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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NaNoWriMo – Week Two

Targeted word count – 32,000

Current word count – 0

So, two weeks in and still at zero. It’s not looking good, is it? Don’t count me out just yet – there are two weekends to go and I’m setting those aside to get some serious writing done on those days. The point of NaNo isn’t quality at this stage, it’s quantity and if I get myself focused, I believe I can still do it (I just might be disappointed at how bad my writing gets).

Recovery time

I spent the first half of this month on my entries for ITV’s competition. I submitted my chosen entry on Thursday night and I’ll find out if I’m selected for the final on Friday 21st November. I’m not getting my hopes up but I believe what I’ve done is good quality and that it has potential – if it didn’t, I wouldn’t be writing it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be disappointed if I hear nothing but I’m aware that there are some fantastic writers out there looking for this chance, just like me, but I still want to win and that’s why I spent so long working on it.

After that, I needed a few days to just let me recharge. My chosen entry is actually the prequel to what my NaNo project is, which is why I feel confident I can get it back on track. I might not hit 50,000 words but anything will be a start (and I think this story will be considerably longer than that word count anyway).

Balancing work and life

Every year I tell myself that my life is on hold for month and every year that turns out to be a lie. I like to get out there and do things – outside of work, I mean, that I can’t escape from – and in a lot of ways, I thrive off social interaction and events. You learn a lot and inspiration can strike anywhere.

So, maybe a more realistic goal is to cut it back a bit, which seems more achievable. It would have worked this year too, if that competition hadn’t appeared. So, regardless of what my final word count is, I can say I’m getting closer to finding that balance between work, play and writing (I’m sure sleep is in there somewhere too, but who has time for that these days?) and that’s a definite bonus.

A shorter post from me this week but let’s hope for some big progress towards next weeks target. Ciao!

Finishing the First Draft

Word Count

My novella’s word count

Hello! Apologies for the lack of blogging this month – it’s been manic! My birthday earlier this month and striving to finish my novella before National Novel Writing Month begins. I did it, the first draft anyway and I’ll return to it in November. More on that in a bit.

This project has hit 24,300 words. I was hoping to get a bit closer to 25,000 but there may be a little bit more to come in the redrafting process. Either way, I need to think a little more on my ending. I’ve got a few people to read it for me though, so hopefully they’ll give me some valuable feedback.

What has this taught me?

Well, it’s not over yet. There is still so much more to do in terms of editing and redrafting and me spending countless hours analysing and obsessing over every, little, word. If you’re a writer yourself, chances are you know what I’ve got coming up. I’ve been there before and I’m not looking forward to it but the novella is good (or it will be), the idea is very good and I can’t stop now.

This is far out of my comfort zone. There’s no fantasy, science fiction or horror in this story and those are the genres I usually write in. This is set in the here and now and explores mind-sets, attitudes and the lifestyles we live in, or have lived in. I’ve spoken to a lot of people to create a scenario and protagonist that people can relate to, on at least some level.

There are even some of my thoughts and experiences in there but it’s not purely about me – even though people will think this is about me on a deeper level. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

It shouldn’t have taken me this long to get to this stage but I’ve been lacking motivation this year. I have been able to write when it counts though and that’s promising. If I can keep this up, I might finally start to feel like the writer I was before and during uni – only (hopefully) a lot better.

A Song of Fire and Ice

A Song of Fire and Ice

A Song of Fire and Ice

Or, as people seem more familiar with, A Game of Thrones – a series I’ve heard so much about, both in book and television form, and yet I’ve not actually read or seen them. This shocks a lot of people as it seems right up my alley. They’re probably right, too.

I don’t want to watch the TV show until I’ve read the books, even if it’s in stages and my reading list is HUGE. However, for my birthday this month, I did get the three most recent so now I have all seven books published. Expect me to talk about these in 2015 – they’re big books but I can read fast if I get really into them, as is the case with anything.

So, next month

Have you been keeping up with my plans for the year? If so then you know that November is NaNoWriMo and, once again, I’m going to give it a shot. I’ve succeeded only once in completing this madness of a writing challenge but I’m hoping that this will be the second success.

It means that I’ll be writing every day and my target is 2,000 words a day. It might not sound a lot but it will be very taxing, especially working full-time! I must be mad to do this but, hey, what’s new? For the next month, you’ll get a NaNo update each week, letting you know how I’m getting on. It’s also for my benefit so I can see where I’m doing well and where I’m failing.

It’s going to be a fun month, keep checking back!

Planning a Novel

So, we’re almost into October (or we are, depending on when you read this) and that means just one month to go until National Novel Writing Month. It’s at this time when I start to wind down my other writing activities (don’t worry, the blogs are safe) because I want to give myself a break before such an intense month hits. However, it’s the perfect opportunity to start planning the novel I’m going to write.

Some people like to write on the fly, and I’ve done it myself in the past but I think having some sort of structure to work towards will improve my focus and that’s essential in November, especially since I’m still working full-time, so I have less time than usual!

On a side note, apologies for the lack of pictures this time – I’ll make up for it in the next post!

Reconnecting to old friends

Is it weird to refer to my characters as friends, especially if I haven’t written about them for a while? Actually, I don’t care, I’m doing it.

I’ve spent so much time with these characters that I know them very well and I should hope so since I created them! More than that, I’ve seen them at their worst, their best and beyond even if they haven’t made it that far in the story yet.

It’s always difficult to decide how far each has to or is going to grow and develop at any given time. Too much or too little development can drastically alter a story so it’s not as simple as saying that “this” is going to happen and when if the overall story doesn’t match up.

Does that make everything a little bit too convenient? I think so, yes, but how many books are made from stories of an everyday life? If there are stats on that, get in touch but I’m pretty sure I can guess it already. Fiction is an escape, even if it’s a realistic setting, and it’s important to remember that we read for entertainment and enjoyment just as much as we watch TV for the same reason.

Planning bigger

As I mentioned in a previous post, this year’s NaNoWriMo project is a sequel to my first success. That’s a four year gap to fill in. It’s good to go back over old ground and see what I’ve done and where I plan to go next. I have a plan of where the whole series is going to go but it’s easy to forget details and that’s not a good thing – who wants to read the same things twice, especially if it’s an accident or shows gaps in the story?

Exactly.

There needs to be something new, and that usually means bigger in some way. A bigger challenge, a bigger adventure, a bigger threat – something bigger, whatever it may be. This is where problems can creep in if something wasn’t meant for a sequel or it was but it went too big too soon. There are plenty of examples of this in both book and film. I’ll give ten points out to everyone who can give me a good example with a bonus five for a reason.

The prize? Ummm. I’ll get back to you on the prize.

Finishing the novella

If you’ve been keeping track of my work this year you’ll know there is something else that I have to do before November starts – finish my novella! Well, get the first draft done anyway. I’m two thirds of the way through so far and once I get into a rhythm, I’ll get through the last third easily. It’s finding the time to get into that mind-set that’s the problem.

The benefit of doing it is that I can have people looking over the novella through October and November while I’m working on NaNoWriMo and so once I’ve taken a week or two off in December, I can get back on with the editing and I’ll hopefully have something ready early in the New Year – if not before.

It’s going to be a busy end to 2014 but I’m sure I’ll do it!

Preparing for National Novel Writing Month

 

It’s almost that time again. It’s the one month where I curse myself for choosing to be a writer and basically put my social life on hold for 30 days straight (okay, occasionally I give myself a break but only if I get enough work done).

I am, of course, talking about National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. I spoke about this briefly in a previous post

So, what is it?

My workspace

This will be my home in my home (and away from work) during November. Messy? No! Pretty well organised for me

Basically, the goal is to write 50,000 words of a novel, or as a novel, in November. That’s just under 2,000 words a day. That can be challenging enough in itself – any writer will tell you that some days you can write a stupid amount in a short period of time while others you’re lucky to get ten words down. It’s tricky and consistency is the key to doing this.

It helps to plan out in advance what you want to do but that’s just something I find easier. Others I know just want to let it flow and see where it takes them. The point of this month isn’t to come away with a polished novel you can get published but to get your ideas down on paper (or screen) and then you can edit it later.

I’ve tried it every year since 2007 but I’ve only completed it once. That was 2010 when I was in my second year of uni. Ironic that I could do it then but in the times before that when I had more time, it was harder. Even now, I probably have a better chance of doing it because of my daily work routine. Strange but it’s true.

There are also meet ups and groups you can find where you can get support and encouragement through this crazy month. Do a search, ask around, register on the website and check social media. Trust me, they’re out there.

Me in November

So what does it mean for me? Well, I’ll be working five days a week and writing every night. I’ll spend weekends playing catch-up if I fall behind and getting ahead of myself so I can relax a little at designated break points in the month.

I’ll post one update a week, either on a Friday or a Monday – I’m not sure which yet – which will basically let you know how I’m doing. I’m hoping this will help keep me motivated better than previous years. It will also let you find out how I’m doing and how I’m coping with it. It’s not an easy task on its own so your support would be most appreciated!

As a little bit of background, my novel this year is actually going to be the sequel to the one I wrote in 2010. That, believe it or not, is still in first draft. I’ve not found the right motivation and inspiration to take it further. I’m hoping that by doing the sequel, I’ll have the drive to push both the first one and the second on to bigger, better things.

Clean page

Time to start something new!

Time will tell but I have big plans for this story, these characters and the world it’s set in. I don’t want to say series but, yeah, that’s what I’m hoping.

Want to know more?

Of course you do! You’re just as crazy as I am, right? I mean, that is why you’re reading this blog, after all. You could just Google NaNoWriMo (oh boy, I used Google as a verb – someone help me!) or go here and save yourself that effort.

Should you decide to pass on it, I can’t blame you – and won’t! If, however, you do decide to give it a shot then I wish you the best of luck and do keep in touch to let me know you get on. In theory, it sounds easy but you’ll soon learn it’s anything but.

Then again, if everything we did in life was easy, we’d probably get bored. I know I would. Happy writing.