Friday, 15 February 2019

In Which We Share Our Goals

In Which We Share Our Goals

Yes, it’s the middle of February, but here at the Novel Points of View blog we are putting our writerly resolutions for 2019 in black and white for all the world to see.

Victoria says:

Some years are busier than others, but I think 2019 will be up there as one of my busiest and will dictate my 2019 resolutions.

First up is the release of the 5th book in my Cornish Tales Series. The cover will be revealed this week and it will be released as an eBook and audiobook on the 16th April. It is about a daughter of a baronet, who falls in love with a gardener on her father’s estate. I loved writing this novel, which incorporates all the stifling expectations placed on a girl growing up in the Victorian era.

On 9th July, the paperback version of The Daughter of River Valley (the 3rd book in the series) will be released. I think most authors aspire to have a paperback version of their novel and I’m no exception.

Later in the year, the 6th book in the Cornish Tales Series will be released as an eBook and audiobook.  Again, no date, cover or title yet, but I know that this summer will be spent preparing it for publication. Between the aforementioned releases, I also have my ‘work in progress’, which I hope will be accepted by my publisher as the 7th book in the series.  However, at the moment I’m having difficulty finding the time to simply sit down and write. So my resolutions for 2019 are to launch my ‘babies’ and trying to write something interesting in between.
Kath says:

I always set myself some New Year's Resolutions, and I always write a blog post on my own blog about them. Each year I look back at the previous year's resolutions and see whether I achieved them, then blog about the new ones. Most resolutions are writing-related, but the 'lose weight and exercise more' ones seem to have become a permanent fixture too.
Terry asked us: 'what's different about your resolutions for 2019'. That's actually an easy one to answer, and regular readers of this blog will guess what I'm going to say! As I have just given up the day job to become a full time novelist, that means that my writing goals for the year are more important than ever before. It's now my livelihood. I'm aiming to complete the first drafts of two new novels in 2019 - so that means an output of around 200,000 words. It should be easily possible - I've been writing at least a novel a year for the last five years while also doing a full time day job. But when setting this goal I didn't want to push myself too far - no point giving up the stress of a day job to free time to write, and then piling stress on to the writing job. It has to remain fun. So I suppose that's another goal for 2019 - enjoy my new freedom, enjoy being self-employed, enjoy the writing!

Jo says:

This year I hadn’t intended to make any writing resolutions, so exhausted was I after just about achieving my last year’s challenge of 1,000 words per day on average. I tell you, it just about finished me off, and if I don’t end up with some horrible form of RSI as a direct result of it, I’ll consider myself lucky.

Then along came Terry, asking about those non-existent resolutions, and after a writing-free January I found myself wondering of it’s too late to begin. And of course it isn’t.

I’m not going for anything quantifiable this time. I’ve been there, I’ve done that and, to be blunt, some of the drafts I’m looking back on that resulted from last year’s rush to write are more than a little short of quality. The knock-on effect is that there’s a lot to do to make them remotely worth sending off to my agent or publisher and so my resolution for this year is quality not quantity. It’s a subjective judgment. I’ll probably never know if I succeed.

Linda says:

I don’t make resolutions of any sort because that way – for me – failure lies. I’m a strange beast and never follow series on TV ...  soaps and dramas and the like. I don’t like the commitment to have to sit down at a certain time every day and watch (or have it on catch-up constantly thinking about when I am going to watch it). I used to write every day and began to feel guilty when I didn’t. No one was holding a gun to my head then to get on with it – no deadlines, perhaps, my own ambition. But when I became more successful and deadlines entered my life, I had no option but to get on with them. So, when said deadlines were met I then began to feel less guilty on non-writing days. A few years ago I told myself if something – a blogpost, an interview, a talk in a library or wherever, Twitter, Facebook, media of all sorts – that day was writing-related then I would count it as writing. It has been very freeing. I’m now writing for HarperCollins and my editor is keen to extend my ‘brand’ and I’m happy with that. But strangely, I’ve also had a yearning to write something from my soul, not just for publication. It crept up on me after the last mince pie was eaten, the Prosecco empties had been put out for recycling, the decorations were taken down and it became a bit, well, tardy to be saying ‘Happy New Year’. I’m liking this new regime – three new short stories written and a stream of consciousness- but if I want to take a step back from that and just chill, then I will.

Rae says:

This year’s grand plan is to work with, rather than against, my strengths. So my first writing goal is to work on my women’s fiction novel for at least one hour each morning, 5 days per week. I’m experimenting with a technique shared by Sarah Painter over on the Worried Writer podcast. Sarah’s tip is to trick myself into believing I need only work for one hour which not only means I’m more likely to begin but also adds urgency to my writing. In reality, I’ll write for most of the morning. Late afternoons are now free for catching up on social media and admin. Check out Sarah Painter’s podcast here.

Secondly, I work best to external deadlines and have already diarised a full structural edit with an editor in June. #feelingdetermined

My final objective is to read and review a book per week. I’m not a book blogger, my reviews are short – a couple of paragraphs at most - but I learn masses about writing craft by making time to consider what I enjoyed about a novel and, perhaps, what didn’t work so well. My guilty secret is that I also love playing with Pixabay and Canva, creating vibrant social media posts. And who knows, if I work hard on my first and second objectives perhaps I’ll join those published novelists one day soon…

Terry says:

2019 is a big year for me. Like Kath, I’ve taken the plunge and am now a full-time writer. (Gulp.) This means that I need to treat the art and craft of creating stories with a higher level of professionalism. Many of you know that I plot my novels with the precision of a surgeon. (Always giving myself permission to go off the map.) I’ve got loads of loose outlines. Now is the time to turn them into cohesive stories. And just to add another layer, I plan on dictating my prose from now on, which will definitely be a challenge.

2019 holds promise for all of us over at the Novel Points on View blog. Interested in sharing your own writerly resolutions? Leave us a comment. We will cheer you on!

Saturday, 9 February 2019

In Which We Discuss Slaying Our Dragons

Could You Dictate Your Written Work?

2018 will go down in history as a milestone in my writing life. I got the flu in late December and it lingered into January. On February 20th – the day before my birthday – I fell and broke my arm. This wasn’t a typical break, mind you. When I do things, I don’t mess around. I shattered my radius and also broke my ulna. The break required a major surgical repair that knocked me flat for a good two months, with another two months of occupational therapy. Although I am grateful the damage occurred to my right arm – I am left handed – the injury was a life changing event, especially since I earn my living at the keyboard.  

The universe works in mysterious ways. A few months prior to my fall, I invested in Dragon Naturally Speaking software and a decent microphone. After hearing a podcast on the Creative Penn with Monica Leonelle, I decided to go for it. (Check out the podcast here.) There was no pressure for me to master the process instantly, I was thinking of taking my time and learning to dictate my novels. The idea of preventing RSI issues – a real side effect of the writing life – and also writing faster, appealed. So I bought the audio version of Scott Baker’s great book, ‘The Writer’s Guide to Training Your Dragon,’ and made a commitment to learn to dictate. (Visit Scott Baker here.)

During the course of reading and connecting with other writers on Scott Baker’s website, I discovered that many dictate into a digital recorder while they are out in the world running errands or exercising. Dragon’s transcription function allows you to plug the digital recorder into your computer. With the press of a button Dragon will transcribe your recorded speech into an MS Word document. The technology boggles the mind! It all seems so easy, but learning to dictate, along with adding the punctuation as you go, is an entirely new skill set. 

Hope this new year is off to a promising beginning for everyone. I know I’ll be spending my time training my dragon. How about you, fellow people of the pen? Could you dictate your work? Do you use dictation software now? How do you get those words down? Looking forward to hearing from you. 

Keep writing.

Terry Lynn

Saturday, 2 February 2019

On giving up the day job

When I began writing, way back in 2003, I quickly decided that I wouldn’t give up the day job. I didn’t want to put the kind of pressure on my writing that comes with needing to earn enough to pay the mortgage and the bills and put food on the table etc. Back then, my writing income was only ever a few hundred a year, from selling short stories to women’s magazines. I enjoyed writing, loved the buzz I got from selling something, and had fun spending that extra little income on treats for myself.

Then in 2014 I got my first book deal, and since then I’ve effectively been doing two jobs. The full time day job in IT for a retail company, and the second job as a novelist. And yes, writing has become a job rather than a hobby – there are deadlines and contracts and expectations. I still love writing, but I admit at times it’s hard when I’ve spent all day working to then go to my writing room in the evening and put in a few more hours. Sometimes I’m brain-dead by six pm, and in no mood to be creative, despite earlier in the day longing to get some words written.

For the last year or so, I’ve agonised over whether or not to give up the day job after all and become a full time writer. I’ve a pot of savings, and am close to the age when I can draw on my personal pension pot if need be – so financially I’m secure enough. My husband took redundancy a few years ago which then morphed into early retirement. There are so many things I’d love to do, places I long to go, and which would fit in around the writing.

So at last I handed in my notice. My last working day is to be 14th February. I’m scared and excited and can’t believe that 31 years for the same company are about to come to an end, just like that.

I’m editing one novel and starting to write another, and have a stack of ideas waiting in the wings. We have a number of trips lined up, during which I’ll ensure I keep writing. I also have a backlog of other stuff I want to do – spring cleaning, thinning down the contents of our house ready for future down-sizing, that sort of thing. Those extra 40 hours a week I’ll have from stopping the day job will soon be used up!

As I write this, I just booked my leaving drinks at work. It’ll be hard to leave after so many years, but the time’s right. At least, it’s as right as it’ll ever be. Like deciding when to have a baby. Sometimes you’ve just got to take the plunge and go for it.

It’s the end of an era, but as I keep telling myself, the end of one era implies the start of a new one. I spent 31 years working in IT – why not spend the next 31 writing novels? There’ll come a time when I’m filling in a form, perhaps to apply for a new credit card or similar, where under ‘Occupation’ instead of writing ‘IT Technical Analyst’ I’ll write ‘Novelist’. And I’ll grin from ear to ear as I write it.

Wish me luck in my new life!