Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Five Years Time

I got a book from the library, the updated 'Blogging for Dummies', and I have started reading it in search of inspiration. I thought that starting at the beginning would be boring, after all, this isn't the first time I have been a blogger. But this is probably the only time I have set out with the intention of doing it over a long period of time. It talks about thinking where you want your blog to be in 5 years time, and what the purpose of the blog will be. The book sets out some questions to help figure out the answer to that. I struggle imagining 1 year from now, so these really helped me get to grips with my blog's future. I have answered those questions below:

What level of commitment are you willing to make to blogging?

I intend to post once a week. This includes 3 drafts, so the final post is always edited several times.

Do you like writing? How's your typing?

I do like writing, yes. But I find writing non-fiction harder than fiction. And essentially, my blog is non-fiction. It may not always be factually correct (though I do try where necessary) I don't ever make things up. And if I do, you will always be warned.
My typing is okay. I make a few typos in the first draft, but hopefully none make it through to the final draft. Thanks Spell Checker!

What will the blog be about? Is your blog personal or professional?

The blog will be about writing, all aspects. From living as a writer, to the actual act of putting words on screen. There will be a bit of a personal element, as I am chronicling life as a writer. This includes rejections, successes, and the times it just doesn't happen because I decided to reproduce!

Do you think that your new blog might grow into a new career, lead to new clients and business, or help build connections with peers and colleagues?

This has a variety of answers. Primarily, it is to get me in the swing of writing regularly, and to a deadline. But I hope it will be a platform for the future, and to connect with other writers. I'm not expecting loads. This is more for my personal satisfaction than any thing else.

* * *

So there it is. My blog plan. I think these are really good questions to ask if you are thinking about setting up a blog, or if you have a blog and have lost your way. There are probably more, but these are the ones I got from Blogging for Dummies. They have made me refocus on what I originally planned.

What other questions should people ask? Are these helpful? I'd love to hear from you.

***Apologies! This post is late and picture-less. This is due to technical issues***

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Perfect Writing Day

Do you have 'day envy' when you read those columns titled 'My Writing Day'? I know I do! Very rarely do I see one that tallies with my day. But many of them are what I would like my day to be like. So for this post, I thought I would set a timer for ten minutes and free write on what my perfect day would look like. I have tried to be as true to myself as possible, but I do think I have been influenced by such columns.

My perfect writing day starts with me waking up. I would then go downstairs and make coffee and breakfast. The kids would probably be awake, and I would feed them. I would sit down with coffee and breakfast and check the news, my Facebook and e-mail. I would also write a list of things to do. I would then send the kids off to school, and do the dishes, put a load of laundry on, before settling down to write. I will be a full time novelist so most of my day will be taken up by a current novel in progress. I would write a few short stories in between. I would be in my own dedicated office with a large desk, a comfy chair and a very useful cupboard where all notebooks are stored. There will also be bookshelves, carpet, a rug and a sofa or other comfy chair. I would get some household chores done in the day, when I needed a screen break. Most importantly, my family would leave me alone when I am sat in this room!

So, that is it! Is your day perfect? Is it like my ideal? We can all strive to better use of our time and resources. One day, my day will look more like the one detailed above. But for now, I am happy with my lot, if I keep working towards improvement. I will be writing about my actual writing day soon. Or it should be about my days, and how I fit writing into them! I do believe that if you want something enough, you find the time to make it a priority.

I'd like to know your thoughts, and how you manage your daily writing. Are you a hobbyist? Or do you earn your money from it? And how has your day changed over the years?

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Writing With children

"There is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall." -Cyril Connelly

Cyril Connelly probably gave the most controversial quote of all time. It is often discussed in one way or another, when writers (or artists!) cry over the difficulty of getting things done with little people in the house.

When my eldest (11) was a baby, he was not demanding. He would sit in the same spot for hours, even once he could move around. He is being investigated for various developmental and learning disabilities. He wouldn't sleep, still doesn't, but eventually we taught him to just stay in his room. I was a pretty happy, confident young mum, in part time employment. I wrote most days, and had plenty of time to mull ideas over.

Then came my youngest (3). The only peace I get is when she is at school or asleep! When she is awake and I am responsible for her, my time is in high demand. At this point in the writing of this post I have been interrupted no less than 4 times - for various reasons, none of which were life threatening.

I can see why the pram in the hall can be a problem. To be creative, you have to have time and space to just be, to smell the roses and make sense of the world around you. A current story I have in progress is set at a beautiful attraction owned by the National Trust and is local to me. I have visited a couple of times, but on those occasions it has been with my family. This means I have probably missed many details, as I have been too busy keeping children in line. So I will be visiting again soon. On my own!

That isn't to say that children are a hindrance. I have a couple of ideas for YA stories thanks to the insight of my 11 year old. I am also experiencing the same (or almost) as other families, so I can write stories readers relate to. I only have a couple of hours quiet during the school term, but I also have an amazing man who lets me escape into the wild to get the stories on to the screen. And if it wasn't for my children, I wouldn't make the most of the time I have available when I do get it. They do say there is nothing more motivating than not being able to get to the keyboard!

The pram in the hall is what you make of it. And if it is making art suffer, know that it isn't for long, and take joy in your offspring. And write any moment you can. Keep that notebook in the nappy bag.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Writing Space

As writers, we can be very fussy about where we work, thinking that we need some magic ritual to be successful.  I know that if I want to do something, then I like a clean, tidy environment. For instance, I cannot sit down and crochet, or watch TV if there are jobs to be done. Now that isn't to say that my house is tidy. It is far from it. But that orderly environment is something I strive for on a daily basis, even though I fail at it often.

Currently, I don't have an office. This is something I really wish I could have, but space and money doesn't permit. At the moment our dining room acts as laundry room (we have a tumble dryer in here) office, and until recently a playroom.

Here is a picture of this space as I write:
If you look closely, in the background there is a computer desk, which is used for piling the stuff that has accumulated on the dining table when it is time to eat!

I know I said I needed clean and tidy, and this photo shows something other than that. What keeps me going in all this chaos are my accountability partners. I have a blog buddy, whom I have to check in with weekly. And then I have word wars going on where I have to write 500 words a day on my novel! So if this was even worse, I would have to go and find somewhere else to do it. And I would! Although I prefer order, I can work in an environment other than what I prefer. Which just shows that you don't need the perfect desk or office or anything else for that matter. I have learned that to be a writer all you need is a way to get your words on the screen.

Sometimes, I work in the library, or a café. But I work best sitting at the dining table, despite the fact that I bought the computer desk for writing. I need the space that a dining table provides. We do have plans to buy a proper desk and transform the room into an office. I wonder, if I remember, what difference my work space will look like this time next year?

Where do you write? What helps you get productive and in the zone?