Monday, 19 May 2014

Moving On With Writing

There are so many reasons why you might find it difficult to focus upon your writing - to take the plunge and finally begin writing the novel you yearn to read yourself. One of the more obvious reasons is perhaps a lack of discipline, lack of motivation or pure procrastination. Less obvious in the beginning might be planning - or rather a distinct lack of it.

How many times I've read about other writers/authors who are 'pansters' and simply don't plan. This works for them. Great. That's what I mistakenly thought might work for me too, way back when my manuscript was but a twinkle in the sky. And then, as a couple of years went by, and I was struggling and nowhere near finished, I read how other historical fiction authors spent several years writing a tomb of a book, so I thought I was doing fine. How wrong I was although it's true to say that some books really do take years to write and perfect. Historical fiction is no easy ride. Research can be so labour intensive and note taking is essential along with an adequate filing system of sorts (still learning that one!).

In Hillary Mantels memoir, 'Giving Up The Ghost,' she talks about how she literally fell into writing because her health forced her out of one career, leaving her wondering what she could do. Writing, she knew she could do, but fiction writing was something else. She had never really attempted to do so, and she wondered if she could, so she began to learn! And learn, she did. Meticulous planning is one of her fortes, and I have taken note of what she has had to say on the subject of writing. For me, it simply struck a chord, and along with some tips from Author Roz Morris, I got my own writing back on track. The key? Meticulous planning of course although rather late in the day, but certainly better late than never. Following on from there is discipline, for without it, one is doomed. I decided that I simply have to have a regular time to write - a time that I also like to write at. This time is either early morning or in the evening (often both).

So, my manuscript has form, shape and depth. I'm filling in with the minor plots, and have the ending to revise, but I'm so relieved to be almost at the finish line. Then the real work begins, or so I'm told. Expert critiques, and I have a couple of professionals in line for that,  more edits, book cover design, marketing etc etc. As you can tell, I'm going to self publish. Why? Because, as long as I have something decent, a good story, I want to share it with the entire world as soon as possible and then move on to my next project. Why not? It's so difficult to attract a publisher today and I have no desire to wait years whilst I try. That's not to say that I won't be trying as I go along. I will, but the main objective is to keep going, and get my book published. Working on my author's platform and participating in some hard graft when it comes to marketing will be the making of me.

Just to reiterate, I can't stress enough just how important it is to establish a regular writing routine. Others will tell you not to feel bad if you don't do this and to write when you can. This latter one was me for a while, and it gave me even more excuses to procrastinate. A regular routine has transformed me, literally. My creativity and word output have increased tremendously. In fact, I write every morning, early whilst the household sleeps on. It's quiet, it's heaven and it's simply so tranquil. It's better in the winter - more cosy. Now it's almost summer and the heat this morning is a little overwhelming, but I hear you, I should not complain about the sunshine. By nine o'clock, or sometimes before, I'm ready to get on with the rest of my day. Now I find that I keep returning to my work at every opportunity throughout the day. Procrastination is a thing of the past. You do have to find your way, but I think a good starting point is to begin with a defined writing period each day and then develop it from there.

I have a funny story about procrastination. I once wrote a blog post entitled, 'The Queen of Procrastination.' That was obviously me at the time, and my local radio station emailed me, inviting me to be interviewed live on Cumbria FM. How fabulous you might think. I thought so too when I first read the email. Trouble was, I read it two days later and they wanted me on the show the day before. So, effectively, I lived up to my own title and procrastinated my way out of a fab radio interview. I will say that the programme manager had a little chuckle when I rang to apologise. C'est la vie.

The greatest thing of all is finally seeing the all important increasing word count and page count. I can almost proclaim that I have a book. Today is a good day, having achieved my daily word count this morning, I'm about to write some more this evening. If you're wondering, I don't use a desk - too small. I use a spare dining room table and it's currently crammed with books, dictionaries, notes and yellow post-its (and the spare pc screen borrowed from husband). It's absolute chaos, unorganised and wonderful.

Now, I bid you farewell for now and I leave you with this picture I've just acquired from auction. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - Lancaster, Spitfire & Hurricane. And it's flying season now until September/October so look out for them across the UK. We will remember them.

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