Day 1: Friday – After an introduction session to meet the other participants, I settled to write for a couple of hours. I didn’t get as much completed as I’d intended as one of my three characters isn’t as developed as she needs to be. She has all the basics but lacks ‘depth’ regarding her conflict. This is what I need to discuss tomorrow in my ‘one to one’ session. I literally want to banter back and forth about my current ideas and see what is suggested/develops to enhance her journey.
I was tempted to focused on my two fully formed characters, but at the moment that would feel like getting ahead of myself. I need to rectify the elephant in the room, as her journey will impact on the other two characters. If it doesn’t then I need to ask myself what is the point of her character so, it is reassuring to feel this way.
Day 2: Saturday – two separate sessions on conflict and characters – which were both enlightening in relation to my current ‘flaky character’. I had a light bulb moment realising that my book contains three different kinds of conflict which adds variety for my reader and characters alike. I hadn’t realised I’d planned it that way, very much within the happy accident territory with that detail. A second realisation, was the hobby awarded to my ‘flaky woman’ has a wealth of opportunity for metaphors in relation to her emotions/persona – again another happy accident which was totally a sub-conscious decision whilst planning.
One to one session – exactly what I needed! In thirty minutes of chatting, answering questions and outlining my current ‘flaky lady’ – she’s no longer flaky! This is the beauty of writing retreats and mentors – with a creative idea you can’t always see the wood for the trees. Then bingo, Alison asks me a question, offers a detail and the whole thing falls together so nicely that you’re amazed you didn’t think of that option beforehand. I have a couple of routes I can take, I need to explore each to decided which will work for me.
During the one to one session, I also clarified my theme too. Previously, I’d been thinking of ‘belonging’, but actually ‘expectations’ is more fitting given the angle I’m coming from.
I’m now settling for a writing session before tonight’s Saturday night social at 7:30pm.
In little under ten minutes, I'll be signing on-line for a weekend writing retreat hosted by Alison May and Janet Gover. Two fabulous authors, who I've secretly adopted during my publishing journey as part of my mentoring team, known to me as the 'fairy godmothers'.
If you've followed my journey then you already know, there's nothing I like more than a weekend writing retreat. Given that we can't safely attend our usual style of 'weekend of writing' - the 'Godmothers' have put together an on-line package in which all sessions are via Zoom or Moodle and I can't wait to begin!
The only difference so far, I haven't packed a suitcase, I haven't driven and I haven't said goodbye to my dog. Shhh, don't tell them, but my little writing buddy will be joining me this weekend by sleeping in the armchair.
I always set a word count goal prior to attending writing retreats, and this is like no other: 10,000 words before bedtime on Sunday!
I have a one to one discussion session booked for Saturday afternoon - in which to discuss my current project, yeah, the secret one! Other authors are having their chapter/synopsis submissions evaluated, but I requested slightly different given where I am in my current project.
I'll give updates as during the weekend: the good, the bad and the ugly - depending on how my words flow.
It's 2:41am on 28th January 2021 - book 7 has officially left the building!
I've spent the entire day polishing the manuscript by spell checking, realigning chapter headers and rereading paragraph after paragraph.
I intend to spend the day away from my laptop and listen to my first publish audiobook "New Beginnings At Rose Cottage' whilst sketching for the entire day!
So, bye for now but I need sleep.
I'm nipping on-line during a coffee break to bring you up to date. I have spent every day since my last book post editing my Shetland Christmas book. Today, I will finish and submit it - as planned. The manuscript has been edited paragraph by paragraph which can be a laborious task, as my brain suddenly throws up brand-new sparkly ideas. Another favourite trick for my brain is the desire to switch the order of chapters to improve the pace of the novel. A first glance, you'd think that was easy but no, it's like juggling jelly as you have to unpick the chapter from its current position and reposition then stitch it into place elsewhere. All date details, times, weather conditions, events and characters need to be rechecked afterwards incase you've skewed the plot sequence. It feels great when completed and you're happy with the result, but it scrambles your brain most of the time. It hasn't happened this time, but there have been occasions when I've completed such a task only to find a blinding error and need to reverse to the original order. Urgh, such fun!
My manuscript has changed from a rainbow of colour into black font as I work through. I'm a visual person so like to see my progress highlighted by the swathe of black which creeps through my manuscript. There's no going back from this point.
The fun part, yes - there is still fun to be had at this stage, is when my brain throws up a tiny detail which slips into the plot without any fuss or trouble. I love those moments, which usually reinforce your themes or character arcs at a deeper level. I've had several of those moment since the weekend.
The word count has been all over the shop since the weekend, sometimes as high as 110,000 before lowering back to nearer 97,000 words. It's quite amazing how it shifts and changes over the course of an edit.
My plan for tonight is simple - keep polishing until it is done. I have no intention of having this book in my possession by the time I wake for breakfast tomorrow morning (28th January 2021). It will have long gone by then.
The new book project is currently standing at 32,382 words - I've spent a minimum amount of time each day due to focussing on editing my Christmas book.
My plan for tomorrow is to take the day off; I need to download my brain freeing it from this current manuscript. I intend to
listen to all nine hours of my first audiobook, which is released tomorrow, whilst sketching.
Good morning, I didn't expect to provide another blog this week, but I received such a lovely review from Sue Flint's blog page - I thought I'd share the link with my followers.
I met Sue a while back when she hosted the 'Writer and readers' group' in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Sue has continued to upload her reviews throughout 2020 on her own blog page. So why not, grab a fresh coffee and have a read.
Available in ebook, paperback and audiobook from: Amazon
Day 19 of the secret new book project and so far, so good. I've aimed for 1400 words per day and that's worked out pretty well apart from one day where a wrote myself into a blind alley so scraped an entire section, but hey, that happens! Its a case of SUMO (shut up, move on). This new project doesn't actually feel like work as I've settled at the end of each day to indulge myself after editing. If anything, it has reminded me of years gone by when I used to complete a full-time job and then settle at my desk to write late into the night. The olden days when I was juggling so much each day, but had my heart set on a dream. This new project feels like those times as no one else knows the subject, characters details or the conflict they'll face. The words have spilt onto the page each night which is pure joy for any author.
Regarding the editing task, I've just eight days remaining if I'm to submit early on 27th January. My deadline is the 1st Feb, but I have an on-line weekend writing retreat booked from Friday, 29th Jan so, I don't want the book submission hanging over my head. The 28th Jan is the release date for my first audiobook 'New Beginnings At Rose Cottage' so, I intend to spend the whole day listening and drawing. Which leaves the 27th Jan as my chosen date to submit my Christmas book. I'll manage it; the current progress is good.
Whilst writing this blog post it dawned on me that you might be writing alongside or plotting your own project. I have no way of knowing who, what, when, where or how far you've come on your writing journey. A couple of things I wished I known early on might help you guys.
Firstly, nothing is ever wasted - don't ever scrap written words, simply create a new document, then 'cut and paste' and save. It is amazing how many descriptions/dialogue paragraphs I have reused in later books which I was happy to scrap from a previous manuscript.
Secondly, start following as many people as you can on social media related to your genre. When you sign a contract it is written into the clauses that you'll need a 'social media presence'. Seriously, it is. You don't have to go all out tweeting and posting everyday but do create accounts, follow those you're interested in on a daily basis and learn from the things you see them do. You'll spot their mistakes too - it's all additional learning for your future self!
Thirdly, take every opportunity to read about other authors, listen to back-dated interviews, attend on-line chats - it is amazing which small nugget of information you'll glean that can make a huge difference to your writing, journey or mindset.
And finally, enjoy the journey. I was on my publishing journey for a hell of a long time and if I hadn't taken pleasure in the small steps I made, I'd have been pretty damned miserable. I know that's easier said than done, when all you want is to be published, but you can't let your dream cloud the rest of your days.
Whether you're joining me by writing a new book or simply following my progress, I thought I'd update my word count as proof that little and often is always a winner in writing! This morning, Saturday 9th, I've nearly hit the 13,000 mark for the new book. That's the result of a set amount of time each day and the pleasure of getting lost creativity - nothing more. Simply seeing progress gives a writer a boost; I've managed that without disrupting my main editing task - which feels like a bonus book. That feedback of positivity to the brain motivates us to complete the cycle again and again. I'm a person who always rewards myself on the successes of life, big or small. It might seem arrogant or superficial, but I frequently praise myself for a job well done! Why wouldn't I? I'm the first to praise others when they achieve!
I've started to edit for today so, have placed an asterisks beside the current figure for my manuscript. Editing is going well, it's not my favourite of tasks but I've learnt to embrace it, shall we say. I recognise the difference between my drafted manuscript and the book that it becomes after editing - which helps. That mindset was developed due to a retreat I attended held by Alison May and Janet Glover (excellent mentors by the way). I'd prefer to be writing on a blank page, that's where my joy lies, but editing is a must! In order to make my editing process enjoyable for me, I tend to edit outside of my writing room. I put a boxset on the TV downstairs, sit myself on a big cushion and surround myself like a carpet picnic with everything I need. A very different location and setting to my writing room where I perch at a desk. New task: new location - psychological, in many ways. Anyway, editing is going well. I'm stripping away the dead wood. Plotting works in a similar way too. I use the floor as a desk and literally play like a kid for hours by spreading out my post-it notes before collecting them and organising them into the manuscript book which I create for each new novel. Do you remember being a child and getting lost playing with Lego? Literally hours pass without you being aware of anything other than hunger! That's how I plan; reinforces I'm just a big kid at heart!
Once upon a time, I used to teach fitness classes and each yoga session ended with meditation. I still meditate each day as it benefits my wellbeing plus, I'm prepared to use anything that aids my creativity. After yesterday's meditation, two news ideas, just small plot points, pinged into my head. I wrote them down to prevent forgetting and today, I'll work them into the plot. What I'm saying is, I allow myself space away from daily life and work to simply be for ten minutes and its quite amazing what can result from that dedicated time. Now, I know some have just rolled their eyes, others might snigger - go ahead, but be open minded enough to try something new for a few days and argue for yourself whether it works in your world. It definitely works in mine. The same often occurs with any silent task: knitting, drawing, dog-walking or meditation. Try it, you might surprise yourself.
Right, I need to get back to my editing and my 'The Big Bang Theory' boxset but, should my agent or editor ask if I'm writing a new book, your answer is a steely 'no!' OK? This project is a secret book, they'll see it soon enough.
My working day is currently being split 75:25 between my editing task and writing this new book. My main task for the month is obviously my editing but I’m a creative person who needs to have an outlet - well, that’s my excuse anyway.
I’ve had a good few days. The editing has gone well as I have all the words needed but not necessarily in the right order. Though each hour I tend to it I can see a difference when I compare the manuscript to yesterday’s version. Whilst editing, the book literally emerges from the haze of words and takes on life as a book rather than a draft manuscript.
The new manuscript is behaving as it should. I’ve written the opening scenes for each of my three ladies. I always feel a bit sad for them at this stage; each has an issue/dilemma which she has no idea of how I’m going to resolve on her behalf. Two characters already have clear distinct voices while the third is a little weak at present, but she’ll develop in the coming weeks. She’s got a story to tell so, she’ll find her voice soon.
My new manuscript is a rainbow of pink, blue and green font split by chapter headings and my spreadsheet contains details of scene setting and a snippet of content – enough to jog my memory when looking at the overview. That said, my editing manuscript is also in stripes of coloured font – nothing has changed there.
In the new project, I’ve revised some of my males’ names as two of them simply didn’t feel right once I was writing. That happens to me a lot with minor characters. Some have numerous name changes during my drafting as my taste changes or something significant puts me off a specific name eg. a news story or event. For instance, Joel in my debut novel was called Declan for about a year before I switched his name. How anyone names a baby and keeps its name without changing it a million times is beyond my understanding!
I realised this morning that one of my descriptions is the interior of a local restaurant so I’ve rejigged some details and disguise that fact, but in my mind’s eye I can clearly see what I’m writing about. I know readers won’t ever suspect but it helps me to be specific regards layout and setting.
I’ve had to rejig a couple of business names as well as you want something realistic but not too twee. I ran the new names through ‘Google search’ just to be on the safe side. I do ‘Google’ checks quite a lot to ensure that I’m not including local business details that I subconsciously picked up whilst on a dog walk.
I think that is it; all that I’ve done in the past few days. I’ll continue the 75:25 split working on both projects each day.
If you’ve got a specific question or query which I’ve overlooked don’t hesitate to contact me either on Twitter @ErinGreenAuthor or email: ErinGreenAuthor@mail.com
The photo shows my word count spreadsheet. During editing, if the word count is reduced I don’t use minus figures as it distorts my monthly/annual word count – I insert a zero instead. I'm attempting to maintain a 1400 word daily target for the new project as I can't afford for it to take priority over my editing task; I have a deadline to meet!
Happy New year, folks! I’m hoping you had a glorious start to 2021 and are bursting with vitality for the days, weeks and months ahead. I’m totally ignoring the news and have locked myself into a creative bubble where I intend to stay for the foreseeable future.
My aim for the next 90 days is to finish editing the current Shetland book, deadline is 1st February, and begin a brand-new book. In fact, I tell a little lie there … I started writing a new book yesterday (for those who follow me on Twitter that won’t be a surprise).
Before I was published, I wanted to know exactly how an author wrote, planned and worked on a book. Despite many searches and media follows I rarely found authors who shared their time lines, working hours and the difficulties encountered. In this coming series of blogs, I’m going to share my progress as it happens. I’ll happily be honest about my progress and word count each time.
Two weeks ago, I created three new characters and made up a manuscript book in which I have stuck a glossy catalogue photo for each person. I’ve given each character their own page and filled it with specific details about them. This book becomes my sacred guide to this new book. I’ll write down any research questions, quirks or habits, plot details and even background history which comes to mind. I might not use it all but once its written down I can’t possibly forget an idea - which can come in handy when polishing a book or a little extra is needed.
I used post-it notes to plot the story arc obviously, on three different colours one for each character, and have ordered them into a feasible story line – which I’ve stuck into the manuscript book.
There’s no reason why I’ve waited two weeks to begin; it’s one of my quirks - I like specific dates!
On my laptop, I’ve now created a ms template, complete with dedication and coloured fonts relating to my character. I write in the first-person viewpoint so it’s easier keeping track plus, the bonus is I can feed my brain colour rather than the standard black font whilst I’m creating. I only switch the document to black font just before I send it to my agent and editor.
My manuscript prep includes creating an excel spreadsheet where I log chapter details as I write. Over the years, I’ve adapted my routines and records but this system is currently working for me so, why would I change? I know other authors don’t use additional documents but I like to know exact details while I create as it helps me when I am editing the book later in the process.
I also have a daily word count document which I complete purely as an inventory of my productivity. Again, I know many authors don’t keep such records but over the years I’ve been able to see my own development so, this document has proved invaluable. Last year 2020, I managed to write 315,675 words – I wouldn’t know that without my daily record!
Everything I do aims to improve my productivity and imagination – nothing more.
Anyway, 1st January 2021, I wrote ‘Chapter one’ of my new book. I haven’t got an official title as all my books barring two have changed their titles upon publication. I use a working title purely for my own benefit and discussing with friends as it gets confusing if you have several projects on the go, but I know my working title won’t make it to the front cover. I wrote 1406 words for the new book, edited a chapter of the Shetland book and did a little additional research.
I've already been on my dog-walk so, have pondered what I'll be writing later. Today, I’ll follow on with ‘Chapter two’ and edit more of my Shetland book – simple.