Progress on Horizon Skies (and things I’ve learnt)

Back in May, I was really pleased to have reached a milestone in my writing which you can read about here.

Five months later and yet another milestone has been reached!

Using the luxury of a well needed week away from the day job, I have been able to fit in some pretty decent writing time. My aim was to complete two chapters and possibly a short story.

As I am quite lazy by nature, the short story went out the window and the second chapter I wanted to write hasn’t yet made it to the notebook but I have completed chapter 24, which means I am now six chapters from the end.

I scheduled myself to write 500 words a day, a quantity which is more than achievable and considering I spent the first few days slobbing around, playing Red Dead Redemption on my PS3 and not much else, I was beginning to wonder if I would ever get anything written.

Wise words from my boyfriend, advising me not to “moan about wasting time off”, as I have done in the past, spurred me into action and by this morning I had finished chapter 24 with a total word count of 3,362 which equates to almost 700 words per day (based on a working week). I more than beat my target and it gave me a huge sense of satisfaction to know that I am now three-quarters of the way through; a point I never dreamed of reaching.

If I wasn’t doing the #SoberOctober challenge, I would be looking forward to a glass of wine or three tonight by way of celebration!

However, this now brings me to what I have learnt during this process and I share this with you now.

Read, a lot.

I know a lot of writers say this but it’s so, so true and should be a Golden Rule for any aspiring writer. Reading helps you develop as a writer; by learning how other writers create their work you learn what works for you. Don’t limit your genre either. I’m a huge Fantasy fan but I do have Sci-Fi, Horror, Chick Lit and General Fiction in my collection.

Write, whenever you can.

Another obvious one but if you’ve never written before, how do you start? There are simple ways to hone and develop your skills, before diving into writing your masterpiece. Write a blog, short stories, flash fiction, anything that will help you find your voice and build your audience. The more you write, the less daunting it will seem to get started on your opus.

Plan.

Planning a book involves not just the book itself but the time you can spend on it. For many of us, this means fitting in our writing with full-time jobs, studying, families and social lives. My writing time tends to be in the evenings after dinner when TV is generally quite poor and I have nothing social on that night or at the weekends, as I’m an early riser and it’s nice and quiet. Even ten minutes writing is better than none at all. If it helps, draw up a timetable and stick to it. If you can block book time off, do it.

My Process

I play the chapter I want to write as a movie in my head. Sometimes it plays out very fluid and natural, other times it’s a bit slower. I let this part of the idea germinate for a few days, making sure I jot down any pieces I feel are worth remembering such as pithy dialogue or the environment in which the chapter is set.

Chapters are split into scenes which I have planned out in a spreadsheet. Writing in scenes is a great way to place the action into blocks as I am able to focus on a specific scene within that chapter before moving on to the next.

I write, longhand in a notebook. Even if I’m not happy with what I’ve written, I keep at it, reminding myself that this is simply the first draft and not the finished version. Edits and rewrites can be done later.

Once the chapter is finished, I transcribe into my writing programme. For this, I use New Novelist but there are others out there (check out these Reviews for other programmes). It’s important to find one that works for you. I usually find during the transcribing process that I make little edits along the way or add/remove sections, dialogue etc. that don’t seem to work.

From New Novelist, I copy and paste into a Word document which is formatted to the recommended style of Times New Roman size 12 font.

I keep a spreadsheet of my progress.

I back up my work to a USB flash drive – this is  VERY important!

I am, by no means, a professional writer and I’m sure anyone reading this will have their own methods and opinions. I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way of writing but I do believe that unless you find a method that works, you won’t progress beyond those first few pages before frustration sets in and you give up.

Writing is an incredibly rewarding process but it can be lonely and frustrating especially at those times when the words simply won’t come. My notebooks are full of crossings out and half-finished passages and there have been times when I’ve been so stuck on a chapter that I’ve almost given up but I keep my end goal in mind and it keeps me going.

What is the world coming to?

How often have we heard or even uttered that expression? I know I grew up hearing it from my parents and other adults and now, as an adult myself, I find myself saying it more often than not.

Today, I heard the news that Sajid Javid overturned Lancashire Council’s decision to stop the fracking company Cuadrilla from exploratory fracking in the local area.

In the face of overwhelming opposition from his constituents, scientific evidence from anti-fracking organisations, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth etc. this politician has shown his true Tory colours. Profits before people. As long as his palm is being greased by some shady corporation he is certainly not going to put the interests of the area he is supposed to be serving first.

Apparently, even our UNELECTED PM Theresa May has said that the government needs to listen to its electorate. So, has Sajid Javid suddenly gone deaf or did he miss that part?

As long as big businesses and corporations continue to live in the pockets of our politicians and vice-versa, things like this will never, ever change. The back room deals, broken promises and reversed decisions have been hidden by a propaganda that pulled the wool over a lot of voters’ eyes. Should I feel an ounce of pity for a Tory voter who now regrets ticking that box during the General Election?

No, I shouldn’t and I won’t. The Tories have always been about the spin and the propaganda. They are the wolves in sheep’s clothing and if people don’t wake up to that fact then Britain will continue to be the country that persecutes those who need the most help, condemning more and more people to poverty as the gap between rich and poor widens even further.

Why our government couldn’t follow the example of Iceland and jail it’s bankers who contributed to the huge 2008 crash is beyond me. The wealthiest people in this country are those who benefit the most from the elitist organisation occupying Westminster.

The Three Stooges (Cameron, Osborne and Smith) have blood on their hands for the persecution they meted out on the vulnerable and disabled in our society. People committed suicide as a direct result of the benefits cuts waged by those men. Jeremy Hunt is single handedly destroying the NHS and we are losing medical professionals in their droves as they head off to places like Australia where their prospects are a hundred times better.And now, he wants to fine doctors who leave the country! What will that achieve? We’ll still lose them and you can bet that money won’t go back into the NHS where it’s needed most.

This isn’t a government of the people, by the people, for the people. This is a government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich.