June 29th blog
We’re halfway through the year now and what a strange six months it’s been. I can’t help wondering what the second six months are going to be like, especially as the news of the moment is a possible second lockdown for the city of Leicester.
How have your writing habits changed since March? I’ve been able to get on with one of my 2020 projects, but family matters have meant that’s only been possible in fits and starts. I’m not beating myself up about the ones I haven’t been able to even start – life gets in the way for all of us.
Even so, plenty of writers I know have been keeping up their writing output with considerable success.
It’s up to you how you define success. But these are what I would include:
- Regular writing
- Finishing stories or articles or flash fiction or a prompt
- Getting short-listed in a competition or two
- Winning a competition
- Getting on with chapters of a novel
- Editing and re-writing stories for an anthology
- Editing and re-drafting a novel
- Self-publishing a short story compilation
- Getting published in a magazine
- Zoom attending writers’ group meetings
- Helping a writing buddy
It’s usually at this time of year that I recap with members of my writing groups what their New Year Resolutions were. Most of the time they’re on track. Some need gentle reminders. But if you made some back in January, why not check up on them and see how you’re doing? I find it’s quite motivating, and sets me up for the next six months.
Pricey writing courses
I’ve noticed in recent months that I’m receiving quite a lot of emails and Facebook posts about Writing Courses. Some are free (which I wrote about back in April) while others are quite pricey. Until you sign up and pay up, you have no idea exactly what they’re offering and how useful it’ll be. I recently saw one that was advertised at $197, that’s £110. With their “special offer”, I bought it for £30. There’s a lot of material which I’m going through day by day but, as yet, I have very little idea who it’s aimed at. There’s some very basic advice which is fine for absolute beginners. But then they get quite technical and advanced but with little substance and few examples. I’ll keep going and let you know what I think at the end. At the moment, though, £30 seems about right!
I think I may have mentioned before that I’ve been binge-watching old TV series from all over the world – British drama, Scandi noir, American crime, Australian soaps. Each time I tell myself I’m not going to watch the whole 8 series of 20 episodes each! But then I get hooked.
Why? It’s definitely NOT the plots, the car chases, the shoot-outs and the dangling over a ravine on the end of a rope (Rescue Special Ops, in case you’re interested). It’s the CHARACTERS: their strengths and weaknesses, their love lives, their family relationships, how they react to different situations, the way they change, even from episode to episode. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking about my characters in terms of a TV series or block-busting film! And that’s our job as writers – getting the visual image down on paper. Have the film shot in your head and identify what really makes that character tick. That’s what we need to read about.
And remember my ONLY writing rule: when you have a success, CELEBRATE!