NaNoWriMo 2018: week two I’m back in the groove

If the first week was all about loosing time and track, the second week is where I found I know how to do this and caught up. I’ve got a draft short story* and am working my way through the meat of my plot. I’m a little ahead of target (just as well, because I’ll lose Saturday to roller-derby).

NaNoWriMo 2018: week one gets off to a bad start

It’s that time of year again: National Novel Writing Months, affectionately called NaNoWriMo. Like last year, I’m writing something I’m plotted in the hope to get a glut of words around a story idea I can then edit into something like a novel. Last year it worked, kind of. (Final edits still pending but I’m hoping to start sending it out in January. Fingers crossed.)

Setting goals for the year (couldn’t have done it without you)

Last year was rubbish for me. I met none of my creative goals but floundered around in a fug of worry and self-doubt. (A lot of life happened.) Not a helpful state. Something needed to change. So…

Recently I attended a workshop on setting creative goals given by writer, journalist and writing coach Kaite Welsh. The purpose was to learn how to set goals and start putting some in place.

NaNoWriMo 2017: Week two and I’m still not panicking

The last time I did NaNoWriMo I was panicking at this point (and enjoying myself hugely). We’re halfway through the month, take a day, and I’m 30K words in. I’m ahead: if I continue like this, I’ll reach 50K on November 24th. I still feel chill.

Working on the bus: the things we do to write

As I write this, I’m on the bus. It’s a one-hour bus ride to the place I’m working. Cutting two hours off my daily allotment of free time removes a lot of options from my life and it puts stress on the weekend, turning it into my main writing time. The thing is, there are other things to do on the weekend, like sleep, spend time with my partner, run errands.

I’m not a morning person so getting up early to write isn’t an option. Staying up late is, but then I’d probably oversleep and miss the bus. There is only one bus. (Luckily, not a metaphor.)

I’ve been trying to use the time. First, to edit. It’s not the easiest thing in the world (the drivers are out to kill us, the tablet keyboard is tiny and I press mostly the wrong keys) but with practice I think it will become easier. Saying that, it took me six journeys to do what I thought would be a two-hour edit.

Next, I tried writing. First version writing: chuck it all in and see what comes out. At the moment, putting words in seems easier than refining them. That worked quite well and I now have a small handful of short stories to edit.

Next week, I’m editing again. This time, I’m not editing directly. Instead, I’ll read one or two chapters a day, mark them up and make the changes when I get home (or at the weekend if they are too extensive). I’m hoping to get through the first edit of one of my resting projects this way. It’s been waiting for my attention for a few months and with Anna I in fresh memory, now I a good time to work on it again.

If this approach works, I’ll have a proper first draft of Anna II in six weeks. If it doesn’t, it’ll take a lot longer. I’m curious to find out which it will be.

 

You write, you edit, you submit, you file the rejection

It was pretty much what I thought would happen: my first full novel submission was rejected.

In one way it was worse than I had expected. Temporarily convinced of my own genius (if I wasn’t, just for a moment, I wouldn’t send anything, ever) I hoped, crossing fingers and toes, that they’d want to read the whole thing. They didn’t.

Life-long learning: food and forensic psychology

This time next week, I’ll be in a classroom.

I’m having a lot of free time this summer and want to use it well. As well as setting deadlines and tasks for myself, I’ve signed up for a course in forensic psychology at University of Edinburgh, and an online course on science and cooking with Harvard. They’re very different types of courses, and I’m doing them for very different reasons.

When I’m not writing instructions or fiction, I write for Edinburgh Foody. I love food and am interested in its production as well as its consumption. Science & Cooking combines my professional and blogging interests rather neatly in what is essentially an introduction to chemistry and physics, as applied to food. I’ve read both subjects before but it was a while ago and I have forgotten most of it – including basic calculus – so this is a great way to re-acquaint myself with subjects, concepts and skills I have neglected. So far, so good. I’m learning a lot, both about chemistry and how online training works. I’m enjoying the experience. (I’ve never eaten so many eggs in my life.)

Education is never just for fun so there’s a purpose behind taking An Introduction to Forensic Psychology too. I’m hoping to learn things I can use when writing crime stories (and getting a great reading list with resources that I can turn to). No doubt, some of my colleagues will have similar ideas. The course should also, finger’s crossed, re-ignite my interest in the project in my drawer, the one I abandoned in favour of the project I just finished transcribing. Last week was the big read-through, you see. I had 100K words of drawer-project that I hadn’t looked at for over a year. Reading through it was interesting, and somewhat depressing. A new topic to learn about and give me ideas is just the thing to distract my brain enough that I don’t shred the thing.

Don’t let me shred the thing. Please.

This is my summer of learning. At the back of my mind, I’m playing with food and chemistry-based storylines. Next week, I’m hoping to add psychology to the mix and then we’ll see what starts brewing. A glorious mess?

Sunday’s the deadline

Deadlines are very helpful. They motivate me to get things done. That is, if they’re external. Deadlines I set for myself – ones that I can miss without anyone noticing – I find it difficult to hit. When the only one looking over my shoulder is me, I don’t honour the agreement. This is a problem when you’re trying to finish a novel no one has asked for.

Last year,  I set a September deadline for finishing my current project. I missed it, that’s how well that went. I had very good reasons for missing it, of course: stuff happened, and then there was that thing. But stuff always happens. Every year is a landslide of stuff, this year is no different.

So, I decided to set myself another deadline and stick to it, come hell or high water.

It’s a tight deadline. Challenging. I set it on Monday, and this is what I’ve agreed with myself: By the end of this week, I will have finished the toilet-paper draft of the current project.

It’s not going to be easy, but I’ve got all I need to succeed: a fresh new note book, pens, a list of scenes I’ve forgotten to write, a map of where I’m going. I have time. It’s not that far to go. By Sunday, it’ll be done.

My hand hurts from writing. It’s a nice feeling.