Well That’s Another Year Gone – Almost

And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been. - Rainer Maria Rilke

I realise that there are still some days left in 2015, and Santa has still to pop down chimneys all over the world, but I have already begun thinking about life in 2016. I never make New Year resolutions as they are just there to be broken, but I do try to plan ahead and think about what I may achieve in the months to come. Here is my list so far:

  • Write something every day, even if it’s just a shopping list.
  • Finish the first draft on this years NaNoWriMo novel and then put it away for a couple of months.
  • Enter more writing contests; something I’ve failed to do in 2015, except for a couple in December.
  • Read more books, whenever I possibly can.
  • Read more of other blogs and comment.
  • Blog more regularly, and about different things.
  • Continue eating a low fat diet as it’s really working for me.
  • Step up my exercise regime; I know I’ll need to after Christmas.

Those are things that I think of for the time being, but there will be lots more to add in the coming months. Around this time of year, it seems that the world is looking backwards. We are bombarded with reviews of 2015, of what we did in the past year and what our achievements have been. I try not to do it and many years ago developed this mantra, which is probably a mixture of other peoples quotes, but it works for me.

The past is past, it cannot be re-written or undone. Learn from it and move on.

Steve Cripwell

I hope you all enjoy the festive season and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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Reading Habits

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
Stephen King

I was reading a book the other day and it suddenly occurred to me that my reading habits were probably not the same as others, but quite why, I don’t know. I tend to read crime thrillers, perhaps a bit of Si-Fi, a touch of horror and the odd biography or autobiography. The time of day I read varies with my mood, as does the amount of time spent reading. I have to read to the end of a scene or chapter before I can put it down,  and I become annoyed with books which go on for page after page with no break. I think that is something the author should think about when writing. I am a voracious reader at times and then at others I may only read a page but I always have a book on the go and usually I have the next one lined up. Although that can change when I finish. I also always read the first 100 pages as I think it takes that long to get used to the writers style. If I haven’t settled into the book by then I know it’s not going to happen for me. I read physical books, books on the Kindle app on my tablet and occasionally the Kindle app on my smartphone. When I used to commute by train into work, each day,  that was the ideal time to read and amazingly so many others do the same.

I tried an audio book once  but I’m still unconvinced, even though I do like to hear stories read out on radio. Maybe it’s the length of the audio book which is the problem. Whilst listening, I find, my mind wanders in a way it doesn’t when I read words on a page.  I’m sure there are millions of audio book fans out there and for visually impaired people they must be a god send.

I can never envisage a life without books although I do know people who haven’t read a book since they were at school. Maybe they get their pleasures elsewhere; maybe TV or radio. I remember the quote from Groucho Marx when he said.

 “I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

I do watch TV but given the choice between that and a good book there is no contest

Finished

‘Read a lot, write a lot, always’

 Stephen King

Today I hit the 50,000 words plus barrier at NaNoWriMo. In fact, I finished today on 52,105 words with nine days to spare. Big sighs of relief all round. This year, however, I intend to continue with my novel as I feel it needs completing. The characters  are still growing and telling me the story so I’ve settled on trying to pound out an achievable 2,000 words a day, as there is so much still to be said.

In previous years I’ve stopped once I’d finished writing in November, thinking that was my achievement done for the year. What I actually discovered was that walking away from the story allowed it to die, as I went on to other projects. Flitting about like a butterfly. I then found it impossible to get back into the story and into the heads of the protagonists and my muse left me, staring at a jumble of words. So this time I plan to keep going and to keep the characters alive. At 52,000 words I don’t feel  I am even half way towards my novel’s first draft and I have set my goal at completing that.

I don’t know what will happen but I am resolved to write something every day, and continue to build it into a completed first draft. It’s a good feeling to complete the November challenge but this year I shall keep it going.

Good luck to all others out there, still writing and heading to 50,000. I’m  with you and will continue updating my word count until the end. Keep it up you’re doing great.

Rocking NaNoWriMo with Scrivener

I read this recently and thought it might be useful for other scrivener users

Are you planning to tackle 50,000 words for National Novel Writing Month in November? Here are some of my favorite Scrivener features for staying on track. Annotations/Comments When you get stuck i…

Source: Rocking NaNoWriMo with Scrivener

Writer’s Block

I don’t do writer’s block. No one ever refuses to serve you at a supermarket till with the words, ‘Sorry, can’t do it. I’ve got checkout person’s block.’

David Hewson

I read this today and began thinking about writers block. There are mixed thoughts about it’s reality. Plus an unending number of ‘cures’ for it. Hewson, in his blog post, doesn’t believe in it, just that writers dry up because the path they have chosen to write went awry a few hundred word previous. The drying comes from writers trying to write themselves out of it and hoping to pick up the thread by just putting words on the page. What they really need to do is address what went wrong earlier and find a new direction for the story.

I have experienced this drying up and I suppose it’s easy to put a label on it and call it something, like writer’s block, as an excuse not to write on or find a solution. I have been guilty of this. Getting stuck on one story doesn’t mean you can’t write something else, but putting a label on it can do. Doing so gives you permission to give up, like having flu so you don’t have to go to work. Calling it a name means you have some sort of illness that only afflicts writers and nobody else.

There are many reasons for drying up or writer’s block but when it happens you can call it what you like but don’t use it as an excuse to stop. When you are sitting looking at a blank page, desperate for a beginning to the story that’s fast fading from you thoughts. Start in the middle, or write down the ending but write, write, write something and it will pass. Unblock writer’s block.

“Don’t waste time waiting for inspiration. Begin, and inspiration will find you.”
H. Jackson Brown Jr.

NaNoWriMo Preparations

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Well preparations are going well so far. I’ve done character sketches of my main protagonists, complete with photographs of them. Luckily Scrivener allows me to add these, so instead of writing detailed notes about hair and eye colour I can just look at the picture. I searched Google Images for a likeness which fitted what I see in my head and just dragged it into the note. (You don’t need Scrivener to do this, of course).

The next thing I thought about is location. My story is based in London and then on a remote island so I searched Google Earth for the area I envisioned and found places which could work in the story but none had what I really wanted. I did a hand drawn map of the Island, photographed it and dragged into my location research so I can refer back to it during the story. I also included a couple of pictures of London where my hero lives and works. I’ve then researched climate for the time of year as the weather also plays a part in my story.

Next I did some rough time line plotting and building an outline of events although these will change as the writing progresses; they always do. As a pantster I know I’ll go with flow as the writing takes over the story.

I’ve also, unusually, been asked to work for seven days during November, by the company I used to work for, so I need to build that into my daily word count. This was something which scuppered my first attempt, a few years ago. I began by just doing what was necessary but fell badly behind when other things intervened, causing me to abandon that attempt.

How are your preparations going?

Handling Rejection

“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what’s wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”

 Neil Gaiman

A large number of writers will be participating in NaNoWriMo next month and therefore a number of novels started. Some will be abandoned, some will be completed but they will all be a product of the writers mind. A mind, in my experience, which is easily frustrated and it’s confidence dented by rejection. I know that when I have entered short story competitions and have my work rejected, it can be really deflating. When this happens, I handle it by thinking about the number of highly successful authors who have felt the same way and I remind myself of the following quotes:

  •  “It is so badly written.” The author tries another publisher and his little book makes an impression. The Da Vinci Code sells 80 million.
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter was rejected so many times she decided to self-publish 250 copies. It has now sold 45 million.
  • “I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.” Shunned by all the major publishers, the author goes to France and lands a deal. The first 5000 copies quickly sell out. But the author Vladimir Nabokov now sees his novel, Lolita, published by all those that initially turned it down, with combined sales of 50 million.
  • 5 London publishers turn it down. The little book finally finds a home: Life of Pi by Yann Martel, winning The Man Booker Prize in 2002.
  • “We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopia’s. They do not sell.” Stephen King’s Carrie sells 1 million in the first year alone.
  • Alex Haley writes for eight years and receives 200 consecutive rejections. His novel Roots becomes a publishing sensation, selling 1.5 million copies in its first seven months of release, and going on to sell 8 million. Such is the success that The Pulitzer Prize award the novel a Special Citation in 1977.

I think that these true quotes show that it is extremely rare for a writer to get published straight away. Success doesn’t happen easily and many wonderful novels might never have found their way onto our bookshelves and into our hearts if the writers hadn’t showed a high degree of persistence.

So, if you think you have a good, well constructed story, believable characters and plot, then keep going. It might be worth it in the end.