Tuesday, 25 October 2016

A day in the life of......

The how-to and ideas articles
Despite what my friends think I don't stay all day on Facebook, though the tab is up most of the time I'm writing. I like to dip in and out of social media as a break from pounding the keyboard.

My writing day can start as early at 6am and I will write until between 9am and 10.30am depending on what I'm doing that day. If I'm really disciplined I'll get straight on with the writing and not open up social media until I've done what I wanted. Some days I do get waylaid and answer emails and re-tweet stuff before I get going. It happens.

Snippets for research, interesting books, magazine follow-ups
And it's not just the writing. My day is taken up with other related stuff. I have a file where I keep things I need, and this has to be maintained and updated from time to time. In this file are articles I've cut from writing magazines - the how-to stuff, lists of literary festivals and competitions which I go through every so often. And I fill plastic wallets with snippets of books that interest me and I might buy, research, useful websites and another wallet for magazines and competitions that I'm interested in and who might like my work.

I spend time following up on these, looking at websites, seeing who they publish, read poems and
stories. Would my work fit in with what they publish? I take note of submission windows, sign up for their newsletters, maybe buy a copy of their magazine to get a better feel for them. I might hold some work back to wait for the right window. Bearing in mind that some magazines/publishers take between several weeks and several months to come back to you it can be a long process and ties up your work for that length of time, because you cannot send that piece anywhere else. It is not the done thing.

I am getting better at recycling my work. When I get a rejection I search for somewhere else to send it. I might look at the piece again and see if another edit will improve things before I re-submit.

Competitions to enter
I also spend a lot of time reading - writing mags, poetry books, stuff for research and for pure pleasure. I find I watch TV and read more as a writer now. I'm taking in how everything works. I know my strengths and am still working on the weaknesses.

Then there are the readings, festivals, workshops and courses that I indulge in from time to time and my blogs to update.

I know I am lucky because I do not have a job outside the home anymore and I work my writing around the other things I do. I am able, on some days, to work all day if I want, and I have. I don't have a set day off. I work weekends and Bank Holidays. However, I do have to get time out now and then. When I'm writing a novel the further in I get the more I identify with my characters. I begin to feel what they do. They are very real people and often their moods affect me. The darker the stuff I write the more I need a break. That's when I escape to London, take in an exhibition or just walk. I'm lucky that I have hobbies that take me out of myself, though I admit the mind is always working away at something. I play sport, I walk, I sing. I love taking photos. I enjoy art and music and of course reading. A good book takes me to someone else's world.

Even with these distractions it can still be hard to switch off completely. The other day I nearly missed my bus stop because my head was in a flash fiction idea! I stand at Waterloo station and can't remember how I get to a certain place, though I've been there before loads of times. I thought I was losing my mind one time. I had to calm down and go through it logically. Well, I hope it was just my mind being elsewhere and nothing worse!

I often wonder why it's taken me so long to realise this is what I wanted to do with my life. But actually I think I've always known. It's just that now is the right time. I have all those years of life skills and experience to fall back on, stuff that comes into my writing a lot now. I couldn't have written what I'm writing at present back then. I like to think of those years and my gathering years!

Now that looks like a cracking good book to add to research!
There is one more thing I want to say in this post. Writing is like a muscle. You have to use it. Before I wrote regularly I couldn't find ideas, especially for stories. I wondered how people managed it, you know, writing one short story after another. I'm not saying I'm overflowing with ideas but they do come now. The more you write the better you get at it. It feels natural, like a job. And now to me it is a job (unpaid as yet, but who knows!). You just go to your computer, laptop or pad of paper and write. This is what I do and I love it!

Finally look on Paragraph Planet on 27th October. I have another 75 word piece of flash fiction being published!

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