This week, I have achieved what I set out to do: I finished the first draft of my short story! Those last few pages went by so quickly but that might have just been the sheer enjoyment of using my typewriter over actually writing fast, who knows? That little stack of typed pages with the tiny punctures from the viscous full stop sat proudly on my desk for the whole of one evening until I had it in my hands and jammed it through the scanner onto my laptop. I had to settle for a free, somewhat temperamental OCR program which didn’t scan quite as accurately as would have hoped but saved me time in the long run instead of copying out the manuscript word by word.
It was then out with the red pen and metaphorical scissors for the long awaited editing. Those pages are now covered with scribbles, spelling corrections, rephrased sentences, suggestions for alternative words and phrases to check for repetition. I was surprised to find very little adverbs as it happened but I did remove a lot of “that”s (which I suggest you do too: you’ll be surprised at how unnecessary they often are and how much they disturb the flow of your prose) which found there way in.
Once I had finished with the corrections and ticked said corrections off (admittedly, very satisfying), I slung it into Grammarly for one final check and read through. It’s now been given to my first trusted guinea pig for a test read so hopefully they’ll come back with some improvements for me to make before I send it off to my second guinea pig.
I’ve also settled for a pen name!
So the last two or three weeks have been packed! I’ve finally got my Art A-level out the way for good having managed to bring all my work together onto mountboards as well as completing a fifteen-hour practical examination under the beady eyes of a somewhat pretentious examiner. Regardless of how it went, I have freed up quite a bit of time to focus on the other two subjects which is a huge weight off my chest. It’s also given me a little more free time in which to write – and that is exactly what I have been doing.
I’ve picked up my short story again from under all the other accumulating papers and bung it back into the typewriter; I’m now about three pages away from completion. I have to say that so far there hasn’t been a moment of writing this short story that I haven’t enjoyed and watching it come together is very exciting. I’ve reached the final scenes where a character’s madness is realised and the grizzly denouement is foreshadowed so I can’t wait to power on through and get to the end. Hopefully, I’ll finish it this weekend and get onto the revisions next week.
I’ve also started to put together my quotes bank for my English exams. This entails reading through all my books: The Grapes of Wrath, The Great Gatsby, Christin Rossetti Poems, A Doll’s House and Twelfth Night and selecting the write quotes to learn to help me answer the questions as well as reading further articles by critics such as Dr Pamela Bickley to help give “alternative interpretations” in my answers. It’s all very long winded but I’m getting there.
And finally, I’ve started to book hostels and trains for my month travelling around Europe. So far I’ve reserved seats on the Eurostar and booked hostels in Amsterdam and Berlin. Next is Poland and then Prague. I’m thinking of getting a lovely old film camera for taking photos – what can I say? I’m a romantic at heart, hence the typewriters. Any suggestions on cameras?
So here is my reading list for the next couple of weeks. There’s some older ones as well as some newer ones in there so I feel I have a good mix. I decided to hand type this on my new (or at least new to me) typewriter just for the fun of it.
You can also go over to my blog page and see the books I have already read: just click on “Reading List”
I think we can all agree that with writing comes some very pleasurable and satisfying moments. Some of the most simple ones for me are; when typing on a typewriter and all you can hear is the neat wrap of typeslugs against the platen or the small pile of paper you have at the end. I don’t write long-hand, though it is something I would like to try, but for anyone who does, is it more rewarding than writing on a computer?
In the last few weeks, there have been a few moments for me that stood out. As I said in my last post, I have been writing at least one line of prose every day and I can honestly say that it has worked a treat. Just last weekend I made it to 12,000 words! This for me is was a huge milestone – 10,000 would have been bigger but I didn’t realize I had made it that far because all my chapters are on separate word documents. This 12,000 words also meant the end of Chapter 3 which I have been stuck on for quite some time. I was finding it hard to write and keep it varied because the start of the novel is purposely repetitive. The character whose chapter this belonged to was one I hadn’t really looked into as deeply as the others so finding their voice was a lot harder. However, when I finally found their voice, as with the other characters, it became easier and I was able to get on with the story.
Talking about Chapter 3 – and no, I’m not going to give anything away – something happened that has never happened before. So there I was tapping away at my laptop; I’d worked my way through the checklist (because that’s how I write. I make a checklist for the chapter so I don’t forget anything and anything extra I add in is a bonus) and I was on the last stretch; coming up to the ending that had been going around my head for age and in that moment I put it down in words…I shivered. A shiver shot up my spine; the same shiver I get every time Bolt saves Penny from the burning film studio. I don’t know why. I think it had something to do with the fact that, in terms of the novel, it marked the moment when everything changes and something huge is about to happen. Or maybe because it meant that the beginning was finished and now the bulk of the novel gets to follow. Anyhow, regardless of why, that moment was very special.
So next is Chapter 4 which marks the introduction of the fourth and final main character, possibly the most titular of them all. I’m looking forward to figuring out how best to bring out their character in words. I’ll let you know how I get on.
Have you had a moment when writing that was was special to you? I’d love to hear what pleasures writing gives you guys.
Writing something every day is hard and I can tell you now that I have failed at it. Some days I feel so uninspired to write that I know whatever I write will probably be deleted moments after I write it. For a while, I was able to write every day. Remember that short story I was thundering through? Yeah, that’s still unfinished, sitting on top of my printer just waiting. The reason I had to stop was to write my History and English coursework. Both were mammoth tasks. I actually enjoyed them, researching sources not only made my coursework better, it expanded my knowledge. Reading various essays by historians on the causes of the First World War or by critics on Daphne du Maurier’s presentation of ‘The Supernatural’ in Rebecca only pushes me to try more in my own writing.
Anyway, back to writing something every day. A few weeks ago, I watched a TEDx Talks video on creativity and productivity (I would link it but I can no longer find it). Talking, was a graphic artist who had set out to get 10k plus followers on social media within a set time. He needed to produce something every day or near enough every day to achieve his goal but found that some days, after hours of working, he would often feel like the last thing he wanted to do was draw. As soon as he said that I knew that whatever he had to say next would surely help me. I had been experiencing the exact same thing: the last thing I want to do after getting home from college was to punish myself further by sitting myself down at another desk.
What he said next was he made himself draw one line, just one line every day. By the time he had set himself up to draw that one line, and once he had completed that one line, he felt he could draw another, and another. I have applied this to my own work, both writing AND revision. I tell myself that I will write one line every day; one line of my novel and one line of revision for English and History. Sometimes that is all I do but other times I end up writing a page or even two!
Something else he talked about was in response to the saying ‘practise makes perfect’. He found that drawing every day didn’t make his drawing improve, it remained the same. He could draw faster, but not better. He mentioned “Active Learning” which was (to put it briefly) seeking to improve by referring to others work and advice. Transposing this to writing, I think we can say that just writing every day won’t make your writing better. We need to actively seek to make our writing better by reading and researching what other writers do. Most days, as well as writing that one line, I will read something about writing prompts, dos and do nots; or watch a video by an agent talking about what they look for in a book.
Now having said this, I think it’s important to not get bogged down by this. At the end of the day, reading and watching ‘how tos’ doesn’t make you a writer; reading this post doesn’t make you a writer (but don’t go just yet). Writing makes you a writer. I know from experience that once you reach it to the bottom of a WordPress blog post, you’re greeted by a lovely list of ‘recommended posts’. You must resist. Save it for tomorrow. Now is the time for you to write that one line.
I am deeply ashamed. I started this blog with the hopes that it would bloom into an enjoyable, productive and social platform. In reality, however, it became a responsibility that, when missed, much like revision and exercise, was a soul-crushing guilt. My neglect was probably because I realised that it required around the clock attention and regular posting: something I am not good at. I also realised that I’m not as interesting as I first thought and was, by the sixth and seventh post, scraping the barrel for things to say. The honest truth is that writing is a very repetitive process in the mechanics of it all and once you’ve written about your day once, you’ve pretty much written a post that will cover your average day for months to come. On top of this, I balance writing alongside my studies so the days when I actually manage a decent amount of writing are few and far between. Anyway, having unloaded all this on you unsuspecting, lovely, lovely people, I am glad to say that having spent a few months away from here I am ready to come back even if for another month only to go away again. I’ve managed some writing so I’ve got that to talk about! Do you have any suggestions of things to talk about? It’d be great to hear from you again.
There’s something immensely satisfying about a growing stack of paper filled with your own words. I’m really getting into this short story business but then that could be because I’m writing this in 3rd person as opposed to 1st and that just comes easier to me. Anyway I’m half way through and the best bit’s to come…Eeeek!
In other news I passed my driving test today and I’m over the moon. Soooo…all in all I’ve been very productive. Nothing can slow me down now, nothing.
What have you been up to today? Do pray tell.
Anyhow I’ll be off. See ya.
I’ve started typing the first draft of my short story which at the moment has been given the title “A Bird’s Nest”. I’ve found it a lot easier than I thought it would be but then again it is only the first draft and I may look back on it and detest it. Anyway in terms of the actual writing I’m well on the way to getting it done in the next few days – in fact there is a chance I’ll exceed the word count! So far I’ve calculated that four pages per scene will be fine and I’m finding that I get through these quite quickly; that’s either a good thing or a bad thing. I’m really enjoying being able to start a story and have it develop rapidly instead of gradually like in a novel which brings me onto my next point.
Chapter two is finished! This was considerably longer than the first so I’m pretty happy it’s done. I can see that chapter three, mind you, is going to be a bit trickier to tackle. I’m still deciding on the character’s tone and story. I’m hoping that by the end of chapter four; when all the characters have had their say; I’ll have got this problem under my belt.
Any tips on overcoming this problem if all else fails?
Hi everyone, I’m feeling very guilty for not posting in some time. Work has been mounting up over the summer holidays and its now crashing down like a tonne of bricks. I haven’t had much time to do anything but the very essential: coursework, related study, reading. All help to get me the grades but help me to write? Not so much.
Anyway I have managed to do some writing. Very little mind you. I’ve made it to the middle of chapter two of my story which is further than I thought I’d get considering that I was even thinking of starting until next year. It’s taking its time because I’m still trying to find the characters voice: the way they speak and think as well as the tone and atmosphere I want to create and since there’s four characters – all written in 1st person – I have to do it four times!
That aside I am enjoying myself. I’ve recently started to also consider short stories. Something that I could complete in a shorter amount of time, you know just to give me the feeling of accomplishment. I have a few ideas, and a couple of options in terms of publication: magazines,…here.
Hopefully now that I’ve got my coursework well on the to completion I should have more time to do writing on the side…and blog posts! So what advise have you got for writing short stories? How do you plan? How do you write them? I look forward to reading your feedback.
I apologize for my period of silence. I have had a rather jam packed few weeks lately having been on holiday with family and friends followed by six days at Reading Festival – which was AMAZING thank you for asking. It was something else I can tell you. The atmosphere was incredible. All in all, there earliest I went to bed was 1:30 am and on the very last evening I questioned why people we leaving so early only to realise that it was in fact the next day and they were going to catch the 6 o’clock morning train; that blew my mind. From the whole experience, I have gathered loads of material such as dialogue that could help me in my own writing.
Regrettably, my aim to write every day has already fallen short since I haven’t written anything in a very long time. Only yesterday did I open up my 1st draft of chapter 2. That being said the long journeys I have taken have given my plenty of time to concoct some more ideas for stories and scenes. I also managed to finish The Grapes of Wrath which I’ll add to my reading list. It was a great read and something I would recommend to anyone who likes American Literature – I love it. On to A Farewell to Arms!
I have another idea for a short story blog post but I’m a little unsure whether to post if or not. I’ll write it first and see. Hopefully it won’t be so long till my next post.
What have you been up to in the past month? Is there anything you’ve learnt that could help you in your own writing endeavours? I’d love to know.