When Should You Rest?

Every weekend or when your book is complete?

When is the best time to drop the pen, down tools, take a nap without the deadline nightmares. Though those nightmare usually feed a good story. Rest is important to us all and if you have to commute to work then you get some. Because once you leave work you’re done for the day and or weekend.

If you’re a writer things could be just a little different.

The Weekend;

You know in a few days you can sit back play some music drink a few beers… Actually sounds like a regular writing day… So the weekend is like a normal writing day without the writing. But I guess you don’t have to think about writing, right? No, you’ll probably be thinking about it one way or another. So I guess the weekend is a few days when you don’t actually put ‘pen to paper‘. Otherwise it’s like every other day.

When Your Book Is Complete;

The moment when you’ve edited the last word. Printed it out. Put It in an envelope and sent it to your publisher. Though I imagine now you’ll just get started on the next book, I mean you’ve probably outlined it by now, and maybe even written a few chapters. So it’s not like rest at all you’re just writing something else.

You see, this is the problem with working from home, you can’t leave. Unless you go to the pub where, like all pubs, no one gives a shit about you or your job and how fucking lucky you are to work from home. To just lie in bed typing on your fancy puter.

Anyway, if you’re serous about this writing malarky then you’ll probably not get much rest to begin with, you’ll just want to get your shit done (Chuck Wendig). And then you got marketing to do, and whether you’re self or trad publishing, you’re gonna have work shit to do. It’s not all fun fun fun you know, being an author is hard work. Mostly mental.

But then we’re all a little mental, am’a right?

Get some rest folks. see some friends, if you have any left. See some family, if they’re still talking to you. Or just sit in your back yard and have a BBQ and drink beer I don’t care just get some yet.

I’m one of those lucky mutha fuckas who can get a good nights sleep with just 4 or 5 hours. I’m up at 8am every morning no matter what time I go to sleep so I just sleep somewhere between 2 and 3am. ‘Cause by then i’m no good to any one.

Setting Writing Goals.

Will make your book writing process less scary because if you sit back and think to yourself;

“Today I’m going to edit my 900 page manuscript”

You then open page 1 and get started. 4 hours later you’re on page 4 of 900. It’s at this moment you realise;

“Shit! This is gonna take me FOR EVA!”

And yes. Yes it will with a lazy ass attitude. Cowboy up and get to it!

The thing is you don’t have to see it like this. Like a 900 page behemoth. A 900 page word avalanche. An F5 tornado filled with words (not sharks).

So look at it like this, you know the story. Or at least you should if you’ve finished writing a first draft. So just take it 1 chapter at a time. Whether it’s 4 or 40 pages, it’s smaller than 900 pages of word death. Tackle  your master works in a way which seems less daunting. Writing is fun, editing is work.

Now set out to edit 1 chapter a week. Or 1 chapter a day. But do the work. If you’re bored because your 18 million TV channels have nothing on then guess what? EDIT! If you’re sitting in a restaurant and the food is taking an age to arrive, guess what? EDIT! If that compulsory work meeting is dragging on just a little much, guess what? EDIT!

I break my chapters up farther by putting (temporarily), a space between paragraphs. This way I can focus on one paragraph at a time, get it right then move on to the next one. Once they are all done, I put them back together and read through the chapter checking to make sure it flows right.

The point is I handle my blizzard one hand full of snowflakes at a time.

Now, set a goal. Maybe edit a quarter of your book in a month. Or 2. But get the work done.

My writing goals for the next 3 months are as follows;

  1. Finish editing Shadow of Doubt.
  2. Outline next book (name redacted).
  3. Start writing next book (name redacted).
  4. Do something writing related every day.
  5. Start basic outline: Of Wolves and Crows and Broken Bones (Epic Fantasy)
  6. Start basic outline: 4 part Sci-Fi series (no title yet).
  7. Start basic outline: Blood Moon trilogy.

All these are goals set for the next 3 months. And this is just 7 of 21 though they are the only ‘pen to paper’ writing goals. I have other writing goals but they are mostly the business side of it all.

This writing thing, if it’s how you want to earn money, make a living, has to be seen as a job and not a hobby or ‘Just a bit of fun’. You have to ‘finish your shit‘ (Chuck Wendig). But if your shit is a 900 page snarling Rancor beast which tries to bite your hand off at every turn of the page then make life a little easier, throw the big bastard a bone to chew on while you do it’s toe nails. Work on your manuscript 1 chapter at a time. Soon you’ll be flying through it.

Set some smaller goals. Get your shit finished.

Life… Who Needs It?

Because when you’re in the thick of a writing binge it kicks you in the nuts. And I mean it swipes passed the right one and lands a good solid contact with the left nut and crushes your sperm factory against your pelvis.

So I woke up and things were usual, I watched Top Gear (Old not new) on Dave. I do this to wake up. I drink a cuppa tea and get all my programs up and running smooth on my 4 year old laptop. Sometimes it just need some TLC. I tend to all my emails and social media stuff. I post a little just to get the nightly cobwebs outta my brain. Then I watch (Top Gear is still on) what ever Youtube videos I missed the night before. It’s usually only a few. Again, it’s not even 9am yet and Top Gear is still on.

This morning I watched Jenna Moreci’s latest video. She’s an indie writer from the States (Just search of Jenna Moreci in Youtube). In this video she talks about her quarterly reminder list. A list of stuff she needs to get done in the next 3 months.

I made my own list. It has 21 things on it… I might be biting off more than I can chew, but hey. List made… It’s just gone 9am.

So now I sit down to do some honest editing of chapter 4 of my novel ‘Shadow of Doubt‘. This starts out fine and is going well until I remember a totally none book related meeting I had to go to. I had to be there at 11:50. Which means I had to leave home at 11:10. And I’m sitting here in my shorts, I haven’t even showered yet or brushed my teeth (writer hygiene ain’t great) and so I just got on with it, showered, teeth brushed, dressed.

It’s little closer to 10am then I would have liked but I sit down and crack on. Every now and then my eyes flip to the clock to check the time. By 11am i’ve barely done anything and feel like I might as well just stop now as I have to leave in 10 minutes.

I get home around 1pm and then had to do the home maintenance stuff like mow the lawn. I edge the lawn then mow it and by the time I’m done people are here asking me to do just a little more. Which turns into a lot more. I clear and clean the patio gutter. He stank, most likely because it hadn’t been cleaned in awhile. Remove some trellis and reposition, clean patio and rearrange some shit.

Now it’s 4pm and I’m finally back in front of my laptop and looking at chapter 4. I start reading and nothing. I have nothing. I can barely read it let a lone edit the damn thing. So instead of forcing it I stop and write this instead in the vain hope it gets my juices flowing, but all it’s really done is make me hungry.

One of my quarterly reminders is ‘Do something writing related every day‘, but I don’t think this blog counts and so today I could fail. On day one.

I refuse to fail. I shall do some editing later after dinner. Which I now have to go cook.

As a writer, especially if you’re starting out, people might tend to think you spend all your time doing nothing because, you  know, writing is easy, you just sit down all day tapping at your keyboard and after a week or so you have a 600 page paperback. None writer don’t understand how hard this is or how long it takes.

Life tends to get in the way to begin with.

FUCK YOU LIFE!!!

Editing: Shadow of Doubt.

Shadow of Doubt is a crime story about Detective Chief Inspector Robert Carter who is trying to solve a series of horrific murders while dealing with his own personal problems, a promise he shouldn’t have made, and bureaucratic BS.

So yesterday I worked on chapters 1 and 2 of my second novel ‘Shadow of Doubt‘ and today i’m starting on chapter 3 and I guess we’ll see how far I get. Hoping to work on chapter 4 too, but we’ll see.

Yes, Shadow of Doubt is the second novel i’ve written. The first being ‘Crow‘ which turned out worse than expected so I shelved it for later and just got on with the next project.

It’s important to understand you will write utter shit. Not everything is genius. But more importantly you need to recognise when you write utter shit. You can then move on without wasting your time. Come back to it later or maybe just wait until you have some kind of epiphany.

Chapter 3 took me five and a half hours to edit and now feels like a completely new chapter. I mean it still says what I want it to say, but in a different more interesting way. Sure it kicked my arse but as I look back over it I feel better about it. This arse kicked feeling lets me know I actually did some good work. Chapter 3 is now better than it was.

This is why I love editing. If you make films you’d have to go back out there and spend more money re-shooting stuff. As a writer we can just delete and re-write. We can make the bad, good. The good, better, and all it takes is a few hours of critical thinking. It might seem daunting, and I’m got going to say it isn’t hard because it is… this whole process of writing and getting a book published is hard, if it were easy every body yuddha yuddha … you get the idea. It’s supposed to be hard.

How I edit;

First I open up the chapter, in this case chapter 3, then I read through it and add an extra space between each paragraph just to separate them so I can focus on one at a time. Books are big and if you try to edit the whole thing each time you’ll lose your damn mind so just do it in smaller bites. I go back to the top and start reading again this time paying attention to each sentence. I read it aloud and I wonder if I need it. Are there any words I can remove to make this sentence flow better but retain the meaning.

I do this with each paragraph. And I do it over and over. You might miss something first time round, so go again. I tend to do this until I can’t make any more changes.

First pass: just a quick house clean.

Second pass: I look at each character: Behaviour, mood, are they consistent.

Third pass: Dialogue again for each character, does it sound like them, is their dialogue consistent.

Fourth pass: Now I look at all descriptive text.

Fifth pass: Book style and mood and emotion (how I want the reader to feel). This works in with the 4th pass.

Sixth pass: Can I remove the word ‘That’ from this chapter?

I would normally do all this after writing each chapter but I only just got my shit together so here I am doing it after the fact.

Bigger things like story, plot, sub plots and fluidity will be done once I’ve finished these chapter edits. You kinda need to see everything as a whole to do those. Then I’ll look at spelling, grammar and punctuation in the copy edit.

Editing.

The time consuming process in which you try to make something not suck.

– Chuck Wendig. Probably.

You’ve just spent the better part of a year working your fingers to boney little stubs spilling your life’s blood all over the keyboard. And do you know how fucking hard it is to clean a keyboard without taking it apart key by poxy KEY!?

Okay that might not be true, you might not need to take your keyboard apart but you get it, right?

You knew when you started, or at least I hope you did and if you didn’t I’m sorry you had to find out like this, your first draft would be utter crap. Well, now you have to edit that work of horse shit into something that not only hooks your readers, but grabs them but the ears and pulls them in close not letting go until they taste the unicorn dreams you imagined.

Editing, where you take apart your work at the atomic level, the word level… Umm. This process will no doubt take you longer to get through than writing the first draft whether you do it from beginning to end 14 times looking at something different each time or chapter by chapter (that’s what I do) or maybe you deconstruct each sentence one at a time checking your word use. Ultimately your goal is for it to make sense as well as making it a little shorter, tighter, easier to read.

Of course the best way to make something easier to read is to remove all unnecessary words, I mean you don’t need all those high convoluted words mixing shit up and slowing down your readers. A quick easy read is a better read.

Read it out loud, no matter how stupid you think you look (You’ll look like an escaped mental patient), this will help you get a handle on how it reads. If you have a flow problem, fix it. Try your best to remove the word ‘That‘. Most of the time you just don’t need it. Read the sentence without the word ‘That‘ and if it sounds the same, remove it. If you think you need it, try rethinking the sentence. If your stuck, fine. But try.

I fucking hate that word… (Irony)

You’re trying to be economical about your word use. Doing that will make your work more elegant, clear, and simple. Don’t use big complex words in order to sound smart if a smaller, simpler word will do (Unless it’s dialogue and your character speaks that way). I’m talking more about your narration.

As much fun as you had creatively writing the thing, editing is where you have to get creative in fixing problems. Be critical of yourself. Hate yourself!

Motivation.

It’s hard to come by when you have no support structure at home. When you spend hours on end sitting in front of you computer procrastinating over the smallest sentence because it doesn’t feel just right. Every one else thinks you’re just sitting there wasting time on social media, as if that’s the only reason to sit and use a computer these days.

The problem I have here is no one believes I could write a book and therefore how could I possibly be writing one, so I must be wasting my time on social media, right?

I’m constantly told I should get a “proper” job. If I mention that I’m trying to write a book I get sneers and funny looks, like they are saying it with their faces “Yeah, right!

After years of this it gets to you, it saps away any motivation you might of had minutes earlier, but worst of all, you start to wonder if they’re right.

No.

Writing is a long process and to finish your first book could take years with or without support. If like me you have no support in your aspirations to be a writer then use that as your motivation. Get your book finished and published either by traditional means or by self-publishing, but get it finished so you can say to them, “Look, I did it.

But don’t be smug about it no matter how badly you want to be.

Not until you can support yourself financially, then you can rub your back catalogue in all their bitch slapped faces.

In this household working means leaving the house. I sit upstairs and write and am therefore not working so I get tons of house work to do which of course I have no time for. Sometimes I start to wonder what’s worse, having no support or knowing that everyone thinks this isn’t work and i’m just sitting up here doing nothing.

This all means that i’m the joke of the family, which is fine because I’ve always been a bit of an outsider. The only one who doesn’t like Football. The only one who doesn’t want a conventional job. The only one who doesn’t want to go to the pub every week.

I’m the let down.

All this is my motivation. All this is what drives me to finish once I get out of that dark tunnel of self-deprecation and procrastination. To one day make a living doing the thing I love to do.

Sure I get motivation online. But It’s that home life stuff you go looking for.

Plans.

For the first time in my writing career (har har) i’ve actually set out a plan for writing and editing a piece of work. It seem’s weird I never did this before but there you go. Earlier I finished a short online course that should help me create more economical and elegant works in a way that doesn’t suck to much.

In order to do this I needed to set out a plan for it, something to take me from idea to publication and details what I should be looking at in the editing phase. Oddly I now have a better understanding of what to do. Sure it’s long but the majority of it can be done as I write. Once I’ve finished a chapter I can go back and apply some of this shit before moving on.

Now, if you think I’m an expert at this you’re wrong, far from it actually (10,000 hours)…

These plans can be applied to ALL my writings which include this blog, but I’m not going to start ‘editing’ this short piece i’ll let this shit sink in and hope I just get it, you know.

I never usually bother to edit this blog, I just write the thing publish it and move on never looking back because once it’s done what’s the point..? (wait for it)

Maybe if I make this easier more people will read it because once I start to market novels i’m going to need to get people invested in not only the books, but me, if my blogs look like a toddler wrote them then why would you want to read a novel..?

Now that I have my plans I can apply them to my current work (Shadow of Doubt) and my next novel, which until it’s out it is simply called ‘Detective‘.

I need lists and plans, something that tells me what I should be doing next.

Anyway, lets see how this works out.

If at first you don’t succeed, try again, just don’t do the same thing, try new things, and if that doesn’t work, change them again, and keep changing shit until you find something that works, and if it works, refine it.

I’m going to need an Agent soon too.

[Disclaimer: I edited this blog post. How did I do?]

And the Writing Goes On.

A few days ago I cracked my knuckles and started editing… Again.

Yes I know I know that i’ve been editing this damn book for an age but I got distracted by life, and unemployment, and a new job, kinda, and time just seemed to get away from me and I left the book by the way side like an unwanted puppy.

Just take the damn puppy to a shelter, ASSHOLE!

So, with a few days with no work I decided to open up Scrivener and give the second draft a whirl. I edited seven chapters in two days and was feeling pretty damn good about myself until this morning when I realised that I hadn’t actually changed anything.

That’s not to say that everything was good enough and didn’t need changing, it means I’m not doing my fucking job as a writer/editor very well and now I need to go back and do it all over again.

I procrastinated.

But I didn’t drink the scotch. I stayed away from the scotch.

Promise…

Okay, maybe a little scotch.

Fact is I need to write down an editing plan, what I need to be looking at when I edit rather than just winging it and hoping for the best.

I used to have a list, but being the absent minded fool that I am, I can’t find the damn thing.

I’m typing ‘Damn‘ a lot!?

First order of the day, even though it’s 18:30 right now.

That’s 6:30pm to you none Naval folk…

First order of the Evening, make a fucking editing list, shit that I need to address with each pass so I know what the fuck i’m doing…

Suggestions are welcome.

Also, when I’m about 50% to 75% of the way through my editing, i’ll be on the looking out for BETA readers… I’ma collect you people like the rash I have on both forearms due to the gardening work I’ve been doing lately.

Yes, i’m using a cream.

And HOLY FUCKING GEEBUS am I glad it’s not in a more, shall we say, sensitive area because this shit is fucking itchy.

In case you’re wondering, the book I’m – Still – editing is Shadow of Doubt, more on the Beta readers later. And by later I mean not now.

Records 228 – 234

Bought from Les Aldrich Music and Audio Gold on 12th May 2016.

Les Aldrich Music;

Jack White: Freedon at 21 (7″) – [Record 228]

Stone Sour: Meanwhile in Burbank – [Record 229]

Bob Dylan: Shadows in the Night – [Record 230]

Sonny Boy Williamson: The Blues of – [Record 231]

Audio Gold;

Black Sabbath: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath – [Record 232]

John Lee Hooker: The Great – [Record 233]

Jimi Hendrix: People, Hell, and Angels – [Record 234]

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