Midyear Goal Check

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Life has been somewhat crazy over the last week as I moved into my new house. I am still unpacking boxes and finding homes for everything. It appears that I have a lot more stuff than I remember packing into the boxes in the first place. So I am half sorting as I go and sometimes just unpacking into cupboards with the idea of coming back and sorting later.

During this crazy week I haven’t taken any time to sit down and write – partly because I didn’t have a space to sit down at and partly because there was no space in my head for words to form. With the excuse of the car needing a service I was trapped in town today with nothing to do but sit quietly somewhere and refocus on my writing.

I started by going over my 2015 writing goals and how I am meeting them and what my plans are for the rest of the year.

I have listed these by writing project…

 

Snow (a fantasy novel) 

I am working through a major edit. I had hoped it would be the final edit but I think there is more work required. This edit is bigger than I intended as I have refocused the story and I am rewriting some chunks of it and smoothing out other parts for it to make sense. It will be a stronger story for it in the end and then I need to decide whether I self publish or submit the traditional way.

I need to foxus on the editing first and although it is not going to be done by my original time frame (the end of August) it will be done by the end of October.

 

Raven Crown Trilogy (draft) 

Drafted to 250,000 words (around the half way mark) so this is actually well on track.

The plot for book 1 is clear although the main character is not quite as present as I want her at this point.

Book 2 is my favourite and the main points are there but I still need to work on the storyline for the main character (or at least wrap up part of it for her).

Book 3 has come together better than I thought. Still unsure about the end, I have an idea but as I get closer it changes slightly (yes, that is because the characters are thinking for themselves). Book 3 is a lot darker than the others but I’m only half way through the first draft so a long way to go.

The draft for all three will be finished by the end of the year.

 

Iski Flare (Book 1) 

The outline is complete and ready for the Retreat to start drafting. I am also hoping to use the Retreat time to outline (and maybe start) the next two books in the series. This will be a series of novellas and although I’ve only thought about the first three I am hoping that this will continue beyond that.

I have been casting characters and trialling using the Snowflake method for outlining this book. This is on track to be self published by Christmas.

 

Spend an hour every week playing with creative ideas

This hasn’t quite worked out as often as I would have liked. But I am playing more with ideas for different projects.

 

Weekly blog posts

Occasionally late but generally this is working well.

 

Joint project with Lone Creature

This was a recent addition to my writing goals. We have talked about writing together for some time and finally have decided on a project worthy of our joint time and effort. This has been a little disjointed as our ideas develop and change around the project itself but I think we are on track now.

I am hoping to have the first story in this series drafted and ready for working together by the end of July.

 

Now that I am in the new house I am hoping to quickly settle back into a writing routine.

The planning I did today has not only helped cement just how much I have to do, but how much I want to do. This clarity refocuses what I need to do to reach these and certainly helps it appear more achievable.

I saw a great quote this morning (at my gym):

“Don’t hope for it more than you work for it”

A fitting reminder that to get anywhere we need to put the work in. I have my plan now it is time to sit down and work to it to reach my writing goals.

Is it time for you to revisit your writing goals?

What is my writing focus?

piles of writing

There seems to be so much to think about this week that my brain has kind of stalled. Maybe it is more bunny hopping as it has moments of clarity before it all gets too much. This is because I move later this week and my brain is trying to ensure I have everything done, organising all the little bits involved in moving (including when I can buy the milk so that I can maintain my tea levels whilst directing movers away from my crisp white walls – See? I’m ranting).

OK and breath.

Right, so on top of the craziness of moving I have been thinking about where I am going with my writing and what I really want to achieve.

I currently have three projects (outside of the website) on the go – one at planning, one at drafting and one at editing. None of which has progressed very far in the last week or so.

On top of that a friend and I decided we wanted to write together. We have talked about for years but done nothing about. So after much discussion and working out what sort of thing we want to do we are starting to plan a series of novellas.

I’m sure once I am in my new, crisp writing space it will all seem a little easier. The ideas are flowing for all projects (moving included) and my hope is that they don’t become too muddled in my head (although it all feels quite muddled as the moment).

Around all the writing and craziness of moving I have been playing with ideas for making money from my writing – copyediting, proofreading, copywriting etc. – but it all distracts from writing fiction which is where I really want to be. It might help me earn some more funds towards supporting my writing but really I need to focus on what is important.

So even though I am literally up to the eyebrows with writing projects it is what I love. And I know that I can settle and focus and start getting some more writing out there. Trying to start a “writing business” on the side when I already have a day job is just a distraction from what I want. I do need to think about marketing and growing my audience to be able to sell more fiction. In some ways this is part of my business, particularly as I am currently self publishing. This has been part of the learning curve to work out what business of writing I am in and what I need to do to make that a success.

It certainly helps to write things down. Getting the ideas out of my head and onto paper, just like a first draft, helps to clarify my goals and wants. Once I am settled into my new house I plan to take the time to look over my writing goals for this year, how they are going and what may have changed.

It might be that I write about writing and finding time to write and other gems of knowledge I discover along the journey and I’m ok with that. And I hope along the way it helps you on your writing journey (whatever shape that takes).

Character Profiling

characterI have been playing with character profiles as I think about a new project. The process helps me to think about the story development as well as the characters. This is something I haven’t really done before, I tend to start with an idea and watch the characters grow with the story.

Recently I was looking over my draft of the fantasy trilogy (Raven Crown) and I thought I needed to develop some serious character profiles for that one too. And in preparation for Iski I have started a similar process, but a much briefer character outline.

Something else I’m trying for Iski is to ‘cast’ the characters. So for each I have a picture of my ideal image for that character. I have found this helps to visualise the type of character they are as well as maintaining consistency when describing them. This was suggested by authors Johnny B Truant and Sean Platt when they described how they work and I’m using a range of actors and stock images to cast the story.

My draft for Raven Crown is all over the place. And I’m OK with that as it is the very first draft (what just falls out of my head onto the page) but the time will come soon enough when I need to fill in the blank bits and ensure my characters’ stories are complete. And with a clear understanding of each of those characters (for each book and the series) that will be a much easier process.

The only problem in doing this for Raven Crown is the number of characters. I have started comprehensive profiles for the main characters and then a simpler version for the secondary characters but at the moment there seems to be so many. Reading George RR Martin I always feel like he knows every character intimately, whether a main character or someone we only get a glimpse of. I’m not sure that I want to provide that level of detail, but I want my readers to know and love (or hate) my characters as much as I do and therefore the better I know them, the better I am able to write them.

This does increase my workload and I have loaded myself up fairly well. But the benefits of this work far outweigh the time taken. I have found the image/picture idea really useful and I would like to try that for my other projects as well. For my current work (in final edit stage) I have a photo for my main character but not the others. It could be a great use of my time when I’m feeling the pressure and I need a little escape, an hour or so scanning the internet for random red heads until I find the perfect image is surprisingly relaxing and then frees up my mind for writing when I need it.

 

How much detail do you develop for each character and is that before, during or after the drafting process?

Do you reflect on your writing practice?

reflectionI have previously discussed reviewing your writing goals and how well you are achieving them but do you reflect on your actual writing process?

Reflective writing looks at how your writing process is working, or not, and what you learn from it. Journaling about your writing and the process around the writing can greatly strengthen our writing practice by understanding how we write.

I have spent a lot of time reading other people’s writing to learn from it, and how they write. I can learn just as much from my own writing and writing practice.

Reflection can help you make connections between what you already know and what you are learning and how your experience, culture, background and history impacts on your writing.

I have fought the idea that I write feminist ideals into my work. I’m not trying to make a statement, not consciously. Yet most of my main characters are women, strong women behaving outside of their time or world and trying to push their way into an equal existence with the men around them. Some of those men are able to accept this change, some are not.

Whilst undertaking my Masters I found it difficult to find a link between my writing and different theories. But more reflection on what I believe in, the world around me and what I wish it was has revealed that theory does impact on my writing.

Reflection can benefit your writing without getting as involved in theory as I have. It is a process of thinking about your writing processes but also what you are writing. This will, in the long term, strengthen the writing you do.

 

Action Prompt:

After your next writing session take 5 to 10 minutes to make some notes about:

  • How you thought the session went,
  • Details of where you wrote,
  • What you wrote and the development of your writing project,
  • Was anything surprising to come out of your writing,
  • Can you think of any connection between what you did write and your current values, beliefs, culture or emotions?
  • How easily did you find the flow?
  • Did you try something different this time and if so did that work better or worse?
  • Were you distracted?
  • What would you like to change or what would you like to try again?

These are prompts. You don’t have to answer all the questions, just think about some of them. Think about not only where and how you write but what you have written.

Try this for your writing sessions this week and at the end of the week look back over your notes. Do you feel that you have learnt more about your writing practice by doing this and has it helped your writing? Share your stories.