Readers know all about time travel – you sit down with a good book, and before you know it, a whole afternoon has passed in the blink of an eye! And through the medium of fiction, you are magically transported to another time, another place, perhaps another world. (Who needs a TARDIS?)
It’s the same for writers, of course. “I’ll just spend a few minutes editing this paragraph,” you say to yourself, and when you next look up, you realise you’ve missed a meal/an important appointment/a whole day. We all know there’s nothing quite like the feeling, when the writing is going really well, of leaving the everyday behind and being totally immersed in your fictional world. [NB: Social media is also an extremely effective way for writers to hurtle through a few hours at great speed!]
There is a flip side for writers: whilst time flies when there’s an approaching deadline, it positively crawls when you’re awaiting a response to a submission, or the outcome of a story competition, or – joy of joys! – publication day. [NB: Or indeed payment…but I hesitate to add that, for fear of sounding mercenary, and not having the right attitude to the true rewards of the creative process!] Writers also experience a distortion in time as often the fruits of their labours are not evident until long after the labour itself. (Sometimes long, long, long after the labour itself.) Recently I’ve had two short stories appear in print, and had another placed in a competition – so to the outside world, all seems busy, busy, busy in my writing world. But in each case, the writing process itself took place many moons ago. Writing is created from not just inspiration but anticipation – thinking ahead to future competitions, and planning in advance for seasonal submissions.
Yesterday was National Writing Day – I’m ashamed to say I didn’t honour the day with any writing-related activities of my own. I…erm….didn’t have the time. Presumably in some parallel universe, it’s National Writing Day right now. Hmmm, if I could just find my TARDIS…
So here you are again –
Another cycle is complete
Just time to log on and look back
Before the “Happy New Year!” tweets
Your blog is looking healthy
Lots of followers and views
And you’ve followed lots of others
To keep up with all their news
You’ve been busy on your Facebook page
Uploading posts and gaining “likes”
You keep active in your interest groups
Hearing other’s joys and gripes
You’ve done your Twitter research
Checked the graphs on “Analytics”
Charted profile visits, top mentions
Who knew? An interest in statistics!
You check your KDP reports
For each and every sale,
Your current review rating,
And your ranking, without fail
You’re proud of all your efforts
And the benefits they’ll bring
It’s just with all these tasks to do,
You’ve had no time to write a thing!
Thanks for reading & following me this year – wishing you all the very best for a successful, inspirational, and fun-filled 2017! x
So it’s Christmas time again
Black Friday deals are rife
And you’re wondering what to buy
For the writer in your life
In the past you’ve tried all sorts
‘How-to’ books, diaries, pens,
Fancy paper, post-it notes
A writer’s mug (again!)
But the best gift is often simple
You might not even have to buy it
Arrange to give them space and time
To write in peace and quiet
Nag them when they’re lazy
Cheer them up when they’re dejected
Give them wine and cuddles
When their stories get rejected
And when their book is published
Spread the word of their debut,
Buy a copy for yourself
Leave an honest, fair review
Tell all your friends who care to hear
And then tell all the rest
And I guarantee your writer
Will think you are the best!
PS: Socks are also good! :0) xx
Alas, as so often seems to happen to me, I notice something writing-related too late to be of any earthly use. Today is the last day of National Storytelling Week http://www.sfs.org.uk/national-storytelling-week – with events having been organised around the country to encourage communities to create and enjoy storytelling. I suppose this is to prose writing what Roger McGough’s ethos is to poetry – encouraging the spoken word, the live telling of stories, rather than merely reading the words on the page in your head. I think it’s a fab idea – though suspect I personally would be awful at it. (You know when someone records the sound of your voice, and you can’t believe it’s you? Ugh….cringe-making!)
Anyway, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to be more on the ball as a writer. It’s no use just sitting at my desk, tapping away oblivious to everything else. I need to be keeping an eye on what’s going on in the wider world, taking note of literary festivals, forthcoming competitions, and special writing occasions. I need to be thinking ahead and doing a bit more forward planning.
In short, I need to be more professional – and I probably need a writing calendar. But should this be paper-based or electronic? And will I remember to keep it updated? I clearly need to go away and think about this further. In the meantime, if anyone has suggestions for excellent writing calendars which are already out there, please let me know! 😉
They say the first draft of the novel is maybe a quarter of the work. ‘They’ are right. That first draft – in a rush of energy and ideas – seems a millions years ago (actually eight months). Now is the hard slog of the re-write. And where, during the first draft, every word was a word won, in the re-write, the delete key ends up getting more use than the letters, so that whole chunks of text disappear, and despite frantic typing, the overall word count stays much the same, or even goes down. Yes, I know I should be heartened by quality over quantity, but since quality is so much harder to measure, and since one’s eye cannot help but fall to that word count in the bottom right hand corner, I fear for my progress.
The word count is a double-edged sword alright. Can be a great motivator (my favourite game when blocked: set the stop watch. You have 30 mins. Write as much as you can in that time. Stop. Count up the words. Try again – this time, beating the last total). Sometimes needs the back up of a graph (excel spreadsheet – fill in the daily totals – see your progress pictorially as a line or bar graph….). It’s the same principle as NaNoWriMo – when the uploading of the daily totals becomes a ritual.
But during the re-write, it’s no longer speed or quantity which is so important. It’s detail and depth. Precision and pace. And then the word count is your enemy. Perhaps the worst thing is knowing that when you’re on a roll, 4,000 words might flow from your fingers in a single day – and a lot of those words might even be decent ones because you’re so absorbed into the story that it just feels right. But for every day like that, there are many more where every paragraph seems an effort, each sentence clumsy and wide of the mark.
If anyone has any motivation strategies for those days, please let me know! 😉