Monthly Archives: March 2012

Upping My Game

Evening all!  I promised an update, so here I am delivering one after several hours of sorting out books and papers.  So tiring!  Definitely worth it, though.  I’ve taken out all the unread fiction novels I have accumulated over the years, so they are now the first things I wake up to with their guilt-inspiring unbroken spines.  Don’t worry, friends, I shall read you all.

Not yet, though.  Currently still working on the Hunger Games, which I’m thoroughly enjoying.  I’ll stop the praise there because, let’s be real, everyone else is raving enough about it already without me sticking my oar in.

As for my writing trial, well!  The next day, buoyed up by ambition and enthusiasm, I pushed through four and a half pages in a day.  Today was a respectable two pages, but only because it was all speech and my lazy formatting has made six hundred words take up more space.

I think I’ve taken an important lesson from this experience.  The first is that, last week, and certainly the weeks before that, I may have been patting myself on the back whilst taking it a bit easier than I should have been.  I think I can drastically increase my efficiency and focus on good writing days.  Bad writing days still seem to get about five-hundred words out of me, so I think I should keep to this amount and take these times to reflect on the novel and ways to tackle the events in the story more creatively.  Normally doing that seems to lead to the good days anyway.

Luckily my good writing days are on a three-day cycle so it’s not a problem.  I’m not kidding.  It’s a bit worrying.  I’ll produce a graph sometime and show you all.

For now, though, I am knackered, so I shall turn in and hope I haven’t littered this post with too many typos.  Goodnight!

Advertisements

I Come Bearing A Table!

Hi, all.  Well, if Twitter didn’t tip you off, my schedule has been working fine thus far.  I proudly present the fruits of my labour below in a pretty table:

 

So there’s no confusion, the first column is the hours working, the central column is the number of pages completed and the right-hand column is the number of words written.  I wrote eight A4 sheets in fifteen hours.  Not sure what other people average, but I’m pretty happy with it for now.

Here’s the thing though: I’ve just seen a book which casually throws out the figure, “three pages per day.”  Now, don’t worry, no-one out there needs to take it upon themselves to usher me to one side and gently explain that people write at different speeds.  However, since I’m a bit pressed for time this week – I’m spring-cleaning and having a friend over for a couple of nights – I reckon I’ll attempt this target myself.  Not sure what constitutes a page in this context (a standard book page or an A4 page?) but I’ll attempt A4s and see what happens.

I’ll let you know how I get on.  I’m sorry I’m only offering a quick post today, but I’ll hopefully write a follow-up sometime this week.  I just saw that warm, bright sunshine and had the strongest urge to… hole myself up indoors and reorganise old university work.

Hmm.  That isn’t healthy.


Things That Are Hard: Writing With A Headache

Here comes a sheepish apology.  I am signing on to admit that immediately after starting this blog to encourage myself to write regularly I got a megacold and have struggled to so much as sit in front of a computer screen when not being paid to do so.

However, now I am slowly limping back to full health, I have realised I have to make a big change in how I work.  I present below my typical pattern of behaviour:

  1. Grow obsessed with something, put in lots of hours and work like a Trojan
  2. Something happens to break the flow
  3. Avoid the something for weeks
  4. Can’t get back into the something
  5. Abandon the something

There are several pastimes and projects which have fallen victim to this behaviour.  Devil May Cry.  Mass Effect 2.  My love life.

With the book, I am currently teetering between points three and four.  Therefore, drastic measures have had to be taken to get me back on the writing wagon.  The Wragon, if you will.

One of the books I have read about writing says that in order to become a professional writer you must write in a professional way – in other words, treat it like a proper job. It will have to be a part-time job for me because I’m in part-time work, but I want to make it a job nonetheless.

So, in order to adopt this mentality, I have set the following ground rules.

  1. I am going to work six days per week.
  2. I am going to write a minimum of seven pages per week.
  3. I shall publish how many hours I am writing, because I feel that enough head shaking and tutting will make me less lazy.
  4. In accordance with the UK law, working six days per week entitles me to 28 days’ annual leave, so that’s what I’ll take.  Yes.  That’s right.  I am actually assigning myself annual leave.
  5. Every month I will have a performance review.  I am legally allowed to bring a trade union representative to said performance review, but since that would be leaving Organised at the bar and letting Insanity drive me home, I feel I should let this one slide.

So, it’s the start of something big.  Wragon, away!


Was Noah’s Compass Also Laura’s Compass?

No.  Not particularly.

Let me back up and start again with this one.  When I said I was going to be reflecting on books to help improve my writing, I said so having recently joined a book club.  I reckon it’s a better place to start, in a lot of ways, because it means I’m reading something I would normally never dream of picking up.  I personally need the book club because before I joined, although I was an avid reader as a child, I hadn’t finished a fiction book in ten years.  I know how terrible that sounds on paper, so now I am making up for it.

Noah’s Compass by Anne Tyler is the second book I have read on our reading list.  The book is about a 60-year-old man named Liam whose bout of memory loss causes him to question his current life and purpose in the world.

For the most part I enjoyed the book.  It was well-written and easy to become immersed in its universe.  At one point, as a sat down again and opened to the bookmarked page, I remember consciously feeling myself submerge back into this other universe.  It was genuinely very enjoyable.

Then something unfortunate happened.  Namely that I got to the final thirty pages and started to get a sneaking suspicion that the lead character was not going to have evolved as much as I hoped he would.  In fact, scratch “hoped”: I wanted to see Liam evolve because, after 250 pages with him, I felt I deserved to see him evolve more.  I do understand that the point of the book is to keep afloat in life rather than hunt for personal fulfilment or change, but the writing style flowed so well at times that honestly if there was a major eureka moment regarding this idea I must have glanced over it.  It’s all personal taste, but for my thick noggin it was a bit too subtle.

I can’t take much away from Noah’s Compass, not least because our genres are so different I don’t think there’s much comparison.  One thing it has got me thinking about, however, is that change needs to occur in proportion with the length and pace of a book.  As a reader I won’t be thrilled if I read through 450 pages just for the deadbeat dad to eventually have the sense to buy his infant son one ice cream.  The same is true in reverse: if, at the end of twenty pages of sitting on the couch, Ben the Capitalist suddenly flips his entire world view and makes the sickle and hammer his Facebook picture it won’t be very believable.

No-one is saying that all of a character’s problems should be magically resolved by the final chapter, but an audience generally wants to feel that something has been clearly achieved by the characters during the course of the plot – whether that something is external, internal or both.

To conclude, my writer’s resolution here is to make absolutely sure my lead character takes something away from her experiences in the novel and makes peace with some aspect of her identity.


Introduction

Hi.  My name’s Laura, and welcome to my blog, “Write of Initiation.”  The story behind this blog is that since I was a kid I’ve wanted to be a fiction writer.  In the past I’ve let myself be distracted from that goal.  Now, though, I want to take my first shot at writing a novel and thought a blog of my progress would be great to go alongside it.  It seems a brilliant way of staying motivated, keeping track of my progress and forcing myself to reflect on my novel as I’m writing it.

Now I know some people may be wondering how I could write a blog about this.  After all, I’m not going to go ahead and publish chunks of my story online because I want to protect my material as best I can until it appears in print.  What I would like to do, though, is offer insight into what I am doing and my thought processes.  What am I reading, or what have I read, and how does this influence how I’m writing?  How fast am I writing?  How can I improve my style?  What are my strategies as I write and how are these changing over time?

Above all, my writing life up until this point has been strictly private.  I’d like to finally open myself and my techniques up to the internet to compare notes with other writers, whether aspiring like me or accomplished.  I’d like to know how we vary in our styles, how we are the same and what we can learn from each other.  I’d also love to hear from readers too: what do you look for in a book?  What keeps you interested and what irritates you beyond belief?

Overall, writing a book is a long road.  I’d love to make it less lonely.  Feel free to subscribe and I’ll make sure to update regularly.