Wednesday, 30 December 2015

The Right Time To Write

Is there an ideal time of day for writing and getting the best results?

Writers are always being advised about when the best time is to write, be that first thing in the morning, carrying a note book around and writing whenever the mood takes or having set of hours to fit in with the rest of our lives. And, let's face it, we do have lives, busy ones, that can really get in the way of our writing.

But so many writers have successfully written works of art while holding down a full time job or two and or having a family to raise.

It's not to say that I don't get down to my writing but, when I do, I often get distracted and the writing session doesn't seem to flow, especially if ideas aren't coming easily. I get restless and start wondering if so and so returned my email; asking myself if I spent enough time on social media; what should I cook for dinner; will I ever hear back from that publisher, and so on.

I've tried various methods to try to improve my productivity. For a while I used the Pomodoro method. It worked well but it didn't stop me checking emails during the 'break' period.

I know a lot of you will say that it all comes down to will power, how passionate you are about what you're writing and how seriously you take it. If you know me, you'll know how seriously I take my writing but I seem to be seriously running out of steam.

So what is the best time for me to write and be at my most creative and productive?

THE ANSWER:  No surprises when I say it varies from person to person, right? And that's exactly what I had to get my head around after several painstaking hours of mental torment, anguish, panic and checking of emails. I have decided to log all my writing sessions. I'll look at how long I spent writing, how happy I was with the results and how many times I got distracted. I will also log, where I was when I was writing and how I felt, emotionally.

After a period of time I will look at my log and try to determine whether or not there is an optimum time for me to write or, if I'm just one of these people who has to go with the flow and write until I become distracted and want to do something else.

But most of all - I'm not going to panic anymore. I sat and wrote this without becoming distracted once.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Writers - Let's Brag About Our Books!

Writers are constantly being told by social media experts that they mustn't shout about their books. They say it's like meeting a stranger at a party and banging them over the head with your latest novel and demanding they buy it - and you haven't even introduced yourself.

 I see the sense in that.

To the other extreme, I read an article this morning about Elena Ferrante, who writes her novel and then says, let it find its reader, without doing any publicity whatsoever. I'm pretty sure you'd have to make your name as a writer for that to work!

But when I say, 'Let's brag about our books,' what I really mean is, let's brag about what other people are saying about them. That's got to be all right, surely.

As writers and authors we can all become insecure at times. For example, I'm hard at work doing yet another edit of When Skies Are Grey. At times I'm wondering if I'm getting it right. Did I have it in the second draft? Did I lose something by removing that sentence? Did I kill the scene when I added that one? I'm doubting myself and driving myself crazy.

On top of that, I sent my short story collection out to two independent publishing houses and I'm waiting to hear whether my submissions were successful or not. Will they like my writing? Will they think I'm worth investing in?
I decided to put all this stress and doubt into perspective and take positive action. I recently got a lovely message on my website from a reader. It read like this:
I was at the author event at Isleworth Library last month - in fact I am in the photo. I have just returned from holiday when I got the chance to read Holding Paradise. It was so brilliant I finished it so quickly, I had to borrow another book. It is a lovely story with redemption at the end. I found it was very easy to read. Could you add me to your list of people who want to buy your next boo. Thank you Marylou
How lovely is that? And then I went on Amazon and re-read all my reviews for Holding Paradise, especially the five star ones. Okay there aren't millions but my writing touched a group of people and that's what counts. 

Sure I wish there were millions more like these but it's a start. It's something to brag about and something to make me remember I can do this. I can write. And let's face it - we wouldn't be doing it unless we thought we were good.

Keep writing ... and bragging.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Write! Keep Going

I feel like a hamster trapped in a wheel with all the writing I've done in 2015. I haven't counted how many words I've actually written but I'm sure I must have written at least four books worth of words this year alone.

And that still isn't enough! Seriously. What with all the ghost writing I do, the writing under a pseudonym, the submissions of my short story collection to publishers and the joint writing project for a series of children's books, I still haven't finished the edit of my second book, When Skies Are Grey. Some of you will know that I decided it wasn't finished and went in for a final edit.

That final edit is taking a long time to get through. Not because I'm not writing and being creative but because it is always last in my list of 'things I want to write.'

But, I did have a bit of a break through. The other night I rushed from a four hour rehearsal to my three hour writing critique group only to find that just three of us had turned up. Not only that, I had hurriedly written 900 words of the edit of When Skies Are Grey, that morning, to read to the group only to discover that I'd only have two opinions on my 900 word.

As it turned out those two opinions were the most helpful ones I've received in months! and they've helped fire me up again to continue with this edit.

I also read this article, which added to the creative process.

So what's next for 2016. My prediction is more of the same: Writing and then More Writing. I only hope I can keep going!