Category Archives: Writing & Productivity

A Writing Life – Researching, Planning & Editing

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When you are a writer research, planning and editing are the cornerstones of the process and all go hand in hand. When you are a poet they may not even be connected to the same project! I find myself spinning 13 current projects, all made from something sturdier than porcelain, thank goodness.

Since the beginning of February I have been collating 2 issues of Contour Poetry Magazine, researching several subjects for my own poetry and for workshop preparation. I have been planning a school workshop for the past month (booked in November for March) and recently (a few days ago) decided to organise and promote a workshop to mark the centenary of the Suffragettes based on an exhibition Suffragettes, Voters and Worcester Woman currently on at The Hive.

I also started preparing and promoting my next WMRN Reader in Residence Workshop, which takes place today in Rugby Library.

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https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/writing-a-book-review-workshop-at-rugby-library-tickets-41275431928

It is a good job I have given myself the week off from events and performing! I am currently working the final edits for Contour Poetry Magazine Issue 2 – Love. Love Promo 2

 

 

The ATOTC (A Tale of Two Cities) Special Edition of Contour is due out in April. The 47 poets involved in this project are now at the final editing stages and submitting their response poems. The Call poems are all set ready for proof stages and I have until the end of the month to organise the other half of this publication.

There are more plans in action for the next stage of this project, more on this soon.

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I have taken more bookings, one for a festival in October and another for an event in April, more on these soon too.

I am reading a manuscript that I have been asked to endorse, very happily. It is my 2nd reading of it and I have already committed to some words, but need to finish the edit this week and get the wheels rolling on that one.

WPD SUBMISSION

I have started to organise World Poetry Day (21st March), part of my official Poet Laureate remit for Worcester LitFest.

I am currently on the look out for Little Poems (10 lines or less), they can be previously published as long as you retain the copyright and cite where they were first published.

I started work organising the Droitwich Arts Festival (poetry element) again this year. More on this soon, the festival takes place in June/July this year.

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When you dream of being a writer, you dream of writing. This is part of the dream – a very necessary part… but when you obtain that dream, even before then, you quickly realise the reality is layered with the addition of hard work. Being inundated with a plethora of tasks every day just to set the writing right. It is a good job that my career before this was perfect training, an In Tray that always got filled with more IN and was never empty, multi-tasking every minute of the day and having to trudge through a lot of tasks that made you dream of having a PA! Just like in my previous career, they still all need to be done.

Some days the writing is just the time you reward yourself at the end of the day after all your hard work!

If it wasn’t hard work it wouldn’t be worth it though, isn’t that what they say?

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One Week to Go

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Poet Laureate

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You have one more week to get your submissions in for the Love theme issue of Contour Poetry Magazine. The 2nd issue will be out in February before Valentine’s Day. Love goes further than fluffy hearts and Hallmark cards though, see this post for full submission guidelines and some ideas.

https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2017/12/01/contour-issue-2-open-submissions/

Deadline: 1st February 6pm (GMT)

If you have no poetry (excuse me, while I lie down)… and would still like to feature in the magazine, I am compiling a list of our favourite poems. Send me your favourite poem of all time. Full details here – just leave a reply – Title & Poet.

Deadline: 1st February 6pm (GMT)

Contour Issue 2 PreviewFAV POEM LIST 3 (1)

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Hit a Writing Dip? Stay Motivated

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We all find ourselves in the dreaded dip from time to time, unsurprisingly the pressure of a new year and new goals is enough to send the most sturdy writer over the edge… so I have put together this motivational post just for you.

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Remember pursuing a writing career is a guarantee you will face rejection, find projects stall and possibly feel no confidence in your ability. But remember this is what you want to do, this is what you live for, this is enjoying work on those good days in a way you never could before. For those times when your world is rocking, it is all worth it and all part of this path you have chosen.

The best way to deal with it is to learn the tricks, keep the dream alive and know even the greatest feel this way from time to time.

 

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Rejection is not personal

Sometimes maybe the writing wasn’t up to scratch but more often than not it doesn’t fit alongside accepted work, may not be the taste of a particular editor, may be too similar to work which has already been published/accepted.

The main thing is – rejection – means you are submitting your work, which is an achievement in itself. If the writing is good it will find a place eventually and sometimes that place is a better match than the place you initially sought acceptance from.

It won’t make it hurt any less, but it is normal. Normal to be rejected and normal to feel a bit dejected by it.

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TLC

I do not reward myself when I get writing accepted, unless you count mentally doing the happy dance, but I do commiserate myself when I read a rejection.

Do something that refocuses or lifts you for a while. Go for a walk, read a chapter of a book (if you can still bear to hold one in your hands), try a few relaxation exercises, watch a comedy show, or even eat cake. Do something that makes you feel better. Just something between 10-30 minutes just to get your mindset shifted.

The best thing is to send something else out there (as long as your writing is ready) a flight of new hope, then move on.

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Create Deadlines

Of course you know the actual submission deadline. We all miss them from time to time (learn to forgive yourself and let go). In Life Coaching* we always break goals down into smaller steps. Each chunk needs a deadline. These skills can be transferred to how you work as a writer.

*I qualified as a Life Coach in 2007.

 

Commitment

Allocate enough writing time to achieve your goals. Yes! I am well aware there is never enough writing time and few of us are lucky enough to fulfil a full-time writing career, but every dream needs commitment otherwise it is just a wish/ wishy washy.

So take yourself seriously and allow it.

Give priority to your writing time.

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Speaking of time…

Time 

Discover when the best time for your writing is. I tend to be best early in the morning both at the beginning of the day before lunchtime and now at 1 AM in the morning.

I organise my writing day so I am actually producing at my optimum times and fit the admin tasks and chores and everything else into the time that my writing brain isn’t in prime working mode.

We are all different. It takes a while to find out what is the best time for you, but it is worth bearing it in mind.

Note: A few hours before deadline is really not the best time for quality writing/editing.

Once you know when to write you can learn how to write. Allowing yourself 1 hour can be more productive than allocating an entire afternoon. Some people work in blocks of 25 minutes ‘The Pomodoro technique’, I tend to find that I need longer to write but I do take my breaks to do other things in blocks of 20 minutes.

 

Lists

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Mr G. used to laugh at my TO DO LISTS as they would always have wash hair, breakfast etc. on them. He knew these were not things I would forget to do. I explained they enabled me to tick something off before 10 AM.

My lists have come a long way since then, I rarely put shower/hair on them anymore. They will include a little box of chores that need attention to make sure I do not get too lost in the admin and the writing and there is an important point. It no longer amazes me, but for years it did – the amount of admin a writer has. You could easily fill whole days without actually getting any writing done and so when you are scheduling your time allow yourself the discipline of actually writing. I used to work on a laptop that didn’t recognise we have Internet.

Nowadays I am better on focusing on one job at a time and avoiding social media/internet distractions (don’t judge me, but I never needed the LOLCats).

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What alchemy is this? The magic of lists. I simply write 2 or 3 things at a time that need to be completed and keep adding. If you write a long list of everything your brain will freak out at the sight of it and this is not good for creativity and free flowing thoughts.

 

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Plan your time and reward yourself. 

 

RELATED LINKS: 

From INKSPILL (Our online Annual Writing Retreat) 2014

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inkspill-making-time-to-write-guest-writer-williamgallagher/

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INKSPILL SHARE BUTTON

From INKSPILL (Our online Annual Writing Retreat) 2017

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From INKSPILL (Our online Annual Writing Retreat) 2016

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the-ups-and-downs-of-creatives/

the-emotional-spectrum-of-writing/

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Writing & Productivity

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I have noticed that some of the most read posts on AWF are those that help others. Advice, encouragement and motivation are all things writers seek. I am a trained Life Coach and a Writer, so I’m in a pretty good position to help.

As it is January and we are all thinking about new beginnings, let’s crack on and see what we can do for you.

This is the first in a new series of posts about WRITING & PRODUCTIVITY.

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Invest some time in this, I promise it will be worth it!


The Plan – Getting the most out of your To DO Lists

  1. First, look at your lifestyle and needs. Many of us have family, jobs and a plethora of chores and tasks that stand in the way of our writing time. If you are living as I do with lots of fingers in lots of pies the writing chances will change daily. The ideal may be that you manage a dedicated writing day, or you may still only have evenings free.

It has taken me 4 years, but I now have a 3 day working week (sometimes more) and 4 days, 2 of which can usually be used for writing. The other learning curves are the time submissions take, even when the writing is ready and the amount of time admin and background tasks (necessary) take. This needs to be factored in.

My most productive advice is:

a) use the days your brain won’t play to get ahead on all these tasks.

b) Try your best to stay on top of everything. I write a daily list. Doing a little often is far easier than sifting through mountains of paperwork and entries trying to find the information afterwards.

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2. Accept that what you can do is all you can do, we may dream of having more time, but work with what you have and try to avoid the wishing, pondering time can be important but not when it involves trying to obtain the impossible.

3. Once you have established when you have time to write think about how you feel. Most of us are aware than our energy levels change throughout the course of the day but we forget that we have can use this to our advantage. Bear this in mind when you look at your list, (I missed a step) – make a list. All the writing tasks that need to be completed today.

So now you have a list of today’s tasks. Most people treat a list like a gauntlet and just battle through it, this method is fine if it is a list of chores or something. This is your passion, you are writing because you are or want to be a writer, productivity shouldn’t hurt.

Step back, think about which are the most important tasks and number them. Next tap into your energy and tackle the biggest or most challenging tasks when your energy is high. Anything with a deadline needs to be prioritised.

I am better first thing in the morning, tea-time and late at night. So I would tackle the hardest or longest tasks before 11am or around 6pm or after 9pm.

Now re-order those numbers to fit around you and your energy levels.

4. Forgive yourself if you do not complete the list. Especially if other factors have prevented it – family crisis etc. Do try to carve time for your writing and let others know it is your time.

I turn the mobile phone to silent and check it when I take a break in case of some emergency, likewise there are people who do not answer the door, or leave the house to write elsewhere, making themselves unavailable.

Here it is visually.

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I then just rewrite a quick scribbled order underneath so I can just follow a simple list down the page. I have written this example for an ‘evening of writing’. It may look fairly unrealistic and I would advise that you start with a shorter task list, maybe 4 or 5 items.

Just to clarify ‘check emails’ doesn’t mean the 500 unread ones or forwards of cats being funny, it refers to specifically targeted emails that I need to keep an eye on and may only take a minute if no further response is necessary.

It is just an example to show this method. We all know blog posts take an incredible amount of time to write. But here’s the secret… it is Sunday evening and I am scheduling this post for tomorrow (here you are reading it on Monday). Monday is a much busier for traffic on the blog AND if I don’t get it finished there are more hours tomorrow. Point 4 is important. FORGIVE YOURSELF.

Good writing targets are all about false deadlines and safety nets.

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