Monday, 22 May 2017

Writing Stuff

  I haven’t been here in a while, but please don’t take it personally. So as not to neglect the blog totally- although I know I’m do a fair job of it- I wanted to poke my head above the parapet to at least let you know that I am, honestly, busy doing wordish things.
 The story so far; 
 Story One is currently on submission with publishers - actually out there in the world, begging for attention, hoping someone out there might love it and want to give it a home. I’m trying not to think about it, as I’ve been assured that waiting is par for the course. Besides, it is absolutely out of my hands now. So this is me not thinking about it, la la la la la la lahhh…
  In the meantime I’m working on Story Two. I thought I’d be able to dive right into it, but that wasn’t the case. I dithered and procrastinated for a while. Now I think I needed the time to replenish and refill the thought banks. I did however make copious pages of scribblings in my notebook and last week I started whacking words on the page. There’s 14k banked as of Friday, which is pleasing, although who knows how many of them are any good or likely to stay. (I try not to read back straight away so they can mull and so I'm at least a little surprised when I come back to them.) I’m attempting to follow the plan I had last time of 2k words a day Mon- Friday and if I don’t make the 10k target then I have to do detention during the weekend to make up the shortfall.

What I did do before starting, amid all the note-taking (and actually many of the notes were prompted by this) was reread the "How to.." books I studied during The Great Rewrite, so as to have them in mind from the start. There’s three of them and they are, in the specific order that I read them; John Yorke’s magnificent Into the Woods, which anyone who wants to be a storyteller IN ANY FORM should read. It looks at Why stories have the structure that they do; Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering is a mechanical approach to the actual structural nuts and bolts. He’s bossy but clear about what you should know from the beginning, in order to write more efficiently and deeply; Alexandra Sokoloff’s Stealing Hollywood takes screenwriting principles and applies them to novel writing. Screenplays are generally super tight with their plotting and structures, that there’s lots to be emulated and she's also good at pointing out generic plotting traits. I’ve found them all ridiculously useful, in fact, learning from them has had me asking myself what the hell I was thinking before. I’ve told myself I won’t start any other stories EVER without rereading them first.

This one by Libbie Hawker, is another one which added itself to that pile just recently. It’s a short read (thank goodness!) and I imagine one that I’ll dip in and out of to keep myself on track. Also one I’d recommend.

   And then there are the podcasts. Maaaan, I love my podcasts... 
I think I spent a week trying to make the transition from the note-making to the bum-on-seat-and-typing stage, and flailing simply through The Fear and dealing with my Inner Critic, who can be a bitch. The podcasts have really helped. I’ve mentioned The Bestseller Experiment before, which is great for feeling part of a community and learning about publishing on the whole, but I’ve now also found The Worried Writer, where novelist Sarah Painter talks to published writers about how they write and more importantly how they deal with the worries, The Fear and the procrastination. I can’t tell you how helpful it’s been to see that every writer has this and essentially it's part of the deal. Knowing this made it easier to step over it. And having binge-listened to numerous episodes, I was finally able to overcome it or at least quell it enough to start. Have a listen. They’re both entertaining and useful, although Sarah’s voice is sometimes almost too soothing!

  The TBR pile is the bit that's failing at the moment but frankly, with kids in exams, there aren’t enough hours in the day, and something has to give. But then maybe having a chunky pile staring at me isn’t what I need at the moment and only picking up the ones that really appeal to me is more beneficial.

  So that was my update. Hope you are all well and the words are flowing for those of you who write.

Let me know how you’re doing! Chuck me your “How to” book and podcast recommendations too please.

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