Posts Tagged ‘planning’

This week has been a little less about writing, and a little more about realistic goals – but over the course of the evening a writing plan has started to emerge, and it’s given my literary spirits a boost.

I happened to pop onto my twitter account for the first time in about a week, to see a message there from a writing group friend of mine.

I won’t give you all the details but the upshot was that we are both languishing in writing limbo, and need a nudge in the right direction.

So the starting point of the plan is for us to agree some writing dates when we meet up at group this week coming. On those afternoons/evenings we meet up, we will write. Maybe talk about what we’re writing too, of course, but primarily sit and write.

It’ll be like having a gym friend who makes you exercise when you want to stay in and eat chocolate! Plus when I’m writing I can eat chocolate 😉

My phase two is to acknowledge that I have the tools I need to write, and to use them. That means my reading materials this week are going to be textbooks, guides, exercises etc – all to get me thinking about how to reboot my work.

Phase three is to set myself a target of 10,000 words to get me to the end of Fred’s story so I can finish it and put it aside for later editing.

Phase four is to review all the crime novel work I have done, archive the unsuccessful bits and pull together the best so I can build a new story with more confidence in it – a story I hope will be planned (not written; I need to get back to basics I think) by Christmas.

However, the most important element of my new plan is to relax about my output.  I need to stop putting pressure on myself and focus on why writing is a joy and I love doing it; to let myself have a bit of fun with it.

Expectations can have benefits, or they can undermine your confidence when you don’t meet them.  When everything in life is a little crowded it is too easy to feel I haven’t done what I should.  I make it worse by telling you what I’ll do, too!

But there is no agent phoning me, no editor demanding my time.  I am my own timekeeper so I can set my own rules.  And for now, my rules are to be a little more kind to myself and to enjoy the process of putting pen to paper.

Happy writing,

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I said on Sunday that I would swap my posts around so here is my writing update…

It’s not much of one, to be honest. Fred now has a list of times and places to travel to but I am still working on exactly what he will discover at each of his stops. I already have a few plans but they need fleshing out which I aim to do soon.

I also have to write a marketing blurb for a friend’s memoirs – they are extremely interesting and I want to do them justice.

Finally I have an article to write about our writing group which is changing format soon…

My problem at the moment is actually sitting down to write. It’s a big couple of weeks at work – the project I have been working on for a year is coming to fruition, and it’s pretty hectic.

But hopefully in a couple of weeks it will calm down, and if all I do until then is plan, it’s not a disaster.

Quite honestly, it feels like this year has been against me from start to finish so anything I produce, I’ll be satisfied!

And that is all I have time for today.  I said it wasn’t much of an update, didn’t I?!

Happy writing,

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This weekend, I went to my first ever writing convention, one that was focussed on crime writing in various formats.

There were three of us from the writing group in attendance, and I think we all took away different things from the day. I found it very useful in terms of crime writing, of course, but I also picked up a lot of general points about how to get the most from my page.

There was a panel discussion on publication but it wasn’t quite as helpful as I had hoped. Still, it did show me how important it is to network, because two of the three panelists with agents met them socially so didn’t have to go through the pain of repeat submissions. The other one wrote well-known crime story screenplays before branching into novels.

My learning point from that has been to get out and do the rounds because a chance conversation could be all I need!!

There were talks on police procedurals, and why some people choose not to use police in their stories; writers from overseas talking about their experiences (one of my favourite panels) and extremely prolific writers talking about why they make some of the decisions they do. The decisions seemed to be focussed on reducing the bits they find boring, like research!

Overall, it was a really good day. I limited myself to buying only three books because that seemed enough for one outing, but we did get some freebies in our goodie bags too. However, I could have spent hundreds because Ii was so keen to see what they all produced.

It has also given me a lot of food for thought for the whodunnit and I am considering a significant change to it but I will map it out first to see how it will work.

And one final point from the day – the writers there, for the most part, genuinely made me feel better about my own processes and struggles. Some plot, some don’t. Some write character plans and notes, some don’t. Some edit as they go, some don’t. Some, like me, have chosen to have a different name for their work. Most have felt like they don’t know what they’re doing at one point or another. All have their own way of approaching work. So whenever you wonder if you are doing it right – as long as you are writing, you are doing it right.

The method is entirely down to finding what works for you.

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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In preparation for my competition entry this week, I spent most of my time on my first novel.

Re-reading it has been really lovely. It has identified a few minor issues to tidy up, which is the task for next week, but I doubt that will take more than an hour or so.

Re-doing the synopsis has been much more time-consuming.

When I first prepared everything for agents, I followed all the guidelines to a tee, and the majority of those only allow for one page of text. Looking at that after a little time has passed showed me where I had missed a trick, in terms of building the story. I’m not sure I got it right for this competition, but it is something I will definitely be focussing on over then next couple of weeks.

All this has really got me excited about the book again, so after debating my next options for a while, I am going to try to agent route again. If it’s still unsuccessful I have the option to self-publish, and I will prepare for that too.

The book represents a transformation in my life – giving up my career to write, building an on-line presence, creating a writing community locally. I changed my world to make it happen, and I don’t want that to be wasted.

So that’s my focus for the rest of this month. For the rest of tonight, though, I am logging off as we are in for a storm and I think my power might be compromised!

Happy writing,

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It’s been a very busy weekend, because I’ve been helping out at my friend’s annual business open day. It’s a beautiful location and a great weekend but boy, do I feel it when the last customers have left and we’ve packed up for another year!

The whole week has been a little frenetic, actually – I changed jobs on Thursday, so had a lot of finishing off to do at the beginning of the week, we’re in the process of clearing out our storage room and there’s a new course starting that I want to catch up on before I get behind!  I have also been making decorations in readiness for my Halloween party, culminating this week in the weaving of a large orange wool spider web.

Beyond these, I have done some writing, and got a few bits under my belt.  Sadly, not much of the whodunnit.

Or rather, the time I’ve spent hasn’t got me to the end. It’s so odd – I can sit and write for a couple of hours, only to have moved very little either in word count or story. It’s like that dream where you run down a corridor that stretches the more you move.

So at the risk of yet another missed deadline, I am going to set myself a new one. Before I do that, though, I will do a final plan to get me from where I am to the end. I keep adding bits to the story, but what I ought to be doing is getting the key information into the interviews with the lead police officer, so that will be my focus for the coming week.

By next weekend, I will know what I need to do, and have a timetable to do it.

I will be so very, very glad to get this one finished, I just can’t tell you.  I never imagined working on it so long and it is a reminder that I need to be more practical in my writing processes. It is also a reminder that every writing session missed is an opportunity wasted – I no longer have the luxury of making up writing time at 3am or working through the night to meet a target.  I have to set my targets around my life, not the other way around.

It’s a lesson I should have taken on board already, but it’s one I struggled to absorb.

If nothing else, this whodunnit has been a good learning tool as to how to balance writing with my paid work; like so many things, it’s taken me a while but I’ll get there in the end!

Happy writing,



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You know how last week I said I’d be ok with the whodunnit timeframe if I got the three interviews done this week? Well…

I am behind, of course. I’d normally try to catch up over the weekend but I’ve barely had any time to myself this one. It’s been good – things ticked off in the house; time with my parents and my husband’s parents; a few hours helping out at my friend’s charity event and so on. Still, I am behind and getting a little irritated with myself for not planning my time better.

Tomorrow is a bank holiday here so I will spend most of it writing. I can already say with near-certainty there will be no book this week, and I will have to finish the first draft of the whodunnit before I can get on with the reading and catch up with that!

I did manage to get some proofreading done for my friend but it was a bit of a thankless task – I was too slow for her and she’s decided not to have a proofread!  Still, I can cross it off in good conscience and say no if she asks again.

So now it’s a case of using the next 10 days to their absolute best and getting this story concluded.  I don’t much fancy spending my time in Germany writing it, and assuming it’s complete, I will load up the kindle (and my bag) with books to get me back on track.  I’ll be spending a lot of time in a car so I might as well make the most of it!

I just want to stop feeling like I’m controlled by one of these:

Time Lord

I’m going to leave it for tonight – there’s another weather warning in place and I can hear the thunder rolling already so no doubt we’ll lose power soon!

Until next time – happy writing!



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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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This week I’ve split my writing between poetry and prose again.

In the prose corner, it’s all been about whodunnit. I’ve been gaily writing away and building up the story; although I said at the start it would be a short story (I thought about 20,000 words) I think it is drifting towards novella lengths and when completed it’ll be about 50,000.

I know there’s a writing purpose to this – all about the twisty-turny plot points – but the story exists in its own right and I have to go with my gut and get it on paper. I’m going to keep my target at 3000 words this week but hope to exceed that to keep the momentum up.

There are some technical points I need to address but that’ll come with the first revisions.

In the poetry corner sit a few pieces that I’ve drafted up, that now need a bit of tlc to get them reading-ready. I am working on building my set for the listening lunches, as I’ve said before, so it’s important not to lose sight of the flow from one piece to another. There needs to be some link between them, whether that is style, tone, subject, emotion – whatever, really; it just needs to be right.

I started a new one today that sits with a couple I’ve already done – there’s an underwater theme, but each one tells a different story – of hope, finding a place in the world, loneliness, captivity and so on. It’s a really exciting theme for me; almost as exciting as the space theme I was working on a couple of years ago!

In other news – Book 78 on the 100 novels list is another American classic (that I haven’t read): To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It came up as an option for reading group this year but based on my desire to read less dramatic/difficult/depressing books we opted for something else first!  I won’t read it yet but it may come up through the group later in the year.

And finally – a bit about B4Peace.  This one is falling well off my radar as I am struggling to find time for two posts a week at the moment, let alone adding in B4Peace posts or Thoughts on a Thursday.  This is bothering me quite a lot!  However, I am trying to keep peace in my life: I am off to a mindfulness in the workplace event (which I’ll tell you about next week) and I am seeking out sayings and quotes I can share to add a little calmness to the end of my post each week.

Here’s one of Cicero’s that I recently found:

Peace is liberty in tranquility

Happy writing



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Sorry this is late – my internet issues summed up last week, really: one minute I was jogging along, and the next something went awry.

So first of all the lost (other than my wi-fi!) – I have somehow lost all the work I did on the whodunnit after 15 February. I was typing it up on the go, on my new phone, and I think I must have done something wrong because the document has vanished into the cyber-ether. I am frustrated, but not horrified: I am wallowing in the story and I will treat this as a chance to re-boot. By way of this post I will give myself a target of 3000 word this week to make up for what’s vanished.

And onto the found.  I’ve found a bit of poetry mojo; I want to write a whole new set of works in the coming months, and the poetry really seems to be firing right now. My lovely husband made a comment that led me into one, and our general chit-chat on a journey through Wiltshire led to another. Two in a weekend, both of which have something in them I like, is a really positive outcome for me.

I found time to spend with my friends at reading group.  We didn’t actually discuss any reading though, just had a meal and a chinwag – so it was basically a girl’s night!

I also found challenges.  One challenge was a driving experience which I didn’t want to do but had to do, for work – I did it, and that’s enough for me 🙂 Another was a rather deep-end re-entry to dance classes where we had to perform six, none of which I’d ever done before!

On balance the week looks pretty good, in retrospect. Even the lost writing hasn’t fazed me as it might have done, because I know I’d gone down the wrong rabbit hole. For a short story, this one is really becoming over-complicated, and I will use my 3000 words this week not only to get back on track but to near completion.

In other news – I seem to have lost a week in the 100 novels, because book 76 was On the Road by Jack Kerouac and I never mentioned it.  It’s another classic of American literature, but I’ve only really become aware of it in the last few years.  I love the idea of it, but wonder if I should have read it when I was younger and more open to the idea of just going off.  I’ll add it to the ‘read me’ pile and maybe get to it one day!

Book 77 – Voss, by Patrick White – is another one I’ve never read.  It sounds full of anger and I don’t know that I want that now so it won’t go on the list but I do love books set in Australia – the sheer scope of the country is always so overwhelming and majestic.

And finally – having started a new job today I am going to have to reorganise my life for the next few months.  I don’t want my writing to sink under a lot of other daily tasks, so I am also intending to reconfigure the writing timesheet and report my progress.  I won’t do it all the time but maybe once a month, just so you can give me a virtual prod if I’m slacking!

Until next time – happy writing!



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