Archive for the ‘Planning’ Category

I said at the weekend I hadn’t done any reading so you will no doubt be utterly amazed to find out there is no book review this week.

I can give you all sorts of detail on public surveys, newspaper editing, food fads and project planning but it’s not quite what this blog is supposed to be about…

I really am off target with my reading and writing life right now. I need to sit down and have a good strong word with myself because I haven’t come this far to let it slide into the background.

So this week I need your advice. How do you keep your creative life on track when the realities of work and community or social life leave your time slipping away from you?

How can I get back to where I should be?

Any help gratefully received!

Happy reading,

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This week, my writing progress has been pretty rubbish. I have done some writing, and although Fred is no longer languishing in the fierce desert sun, he hasn’t made it onto his next trip either.

In the spirit of honesty, I haven’t picked up a book to read at all this week either.

I have not been managing my time too well really; I have too many plates spinning to want to add any more. My down time was wasted, this week at least. That’s not to say I haven’t done useful things but I haven’t focussed where I should have done. And I have let hours go by with nothing achieved at all.

But this week is over: I have a new one from tomorrow, where I will get myself into a better pattern, waste less time and focus my energies.  Planning starts now.

If you don’t try, you don’t succeed.  I want to get back to succeeding at meeting my targets, so I better try harder!

Happy writing,

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This week…

I have noticed I am getting behind on the posts a lot.

I don’t have time to tweet, or check my twitter feed.

I have read about three pages of a book.

I have written less than 1000 words.

Where is the time going??

I am generally falling behind on a lot of personal life arrangements. I have reasons, but they don’t get me an agent so they are not worth focussing on.

Instead, a little later than I should, I am going to set myself some weekly targets.

This week coming, I will:

  • Finalise the plan for changing the format of the whodunnit and PUT IT ON PAPER!
  • Send the Family Tree out to four more agents (to make up for a missed week!)
  • Read something from cover to cover.

When push comes to shove, I need to know I am still moving forward. If things slow me down, I run the risk of halting, and I don’t want that.

So this post isn’t really about the week I had, but the week I am going to have, and how I’m going to make it work for me.

And Monday’s already over, so I’d better get to it!

Happy writing,

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This post is unexpectedly late due to my husband getting ill, sorry about that, but he has been in need of a little tlc, and I’m going to keep this short for the same reason.

So a quick recap – last week was a positive one: editing was completed, agents were identified, appropriate synopses have been started.

I feel energised in my writing, and have a plan.

My plan involves agreeing with a friend that in 6 months, if no pick-up from agents, I will self-publish. I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but it is a plan, and it gives structure to my aimless amblings earlier in the year about what to do for the best.

It also means I can now get down to work on my next project – either a re-work of an earlier draft book or a follow-up to the one being sent out.  I have a brief timeline for the follow-up so could build on that but I kind of like the idea of revisiting something I’ve done, in my newly-positive editing mindset, and seeing whether it’s got potential to work. That is a decision for the next few days.

Yep, last week was a good week.  This week hasn’t got off to the best of starts but give it a few days and I should be back on track.

Watch this space!

Happy writing,



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This week I’ve started working on the second Family Tree story. This has involved starting to plan a timeframe, individual circumstances and storylines, mapping out what has happened in the intervening period between the end of the last story and the beginning of the new.

It is far from a finished plan, but it feels as though it is slotting together quite naturally and I am looking forward to building up the storyline. I need to finish re-reading the original story to make sure I have all details correct but I have a good idea of where I’ll be going and that’s a real pleasure.

I have also arranged to go to a crime writer’s convention with a couple of other members of my writing group. This came about from a twitter post I saw from a recently published crime writer; I thought it was a great opportunity to develop what I have done with the whodunnit and get a feel for a wider writing experience.

My next step with that story is to pick up on the police procedural side and start to get that right. If you like, I have the bones of the story now, and it’s time to make sure those bones form a proper skeleton!

I also think going to a writing convention in and of itself is a great opportunity to hear how other writer approach difficulties, how they plan, what they have learnt in their journey towards publication… As a genre I am still getting to grips with, I am really excited to see what I can learn.

So this has been a good week. I am really buzzing about building contacts and enjoying my writing again; I have a little more time to write over the next few weeks, and I have a plan for what I want, and need, to do.

If only I felt this buoyant every week!

Happy writing,

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It’s the last week before I go on retreat, so naturally it has been busier than I intended. I worked extra hours to get (nearly) everything done in the office, have been out more than I’ve been in, celebrated a very special 16th birthday, had a champagne cream tea for my own birthday (it was May but who’s worried about that?!) and been to my first aerial hoop class.  In fact, it’s been exhausting.

But – drum roll please – I had a writing success.  Hurrah!!

I got the whodunnit plan finished this morning, and I am really pleased with it. I’ve worked out how to twist the next phase to make things seem to fit together when they don’t, and how to deflect attention from the killer. I’ve defined how to push another character into the spotlight and make them realistically a suspect, using the set-up I’ve already put in place and adding a surprise element to that.

I’ve even worked out what finally gives the game away and how to close the last scene.

I’m really happy to get it all on paper. This story needs to be completed, it’s a personal test of my determination to write at this point – the reasons I started it are almost irrelevant now, although I think I’ve learnt a lot to take back to the previous novel. This has become a test of whether I am a prose writer or not: it’s no good having just one good idea in me if I want to do this for my whole life, after all!

So next week, I will focus entirely on getting the story down on paper, so to speak – my intention is to complete it before I come home from retreat. Once that’s done, I can print it off and start filling the gaps, cutting the unnecessary bits, and get it ready for a formal proofread. Phew – sounds so easy, doesn’t it?

As I am on retreat, I will be keeping my connection to the outside world as small as I can make it when doing all the things I want to do.  That means I may not post on Tuesday, and probably won’t on Thursday unless it’s something like a picture of where I am! Hopefully, Sunday’s post will be filled with fabulous success stories though 🙂

I am going to leave it there for today and get my packing finished so we can head off early tomorrow.  I hope you all have a great writing week and I’ll catch up with you soon!



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I am so close to my stay at the retreat in Wales that I can almost touch it, and yet in these last few days of getting up to a sensible point in the whodunnit I have been about as useful as a chocolate teapot, as they say in these parts.

If I had a chocolate teapot I would eat it before putting revolting tea in it anyway, but that’s another matter!

So I have started planning instead – planning how to get from where I am to the end of the story, how to find the missing clues etc. I’ll carry this on into next week with the aim of having a full map to build on in Wales. Alongside some reading, some poetry and a day off exploring the mythological sites (I love the Arthurian legends and I always want to explore the Welsh links more) I want to finish the blimming thing and tick it off!

I have noticed that about two thirds to three quarters of the way into any of my stories I hit a wall and I want to break this one down, to prove to myself I can do it.

So that’s the plan for the week to come, in between everything else… I have to find the time, and wake up every morning feeling that I can do it…

In other news – It’s book 94 in the 100 books list – An Artist of the Floating World, by Kazuo Ishiguro this week.  I like the sound of this one, for some reason – I guess partly because I have an interest in the Japanese culture, which seems so different to my own.  There’s something about it that draws me in as a reader.  In part I think it’s the use of allegory and imagery which is so intensely different to the language I grew up with.  There’s a poetic element to it.  Anyway, to get to the point, I think I’ll add this one to my list!

And finally – I have read the newspapers a lot in the last few days, trying to keep up with the events in, and affecting, Greece.  I have been so sad to see that ugly nationalistic stereotypes are being used about people from different countries (and there’s not just one victim of this) and as someone who is trying to share and spread friendship and peace it feels as though this is a huge step backwards.

We’ve seen where hate leads, and although people will say things behind a computer they wouldn’t say in reality, once those words have been shared the damage has begun.

Gandhi said 

Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding

If we want a mutually satisfactory outcome, to any disagreement, we need to understand each other’s viewpoints – and that can’t happen if we’re throwing stones at each other.

Happy writing,






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Three times this week I’ve been amazed we’re in March already – where does time go?

This week I didn’t want to see it slip between my fingers and although a few drops did get away I managed to get a lot done this week. So much so, in fact, that I have about 10 minutes to write this post!

From a writing point of view, the most important aim was to get back on track with my whodunnit and get 3000 words further towards the conclusion. Well, I will tick this one off as completed – I actually came in about 100 words short but we have everything set up for the discovery of the victim, alibis with built-in problems, a breakdown on the way and everyone with a range of motives and unfortunate choices of words.

It’s fun, doing this – if I can just keep on track, and keep building up the story I think I’ll learn a lot about using small details to manufacture misleading strands of stories.

Phew, try saying ‘manufacture misleading strands of stories’ a few times!

Other than writing I’ve had two family events; dance class; gym time; a visit to a charity clairvoyant evening and of course work. Being busy is definitely better than being bored but next week I hope will be a little less frenetic!

The good thing about all this life stuff, of course, is that it inspires many different things, from lines of poetry to scene-setting and character traits.  This week a few things have really struck me and I want to start recording potential character profiles for future use!

I am going to leave in other news for today as it’s gone 11pm and I need to get some sleep soon; however I will take this opportunity to say I’ll set another 3000 word target for this week, which will see me through discovery and the first suspect being identified. This is my favourite suspect so I am looking forwards to getting them into an interrogation!

Until next time,
Happy writing,

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So much of my time this week has been spent learning and rehearsing other people’s words that I am actually quite proud of the fact my whodunnit is creeping, slowly, longer.

It’s taking much more time than I expected but partway through feeling rubbishy this week I decided just to go for it and get writing, so I at least had something to develop. Wading around thinking about ‘how to’ was really just tying me up in knots.

There’s not much worse for me as a writer than getting bogged down in a planning issue when I don’t commit anything to paper (or in this case computer memory). There’s a mental equation that looks something like this:

0w = 0p><0p = 100%f

No words = no progress. No progress = 100% failure.

I have said many times that upping the word count and producing something of value are not the same thing, but I can’t edit a blank page so at the moment I’ll accept less than perfect writing for something to work with in a few weeks time.

Once I got going I must say that the writing really started to flow and the pages filled quite rapidly. I have a long way to go – and another week of rehearsals followed by three performances so not a lot of time right now – but I do feel better for getting into some sort of writing groove. If I can find even an hour or two this week to keep going I’ll be happy, and once my performing days are over I will be in a position to really get into the nitty-gritty of the plot twisters – and finally learn what I need to learn to get back to the novel!

In other news – listening lunches are back on the menu, so to speak 🙂 My songwriter friend and I are planning a new round of lunches with hopefully a lot of new material. This year I want to do more, push myself more, and achieve more so it’ll be good to start that as soon as panto season is over.  Plus once I get into the editing of the whodunnit I will be happy to have some poetry to break up my time a little.

And finally – I know I am well behind on the 100 novels list but next Sunday, post-panto, I will catch up with a report on those I’ve missed, and (if I remember) a brief report on where I go next with my reading challenge.

Happy writing,



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This week my writing of an hour a day went a bit awry because I found myself watching some family history programmes in my allotted time instead. It wasn’t a waste of time entirely, because some of the situations exposed through research were pertinent to my writing, and made me question a couple of technical aspects of my story – but it was a fairly standard avoidance technique.

I will do better this week.

Having said that, I now have a full team of characters (with a notable exception I’ll come back to shortly), with a victim, murderer, two who have strong motives, a very useful red herring and a great setting.  There’s just one character I need to sort out…

The detective.

I’m torn – and I’m stuck in the storyline, where the detective needs to come in.  I have a victim, and no-one trying to help them rest in peace…

Do I have a police officer, an expert in their field like Morse or Wallander? A private investigator (official or otherwise) like Poirot or Holmes?  An ‘ interested neighbour’ in the vein of Miss Marple or even Nancy Drew?  Or is the matter solved by an injured party – someone who loved the victim, or a suspect who wants to clear their name?

Because this isn’t my genre, and I don’t read a lot of this type of writing, I am struggling to make a decision.  I am considering taking the question to my writing group next week to see what they think, but what do you guys feel works best?  Does the busybody idea, the butting into conversations and eavesdropping at doors, get old fast? Do you think a sociopathic detective really adds a bit of texture to the tale?  In this day and age is it likely that anyone other than a police detective will be allowed near the crime scene or the case file anyway?

Realism suggests a professional police officer, I guess.  But am I going for realism?

As you will see from the number of question marks this week, I don’t know the answers.  If I can find the one necessary question to make a decision, I will be able to set my detective to work!

In other news – I have worked on a peace post this week, but as with all my writing at the moment, I can’t find the right words. I will continue seeking them this week.

And finally – I am falling behind on the 100 novels list again, so just to get back up to date I have not read books 68 or 69.  I am however reading, so at least I’ve managed to do something I can tell you about in my posts this week!

Happy writing,



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