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Posted on 20 July 2020 09:54

My current main writing goal is to get my second novel in shape to submit to my publisher in September.

In May, I finished editing the second draft and sent it to eight lovely people for feedback, which I received back by the end of June. I took a few days off work at the start of July, with the intention of going through all the feedback, collating my notes and completing a comprehensive editing plan, which I was then going to work my way through for the rest of the month. August would then be available for a sense-check, line edit, and reading the whole thing aloud to myself to check the flow.

Things haven’t gone entirely to plan. It’s 20 July and I haven’t even built my editing plan yet, let alone being most of the way through implementing it.

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Posted on 11 June 2020 10:30

Things have been getting hard again. The daily routine has been feeling relentless. The future is still so uncertain. Everything has been seeming to take more energy that I don’t have. I’ve been grumpy and tired and not feeling like being constructive.

 

But it’s all in my head. And I do know that. But, sometimes, it takes a while to remember, and to give myself a nudge to change my attitude.

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Posted on 28 April 2020 10:20

One of my friends, a qualified coach and facilitator, has recently started offering a Prompt Prescription service where she provides freewriting prompts to help clients work through an issue they are facing.

 

I decided to try it out, with the issue I’ve been having lately with my writing. I emailed Claire to explain the problem, saying that I currently had to force myself to write, and it felt like dragging through mud.

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Posted on 28 March 2020 12:34

I feel like I haven’t really done much writing so far this year. We’re coming to the end of the first quarter, and my sense on thinking back is that I haven’t achieved anything at all. But, actually checking back through my records, that really isn’t true.

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Posted on 20 February 2020 11:59

One of the most frequent pieces of advice out there for writers is that you should write every day. Some sources even go so far as to say that you’re not a writer *unless* you write every day. And I say that’s rubbish.

 

I’m currently partway through a challenge I set myself to write every day during February, so this is day 21 of writing in a row for me (as I actually started on 31 January) but I don’t feel as if it’s helping me as a writer or even that I’m being generally more productive.

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Posted on 20 January 2020 14:09

I worked incredibly hard on my writing last year. Novels, blog, reviews, articles, short stories, competitions, developing and producing a podcast - I did it all.

And I’m incredibly proud of what I achieved. I saw my work in print and online. I got great feedback from editors and readers. I got paid. And I got offered a contract for my first novel.

But, by the time Christmas rolled around, I was absolutely knackered.

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Posted on 29 December 2019 10:04

I’m not normally someone who brags about their accomplishments, but I’m going to make an exception here, because it’s been a phenomenal writing year for me and I want to celebrate that! I’ve worked really hard, persevered in the face of rejection and lack of motivation, and I have a lot to show for it at the end of 2019. And, while a lot of things in the world are not how I would like them to be, I can say with confidence that my writing is on track and I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved.

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Posted on 10 November 2019 17:38

This weekend, I was supposed to be at a two-day writing workshop, which I had booked some time ago and was really looking forward to. I’ve been a bit scattered with my writing since completing the first draft of my second novel over the summer, and I thought I would benefit from some structure and some outside guidance.

 

Unfortunately, a few weeks ago, the workshop was cancelled, leaving me with a completely free weekend to myself, since my husband had already booked a trip to an annual board games convention. I could have enjoyed a lazy, indulgent couple of days at home. But instead, I decided to create my own structure to get some writing done. I know I benefit from scheduled writing sessions out of the flat and from organised writing retreats out of the county. So, I planned my own personal writing retreat.

 

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Posted on 03 October 2019 10:01

Most writing projects, regardless of genre and purpose, will have some kind of restrictions and/or guidance in terms of length. From novels to novellas to novelettes to short stories to flash fiction to drabbles, the categorisation of stories has a lot to do with word count. And, even within these categories, most publishers and competitions will give a range within which they are prepared to accept pieces.

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Posted on 09 September 2019 08:16

A lot of my focus so far this year has been on editing my first novel and finishing the first draft of my second. When I completed both over the summer, I planned to take a break from writing altogether for a few weeks, to recharge and enjoy the lack of deadlines. But what actually happened was that I wrote every day for over two weeks and produced a ton of new stuff.

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Posted on 09 July 2019 13:06

My friend Charlie, who co-runs the Six Month Novel Programme, has a mantra for the writers she helps. When writing a first draft, give yourself permission to be "gloriously craptastic". The most important thing is to get the words down on the page. You can edit later. Because, if you get caught up in doubts, or a desire for unattainable perfection, you’ll never get through it. It’s better to have a flawed thing that exists than a shining masterpiece that only lives in your head.

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Posted on 13 June 2019 12:54

I’ve talked a lot in various blog entries about finding brain space, not taking on too much and trying not to put myself under too much pressure with my writing. But last week, I had an entirely new experience of taking a complete break from everything.

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Posted on 29 April 2019 11:00

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been very good at keeping to my schedule for both novels. I intend to send the revised Artisan back to the publisher by the end of May and I’m already two thirds of the way through. The Six Month Novel Programme gives me a detailed schedule for Colours and I’m not having too much trouble keeping up with that. But making revisions to one novel while drafting a second is proving more difficult than I anticipated.

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Posted on 26 February 2019 10:49

I’m gearing up to take part in the Six Month Novel Programme, which starts next week. One of the first tasks you have to undertake is to select what is called a ‘companion novel’ to read. You’re supposed to choose something that contains an aspect of writing you want to work on in your own novel, not for the purpose of stealing ideas from other writers (instructions are to avoid anything that has a very similar plot, for example), but to learn skills and approaches from them that can aid you in your own writing.

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Posted on 03 February 2019 16:51

I thrive on variety. I do my best work when I have multiple projects on the go and can switch between them at will. If I get bored with or stuck on one thing, my brain will likely come up with ideas on how to progress with something else. This helps me to keep working on projects regularly and stops me getting blocked from writing for long periods.

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Posted on 03 January 2019 19:19

It’s a brand new year! And, no matter how arbitrary that may be, that means goal-setting. And I have big plans for 2019. So much so, that I’m going to write them down here for all to see (though I reserve the right to discover they are wildly unrealistic later…).

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Posted on 03 December 2018 10:33

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about fandom. There’s a musical playing at The Playground Theatre at the moment, called Fanatical: The Sci-Fi Convention Musical, which I have already seen twice and will be seeing twice more before it closes on Saturday. It’s about a fan convention for a fictional sci-fi TV show, and it celebrates all aspects of being a fan, not least the creation of fan art and fanfiction.

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Posted on 05 November 2018 14:47

One of the most important pieces of advice for writers submitting their work for publication is - read the guidelines really carefully and follow them to the letter. It may seem petty and unfair to be penalised for using the wrong font or being a few words outside the word limit. But the quickest way to get rejected is to fail to follow the guidelines, as this gives the editor a very easy way to whittle down what might be an impractically large submission pile.

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Posted on 25 October 2018 10:34

I recently read Writing the Other by Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward, which is designed to help writers approach and navigate the potential pitfalls of writing characters who are very different from themselves. I would highly recommend reading this book to all writers, but below is a distillation of the most important lessons I learned from it.

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