Gods, I need an editor!

​As with any trade, the more you work at it, the better you become – and it’s the same with writing. 

Looking back now, I can see how clumsy and amateur some of the prose from my earlier work actually was. A part of me wishes I could go back and tighten up some of this – especially my first book, Pearl’s Hereafter – but I have neither the time nor the patience and want to focus on what I’m writing at the moment.  

It’s not so much that I’m embarrassed by my earlier work, as I think that it’s great story-wise, but it’s just the idea that people might have formed judgements about my writing based on its early shoddiness. I’m reassured, however, by the fact that Stephen King dismisses his first two novels as utter crap. All writers – even great ones – began from somewhere. 

It takes a while to find your writer’s voice and hone your craft. Like Stephen King, I also feel apprehensive towards my first two books (one of them hasn’t even seen the light of day yet). With my third book though – The Essence of Sunshine – the quality of my prose dramatically improved and I was very pleased with the finished piece. In fact, it is the first project that I haven’t felt the need to go back and fix. 

At the moment, I am writing a fantasy, which has yielded my best writing to date. I am excited to share this latest work and want to focus on bringing it into fruition. However, I do think that my earlier books need some TLC, so I am now considering hiring an editor for this purpose. If I can get someone on board to tighten up my earlier works, then I can carry on doing what I truly love and invest all my creative energy into my writing. 

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Utilise Every Spare Minute!

Do you have a long commute to work? An hour of peace once the kids have gone to bed? A lunch break perhaps? No matter how busy you are, you can always find time for what you love.

As J.K. Rowling said, you’ve got to fiercely defend your writing time and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing lately. Even if you just snatch a minute here and there, making notes on your phone or scribbling in a notepad, you will make progress before you know it! Every word adds up and if you stick at it, you will reach the finish line eventually! This way of thinking applies to any hobby or passion.

Many people despair about not having enough time to do what they love. Until recently, I have been skimping dramatically on my writing time. In fact, I wasn’t even showing up at the keyboard, so how on earth could I expect anything to happen? You’ve got to open up the space for your creativity to flourish.

Keep on creating, folks! Even if you’re going at a snail’s pace, each little bit of progress is better than none. This week, I’ve been taking my phone into work with me, typing away on my commute and whenever I have a spare moment, my imagination bubbling in the background, living and breathing once more.

Keep on pushing forward, enjoy the journey and have good fun with it. And don’t forget to have well-earned pit-stops along the way! If you whip your horse too hard, it will collapse with exhaustion, so go at a pace that is comfortable for you. “Without haste, but without rest,” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe said.

Good luck, fellow creators!

Writing Warm-Ups

If you find it difficult to get your cogs turning, then this post may help.

Just like with our bodies, we need to warm up our “creative muscle” before we begin to exercise. Unless you’re very inspired, then it can sometimes be difficult to get lift off. But worry not, for there are ways and means to get your imagination flowing!

Do you have six minutes to spare? Good. Do you have pen and paper? Of course you do.

The first part of the warm-up is called “clustering”. It involves picking a word at random (or getting someone else to pick a word for you) and then spending three minutes writing down as may words as you can. The words that you write down can either be linked to the original word, words that follow off from other words, or completely random words that pop into your head – just keep going non-stop until the three minutes are up!

For example, if I started with the word “egg”, then I would come up with words like “chicken”, “farmyard” and “yolk”, as well as more abstract words like “beginning” and “philosophy”. By now, your mind should be warming up, so now it’s time for the second part of the exercise!

From your cluster of words, choose the one that jumps out to you the most, without hesitating. Once you have picked the word, then don’t change your mind about it. And from there, spend the next three minutes doing “free writing”, which involves just putting pen to paper and writing whatever is triggered by the word you have chosen. What you write doesn’t even have to be related to the word and you certainly shouldn’t worry about the quality of the writing. Just write for three minutes straight without stopping or hesitating.

Hopefully, when you have finished this exercise, then you should feel slightly more alert. Now that your cogs are turning, you should be able to apply yourself to any task that requires focus. Or at the very least, this warm-up should make it easier to start something!

Writing and Spirituality

In this blog post, I will explore how writing and spirituality are linked.

Firstly though, I have great news… this last week, I have dived back into my second book with very positive results indeed! On average, I have been writing around 2000 words per day, which I am VERY happy with! If I stay on this trajectory, then the book should be finished in the next 2-3 weeks, meaning that the whole book will have taken six weeks to complete!

When I compare this to when I wrote my first book (which took eight months to write), then I can see that my writing prowess has definitely strengthened. I write much faster and more efficiently than I did last year, with consistent productivity too. This is due to a number of factors:

1) My self-confidence has shot through the roof. After writing one book, I believed that I could write another, and thus I am not hindered by doubts of my own abilities.

2) My knowledge of writing has improved. To learn how to write, you have to actually write, so writing my first book taught me some vital skills that have helped me the second time round.

3) I am more spiritual now, which has significantly boosted my productivity. I believe that this is the factor that has strengthened my writing the most, and I’ll go into more detail about this below.

I have been interested in spirituality for the last few years, but it is only over the last six months (since writing my first book) that it has become a way of life.  I now meditate on a daily basis, which helps to calm my mind and emotions – this makes me more focused on writing and removes the majority of mental blocks that used to permeate my writing days. When I wrote my first book, my productivity constantly fluctuated up and down, based on what mood I was in or how much concentration I had. But thanks to meditation, I now have little trouble with getting words onto the page.

If I get tired throughout the day, I simply have a little break and meditate. What this does is recharge the batteries and gives you a mental boost, which is most effective. If you think of the brain as a computer, then meditating is just a way to cool it down and stop it from overheating.

I highly recommend other writers to explore spirituality, as writing can be a very spiritual experience. When you are “in the zone” and words are spilling onto the page, it is almost as if you are channeling the words from somewhere else… sometimes you feel as though you are grasping inspiration from somewhere ethereal. Getting in touch with your spirituality can help to bolster you connection with “the zone”, so that you can effortlessly bring your work into this world.

Priorities and distractions

Wow, it’s been quite a while since I last posted! So here’s an update 🙂

The last you heard, I was taking a much-needed break from writing my second novel, after three intense weeks of conjuring HALF of the entire book! I was planning to carry on writing it after a week or so, but unfortunately, this didn’t happen. Instead, I took the time preparing my first book for a writing competition that I simply couldn’t miss out on (the prize is a £50,000 publishing deal, so fingers crossed for that one eh)!

And after I had submitted to this competition, other distractions then filtered into my life, namely Christmas and starting a new job. Before I knew it, weeks had passed since I last worked on my second book. I knew that the longer I left it, then the more difficult it might be to return to the story, but my focus remained on my first book. Since the New Year, I have been submitting my first book to literary agents, as well as polishing it for when somebody does hopefully decide to take it on!

In a few days’ time, once the polishing is done, I will finally be able to return to my second book. With any luck, I should be able to slip back into the story without too much trouble. It’s regretful that I have abandoned it for so long, but I can only do one thing at a time. I have never been any good at multitasking, but I am always determined and persistent in my endeavors. When I want something to get done, I stick at it until it is done. Everything gets done in the end, even if the progress can be painfully slow!

Woaaah I’m halfway theeere! Woooaaah, living on a prayer!

So far, NaNoWriMo is going rather well!

I’m halfway through the writing challenge now and I’m generally managing to keep up with the daily word targets. Some days I fall behind, but I make up for that on super-productive days that bring me back up to speed! In addition to that, I am extremely pleased with how the book and the characters are coming to life =)

This year, the writing challenge is so much easier. For a start, I have grown leaps and bounds in self-confidence, so I am not afraid to pursue my goals and have lots of faith in myself. And also, I’m not putting too much pressure on myself, as this has hindered my progress in the past.

All things considered, I think I’m actually in with a good chance to write 50,000 words! Of course, it helps that I have bags on time on my hands, which I am extremely grateful for. Lots of other people taking part in the challenge will be doing their writing alongside their jobs, so I count myself lucky that I have more time than most.

If you’re taking part in Nano, then I wish you the best of luck with your novel! If you’re not taking part in Nano, then I highly suggest that you try it out one day! They say that everyone has a book inside them, and I totally agree with this statement because everyone is unique and has something to say about our crazy world. So why not write a novel folks? It’s fun, I promise you!

For more information on NaNoWriMo, please visit my previous post: https://nickpetersonblog.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/as-one-book-ends-another-begins/

Passion is the key

What I’ve come to realise, over the past few months, is that you make little progress without passion. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, then what’s the point in doing it?

This particularly rings true with writing. If you don’t believe in yourself and enjoy the process, then you face a major obstacle. With all of life’s time-sucking distractions, it’s hard enough getting to the keyboard (or notepad) at the best of times, never mind if you lack drive or enthusiasm.

Thus getting into “the zone”, a place of productivity, is so much easier if you have passion for your project. As I mentioned in a previous post, it’s quite easy to lose love for a project as long-winded as a book, but it’s important to appreciate what you’ve created.

Lately, I have seen how my passion has spurred me forward and boosted my productivity. It’s all about perception. You can either look upon something in defeat (writer’s block) or believe that there is a way forward (writer’s steamroller).

Passion helps to clear the path ahead.

Renewed Vigour

This week, I fell in love again. Here’s what happened:

I booked a week off work with the intention to go on holiday, but it turns out I couldn’t afford it. So instead, I used the free time to plough on with my story, which was excellent, because I needed a good rocket boost. Lately, my progress has been dwindling, and I dare say that I’ve been losing passion for the project, which I suppose is bound to happen with something so large and time-consuming; but this week, I seem to have overcome those mental barriers and worked on my book with renewed vigour. Quite frankly, I’ve fallen in love with it again.

I’ve been at it since November, so there was bound to be peaks and troughs in my progress. However, I am proud that I have continued to move forward, regardless of what’s been going on in my life. I’ve stayed true to my goal and the finish line will inevitably arrive, though I’m not too concerned as to when. After all, there’s no deadline; the book will be finished in its own time. Hopefully, the first draft will be ready in a few months, but hey, who knows for certain.

So what now? What happens when I return to my job tomorrow? Will my progress be impeded once more? After all, a job is time-consuming and thought-pervading. Isn’t it bound to hinder my progress?

Yes, quite possibly. Though I sense that my passion burns deep. It is the sort of feverish enthusiasm that “calls” me to the keyboard, like an itch that needs to be satisfied. It is similar to what I felt in the early days, when things were more fresh and exciting. When you are possessed with a desire like that, you find the time to write, whenever possible.