NaNoWriMo – Day 7

I’ve just finished writing for Day 7 of NaNoWriMo and so far I am on track, having kept to a personal daily word count target of 2000 words. My word count to date is 14,174!

It’s been a big challenge for me so far and I know there’s still a long way to go. However, it’s been a good start! I’ve structured my daily writing by aiming to complete a minimum of 500 words early morning before breakfast. This leaves me with another 500+ words to achieve during the day and finally finishing my daily goal in the evening. Spreading it out this way gives me plenty of time for breaks and physical activity to recharge my batteries. It also means I can take some days out during the course of the month if I stick to my goal.

I did have a fairly detailed synopsis planned out at the start together with character profiles. However, whilst writing the first draft I am finding the need for subtle plot changes and shifts. Parts of the plot lack sufficient detail and require further research. The research, I have decided will be done after the first draft is completed otherwise I would fall into the trap of diverting my attention from my main objective of finishing the draft. I have also resisted the temptation to go back and revise parts of the draft that I know I will have to make changes to. 

Finally, as I have got further into the story I am finding the characters start to take over and drive the story. I even have one character, who I had given a small part to, but will now be extending his role. He’s such an interesting character and will add to the story interest.

That’s it for now. I’m off to relax and listen to some music before starting in earnest again tomorrow!

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Discovering My Suomi Roots

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My new memoir is now available in eBook and printed formats from Amazon. The UK and US direct links have been added to the side bar of this blog.

First Draft Complete – Now The Real Work Begins!

Finally I finished the first draft of Discovering My Suomi Roots on time (by a couple of days!). Now the real work begins!

The first draft I always find hard work. I’m more of a plotter than a pantser that’s for sure. But, despite all the  planning at the outset, I still find it hard working my way through to completion. Somehow I manage to plod along convincing myself it will all be worth it in the end.

My planned structure and content for a writing project always has to be flexible. As I am writing I find other detail I have overlooked for inclusion. Or ideas on how I might tell the story differently suddenly strike me. So there has to be some flex in your plan.

It is very tempting to look back and start rewriting parts of your writing that you know will have to be rewritten. Avoid this! Your focus needs to be aimed at completing the initial draft. Revision comes later!

Once completed, for me, the enjoyable part comes next. I find the revision process much easier. You have something tangible to work with even if you are working with a very rough first draft. My words and thoughts flow easier. I am much more relaxed as the story starts to come to life and take shape.

But without that first draft there can be no revision process!

 

 

 

Writing That First Draft

This is a major learning year for me. Up to the end of last year I had written a few short stories and non-fiction articles. Most of those being assignments for a creative writing course I was studying.

In 2016 I was determined to turn my hand to some larger writing projects and learn a little more about the craft of self-publishing. To date I have released a couple of short works – a personal memoir and a non-fiction title, both about 15000 words each. Not long writing projects by any means, but a big step for me.

Over the last couple of weeks I have begun my next writing project in earnest and I am 13000+ words into it – less than half way. When I started writing I read an awful lot of blogs and articles on the subject. I have tried to pick out advice and tips that work for me to help me along the way.

Here’s what I’ve learned to date about writing the first draft :

The Right Environment

Firstly you need to find the right personal environment to write. No matter what you are writing you need somewhere that suits you. I have learned that everybody is different and has different preferences. Personally, I like to take myself off into a quiet study room, when I am writing at home. No music, just peace and quiet. This helps me gather my thoughts. Either early morning or early evening is when I tend to do my writing, setting an hour or two aside to focus on it.

Planning

I’m a planner. I like to be organised and have structure. Even with a structure I can still be flexible with my writing but at least it gives me the comfort of a framework to work within.

I use Scrivener for my writing but you can use any writing software that you are familiar and comfortable with. I plan out the chapter structure using the cork board option within the program. Once I have completed that process I then plan out the content for individual chapters making notes on the subject matter I want to include. These are easily accessible and to hand within the Project file as is any research I have done.

You should have a basic idea on how long the writing project is likely to be in terms of word count. This is something you don’t necessarily have to stick to unless of course you are writing an article or story to specific word count guidelines. It will however give you an approximate guide of what you should be aiming for. If you have set yourself a timescale for completing your first draft you can then quite easily work out a daily word count target.

Set yourself a daily word count and stick to it. Any deviations should be exceptional. This certainly helps keep me on track to progress and finish the project once I have started.

With everything set up I am then ready to write.

Writing

Write until you finish the first draft. Do not look back on your work with the intent of revising any of it until you have finished. Doing so is fatal, as I have found. It just gives you an excuse to slowdown or stop the whole process of finishing your work.

Your ideas on individual chapter content might alter as you progress your writing. Rather than make any drastic amendments immediately I always wait until I finish the first draft. If need be I make any necessary notes to myself in the manuscript itself. I can always cut and paste chunks of text later into other chapters as part of the revision process.

Usually if I look back on what I have written I see a lot of obvious amendments I need to make. These may be areas where I could have used more or better dialogue, use of cliches, too much useage of particular words or phrases, etc. I leave any amendments until the second revision.

After The First Draft

Once I have finished the first draft that’s when the real work begins for me. Shaping and finalising the writing into a completed work. How many revisions does it need? I need to be happy that it’s as good as I can make it so I don’t set myself a revision maximum. However there has to be a limitation to the number of revisions you undertake to bring it up to an acceptable standard.

I have found writing to be a continual learning experience.

My Thoughts On Scrivener IOS

 

I use Scrivener on my MacBook Pro for my writing projects and have done for almost 12 months now. I probably don’t use it to it’s full capacity but I use the bits I need to help me organise my writing.

When I heard that Scrivener IOS was finally coming out I got really excited. At last I would have a copy of my favourite writing application running on my iPad. But how would it run? Would it be anywhere near as functional as the Mac version? What about the screen size?

I suppose the main reason for wanting a version of Scrivener on my iPad was for when I was away from home on holiday. I always leave my laptop behind and travel with my lighter iPad. At last I would have a seamless process to continue or start a writing project without having to manually swap files to Scrivener on my laptop whenever I came back home.

As it happens the IOS version was released just before I embarked on my Austrian summer holiday. So just in time to test out and as it happens I have started another writing project. I’ve brought my 9.7 inch iPad Pro with me together with an Apple Magic Keyboard that I use with my Mini Mac at home. It’s a nice keyboard and a much cheaper option than buying the proprietary keyboard that goes with the Pro.

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All set up and ready to go!

I’d just thought I’d give you a few impressions of the new IOS version. This is by no means a review as there are plenty good, detailed reviews out there – just a few thoughts.

  • Syncing through Dropbox I have found to be straightforward. Before I went on holiday I set up the structure of the project file on my laptop, added research files, etc and saved to Dropbox. With the app on my iPad I was able to pick up the file and sync everything perfectly to my iPad. I tested this a few times with different variations and found my laptop and iPad syncing without any issues. So for me, a trouble free easy process.
  • Screen size is not an issue at all. The screen certainly doesn’t look cluttered and I have found it a pleasant experience. In two weeks I am 10k+ words through my project which is on target with the word count I set. I think that alone is testament to the practicability of the set up I am using and the ease of use of the IOS release.
  • I like the fact that you can have your notes easily accessible on the left hand side of the screen without having to switch to another screen and therefore interrupting your creative flow.
  • Referring to recently accessed documents/chapters/research/etc is easily undertaken with the relevant menu button at the top of the screen. You can then use the same button to flick back to the document you’re working on.
  • Session word count against your target is available just like the laptop versions. The total word count of your particular writing project is also displayed.
  • Cork board is very user friendly and easy to use. I have found no issues with that.

I have explored all the various functions but, as with the laptop versions, you can customise the display screens, fonts, etc.

In summary I am enjoying using the iPad version. It really has been a godsend and I am sure I will use it even when I get back home. The price may be off-putting for some put I consider it to be well worth the money.

The developers have done a first class job with the level of functionality of this application. So don’t delay if you want the flexibility of writing on the move!

Suomi Roots

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I just got back from my niece’s Confirmation in Finland and had a great time meeting more family and friends. Emotions were running high towards the end of the trip and it has put me in the right frame of mind to start work on my next memoir. In fact I’ve already started as you can see.

The book cover is finished and I have completed some pre-planning of the structure and content. I have a little more to do before I start the difficult first draft but expect to be well into it during the course of the next month.

I am on a chill-out break in Austria for 3 weeks where I will be doing some of the initial drafting. It will also give me a good chance to try out the soon to be launched Scrivener IOS application which is due for release next week. I use Scrivener on my Macbook Pro to organise my writing and format ebook releases. I’ll only have an iPad with me in Austria so it will be a good chance to put the application through its paces.

The target date I have set myself for this release is December 1st so it looks like a busy few months ahead!

 

 

 

Scrivener on IOS?

It looks as though Scrivener is another step closer to finally being released on IOS as it now undergoes beta testing.

I am presently using the Mac version and honestly would not go back to any other way for my writing. It is the perfect application for keeping organised, with everything in the same place, for any particular writing project you might be working on. The only issue I really had was going on holiday. I never take my laptop, just an iPad. Whilst I can formulate text files on that device, and insert them into Scrivener when I get back home, it was never ideal. An IOS application will solve this problem!

Syncing initially, I understand, will be only by Dropbox. But that in itself should not be an issue to most people.

So this year, when I go on that long summer break, I hopefully will have Scrivener IOS loaded up on my iPad!