Tuesday, 30 July 2013

InCreWriJul: The Final Check In

Hello, hello, hello my ducky darlings! The month of July is drawing to a close, and with it our International Creative Writing challenge. Welcome to the final InCreWriJul check in!

Before we get onto that, however, a massive thank you to Dear Reader Rachel who sent this photo of The Night Itself in the wild:


This was in the Kingston branch of Waterstones, and got Rachel excited because she hardly ever sees my books in Waterstones. I hardly ever see them in Waterstones either (or any physical bookshops, really) so it's exciting for me, too. Let's hope someone adopted my hot-pink darling and took her home very shortly after this picture was taken. Sadly over the weekend The Night Itself dropped down from its all-time high ranking of No. 45 in the Waterstone's Not Just For Teens list to the rather less exciting No. 356. But never mind - I'll always have my screencaps. However, if anyone was wanting to cheer me up a bit, and they had any thinky thoughts about TNI to share, you could nip along to Waterstones website, or Amazon, and leave a review for the book, even if it's just a couple of lines.

Also over the weekend, this lovely feature interview with me went up on Dear Reader Maya's blog. The questions were really fun to answer, so check it out.

Now, on to to InCreWriJul!

I've had a frustrating week since we caught up on writing progress last. To illustrate it, here's a picture of the calendar in my Writing Cave, which I wrote my weekly and total targets on at the beginning of July:


Sunday and Monday of last week went brilliantly. On Tuesday I realised that the scene I had been intending to write next just wouldn't work, which caused my progress to screech to a halt as I stomped around my house bad-temperedly, snarling at the walls and flinging scrunched up bits of paper around. Eventually I did come up with a solution, though - the next day, as you can see, I was delighted to produce seventage pages of handwritten notes.

But sadly that's where it all went wrong. Because after my morning writing sprint (during which I'd been so caught up that I didn't really notice my hand hurting a bit more than normal) my hand stopped working. This is not an exaggeration. Within about an hour of putting my pen down and going to make some lunch I could no longer pick up a pen at all. My hand, wrist and elbow were throbbing, and my shoulder wasn't happy either.

Bewildered and a bit frightened, I worried that I'd done myself some kind of repetitive strain injury, although in the past I've written far more than seventeen pages in one sitting without having problems (the only time I'd had pain in my hand that bad was after my legendary 9k in one day writing sprint, during which the entire ending of TNI was written, and even then, it was only my hand and forearm that hurt, not the whole arm). It had come on very suddenly, too. I borrowed a wrist brace, took some anti-inflammatories and applied heat and then cold to my hand and wrist, hoping desperately that I wasn't going to join the ranks of unfortunate writers who have to type everything. I've tried doing that before, after all, and it was a disaster.

I tried some typing the next day, but had to give up very shortly because as soon as I hit my normal typing speed (about 98 words a minute) the pain was unbearable. Also during that day my other hand and both feet developed similar symptoms, though not as badly as my right hand and arm. They felt as if someone had folded them up tightly and now the creases wouldn't come out. And this is what eventually made the lightbulb go off. I'd had this problem once before - after an insect bite. I'm incredibly allergic to insect bites. At the very least they cause a swollen welt the size of about half a tennis ball, and often they also give me flu-like symptoms. But on one occasion, several years in the past, I'd reacted to a bite with just such pain and stiffness in my joints, although that time the bite was on my leg and my feet were far more affected than my hands.

Guess what? I'd found a bite on the back of my right arm on Wednesday.

So I've basically been babying my arm and hand along since then, scared of causing any permanent damage to the tendons or ligaments by forcing myself to use them too much. I've got the mobility in the hand back, but there's still quite a lot of pain in my thumb joints and little finger, and these are causing shooting pains down to my wrist and even elbow. I have no idea how long it's going to take for the symptoms to go away, but in the meantime typing is harder than normal (although I can do it, providing I do it slowly and carefully) and handwriting is out of the question.

I'm really sad about this, because if it hadn't happened I'm sure I'd have hit my 50K target for InCreWriJul. Actually, looking back on July, something seems to have attacked me every single week - whether it was a horrible headache, a nasty bug, or a real bug that chowed down on my arm. I've also had insane amounts of personal issues, mostly to do with my father and his condition, going off like bombs around me the whole time. But I'm so so so glad that I decided to run InCreWriJul, because without it I have no doubt all these set-backs would have caused me to lose far more days out of my month, and be far less productive overall. I might have given up on July completely - but knowing that everyone else was writing with me and that we were all doing it together gave me that little extra push that kept me going.

I'd estimate that once all my hand written notes are typed up I'll probably have something in the region of 47,500 - 48,000 words, which is not to be sniffed at. I hit and passed the 50% mark of the manuscript and got a really good handle on my people, which I know is going to stand me in good stead when my edits for Darkness Hidden come back (probably this afternoon!). So for me, despite the universe apparently deciding to throw a whole bunch of sneaky, underhand tricks my way, InCreWriJul has been a fantastic success. I want to thank everyone who came on the journey with me.

So now's the time for everyone else to share an account of their month in the comments. Did you hit your target? Did you change your target and if so, why? Did you struggle or fly? Share all! And remember that everyone who has commented on each check in, including this one, will be entered into a prize draw. I'll pick the winner and announce the prize next Tuesday.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

THE NIGHT ITSELF: CHIBI

Hello, my lovelies! First the news that after slipping down quite a few places on Waterstones Not Just For Teens Bestseller Chart, today The Night Itself shot back up again to No. 45, its highest ranking yet! Thank you so much to everyone for helping this happen! Again, I'm not entirely sure what it means in terms of actual sales numbers, but I do know that it must be a good thing - at the very least for my peace of mind. Let's all cross our fingers it stays there for a little while, or maybe even climbs higher. *Hugs for all*

As a way of sharing my sheer happiness over this, Thursday's post brings you adorable The Night Itself fan-service goodness and a link so that you can enjoy adorable fan-service goodness for yourself (or your characters) if you'd like.

I give you... CHIBI THE NIGHT ITSELF!

Mio, the heroine of the pice! Isn't she so cute? There was no hand-held katana in the Chibi-Maker arsenal unforunately, so she had to have a normal longsword instead. Boo! Everything else is pretty good, though.
Ah, Jack, our mischieveous and wise-cracking sidekick. The minute I saw that skull t-shirt and tights, I knew she would be happy. Shame I couldn't add the pink and purple highlights to her hair, though. Just imagine those.
Shinobu! Look at his gorgeous worried little face. The Chibi-Maker did offer twin katanas for his back, but they got lost in his hair, so again he got a normal broadsword and a ninja-knife to symbolise his katana and wakizashi.


Rachel, Jack's sister and perpetually exasperated baby-sitter, with her beloved mug of tea. This outfit is so her, I clapped like a seal. 
Last but not least, fan-favourite Hikaru! Oooh, you cheeky rascal you - is that a foxlight in your hand? Who did you pinch that from? Don't swish your tail at me, either! I know your tricks!
Making these gave me a disturbing amount of satisfaction - but they're cute, darnit! I regret nothing! Here's a link to the Chibi-Maker for all your own fanservice/character building needs.

If you'd like to know my answers to 20 intriguingly random questions, pop long to Sister Spooky's new feature.

Oh! And another link to where you can buy the fancy-pants hardback version of Shadows on the Moon (with different haiku to the UK edition, and red foiling and endpapers) for under £4 with free postage and packaging! Anyone who loves to own hardbacks or wants to know how the US haiku turned out should get in there pronto, before they run out of stock.

That's all for today, my duckies. Remember, next week is the final InCreWriJul Check In, so if you want to be entered into the prize draw, make sure you've commented on ALL the Check Ins so far and that you turn up for this one, too. Happy writing!

Monday, 22 July 2013

InCreWriJul WEEK FOUR: Check In


Hello and happy Tuesday, Dear Readers! I hope you've had an excellent weekend and a productive Monday. Probably many of you are glorying in or cursing the hot weather. I didn't get any. My weekend and Monday have been chilly, drizzly, cloudy and cold. So count your blessings, ducks!

Some good things that cheered me up despite the miserable weather! Lovely Kristina from The Madeleine Project sent me this shot of The Night Itself in the wild in Hong Kong (thank you)!


Wow. And what a lovely sticker too! So tastefully placed! I've actually done a guest blog for Kristina's Like A Virgin Pitch Contest about how I figured out what kind of writer I wanted to be, so you can go and check that out if you like to hear tales of writerly self-discovery.

And then, even more exciting than that:




That's right. This weekend The Night Itself climbed up to No. 55 and then No. 47 on the Waterstones Not Just For Teens bestselling list. I'm not sure what this really means in terms of sales, but Waterstones is the largest physical book retailer in the UK, and I'm fairly sure no book of mine has ever climbed that high in their rankings before. Today The Night Itself has dropped down to No. 58, and I would love it if the book could cling to that place, or perhaps climb a little higher again, so if anyone was wanting to read it, maybe hesitating a little... my completely partial advice is to run out and get it from the shops ASAP :)

Onwards! We're apart to start WEEK FOUR of InCreWriJul, so how did WEEK THREE go here in Zolah Central? Pretty well, actually! I hit my target on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday - Wednesday seeing me hit the 50% mark in the manuscript's projected final length, which was awesome. All this work moved the plot forward a tremendous amount. I'm starting to hit really exciting, crucial plot events which I've been planning for years, and that's both intimidating (can it be as good as I've imagined? Can it live up to the build-up? Am I going epic enough?) and motivating (I finally get to write this part! Oooh, I can bring that cool thing in that I saved the picture of all this time! I'm really writing this at last!).

On Thursday I also hit my target, but it was a bit of a cheat. I had a huge chunk of notes that I had written for a certain scene back in 2010. Parts of those notes were inevitably completely wrong now, because of the evolution in the characters, their voices, the exact nuances of what they've been through. Surprisingly, though, some parts were just beautifully, perfectly right, and other parts, although they required tweaking, served as fantastic prompts for me. I decided to copy and paste these notes right in - which immediately put me a healthy chunk over target for the day - and then spent the rest of Thursday re-writing them to fit. This, again, made me feel a little conflicted, because I loved getting to fulfill, in part, the vision I'd had three years ago, but at the same time it meant I didn't *really* write anything new that day.

(This is bulkhockey logic, by the way. Of course the words I put on the page that day count, and because I re-wrote them extensively and added new sections, I actually wrote a lot of new stuff. I just have a weird habit of beating myself up when I don't think I've spent my day working hard enough. Don't do as Zolah does, folks! Develop healthy mental habits about writing and give yourself credit, not guilt, when you do well and meet your goals).

On Friday I was too busy/exhausted to write anything at all, even though I'd hoped to get at least a few pages down. Friday is always trickier than any other day because it's my dad's final home dialysis treatment of the week - the day when he needs the most help and looking after. In addition, we've just been trained in a new method of tube-lining the dialysis machine, which has made our lives temporarily a lot more complex (we ought to get the hang of it soon, but at the moment it's slowing us down and leading to a lot of mistakes that we have to be on the look out for, leading to stress even when nothing goes wrong, and freak-outs when something does). After finishing the treatment, and cooking and serving my dad some lunch, then sorting out his medication and cleaning the treatment area at my parents house, I crawled back home and napped in my chair for a little bit, then pottered around for a couple of hours enjoying (what I didn't know would be) the last little bits of sunny weather.

Saturday I took off as normal to deal with my own chores, grocery shopping, and miscellenious stuff. On Sunday I finished re-writing the last section of the notes I'd copied in, and then continued and finished the scene that the notes belonged to, creating what may be the most awkward confession in the history of my books, and possibly in the history of books ever (and that's all the spoilery goodness you get, kids). And on Monday I wrote a really emotional scene that made me cry a couple of times and left me feeling really wrung out - but in a good way. More of those emotional scenes to come over the next through days.

I finished my week's writing on target, with just over 44,000 words logged on the manuscript in total. This means I've broken the back of the story, and conquered the awkward beginning which is always my least favourite part of any book. It also means that all the most epic, challenging, emotional and heart-wrenching parts are coming up very shortly. Eeeep. Wish me luck, Dear Readers.

And as for all of you - how has your week been? Have your goals changed? Would you like congratulations, commiserations, or advice? Let it all out in the comments!


Monday, 15 July 2013

InCreWriJul WEEK THREE: Check In



Hello, my lovely lovelies! Once more, Tuesday is upon us - and it's time for the third check in of International Creative Writing July.

My progress this week isn't much to write home about, sadly. I stuck to my one and a half hour writing sprints and my more leisurely typing up and revising sessions, and managed to produce 8,000 words during the week, which I was really pleased about. I had my normal Saturday off (and, incidentally, watched HANSEL AND GRETEL, which may be the worst film I've seen for years, blergh) but by Saturday evening I was starting to feel a bit... off. On Sunday I dragged myself out of bed feeling like death warmed over, did my usual chores, and took the dog for a walk, all shadowed by this weird fatigue and sort-of-queasiness that wasn't quite strong enough to make me run for the bathroom, but almost. It was really hot and humid here that day, but that didn't seem quite enough to explain it. Just laziness, I told myself. Get over it.

I fully intended to head up to my writing cave but instead - get this! - I ended up falling asleep in my chair downstairs like an old lady before eleven o'clock in the morning. When I woke up I forced myself to drink a mug of coffee, and then had a cool shower, hoping that would wake me up. It didn't. After staring at my notebook for twenty minutes I came up with a complete blank; the scene I needed to start on was already really complex and causing me trouble, and I just couldn't seem to get a grasp on it. How could I make this work? What on earth was wrong with me today?

I decided to try and loosen up some creative muscles by listening to soothing music while lying on my bed and doing deep breathing exercises. No one will be surprised to hear that I fell asleep again, this time for nearly two hours.

When I finally stumbled downstairs, feeling worse than ever, it dawned on me (since I'm so quick on the uptake and all) that I might actually be ill. At that point the realisation was a relief, since it meant I could at least give up on trying to work. Basically I just flopped around in my chair for the rest of the day groaning and feeling sorry for myself, since my brain was too squadgy to even let me enjoy reading or watching TV.

That means I started this week 2k short of my 10k per week goal - 30,000 words into the first draft of The Name of the Blade Book #3.

However! After going to bed early and sleeping like a rock all night I woke up this morning feeling 100% better, and decided to kick that difficult scene right in the pants. 'So what if I mess it up?' I asked myself. 'That's what drafting is for! I'll make the biggest mess of it I can! It can all be fixed later!'

And that's what I did. I actually managed to finish the darn thing, too. In revising, re-writing and typing my longhand notes up, I think I improved them a lot, but I also know this scene will need a bit more work when I finish the manuscript and come to edit it. That's fine - again, that is what drafting is about. Now that the tough part's done, I can move on to scenes that will hopefully be more fun for me to work on.

My check in this week, then, finds me at a smidge more than 32k in total on my manuscript, which is 2k less than I'd hoped for, but I'm still feeling pretty good about it. I've decided that as long as I can get to about 50k by the end of July I'll feel extremely good about InCreWriJul - it really is motivating!

What about everyone else? Who hit their target? Who missed it, or kicked it into next week? Is anyone changing their goals this week, and if so, why? Share it all in the comments, folks!

In the comments here, of course! Tell us all!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

InCreWriJul WEEK TWO: Check In


Good morning, my lovelies! Welcome to Tuesday. How are you all feeling? Good weekend? Good week for writing? Before I start journeling my first week of InCreWriJul, a few bits of other bizniz.

News about The Night Itself! BLISS Magazine (which I remember fondly from many years ago when I was a mere kiddliwink) chose TNI to be number one on their Summer Reading Chart in their August edition:

 

Dubray Books, a marvellous independent bookshop in Ireland, chose TNI as their Teen Choice Book of the Month:



Amanda Craig of The Times gave TNI a mention in the Times Summer Reading Guide (13+ section). This is what she said:

"Next month the fantasy writer Zoe Marriott explodes back on to the scene in THE NIGHT ITSELF, a manga-inspired romance about a half-Japanese girl in London whose grandfather's antique sword turns out to have supernatural powers."
Yay! (although Mio is actually British-born-Japanese, not half Japanese). And today the lovely Megan from the U.S. emailed me with a pic of her copy of TNI nestling on her shelf after it arrived yesterday:


Thank you, Megan! All wonderful stuff. And if anyone wants to make my day even better, I'd absolutely love to see a few more Amazon reviews for The Night Itself go online; there are five lovely ones up there now, which is brilliant, but reviews like company and I think they may be just a leeeetle lonely :)

So! Let's talk about Week One of InCreWriJul!

Well, I started out on Monday last month with about 12k in on The Name of the Blade: Book #3, as you know, and my goal was to do at least one 1.5 hour long-hand writing sprint per day, write up those notes and revise them as I went, and end up with about 10k of new words at the end of the week. Did it work?

It did and it didn't. Tuesday and Wednesday went absolutely to plan - about twelve pages of handwritten notes each day, which translated into two thousand words when typed up, making a total of 4k for both days. But on Thursday I woke up with a thundering headache which threatened to turn into a migraine despite all my best efforts. I wrote about half a page and then just had to give up - I could barely focus on the page - which was very frustrating because that was The Night Itself's official publication date and I really wanted to be working on the last book in the trilogy!

The next day the headache was still with me, but slightly better, so I decided to get stuck back in and hopefully make up for the wasted day. At which point I screeched to a halt, completely nonplussed. I realised I had no idea what to write next.

It was time to start work on a particular part of book #3 - a part I've been looking forward to for ages. I've had this amazing idea in my head since almost the beginning of planning these books out, where I wanted to send my characters on a sort of mini-quest and have them explore a wondrous and dangerous new environment like nothing we've seen in the books before. I've been collecting inspiring Pinterest images for it for three years, and frankly I couldn't wait to get started.

But because of how long I've been looking forward to it, and because of all the images I've collected, and because I wanted to absolutely stuff this section with cool stuff, I realised it wasn't good enough just to plough in and hope for the best. I needed to pull back, go through all the research I'd done and all the photographs I had and make a plan for how to fit everything that I wanted into this part of the book WITHOUT it becoming a rambling, pointless travelogue. My characters and plot still needed to be moving forward, after all.

Curses! That meant another day in which I couldn't do my writing sprint. Instead I spent the whole day covering Post-Its with scribbles and making bullet-pointed lists and clicking through my Pinterest boards. By the end of the day my headache was raging again and I felt very sick, but I did have something like a workable plan.

The next day was Saturday, my official day off (and the headache was finally mostly gone). But now I had two wasted writing days to make up for, so I chucked the idea of a day off in the bin and did my long-hand writing sprint; I just didn't type the notes up immediately afterwards. Then on Sunday I needed to do a bunch of things that I hadn't had time to do in Saturday, so I did my writing sprint, but again didn't type up the notes.

Monday rolled around. I did my writing sprint (in a rapidly filling notebook) and then it was time to type up my notes. I did a quick count and once again screeched to a halt. I had over thirty handwritten pages to revise, re-write and neatly type up. THIRTY. Eeep.

Well, I did my best, but after typing my little heart out for most of Monday I got to dinnertime and realised I still had eighteen pages to go. So I gave up for the day and watched The White Queen.

The wordcount for my manuscript is now 23.5k in total. That's 500 words less than I need to be on target - remember, I wanted to do 10k a week, and I started out with 12k. But I do have those eighteen pages of notes to type up, after which I'm confident I'll probably be a few thousand words OVER target, so I'm not beating myself up about it.

As first InCreWriMa weeks go, this one was pretty good (apart from the headaches - no more of those, please). What about you guys? Did you hit your target, blow past it, miss it completely? Tell us what happened and why in the comments. And remember, those who comment on every single check-in post will be entered in a prize draw at the end of this month, so don't be shy!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

THE BIGGEST WHOOP IN THE WORLD

Welcome to Thursday, Dear Readers! It's a very special Thursday indeed: the 4th of July and the OFFICIAL RELEASE DATE FOR THE NIGHT ITSELF.



Holy cr*p, guys. I thought it was never going to get here.

I mean really, seriously, at times I doubted that I ever had the guts or talent or skills to pull off a trilogy, or even the first book of one. I doubted that my agent would want to try to take on and sell something so different and, let's face it, kind of weird. I doubted that any publisher would be interested in investing in a trilogy from a writer who had never written anything but standalones in a different genre. I doubted that I was going to be able to handle the unexpected and extensive re-writes required to turn The Night Itself from a funny, fast-paced urban fantasy thriller into something that still held all those elements but was deeper and more intense. I doubted everything and everyone, and at each turn the amazing publishing professionals in my life proved me wrong - and I proved me wrong too.

It feels so amazing to be that wrong, and to know that the proof will be turning up on shelves in shops and homes all over the country today.

The Night Itself is so special and personal to me, it's almost embarrassing to talk about. It (and the rest of the trilogy) is the most 'me' thing I've ever written. That's me in those pages. Me as a teenager, me now. All the stuff I think is cool and funny and amazing. It's my special-unicorn-rainbow-cupcake-angel-baby project and I love it, even while it scares the cr*p out of me. Seeing it go out there into the world is a little like being a kid on mother's day, when you pull your homemade card out from behind your back and offer it up to the most important person in the world. You're so full of fear and anticipation. All you want to say is: I made this for you. I want to share it with you. I hope you like it.

And I do I hope - God, I really, really hope - that you guys can kind a place in your hearts for this book. That you will get it, and love it even a little bit as much as I do. Because you are all such important people to me.

I felt like this called for a special, The Night Itself (The Name of the Blade: Book One) themed post, so decided to do a little linky round-up for you.

First, I did a post for Diversity in YA about the Five Things I Learned writing this book, and that should be up some time today. Check back if you don't see it the first time.

These other links are posts from this very blog, dating back to when I first had the idea for The Name of the Blade, aka, The Katana Trilogy, aka Big Secret Project, just because I thought it would be interesting to chart my progress from 'OMG, cool idea!' to 'It's a real live book %$"$@KH*"!GN!!!' What's amazing about this is that when I went into OneNote to look at my very first rough notes about this? I realised that the idea dates back to September 2010, which is way earlier than I thought. I've been dreaming about seeing The Night Itself on the shelves for nearly three years!

The very first post where I refer to Big Secret Project (and another book which... I don't even know guys. Do you remember this? This was the Giant Killer Clockwork Praying Mantis Death Robot book! I totally forgot about that!).

My post on the challenges of plotting a trilogy - where I ask for your help in deciding if the character of Jack should be a guy or a girl.

The first post where I gave you all hints - in pictorial form! - as to the nature of Big Secret Project. This was before Pinterest, and you can definitely tell...

A Letter To My Characters about 70% of the way through writing the book.

In which I get a visit from the Muses.

Big Secret Project's Publishing Deal Announcement (finally!).

The Making of The Night Itself's Cover.

AND NOW IT'S HERE.

Wow.

I think this is all I have to say. Apart from that I intend to spend today celebrating in the way I know will make me happiest: by ploughing on with book #3 of The Name of the Blade.

Read you later, darling duckies!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

InCreWriJul WEEK ONE: Check In

Hello, hello, hello, lovely Readers! It is now ONE DAY (not counting today) until the official UK release of my beautimous book The Night Itself! You can read a slightly early book birthday interview with me here at the Author Allsorts (conducted by soon to be debut-author Natasha Ngan) for inside information and pretty pictures. If it's not up when you click, check back later, it's definitely scheduled for today. *Excited*

But! Today is also the first Tuesday of July! So it's time for our first InCreWriJul check-in.


The idea today is for each of us to set a realistic but challenging goal for what we'd like to achieve in July. We'll share it - me in this post, you guys in the comments - and basically make a pledge to try our best to meet it, and be there for everyone else who is trying to meet theirs, during this month.

Here goes! I started work on book #3 of The Name of the Blade last week, and I have just over 12k, which is around 16% of the projected first draft total. This is based on the word count of the first drafts of The Night Itself and Darkness Hidden, which were each about 73,000 words (subsequent drafts with my editor plumped them both up to between 78,000 and 80,000 words).

I'm not going to try to finish book #3 this month, because I know the moment I put that kind of pressure on myself things inevitably go wrong (see the story of what happened when I tried to participate in NaNo one year).

However, having finally nailed the right ending for Darkness Hidden in the last round of edits (well, I think, anyway) right now I am overwhelmed with enthusiasm for book #3, and I really want to take advantage of that and get as many words as I can down on paper before the end of this month. This is not just because of the constraints of the InCreWriJul deadline, but because I'm expecting to get the next (and hopefully final!) round of edits on DH back somewhere around the end of July/beginning of August. I'll also need to take a break then to get all my ducks in a row and do my tax return (another facet of being a self-employed author no one ever warns you about). Both those things are going to interfere with my focus on book #3 like crazy; it's inevitable. I need to make the most of the focus and time I have now, and that's where InCreWriJul comes in!

Most of you guys know that I'm a longhand drafter. 90% of my work gets scribbled in a notebook first, and then typed up and revised and re-drafted on the computer. So, keeping the idea of 'achievable and realistic' in mind, this is my goal:

For the month of July I will write five days a week, starting off with a longhand writing sprint of one and a half hours. During that one and a half hours I will not check emails or Twitter, stop to look something up on Wiki or in my series bible, pause to edit, or engage in any other procrastinatory activity. At the end of the writing sprint I will take however many scribbled pages I managed to achieve and type them up, revising and rewriting as I go. This will take as long as it takes. If I have time when I've finished typing, I'll do another writing sprint of the same duration, but the goal is to do ONE of these each day, first thing in the morning.

My final goal will be to produce around 10,000 typed up words per week.

This timed writing sprint is a new thing I've been trying over the past week, since I started book #3. It's based on the fact that when I was working full time in an office, I used to produce ridiculously huge amounts of scribbled notes during my stingy tea and lunch breaks, even while sitting on the bus to and from work. I also noticed that when I had a short-ish train journey and knew just how long I had before I arrived at my destination, I could write like crazy and end up with large quantities of scribbles which were just as good as anything that I might labour over for a full day when I had the time. I'm not sure if my years as an office drone conditioned me to like to write fast in short bursts, or if that's just the way my brain is wired, but I definitely find that knowing I have a limited time helps me to get some frelling words down without lots of umming and aaahing.

The five days a week target is based around the hours that I spend looking after my dad. Sometimes after I've done my writing sprint, I'll be too busy to write the notes up straight away. Sometimes my writing sprint might be broken up into a few different chunks because I'll be doing observations, checking meds or doing other things. But none of that matters so long as five times a week, I do that writing sprint. Even if I end up having to wait and type up several days worth of notes in one go, it won't matter. The longhand notes will be there on the page waiting.

I also think it's a good idea for me to have one day a week off - from both looking after my dad and working - in which to do all my shopping and chores and the rest, and also do a bit of baking or read a book, see friends , go to the cinema, etc. Much as I feel the urge to hole myself up in my Writing Cave in every spare moment that I have, I know it's not particularly healthy, and that making time for some Real Life (TM) is a good thing.

We'll see how I managed to do next Tuesday, when we do the Week Two check-in!

Now it's your turn, guys. What are you working on? What is your target and why do you feel that it's useful and realistic for you? What is your ultimate goal - where do you want to be at the end of July? Do you have any worries or need any encouragement? Share it all in the comments! (And remember, if you want to be included in the prize draw at the end of the month? You need to comment on THIS post and on each InCreWriJul post until the final one on the 30th of July!).

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