

Editing is a ruthless business and I can’t afford that luxury. Every word is at risk, as is every letter. When I finish a draft, for both writing and editing, I put a reminder in my calendar for a month later as that’s when I can go back to it.

Other people are different. I’ve been told by people who don’t wait and dive straight in. Their minds are still on that level and they feel more comfortable keeping it there. I’ve tried it but it’s not for me. A few people have told me they send it to others after every draft. That can slow things down and I only do that when I’m at a stage where I don’t mind people reading it.

It’s very interesting to find out how we all work.

Going forward

In the end, I know what works for me and that’s the most important thing. Every writer is different but it can take a long time to figure out what works best for you. Don’t be afraid to try something new – especially at different times as we don’t stand still for long.

The blog has been left alone recently and I apologise for that but I’m starting to get my act together. Having a plan/schedule makes a huge difference! Be sure to keep checking back for the latest news and thoughts.

I’m writing a lot more short stories at the moment and there are a lot of competitions coming up over the remainder of 2015 and going into 2016. I’ll be sure to share the best ones with you soon so you know what to start working for.

As always, good luck!

Regarding NaNoWriMo

I’ve been taking part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) every year for the last ten, eleven, twelve years or more. This year, however, I won’t be getting involved. I just don’t have the time or energy to commit to it.

While I would use it as a kick to keep on with my current project, I’m hoping to have it done by November (wishful thinking) and I’m happier going at my own pace now.

I’ve completed it once, back in 2010, and that was a great feeling but since then I haven’t had the same level of motivation, which is a shame. I’m not even entirely sure why yet. Maybe it was the challenge of doing it? Who knows.

If you’ve ever thought about, I’d definitely recommend getting involved. Find people in your area doing it and get involved with the meet-ups. You’ll meet some people you won’t forget any time soon!

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Just a Quick Update

Hey y’all! I’m sorry I’ve been pretty quiet this last month or two – it’s been pretty busy on this end. I thought I’d throw a quick update out for you guys so you know I’m still here and have an idea of what’s coming up over the next few months.

Life has been pretty shit recently – and what I mean is that I’ve just had no time! I like to relax on an evening; do some writing, blogging and gaming etc but things have just been out of control and while it’s fun for a little while, it annoys me after a while, hence why life is shit right now.

I’ve been working hard looking for publishers and agents for my novella, A City in Grey – if you’ve been following my series on The Road to Getting Published, you’ll know a bit about it and I’ll have a few more posts on that coming soon. I haven’t had great successes yet but I’m still trying – I won’t give up. I’m also getting ready to get back to redrafting my novel and I want to have the next draft ready by the end of summer so that’ll keep me busy.

I’m half way through the third book of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series and I’ll be blogging about those soon as well.

I’ve been to a few gigs and shows so far this year and I’ve got more lined up, including a weekend at Silverstone for the F1 in July. I’m also looking for a new job, so as you can tell, I’m a busy bee right now. Like I said, it’ll all settle down soon, I hope.

For now, life is busy – very busy – but it’s not stopping me!

A competition!

You all know I do love a good writing competition, and I have one for you! It’s called The Novella Award and asks you to submit a novella (who’d have guessed it?). The deadline is on Friday 5th June so not a lot of time left to enter and if you haven’t written one yet then you’ll probably miss it this year – but there’s always next time.

If you have a novella ready – or close to it – then get to work right now so you can submit it. It’s a great opportunity and not one you should miss out on.

I’ve got blog posts planned to make up for my absence over the last six weeks or so and hopefully things will settle down soon and I can get back into a stable routine – but if not, I’ll make sure not to abandon you again.

See you soon!

Making it as a Writer: Part One

I actually wrote a post with this title last year, shortly after I landed my first digital marketing agency job as a copywriter. I had just finished a bunch of freelance writing work and was over the moon. Despite not writing much on my own projects since finishing university, it was a big step and I finally felt like I was getting somewhere on the path I had chosen – even if it was a bit behind other people or where I expected to be.

The point is, I’m glad I held off on posting this last year.

Defining success

This is tricky. Everyone will define success differently because of their own aspirations and experiences. What I might call success might be nothing to someone else or vice versa, so when I say I want to be a successful writer, I mean a few things.

Collection of Tolkien books

One of my favourite writers and a nice set of books. This is what I want – with my name on it!

I want to publish novels – that’s the goal. That’s what everything I’m doing is leading to. I have projects on the go in the forms of novels, novellas, short stories, blogs and much more. Everything is adding up and helping me improve that little bit more but I won’t stop until I get there, and not just one either. I have plenty of stories to tell and share with you.

On the other hand, I’m a copywriter now. I work in digital marketing and I want to be successful at that too. Writing copy for a range of clients in different niches and with varying needs helps me grow. You’ll need to make changes at times but that doesn’t make you a failure. Building up relationships and letting your work be seen by hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people is a great result. It’s working up to the big brands and clients, showing that I’m as good as anyone out there.

If push came to shove, I know which one I’d choose. Do you?

A couple of options

I know a bunch of writers, from university and beyond and everyone has taken a different path. It’s important to know that there is no set path – no degree is guaranteed to make you a writer and even less likely to make you a successful one (again, depending on your definition) but some can help shape you in numerous ways.

You can study, which is a great idea for people looking to sharpen their skills, learn more and meet new people. Ultimately, you’re learning your craft from someone with the experience to help you but you still need to separate yourself and establish your own style and work. Some people don’t make it over this line but the ones that do, you can be sure they are masters of the written word. I’m a graduate from an English and Creative Writing course but many friends are doing a Masters and even looking at studying further.

There’s the working option, which is what I’ve chosen. I don’t mean just any old job but a writing focused job. There are many out there but not all are stable and well paid. That’s a risk you take but industries such as marketing and advertising, journalism, e-commerce and much more can offer plenty of varied writing jobs. It might not be as fun as studying or writing your own but you’ll learn a lot about yourself, your skills and the wider world. It’s essential to find a job and environment you’re happy in, however, or you’ll lose all creativity very quickly.

The third main option, at least of those I know of and considered, was to move back home, keep a part-time or freelance job and write all the time. Some people are able to do this, physically and mentally – as well as financially – but it was beyond me instantly. I like my freedom, and I like my independence. If I lose those, I’d be as unhappy as I would be in a backend job that wasn’t getting me anywhere and there is no promise I’d get any more work done, either.

There are probably other ways but it’s all about being comfortable with yourself and your decision. No matter which path you choose, hard times are ahead of you and giving up is not an option.

Looking forward

This is a huge topic, so there’ll be two or three more throughout the year. I am searching for inspiration constantly and welcome ideas and suggestions you have. I’d love to hear your experiences of writing and reaching your goals and dreams. What did you do, when and how? It might help me and my audience and it will give you a chance to really see the progress you’ve made.

Which path have you taken and why? How has it affected your writing and personality? Would you do anything differently? Leave a comment and let me know!