Category Archives: Housekeeping

Happy Birthday, Blog!

Wow!  This blog is now officially one year old.

I shall launch balloons, eat birthday cake on its behalf and consider how utterly terrifying that thought is.  Time passes much too quickly these days.  I guess now would be a good time to reflect on what progress has been made since those early days…

LIFE LESSONS

 JUST WRITE

It may well be hard to appreciate this if you aren’t me, but it was invaluable for me to get out of a certain way of thinking and working.  I used to be obsessed with perfection and, as a result, was never able to finish anything.  I used to look over a story I’d had in mind for several years, unable to move forward because I’d planned too much and for too long.  Since then, I’ve changed my ways.  I’ve moved on to a fresh new project and write in a relaxed, carefree way, just writing scenes to have a draft of them finished rather than scrapping anything which isn’t solid gold.  This has made writing far more fun – and far more productive.

READ MORE

It helps to improve your writing style.

THIS IS IT

This is the route I want to take in life.  No matter what I need to do to get by financially, I never want to stop writing and I ultimately want to be published.  Preferably a lot, and preferably in exchange for money.

I AM GOOD AT THIS

I’m not going to sit here and brag, but equally I’m not going to wring my hands and shrug off my abilities as average anymore.  I’m confident now: I know I am good at this.  Popular opinion, some of it professional, has confirmed that I have talent.  I know I have the potential to make this work and if I keep my ears and eyes open for opportunities, as well as keep my mind open to criticism, I will be published.  It’s just a matter of time, patience and commitment.

WHERE AM I NOW?

My novel is 20,000 words of first draft, which I started in December.  Most of those words actually constitute the bare bones of scenes, which won’t be too hard to fill out, and I’ve worked out most of the plot points.

I have several completed short stories, one of which won a little competition, and two other novels on the backburner.  And I’m writing for a magazine, building my article portfolio, and therefore hopefully about to have my name in print one way or another.

Basically, compared with where I was in my ambitions a year ago, an administrator without a single completed piece to her name, I’ve actually made quite a bit of progress.

SO WHAT NOW?

Looking back, the past year has involved an awful lot of stopping and starting – my switch to a different novel, for a start off.  As such, even though I’m proud of my progress, I need to pick up the pace this year.

GOALS THIS YEAR

I’d like to start entering some short story competitions, especially ones which provide feedback on entries.

Secondly, I’d like to set up a new blog with an emphasis on entertainment.  I’d like to start showcasing some of my work on the web.Third, I want to get published, both in fiction and non-fiction if possible.

Finally, I still want to finish my novel by the end of this year and start sending it off to publishers.

It’s a long slug to get where I’d like to be, but I’m up for the challenge.  Watch this space.

Advertisements

Where to, Guv’ner?

Every once in a while, one sits at one’s desk and one wonders where one’s characters are wandering off to next.

Try saying that after a couple of whiskies.

Having made a New Year’s resolution to finish my book, it occurred to me on Monday that I was one week into said New Year and had not so much as glanced at it.  Then I realised in a cold sweat that, after fifty-one more weeks of similar progress, I’ll have failed my challenge.  Thus, I set to work, addressing the snag I knew was going to catch me one day.  For the sake of simplicity and larks, we shall call this problem, “Where to, Guv’ner?”

I think the journey aspect of any adventure is the hardest part to write.  If you’re anything like me, you can write a beginning, you have some vague but flexible ideas about the end game and you know a couple of pivotal points along the way.  It’s making the in-between bits a) connect these events together, b) lead to new plot points and characters and c) interesting.

Alas, I knew the time had come: I was going to have to get to grips with the landscape – the actual physical journey my characters are making.  Time to forge a map.  However, I was so stumped as to what I wanted this world to look like that I began to seriously doubt a paper map was going to be the way forward.

To this end, I started using a free app I shall recommend to you now.  It is called Idea Sketch.  It’s nothing groundbreaking: a large canvas and some bubbles of various colours, shapes and text sizes into which one may enter a title and description.  If you’re feeling truly sprightly and innovative, you might perhaps attempt to connect these bubbles together with arrows – as if they are related.

Granted, this practice is a bit fiddly.  Not only did I find myself unable to delete said arrows; I found myself inadvertently creating extra arrows in my attempts to do so.  Perhaps the arrows element would better serve a person building a regular mind map, where the precise connections between concepts aren’t likely to randomly move about.  However, for me, trying to squeeze in extra place names in a sort of linear geographical affair, it went a bit pear-shaped.

I decided to resolve this issue by simply not joining the bubbles, keeping them separate but close enough together to remember my routes.  This worked out far better.  I suggest you learn from my mistakes, and do this right from the off, rather than assume you are cleverer than me and can harness the arrows’ awesome power.  I make this suggestion out of love: when I tried to abort the arrows fiasco, I discovered that deleting one bubble deletes every other bubble joined to it, as if they are sharing organs or have made some kind of suicide pact.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: it sounds like trouble.  Why not just use Word or PowerPoint?  Well, to use Word or PowerPoint, I’d have to have to be sat at a laptop, which sort of stunts the creativity in the ideas stage.  On the iPad I can lounge about, looking at my map thoughtfully over several hours, whilst handily continuing with my life at the same time.  Multitasking.

Another advantage is that the iPad makes for more efficient zooming.  Plus the larger canvas means you don’t have to wrestle with page sizes to keep all your bubbles together.

Also, Word and PowerPoint’s shape functions, whilst eventually able to get the job done, do tend to fall down at key moments for no readily apparent reason.  Considering the money and research behind them, I do find any set diagram – though good in principle – simply can’t cope if I delete a box or try to move things about a bit.  It’s as if it was placed in charge of a psychotically needy relative as a child and now breaks down screaming, “What do you want from me?!” if you ask to borrow its pencil sharpener.

Also, when things go wrong on the iPad, I either blame myself for having butter fingers or forgive Idea Sketch its sins, because it’s just a little tiny baby free app and, coochy-coochy-coo, aren’t you cute with your limited capabilities and inexperienced developers?

By contrast, Word and Powerpoint… upset me.  Quite frankly, the idea of a mainstream word processor, on its umpteenth version, having a panic attack when I try to place a text box a few pixels to the right, fills my tantrum meter so fast you’d think I was a toddler, in an itchy sweater with too-long sleeves, dropping an ice cream cone in one hand and holding a complicated big kid toy I can’t work in the other.  With a tummy ache.

What was I talking about?  Oh, yes, my map app.  (Sorry.  Didn’t mean to rhyme quite that hard.)

Idea Sketch has its flaws, but, provided you avoid the arrows and make good use of the undo button, it can be quite a helpful tool for plotting your characters’ journeys.  Good if you don’t want to spend hours refining a drawn map, or buying new computers because Microsoft Office’s I’m-sure-very-attractive-if-it-found-the-right-person traits have rendered you a serial hardware defenestrator.

In my case, it was actually very helpful.  I’m much further along in my characters’ journey and am getting a feel for my setting.  Now I just have to keep writing and work out what comes next.


The Toaster Has Sprung

It has been a long time since I was last on here, hasn’t it?

I am sorry for disappearing and hope the silence of my tiny self-indulgent project has not caused readers any minor fleeting curiosity.  A few things happened since my last entry and I regrettably went to ground in order to coccoon and come out as a butterfly.

Not that that metaphor is horrendously overused or anything.

Anyway, in terms of writing I think a lot of progress has actually been made – though a little more outwards than I anticipated.  Coming up against yet more issues with my one big project, I think I’ve finally done what I’ve needed to all along: branch out and start, heaven forbid, thinking like a writer rather than the writer of one all-eggs-in-basket attempt at a masterpiece.

That’s right: I think I’ve finally killed the lingering perfectionist.  I’m starting to have ideas everywhere, in every genre and for every age range.  I’ve completed a piece of work and am midway through completing others.  I have finally organised my thoughts and projects into an actual bloody folder and started to think of writing as a job – as well as a free-for-all scavenger hunt in an ugly-ass overcrowded market.  Plus I’m enrolling on a creative writing class this September, so I have plenty of ammunition for the blog in terms of what I’ve been achieving and adding to my portfolio.

My original project is always going to be on the cards, and I will keep adding to it.  But right now I feel a tad underqualified – and too far in a rut – to properly do it justice.  Besides, I refuse to be a one trick pony.

Also, I will be funnier next time.


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.