Routine Whilst Writing – Why It is So Damned Important!

So, as you are all aware, I’m supposed to be writing a novel consisting of 60,000 words in the month of April. With my current word count far more behind than it ought to be (2921 words), I’ve been thinking about why I’m finding this challenge far more difficult than I ought to be.

I guess it is because of the fact that I’ve not been very strict about my writing routine. This is a fundemental part of the writing process. When I was in my initial meeting with my IP tutor prior to the challenge, he said that setting aside a couple of hours a day, daily, at the same time each day would be a sure-fire way of succeeding with the challenge. He suggested in the morning, before carrying on the rest of the day.

And, on Day #1, this idea worked out pretty well. I guess it was a mix of excitement to get started, the idea being very fresh in my mind, and not booking any activities until later on in the day.

However, as time rolled on, I was ending up doing activities in the morning, like seeing relatives and friends, and getting distracted with shopping, television and Sims 4. I’d get told off by my aunt, then be asked if I wanted to go out the next morning. The whole routine was thrown out of whack and completely de-motivated me, I lost my train of thought within the story I was trying to tell, and am feeling completely and utterly lost. Add an extra week away that I wasn’t planning, and days merging together, and you get a novel that just isn’t being written.

But I’m back home now, and in complete control of my routine once again.

And I’ve realised that I’ve not been working to my advantage, as I don’t work very well in the morning. My creative and energetic peak tends to be mid-afternoon to early evening. And that is when I ought to be planning my writing time, not in the morning when I am lethargic and tired. I’m one of those oddballs that gets more awake as the day goes on, rather than more tired. And that is something I should actually be working with rather than against.

Sure, writing in the morning works well for a lot of writers, but it isn’t a one-time-suits-all kind of life. One time might work for my IP tutor, but not so well with me. No one writer is the same as another when it comes to their writing routine, and this is something that I have come to realise whilst working on this project.

So, having a routine makes life a lot easier when writing, as well as in general life. As someone on the autistic spectrum, as well as dealing with ADD, I find once I get a very good, settled routine, I am able to be very productive and motivated. I just need to learn how to figure out a routine for myself without someone else having to support me in the process.

So, how does one set up a writing routine?

Think about these points:

1) When do you find yourself at your peak in productivity? Morning, Afternoon, Evening or Night?

2) Also, what other commitments do you already have? Work? Education? Housework? Social?

3) When do you find yourself feeling lethargic and tired, and more likely to procrastinate?

4) What do you intend to achieve in the time you set in your writing time?

5) How long can you focus on a creative task comfortably?

Once you’ve thought about these things, plot them onto a piece of paper in a way that is appropriate to you (I draw out my routine based on an academic timetable so I can fit in my lectures and seminars, study sessions and support sessions), just make sure everything is clear. Then pop it onto somewhere you’ll see it every day (I pin mine on the fridge), and make sure you stick to it. That last part is up to you disciplining yourself to keep on track with the routine.

If, like me, you find it really difficult to stick to something like this, don’t fret or panic. You are not a terrible writer/housekeeper/student/employee/partner/parent/human, promise! Just make sure you timetable time for slip-ups, and don’t beat yourself up about it!

So, in all, routine = more writing!

Nailed it.

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How To Write a Novel in 30 Days #1

Day #1 is here!

I’m in Portsmouth staying with my aunt and uncle for a week or so, so I’m using the change of scenery to help me focus in the initial stages of the project.

So, my aunt woke me up at half seven, and I rolled out of bed at eight, and started writing at nine. I had a mug of very sweet coffee, a couple of biscuits, some notes and my laptop, and got down to business.

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By ten, I had about half and a bit of the day’s target total, 1035.

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My initial aim was to have it all down by eleven, but it was about half past eleven when I hit gold…

With 83 extra words to the chapter! Huzzah!

I feel really good at this point. I’ve noticed how much easier it has been today after taking my ADHD medication first thing before sitting down to write. Starting a routine of writing a chapter a day will also probably help, as will writing a summery of each chapter down in my notes to remind me of where I’m at in the story so I don’t get side tracked. I can also write a quick line of how I want to work the next chapter, so I have an idea of where I’d like the story to go, but allowing the opportunity for my imagination to run wild and add other parts. It’s nice to be focused, and do things in manageable chunks. Says me on Day #1. By the end of the week I may feel differently, but who knows? At the moment I’m feeling pretty darn good about everything.

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I’m looking happy at the moment, though how long that’ll last, I haven’t a clue. Milly had better behave herself in the next few weeks, otherwise we might just fall out. Writing an ADHD character as someone with ADHD is proving to be an interesting experience. As I’m handing parts of the book in for university work, I won’t be sharing excerpts until I’ve had my marks back, just to be on the safe side of not self plagerising, yay?

The story was initially going to be a chic lit style novel, although already in the first chapter I feel the genre is going in a whole new direction, probably just a comedy, to be honest. Even though ADHD isn’t always fun to live with, you can get an awful lot of material from personal experience for both stand up and general comedic writing. I really need to hone my comedy writing skills, so I’m hoping this novel will be very good practice!

So, Day #1 is done, bring on Day #2!

Stats

Starting Word-Count = 0

Target Word-Count of the Day = 2000

Word-Count Total = 2083

Total Words Written Today = 2083

Minimum Word-Count Target for Tomorrow = 1917

Summer Blues

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I started this post sat in the beautiful grounds of Bath Spa, overlooking the lake, whilst sipping my blackberry liquor and soda water, listening to a cute guy and his friend writing a song to an acoustic guitar. Now I’m typing on a bus, where there is free wif fi, with the drizzle and a Starbucks take-out.  I never really liked summer, but now I recon I do. This summer has already changed my life forever, and I know that it will continue to change.

I’m not performing in this, as I didn’t get selected into the cast, but The Idle Playthings are going to Edinburgh Fringe Festival! They are writing a blog about their adventures, http://ctrlaltsketch.wordpress.com/ so check it out, and if possible, donate a little bit of cash, as they need every penny they can get so they can get up to Fringe, and stay there for the duration of the festival. Every little helps 🙂

I also did my hair, so it is now a lovely rainbow colour! I decided on the radical makeover because I wanted to show off who I truly am inside, this crazy, multi-coloured soul who isn’t afraid of being out there any more. And it looks pretty wonderful, if I say so myself! I’m really proud of it, and intend to keep it this way for as long as possible.

Solstice was wonderful! We drank cocktails, played Cards Against Humanity, before heading out to the amphitheatre to show off talents. I performed some of my poetry, whilst my friend V performed some original songs and a stunning cover of ‘Wherever You Will Go’. After that, we went to the summer house by the lake, set up our altar, and burned paper with things we wanted to get rid of written on them. It felt really good to see the paper smolder and burn into ashes. Drinking mead, watching the stars was also amazing, and we headed back to the amphitheatre to watch the sunrise. All I can say is that I was so glad to have my closest friends with me to celebrate my freedom, and to welcome in a new season, a fresh start for everyone, especially me.

I’ve been on a few more dates, after the guy I was seeing turned out to be rubbish, and I’ve realised that maybe this way f finding love… Isn’t for me. It’s nice to take a few hours out of your day to meet a new person, be bought coffee and cocktails, talk sweet nothings until I’m blue in the face. But, that’s really not who I am, if I’m perfectly honest. I’m back to square one, and, you know what? I’m cool with that. For the first time in a long time, I’m comfortable being… Me. Me is a pretty alright person to be, to be defined by my talents, skills and personality, not for the person she has on her arm. Those days are over for me, and I’ve realised that I’m in no hurry at all to run back that way. I do like someone from back home, and I’m keeping my eye out, but what will be, will be.

Arthur is at a tiny bit of a block right now, as I’m juggling coursework with my personal situation, but hopefully I should get back into a proper routine with the novel soon. However, I’ve been writing an awful lot of poetry, mostly about matters of the heart. Maybe I’ll share a few with you all at some point or other.

But, in the meantime, I’ve started up another hobby. You see, I’m working on becoming a mixologist. Yes, a person specialising in the making of cocktails. I’ve started collecting the equipment, buying in the basic ingredients/spirits required, as well as cocktail recipe books. On top of that, I’ve started inventing my own cocktail recipes. At some point, when I perfect them, I’ll share them with you.

The last post I wrote turned out to be my 200th! A bit dark, I know, but that’s the way things go. I’ve had a lot of support from my friends and even people who I’ve never met before, and that means so much to me. I only hope that one day, young people won’t be afraid to turn round and say ‘no’ to an abusive partner. That when they cry for help, they’ll be listened to, and supported, without question. How can someone lie about being attacked, or controlled, manipulated or raped? How does that even work? Grrr, it makes me angry!

So, on that note, thanks for sticking around for 200 posts. Here’s to another 200!

I’m Writing!!!!!

 

For once, something good has come out of all the crap that I’ve been through in the past few days. So, before I go off to sit this awful English Literature exam in an hour or so, I thought I’d give you a good old catch up.

On Monday, I travelled back from London Comic-Con (I’ll dedicate a whole blog post to it another day). As I was sat on the train, I heard a little voice that I haven’t been able to quite catch in a while. It was Arthur.

“Hey, now that guy has gone, do you recon you could get on and write my story now?”

Considering that I was trying not to bawl my eyes out about a love that I can never have, he took me quite by surprise! I had missed attempting to write Arthur’s story, it’s taken so many forms, it’s crazy. He’s morphed from an angry detective to a love-lorn knight, to an English Literature professor. But he is always best when he ambles into my mind in an awkward manner, a young man without a clue, tripping up on his undone sneaker laces and smiling with a crooked grin, much like I do. Often, when I’m in a relationship, I tend to engage how well it’s going by how productive I am with novel/poetry writing. Considering in the two years I was with my ex that I wasn’t able to properly put pen to paper, that says a lot about how I feel. I’m just putting it out there.

So, after clearing my head with letter burning, lake side walks in the rain and borrowing books for revision that I intended to do, but never got round to actually doing, I sat down at 11pm and began writing furiously…

And the first chapter of Arthur’s story was written.

Basically, Arthur is a university student studying creative writing, all whilst balancing a demanding long distance relationship with a girl who never loved him in the first place. So when she unceremoniously dumps him, he draws up a ‘bucket-list’ of things he wants to do with his life, hoping that he’ll finally discover who he really is… So, here’s a quick extract to tease you with before I start properly uploading chapters onto this blog!

 So, this is a story about love. I say that, not because I’m a soppy bastard, but because it’s what the story involves. It also involves adventure, impulse and rebellion. all stories involve love, you can’t escape that. It’s what happens in between that, that’s what people want to read. So I thought it was about time I told my story. I’ve ummed and erred about it for a while. But, you know what?

Fuck it.

It’s a story that ought to be told. A story about how a boring, lonely guy went on the adventure of his life, how he changed his stars forever. And the girl that showed him that there is so much more to life than wishful thinking, what-ifs and maybes. This is her story, just as much as it is mine.

So, I guess you want me to get on and actually tell you this story, reader. You are probably wondering why this story is worth telling. Why is this something you’d want to read, rather than some other story on the shelf? You could of chosen any other story, any other love. You could of gone on a wild adventure to another universe, hung out with people who are out of the ordinary, even mythical. But you chose to read this story instead. And I’m grateful.

This is a story about love. A story where two lives were forever changed, when a girl decided to share her dream, and a lonely guy decided to close his eyes, and leap into the unknown…

Let me know what you think!

In the meantime, I have to get my exam stuff together, and make a break for the exam hall, where I’ll reemerge in two and a half hours even more muddled up than when I went in…

 

SOS!

Can you guys help?

My university course requires a group project as part of the core module. We’ve been writing a prose and poetry anthology on issues that Autistic people face daily. We need more material, which will be published into an ebook on Amazon. So, inbox me on Facebook (the link to the page is on this blog) or email me at heidi_street1993@yahoo.co.uk if you think you have something which would be relevant to contribute!

Thanks!

On Being a Writer

It’s not the glamorous life that one expects, being a writer. I remember being a child, and dreaming of sitting at a little table with a cup of tea, a posh notebook with creamy white pages and a fountain pen, looking out of the window for inspiration with my hair flowing down my back. And everything that I wrote would be of first class standard, suitable for being a published best selling novel, with my name in lights. Fans would adore me, begging me to visit their schools, sign copies of the books, have interviews for their newspapers and magazines. People would even name their children after my characters, I would be so amazing.

However, I had the shock of my life. I had a tutorial about the last creative assignment that I handed in. I only just passed, with a third class mark. It was humiliating to be shot down like that, to be told that actually I need to pull my socks up, smell the coffee, see reality. I need to stop letting people in my family and circle of non writer friends tell me how amazing a writer I am, for they don’t know the craft, and what they are talking about. Being a writer simply isn’t about the dreaming, it’s the lifestyle involving sheer hard work, the slog, constantly editing, constantly changing. It’s all well and good to get the initial draft down, but that’s not what makes you a writer. The writer is the one who can look at a piece of work they’ve written, and thinks, ‘hmmmm, how can I make this better?’. A writer weilds the red pen like it’s the fountain pen they’ve used to initially write the little darling on the page. The red rips the tale to shreds, before carefully piecing it back together again, ready for the editor’s perusal. 

It’s like one of my favourite animes, Whisper of the Heart, about a young middle school student who wants to become a writer. She writes her first draft of the novel that she is working on, and brings it to the owner of an antique store who she has become friends with. He reads it, and tells her that it’s good, but needs work to make it better. When she is sad about this, he shows her a rock on his desk. He explains to her that her skills as a writer are like the rock, unpolished and rough. But he then shows her the inside, and reveals the rock to be a geode, with beautiful crystals inside, which he refers to as some of the best pieces in her novel. He explains that once the novel is completely polished, the crystals will be revealed for the beauty and brilliance they are, but, for now, they need to be brought out through editing.  

I collect crystals, and bought a geode in a shop in York last year, when I attended the NUS Women’s Conference. I like to have it next to me when I’m working on my writing, in order to remind me that I’m still rough around the edges, and that I need to keep polishing before I can see myself as a proper writer. I might write things, but until I learn to edit and accept criticism, I can’t really call myself a true writer. It’s not glamorous to be sat in your pajamas, on a loan laptop from the company who has messed things up with your own one, in the kitchen because said loan won’t charge its battery, trying to frantically type up some sort of story before the seminar you should of written for two weeks ago, on top of searching online to find the basis of the book you were supposed to read for that class. 

It’s an interesting idea, though. My idea of what a writer is has changed so much. I can almost imagine all the writers of my childhood getting up early, all stressed and untidy, swigging coffee and Red Bull as they sit in front of their computers and frantically write out a chapter before the deadline their agent has provided for them. It’s not a relaxing life, not at all! It’s bad enough that I have to write to university deadlines at the moment, without having to worry about how my life will pan out in the future!

So, for now, I’m going to enjoy what little literary freedom I have left, being able to work on little projects here and there. I’ve jotted down a few poems in the past three weeks, but am yet to write another short story. In the meantime, that’s my aim for this afternoon, once I’ve battled the storm to go and check the mail…

Writer’s Block Sure Does Suck

So, am attempting to start a new novel for me to work on over the holidays. I say attempting, considering Arthur came to a dead end like all my projects seem to be doing at the moment. I start them off, all positive that I will actually finish it.

It’s always when I get to the third chapter when it all begins to go horribly wrong for me and my writing. It’s usually at this point where I either get caught up in writing something else up, or I just get to a plot hole and fall deep into it, which is pretty much what happened with Arthur. I guess no longer having a computer will also make things pretty difficult on the writing front, sure I’ll be able to blog using my Windows Phone and my Kindle Fire, but it’s rather difficult to actually sit and get something written that could go towards a book.

And I really need to get started on a good project, especially if I don’t get into university, as I’ll be looking into working on an apprenticeship in an office environment, I’ll also be putting all my effort into getting myself published in one way or another. So this means that I really ought to be getting started with my story ideas…

But I am struggling to get some ideas. Perhaps another attempt at the fantasy genre is something to think about, The Chronicles of Crazar, a book I wrote when I was seventeen, was probably the best thing I ever wrote, and it’s a genre I have been wanting to start writing again.

Right, I’d better find a story generator then…