In a timely fashion after yesterday’s post, lovely Charlie from Urban Writers’ Retreat popped up with a 2017 Writing Planner. Take an hour to get ready for next year and it’s bound to pay off.
She’s even included a ten minute cheat version, so you’ve no excuse.
Twixtmas, that ethereal time between Christmas and New Year, when you’re often not sure of the day of the week. For extra atmosphere, our town is bunkered under a layer of fog and the streets are still awaiting their residents’ return from holiday trips. It’s delightful.
For me it’s when I start thinking about the encroaching calendar flip, and Making Plans. New pencil case type plans. World Domination type plans. Do Something Big This Year plans.
Many writers (in every medium from blogs to novels) advocate writing every day. Apart from the fact that 300 words a day turns into a decent first draft of a novel over the course of 365 days, those writing muscles need a regular workout.
“Simplifying” is also writ large across my 2017 to-do list. With both goals in mind, this bit of wisdom from Zen Habits really struck a chord this week.
Do you write daily? How about giving it a try in 2017?
Yeah, that’s right. Still plugging away at the same middle grade novel. And now blogging about that while rocking a nine-month-old baby. Ah, children. So conducive to writing, said nobody ever, but to be fair my four year old has started coming out with fabulous nonsense which could turn into a picture book or three. Of course I’m not going to give him credit, all writers steal. I’ll keep him in Smarties though.
I just renewed my SCBWI membership and am still part of my phenomenal Crit group (oh my but that lot are doing IMPRESSIVE things, more on that to come) and still learning. Oh god so much to learn.
When I get the chance/make the time to write it’s still fun though. That’s the point, right?
Since March I’ve been doing Urban Writers’ 6 Month Novel Bootcamp as one of the first guinea pigs. I started a bit late, and then wound myself up in knots for a while, but I’m about 40k into my first draft.
Most of the group have finished and are into editing now, I’m a bit behind. Also I kind of started editing already as I was happy with the beginning (which I know, I know, defeats the purpose of banging out a shitty first draft and then fixing it) but I’m actually pretty pleased with how it’s going. When I’m not wailing to myself about how terrible it is. The usual angel on one shoulder and devil on the other that I think most people go through when writing? And I feel happy about having a lot of help and tools to get it finished. Good old mob mentality, this has been a bit like a 6 month Nanowrimo, with an inbuilt crit group to boot.
It’s funny, I cast my mind back to before I was a mum and I would have been throwing all-nighters and weekenders at this to get the first draft done for the 1st August deadline – hah! But now I also value sleep and a bit of sanity. Still, in the four months of writing time that we’ve had I’ve produced more work than in about three years.
Now to make it better.
Photo from Donovan Beeson‘s Flickr stream under a Creative Commons licence
Oh, there's nothing like a blog to remind you of your goals publicly, is there?
Even the subtitle of mine reminds me that I need to finish my novel. Or start one.
Anyway, after a very long time of being too complacent about fitting it, I've decided to roughen up my edges, make a little less effort to be part of the mainstream. I've been too willing to wedge this square peg into a round hole which has always been my downfall – being too concerned about sticking out. While paradoxically wanting to be noticed. I made a decision to do something relatively drastic. In fact, the direct opposite of all the advice I dispensed to budding authors back in the day. I've decided to give up my day job because while it provides some measure of financial security, it doesn't challenge me at all and in fact drains me. This will seem like utter madness to many, particularly when others are losing their jobs.
I'm delighted that I've only had support from family and friends. Perhaps they are living vicariously but madly, curiously, happily I have confidence that this a risk worth taking. I don't have dependents or non-mortgage debt. My part of the bargain, probably inspired by the Artist's Way
is just to write. Doesn't have to be big or clever. I just have to take care of the quantity. Not going to publicly shame myself into updating totals here daily. Perhaps weekly.
I'm not deluded enough into thinking that all I'll do is potter about and write books. But already, having had a couple of conversations with people, some interesting opportunities are popping up – now that I'm eyes open, ready to see them. It's terrifying. I'm so excited that I may explode!
It doesn't really roll off the tongue. While at the Urban Writers Retreat at the Make Lounge yesterday (Jennifer probably thinks I'm stalking her as I'm there so often) I came up with a plan. Oh god, another plan rather than doing any writing. Bear with me.
I like this plan. It involves me writing a BIAM – Book In A Month. A 30 day program that shouted JUNE loudly at me. After a day of prep and with almost a week to clear non-writing tasks off my plate, I think this might work. Yes, it's a little like NaNoWriMo. However my gripe – with myself – after NaNo was that while I'd churned out the requisite 50k word count, it was distinctly lacking in structure and with hindsight it would have been more productive to have a completed piece of work. That's the goal this time around. Beginning, middle, end. Of the same story.
As always I met great people at the UWR. It's a wonderful space for inspiration as well as concentration. The surge of productivity, accompanied by the 'you are not alone' sense that fills the air as others, with heads down, hammer laptop keys is intoxicating. Most people were writing fiction which is common at these retreats, apart from the Creative Maverick, aka John, who was amongst the small group that sneaked out to the local square to soak up some lunchtime sunshine and got to discussing Twitter. I said that my username there derives from this blog and then wondered how long it was since I'd updated it – ahem. The subsequent conversation about John's 'Screw Work, let's play' book was fascinating and led me to this site and this particular post: food for thought. Life is indeed too short. Roll on June and the rest of the adventures in Londonland with other creative folks.
"Publisher HarperCollins UK is to launch a website for aspiring authors to share their work. Would-be writers have previously sent their manuscripts to publishing houses – usually only to receive a stack of rejection letters.
Now they are being offered a new route to see their book in print. They will be able to upload their manuscripts to the site, www.authonomy.com, for others to read and critique. HarperCollins guarantees to consider the most popular scripts for publication.
Victoria Barnsley, chief executive and publisher of HarperCollins UK, said: "Very often we hear from budding new authors who tell us their script was loved by their family, book group or wide circle of friends.
"Authonomy is an opportunity for these authors to woo a large audience, get an army of support behind them, and really test whether their work has got what it takes to make it."
The site will launch early next year, initially by HarperCollins UK but with the intention of becoming a global programme in the future.
HarperCollins describes the initiative as "groundbreaking".
It is famously difficult to get your name in print – Harry Potter author JK Rowling was rejected by a dozen publishers before she was finally picked up by Bloomsbury.
A HarperCollins spokeswoman said: "Authonomy will connect unpublished authors with keen, talent-spotting readers. The site will invite aspiring writers to upload their manuscripts for the community to discuss, debate and recommend to other readers.
"It will mirror the music industry's use of social networking sites as an essential tool for discovering new talent and propelling unknown artists to success.
"The site will be entirely democratic, allowing anyone to participate – either as an author or as a reader. Through a system of personal recommendation, readers will be able to support their favourite manuscripts and HarperCollins will guarantee to consider the most popular for publication.
"It's expected that many of the readers who sign up will be industry professionals on the lookout for new talent."
A friend forwarded this so I'm not sure where he found it originally…