Writing Recap – How To Edit

Why pay an editor when you can get a Luna to do it for you? This is my little Lunabelle helping me with some writing. “Helping” meaning clambering all over the keyboard chasing my hands because it’s much more important for me to be fussing her than writing. And with such big green eyes who can resist? But this is the whole point – editing, I find, requires a solid strength of will to resist distractions and procrastination. So sorry Luna, but you have to wait!Update! I have been quite quiet of late – that’s for various things: new job, work on the other house, trying to finish my Goodreads Challenge for May (see blog post here) and a little bit of writing! I am now very pleased to say that as of  6th June 2017 I have finished my third draft of MFB. This means I’m now about to start editing.

How well is it going, you might ask? Well… I’ve done countless loads of washing, shredded a load of unwanted paper, tidied up my front room a bit, organised the back bedroom, cleaned my sink, disinfected everything in the house, scrubbed my wellies and my Dubarrys, washed the dog and cat bowls, and drunk umpteen cups of tea…

So this is my guide on How To Edit!

  • Get comfortable in your writing nook, with a cup of tea and the most motivating, content-appropriate playlist you can find on Spotify
  • Drink that first cup of tea and enjoy it so much you go make another
  • Struggle to find a suitable playlist and waste time scrolling through Spotify
  • Find that your writing nook attracts an unpleasant draft or has dodgy lighting, and search for another place
  • End up cross-legged on the sofa
  • Forget cup of tea, get up for it
  • Open first chapter of novel on computer
  • Create a document for editing purposes
  • Fancy a snack, end up making dinner
  • Leave pots strewn all over, but decide to start reading chapter one
  • Make a couple of notes on editing diary
  • Wash up, dry pots and put away, repeat for next lot
  • Realise that TV programme is on you wanted to watch – time for a break, no?
  • Try and fail to read and watch at the same time
  • Make another cup of tea
  • Find a pot left on the side that wasn’t washed up and lose mind
  • Finally get comfy on sofa with computer and cup of tea
  • Start to read, make a few valid notes
  • Get distracted on planning a detailed map of the town/world in your book
  • Lose temper at changing minor character’s surname
  • Yawn once, decide it’s bedtime
  • Turn computer off and go to bed
  • Have best idea ever in bed – decide to get up at 5am to start anew with refreshed vigour
  • Wake up at 8 and realise it’s a work day

Procrastination is a vixen I remember well from, I guess, every aspect of my little life. With essay deadlines looming, I could always find something to keep myself entertained. But when it’s something I love and very much want to dedicate my time to, like my writing, I still find I can skive off. Sometimes it is legitimate – still need to eat, right? I’ve been writing this post for about a week now, too.

In all seriousness, I’m trying to follow this process for editing:

  • Split my screen into 2 documents, with the draft on the left and a document for notes on the right;
  • Read through the draft and any edit, thought or issue that comes to mind can be noted down;
  • Finish the read through, and start making the changes to a new version of the document.
  • I will also keep a running log of over-arcing problems or changes that will have effects throughout the narrative.

At the moment I’m here, there and everywhere, often without my laptop (hence why this post has taken so long to write), so I can’t start in earnest until things are back to normal. Then I think I will try to dedicate a chunk of time each day to editing. It’s time to get serious again!

How do you edit? Do you get distracted too – if so, how do you keep on track? Let me know in the comments!

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World Book Day

It was World Book Day and if I was dressing up as someone out of literature I think I would have to be the Yorkshire Shepherdess, what with all the farming and such. We were up at the farm feeding up and tidying up and went to pick up a new calf, bringing our total to 7 (including the one with her mother). Only 3 are on milk so that’s not too bad. Where the calves are there is no running water so I have to lug a great drum of hot water about and it’s no easy task. My arms ache, especially when I can’t open the gate because the pin is too stiff for me, I can’t lift said drum over it because I’m too short, so instead I wedge it through the biggest gap in the fence I can find. It’s an ordeal, but looking after calves is my favourite bit so far so I don’t mind.

I think the Yorkshire Shepherdess is a fine person to look up to, and she’s certainly more relevant to World Book Day than the kid my mum saw in a Chelsea kit. The Chelsea Annual? Mmm, I think that’s pushing it a bit. Whenever I’m up at the farm and it’s chucking it down or I’m tired or struggling (read most days), I think to myself what would the Yorkshire Shepherdess do, and I find a reserve of strength (aka desperation) and I get on with it. I’m usually told off later for doing something wrong but I’m sure there are worse things that could happen.

But we all know farming isn’t my big interest. Oh, no. The big thing is the writing thing.

I have 3 weeks to finish my first book in my self-imposed deadline, in time for the How to Get Published conference at the York Literature Festival. I have about 12-15 chapters left to write, depending on how fast I can write/how ruthless I can be. Considering I’ve just written Chapter Twenty-Seven, which in my previous draft corresponded to Chapter Forty-Five, I don’t think I’ve done too bad in my cutting frenzy. It’s hard to fit writing in alongside everything else there is to do: the farm, feed calves, keep the house clean, do washing, rush about getting clothes in when it rains, cook tea, endless reams of washing up, panic about money and how I’m going to pay bills. I’m also going to be starting to work again come April, and before that there’s lambing to worry about. I stuck to my 500 words a day goal, but I think I might have to up it to at least 1500 a day, just so I can get some text down.

Part of developing as a writer is of course being a reader. I love reading – always have done, always will do. I studied Literature at uni at undergraduate and postgrad levels, have filled three houses up with books. As an only child, reading was a way to occupy myself when there was nobody about to play with (until I got a Gameboy, and then catching Pokemon was so much more exciting, but even then, I think I enjoyed reading the strategy guide more than playing the actual game). Reading seemed to naturally lead to writing. When I didn’t have my own stories and characters in my head, I rewrote existing stories, an exercise that helped me in turn appreciate story arcs, purpose and intent.

Being currently a frugal writer on a strict budget, there’s no space for book buying. Saying that, I did go to the second hand bookshop in Pickering a few weeks ago and buy two of Terry Brooks’s Shannara books (can anyone tell me if Book 1 is essential, as I’ve heard it’s vastly different to the subsequent two?). As part of my Goodreads Challenge I’m trying to read books I already have. In my early twenties, while most girls frittered their money away on posh makeup and going out dresses and holidays here, there and everywhere, little old me spent hers on books, music and car insurance. Hence why I can fill three houses with books and CDs and part a car at each house. Not that Millie the Puma can move at the moment.

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I know some people see reading as a waste of time, but the same could be said for watching TV, movies, sitting on Facebook. I use reading in a similar way that I write: for a moment, an evening, half an hour in the bath, I can completely forget my own silly little life and petty problems, and immerse myself in other peoples’ lives. Stories touch us in different ways and there are some books that I feel have changed my life, or my viewpoint, or have opened my eyes – The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, If This is a Man by Primo Levi, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, plus countless others. I’ve read His Dark Materials at so many different points in my life and each time it speaks to me in a different way, a huge accomplishment for what is often simply categorised as a children’s book.

Also, so excited about Philip Pullman’s next series about Lyra!

When I have a child, alongside that child running around outside, playing and learning, understanding the importance of time, and money, and kindness, and gratitude, I will spend time reading with them. I have my mother’s set of Narnia books that she had as a girl and those will go to this as yet imaginary child. And of course if writing is to be (as I hope) my occupation, I’d like my child to understand the worth of that, and the importance of imagination, even if they have no desire to write (which is OK too).

So books are important, yay? I have big plans to make a study/library in Grandad’s house, and that will be my writing cave, where behind closed doors, the magic will (hopefully) happen.

Katy

#my500words reflection

So, after a month of trying to stick to writing 500 words a day minimum, how have I done?

Well, there were a couple of days where I didn’t write anything, despite all my best intentions. Sometimes it just happens like that – there might be a lot of things going on at the farm, and by the time we get home I just collapse on the sofa. There was some success with getting up a bit earlier and managing my 500 words before breakfast, but other days I could snatch some time before cooking tea. A few days it would be the bare 500 I could manage, however I’m happy to say a lot of days it was a good more than 500.

In total, over the month I wrote 14 chapters, so it averages out as just under a chapter per two days. Some of these chapters are barefaced edits – straight rewrites of previous chapters I have been happy with. Others have had to be complete overhauls. And I have been quite ruthless. A lot of chaff has been cut. To put it into real terms, I’m writing what is now Chapter Seventeen, but in the second draft equated to about Chapter Twenty-Five. There are still one or two chapters that I have rewritten that could potentially be for the chop. And within the chapters themselves, I’ve gone from a single chapter easily exceeding 10,000 words to a much more realistic 5,000. My only concern is I’ve maybe been a little overenthusiastic with my executioner’s axe!

I’ve really enjoyed taking part in #my500words. More than anything else, it’s been a personal motivator, and it’s worked. There were 69 chapters in total for #MFB (make of that what you will). If I can manage to cut 7 out of the first 25, maybe I can do the same over the next part. We are however coming to the end of the part that was for me the most indulgent. I’ve had to do some serious chopping and changing to streamline this part, but at least now I’m happy with its continuity, and I feel it reads a good deal better.

So I will continue with writing a minimum of 500 words a day. I have a feeling I will hit something of a mental block in a few chapters’ time, as previously I have had issues with timing and locations for my character, so if I miss a day of writing, I would hope it’s for the sake of ironing out some continuity issues.

How is your writing going? Are you on track? Do you have any motivational tools you use to help you get on? If you do, I’d love to hear them!

Katy

Writing Goals for 2017

A couple of days ago I did something quite major for me, and booked myself a place at the How To Get Published conference, part of the York Literature Festival. I think all the ladies in my Writing Group will be attending, so it should be a good day. It’s a full day packed full of talks and discussions, not to mention a panel of writers and literary agents (!) I’m hoping it will be really helpful.

I’ve always written but never had the confidence to go to anything like this before. Last year I went to a free talk as part of York’s Festival of Ideas (and I wrote about it here) and that was all about the benefits of a Writing Group, which is how I found my group. After attending the sessions I’ve got a bit more confidence about myself, so I bit the bullet and booked myself on the conference.

The conference is at the end of March which gives me just over 2 months to get my act together and *finish* the third draft of #MFB. It also coincides with a new time in my calendar, that of lambing. Now granted we don’t know when this will start or how long it will go on for, but as far as I know the world stops for lambing time. So my idea is to get this third draft bossed by then, so I can a) have lambing time to distance myself from it and approach it afterwards with new eyes, and b) have something in a form like finished to talk to agents about.

So that’s one goal for 2017. But I have some others, and I figured if I wrote them here and stuck them on the internet I might actually have to honour them, as opposed to having them in my brain and thus easy to forget.

  • Writing Goals for 2017
  • Finish draft three of #MFB
  • Draw maps for locations in #MFB
  • Set up a Facebook page to directly link my writing progress with my social media
  • Work on my blog, including updating the images and dividing it into ‘writing’ and ‘blog’
  • Increase my activity on social media
  • Attend more writing and literature events (online and in person)
  • Enter some competitions
  • Look at #MSB and decide on how old my protagonist is going to be

I think that’s enough to keep me going for the year! Who knows – things might change. I’m really excited about the conference but it’s a long way off yet and I have lots to be doing before then.

Do you have any writing goals this year? Maybe you’re going to the conference too! Let me know!

Katy

Two weeks into #my500words, and a missed day

One of my big aims for the year is to nail Draft Three of #MFB and be in a position to maybe tentatively send it off to people who read and make dreams come true. I started #my500words this January, aiming to write 500 words a day for 31 days, and it went really, really well until yesterday, when I wrote nothing. I should have known I was doomed when I tweeted about how well my progress was going! It had snowed a little bit yesterday morning and instead of getting up early and writing my 500 words before breakfast, I was still laid in bed, watching it snow. And I didn’t go up to the farm, but I did a load of washing, swept and mopped the downstairs floors, did a load of ironing and baked some chocolate cupcakes. All non-essential when it comes to being a writer, though when it comes to being a “housewife”, which I think most people view me to be, all required tasks. I am fairly houseproud and every day it horrifies me that my house is such a mess, with muddy floors and a kitchen table with no space to dine off. But it also horrifies me and fills me with that feeling of waste when I don’t do any writing whatsoever.

There’s no excuse for why it didn’t happen. We went to my parents’ in the afternoon to mend the tractor and there was nothing for me to do except sit and get more frustrated. Then after taking the tractor up to the farm we came home, I cooked tea, and after we’d eaten I was tired and we just sat and watched rubbish on TV. Now I wake up this morning feeling like yesterday was a waste of a day! Sure, people say it’s good to have time off, but when my writing is constantly playing out in my head, there’s never time off. I’ll never get anywhere if I keep taking time off.

So it was one day. A blip. Since starting #my500words, I’ve actually completed 5 chapters for #MFB. I’ve written more than two weeks’ worth of 500 words all in all, so that’s a good accomplishment. I’ve cut out a lot of chaff, including a whole chapter’s worth. I’ve streamlined the plot a little, and turned characters and incidents around. Finally, I’m getting excited about it again.

So yeah, I missed one day! Big deal. Get over yourself, self. Today is a new day. I have my writing group today, and then the rest of the day to write, write, write. If I can do 5 chapters every two weeks, in four months I’ll be romping home.

How do you get back on the writing train after a hiccup? I’d love to hear your tips on motivation and how you keep at it!

Katy