Firstly, I must apologise for the complete lack of activity on here. The last few months have been very, very busy. Not only have I been learning to play the ukulele (yes you read right), studying for some professional exams (Prince 2 – I wonder if I can adopt the principles to planning my next book?) and finishing the first draft of Relative Strangers.
I’m delighted to let you know that all three ventures have been quite well. I can now play three whole chords and I’m getting 85% on the mock exams so all in all I’m happy.
Even better, I’ve finished the first draft of Relative Strangers and have spent the last week going through and doing the first edit. I’ve still got more to do, and it’s looking quite different from the book I originally started, but it’s quite exciting – all 85,000m words of it.
I’ll be returning to my manuscript over the next week, implementing my revisions and correcting all the typing errors. Going through it for that first edit has been invaluable and I’ve learned a few lessons already.
In the vain hope that I’ll learn from them for my next project, and that it’s always good to share, this is what I’ve learned so far:
Turn off autocorrect
I’ve learned that it’s much better to go back and accept the changes manually (if you do leave the Spelling and Grammar options on.
Plan ! Plan ! Plan !
In terms of getting down volume, it really was great to just put pen to paper and just get all my thoughts down. In hindsight though, I think I’m definitely going to spend more time thinking and preparing for my next project. This may not be so important if you are doing a one off project and can let your work evolve, but as mine is the part of a series, the importance of character back story and timeline cannot be underestimated.
Write where and where you can
I’ve read the magazines and all the advice and it’s true, committing to a schedule will help you get everything down and finish your work in reasonable time. However, in the real world, you could have kids, jobs and all sorts of other commitments. What I am saying is that while that may the ideal, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t stick to it. Some of my most productive time has been right before work over breakfast, or in my lunch break, editing or working out ideas while I eat my canteen lunch.
Get support and motivation from other writers
Twitter has been the biggest boost for me with lots of great authors willing to give advice and words of encouragement. What’s more there are lots of novice writers out there. Seeing how they are progressing has really motivated me. Many use the #amwriting hashtag so why not get on there and do some networking. Tell people that you are writing to, it’s amazing how many people you know may be working on something. I discovered a close friend of mine has been writing short stories for years and is currently writing a screenplay. She’s amazingly talented and we meet up regularly for coffee to talk about how we are getting on. It’s been so inspiring and I always come away with lots of ideas and a real injection of writing energy.
So what next?
Hopefully my first draft will be officially completed (ie all those pesky obvious error addresses) over the next couple of weeks. I’ll then be looking for volunteer beta-readers with a view to providing me some general feedback on plot, character portrayal, basic spelling and grammar errors which I’ve missed.
If you think you’d be interested, then check out some of my earlier “Relative Strangers” blog posts where you’ll see some fairly rough early extracts. In short, if Bridget Jones and Sookie Stackhouse birthed a book, you may get something like it.
If you are interested, then please let me know and don’t forget you can also message me on twitter @Tea_Talks