This weekend, I have mostly been playing in the sunshine – as I’m sure you have too if you’ve got any sense. Was this conducive to writing book seven? Of course not. But our flat is one of those Edinburgh specials; ice-on-the-inside-of-the-window-cold during winter and bone-meltingly-sauna-like as soon as there’s a hint of sunshine, so I doubt I’d have done any more if I’d remained indoors. Sweat in places I didn’t know I had, perhaps.
Hello Dear Readers.
This is the last day of book six, so naturally I’ve been frantically catching up using my breaks at work and all of this evening to boot. Except of course I haven’t, because I am knackered. I was reading Caitlin Moran’s new book in my break at work (very funny so far), and when I got home I ate some biscuits and watched Hollyoaks. Hollyoaks! Not even the news, or a re-run of Friends, or anything else remotely watchable! I am clearly a feeble wreck of a woman, in need of about sixteen hours of sleep.
To that end, I am about to retire. (To bed, obviously. I can’t retire from work til I’m about 70, or haven’t you been keeping abreast of the strikes? I don’t blame you, it’s something to do with Michael Gove wanting kids to learn history in chronological order. Except that isn’t what it’s about at all. But he does think that.). However, before I go, I feel the urge to sate your insatiable thirst for knowledge about how it’s all going. So, CLICK HERE to read the last of my guest posts for Mslexia Magazine, in which I evaluate the project thus far and cunningly explain it to new readers at the same time.
Thank you, and good night.
Today being the 27th of the month, I am remarkably close to the half way point of the whole 12 books in 12 months fiasco (unless you count book 13, I suppose, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves).
Unfortunately this happens to be the point where progress has slowed down an embarrassing amount. I ought to be basically done with book six by now, yet I’ve only written about 10,000 words. Almost all of which is background and characterisation that I foresee myself editing down to maybe a few paragraphs in the final book. It’s the type of stuff that it makes sense to know as an author, but probably feels a bit long winded and boring to the reader. Pottermore, rather than the material a gripping plot is crafted from.
This has been a procrastinating sort of day. I’ll tell you for why.
Continue reading “A Day In The Life of Book Six” →
There are a few things that fall behind when you’re writing 12 books in 12 months. One is housework in non-communal areas (all surfaces in our bedroom, including sections of the floor, are strewn with detritus, 75-90% of which is probably mine although it’s hard to get an accurate reading without conducting a proper excavation); and another is eating sensibly.
Firstly, I would like to know how you manage to fit so much writing into your daily routine! Do you find you can write better at certain times of the day, or do you stay up late to catch up with it? Do you need a quiet space and clean desk, or can you type amongst noise and chaos?
To be honest, I don’t always fit writing into my routine!
When I did that first book for NaNoWriMo last year I was working in Dalkeith and living in the New Town, which meant I was commuting an hour either way every day. All I needed to do then was write on my phone when I was on the bus, so most days I found I’d reach my daily word count before I even got home. It was mega easy to keep on top of it then because it was just part of my routine.
In January, the legendary time that 12 Books began, I was off work all the time because I was house sitting for my parents for two weeks and my temp agency didn’t have any work that only lasted the fortnight I was available. This meant that theoretically I had all the time I could possibly need to get into a routine, but in actual fact days went by where I didn’t write anything – although I was researching a lot (that first book, Caligula’s Blog, involved quite a lot of reading of history books on account of the fact I didn’t know a huge amount about Caligula). There were a few days where I sat and did massive chunks of around 5k at a time to make up for it.
February was not a lot better in terms of routine, because my temp agency didn’t have anything for me till nearly the end of the month. However there were days I didn’t do much because I was a bit depressed – I really hate being unemployed, not least because it means you have to live on cheese sandwiches or other similarly cheap foodstuffs, but also because being unemployed in a grey Edinburgh February in the coldest flat known to man… Well, it wasn’t conducive to 100% creativity. On the days I did write, though, I was doing vast swathes – I think the most I did in one day was about 7k. Which is a lot to do in one go and I dread to think what I’ll make of it when I go back to edit.
In March and April I had the luxury of being in the same job the whole time, and I’ll be in the same one for May and June too. The wonders of temping. This means I work 4 days a week and have 3 off. However, because my workplace is within walking distance of my house (about 1.5 miles), I don’t have commuting time to write, and depending on how busy we are it can take quite a lot out of you so that when you get in at night you don’t particularly want to hunch over Word on your own in the bedroom.
What I try to do is write during my breaks – the time everyone else in the office goes on Facebook! – and on Mondays and weekends, pending social engagements and what have you. But because I do a lot of other stuff too (writing for various websites being the main thing) I’ve found that admin Monday and random times at the weekend isn’t really enough, so today I’ve sat down and planned out my time in as detailed a way as I can manage, with the specific aim of incorporating both writing and reading time every day. I doubt whether I’ll stick to it religiously, but I’ll try!
I sometimes have a dedicated workspace, but it’s our spare room and currently my sister is staying in it. Over the past month or two I’ve just worked wherever I can – often sitting cross legged on the bed which is doing my back no favours, or at the kitchen table which is better but opens me up to the distraction of chatting to housemates about the latest developments on Judge Judy. (In case you’re interested, there are no new developments on Judge Judy – it’s the same every single time.)
It’s definitely easier to get stuff done in a quiet, dedicated area, but if that’s not possible I find that even going along to a coffee shop can help me get stuff done – particularly if you resist the temptation to ask for the wifi password! I am pretty adept at tuning out noise and chaos, but it’s harder when writing fiction. I can edit an interview together or draw a picture in front of the telly; sometimes I can tune it out enough to do blog posts and job applications; and other times I can even tune it out enough to read a book, but I can’t write fiction like that at all. Stories definitely require me to curb my multi-processing ways to an extent. I can zone out the hubub of background conversation in a coffee shop, but not the laughter track on Friends. Not sure why.
In terms of best time of day to write, I’d be inclined to say I work better either first thing in the morning or last thing at night… but I do have the odd burst of afternoon brilliance ;p When I wake up on a weekend at 8.30am or some such annoyingly respectable time, I’ll quite often bash out 2000 words or so and then faff about for basically the rest of the day. Well, not faff exactly, but I’ll do blog posts and set up interviews for sites I volunteer for, and I’ll go on Twitter and read links to tips for authors or weary articles about the current state of publishing; or do other writing related things that are relevant but could realistically wait till later.
Then during the week, when I come in from work I’ll be tired and find myself doing lots of other boring domestic stuff and suddenly at 9.30 I’ll be ready to do an article or some novelling and I’ll carry on with it till midnight. Then I’ll be grumpy cause I won’t get enough sleep. Oops.
Still, only 8 months to go!
Further to my Procrastination? post, I thought it only fair to put up some more links to interesting sites you can read on the internet instead of writing 12 books in 12 months. I like to think that reading people’s websites is a bit like people watching, ergo totally like researching characterisation.
Well, I didn’t think of it like that til about ten seconds ago, but it sort of makes sense actually. Anyway, get your eyeholes around the following:
Billygean – a very funny and open blog about living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The writing in this is excellent – there’s no sort of ‘oh, poor me’ stuff to make you feel uncomfortable, rather it’s warm and engaging and often very funny.
Pictures for Sad Children – webcomics. Funny webcomics.
Hope you like these, and have a nice Easter weekend. I will be writing a bit (1,747 words done so far today), but I’m not sure how much. This is at least in part because I have Stuff To Do.
To elaborate, for no very good reason, tonight I’m heading out to the Cameo Cinema’s second night of horror (which will run from 11pm till around 7am tomorrow); then getting the train over to Fife tomorrow to have a picnic in the rain with my family. Sleep is for the weak, after all.
Oh, and I’ll have to watch the first episode of Doctor Who anywhere between one and several times. Well, those sci fi and fantasy novels are due any day now…
Just read an article on different authors’ writing routines, and was thinking it might be quite fun to try them all across the year to see whether they work for me. The obsessive routines of C.S.Lewis and Toni Morrison would undoubtedly do wonders for my productivity, but I wonder whether I would come to associate writing with all that I hate in life (very early mornings, not being able to do anything spontaneous, and suchlike).
Some might prove more difficult than others, though – will need to procure a dog from somewhere for Wordsworth‘s technique, and I’m not sure how well George Sand‘s 2 year affair strategy would go down with my partner… But it would be interesting to see how standing up to write would affect my productivity, as per Philip Roth, or how my body would react to a minimum 50 cups of coffee a day like Balzac.
AD 39, June 10th
Today is the first anniversary of Drusilla’s death.
It’s clear to everyone that I need cheering up, so to that end I have commissioned a statue of myself. It shall be like me in height, appearance – every respect, in fact. But instead of marble or bronze, he shall be cast in purest gold. Perhaps jeweled eyes, although I think that might just look a bit strange. And every day he shall be arrayed in the exact attire that I have chosen to wear that day. I will need to employ someone whose specific task that will be.
Why? Because I can. I am the emperor of Rome, after all.