What I’ve learned from Ghostwriting.

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As I pass another significant milestone in my (crazy?) attempt to write one million words in two years, it occurred to me how much my outlook on the craft of writing has changed in eighteen months.

(Image: At night, by Georg Charwat)

In 2015, I embarked upon my personal challenge to write half a million words before the year ended. By the end of December, I was able to claim 502,000 words written in the form of stories, outlines and synopses. I’d fully intended to throttle back in 2016, but a busy first few months saw the numbers continue to rack up. As March came around, I realised I was already on target to complete 125,000 in the first quarter (4 x 125k = another 1/2 million, yeah?).

So I thought, why not go for the full million?

Yes, I know I planned to calm down in 2016, but my momentum was building, and by July, I’d achieved 3/4 million, and was (almost) on target to complete the full million by the end of the year.

It was an irresistible target.

*Pauses for breath*

Those who know me will have noticed I’ve been less active on social media and blogging since I began this crazy journey. Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in the day, and something had to give. But just so you know, I’m planning to throttle back, to calm down, and take it easy with the writing in 2017.

Maybe.🙂

But eighteen months of writing at near-NaNo pace has taught me many things.

First of all, I realised I needed to be organised.

Although my spreadsheet is not yet as graphic as the one on the NaNo site…

graph

…I managed to put together a useful sheet that charts every word I write, although it still lacks the nicety of a graph(I will address this soon).

At the end of each day, I have a list of stories, both current and historic, on which I manually insert the word count of the project I’m working on, and it updates this, the daily count sheet.

target screen shot 2

A third sheet then tells me how many words I still need to write in order to reach my target of one million.

target screen shot 1

If I write less, the requirement rate rises. If I have a good day, and manage to write a few thousand, the requirement rate falls. You get the idea.

Without this, I would have little idea of my progress, and couldn’t plan my writing targets. Heck, if I hadn’t counted up how much I’d written in the first place, I could never have aimed for the half-million!

The uppermost spreadsheet allows me to chart my slow days, and my best days. Most of my writing happens mid-week, so I have an additional target cell for the ‘four day week’ period. If can fulfil those days, the rest of the week takes care of itself.

The second thing I learned was the need for self-discipline. It’s a quality needed by any writer who is serious about their craft. You might already know this, you might be learning this the hard way, or you might be blissfully unaware of the need, in which case, enjoy writing at your own pace. It’s wonderful, but not necessarily productive.

For me, the spreadsheet keeps me motivated. Creating a target of one million words is a harsh motivator, but an effective one. It’s quantifiable. If I don’t work hard, my assigned workload creeps up, and if left unchecked, it would reach a point where it becomes impossible. For now, 1,600 words per day is feasible, although I would have preferred it to be lower. That will only happen if I increase my output, but I only have a finite number of free minutes in my day.

You might prefer to set yourself number-of-chapter targets, or number-of-minutes per day targets. Work with whatever fits best into your life. For me, the word count ties in nicely with my short story work, which is measured (and paid) by the number of words produced.

The third thing I became aware of was the need for constant inspiration. My clients, for the most part, leave the subject matter up to me, although I’m supplied with a few words to point me in the right direction (e.g. romance, adventure, vampire, shifter, werecat, paranormal, time travel, sci-fi etc). This means I constantly need to dream up new scenarios for as-yet unwritten characters, and the stories must differ enough from each other to avoid brain-mashing confusion as well as potential plagiarism (of my own work!) issues.

The plus side of this is I often end up with spare story ideas, which I can then use to create short stories under my own name. Several times, I’ve begun writing for a client, only to realise the story has greater potential for an extended series, so why waste the idea on a one-off?

With that in mind, I keep the proto-series idea for myself, and write something new which better suits a one-off HEA (Happy Ever After) tale.

Win-win.😀

Finally, I had to embrace closure. Seasoned writers will appreciate how it’s possible to get close to characters, to want the best for them and leave them happy (or not, depending on the genre). Perhaps it’s so difficult to let them go, that sequels spring up, even a whole series. Not so with Ghostwriting. It’s necessary, even essential to learn to let go. Once they’ve flown the nest, they never write, never call and very rarely do they return for new adventures. I have fond memories of some of my creations (my Valkyrie women, to name one), but they’re gone, and I must move on…

I’d be interested in hearing from other ghostwriters who haunt the blogsphere. What has writing for others taught you? Do my experiences ring true, or do you feel differently?

Now I must return to my laptop and fulfil my allocation for the day (2,821 words) or I’ll fall further behind (it’s been a slow week).

I wish you all well in your endeavours.

If you enjoy it,

you should;

acern270ginger write on

PS I’ve now added a graph to illustrate my progress better. Plus, it adds a little colour. And it illustrates graphically that I’ve fallen behind my target.😦

screen shot progress graph

A Fury of Angels – take two

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angel_promo

Following a minor glitch at Amazon (where they failed to acknowledge my .mobi file upload), the formerly pre-orderable ‘A Fury of Angels’ is now fully live!

UK Link

US Link

Apologies to anyone who used the pre-order option and received a message to say it wasn’t available.😦

Normal service has now been resumed.

Andrew Toynbee logo

Half a million words – the sequel?

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After the mad rush of 2015 and the stunning realisation that I’d managed to type half a million words in the form of short stories and a novel, I decided to ease back for 2016 so I could spend less time with my head down and enjoy the view.

The result? In the first quarter of 2016, my word count is already at 138,000. 138k  x 4 = 552K!

So much for easing back…

source; Stock.Xchng

source; Stock.Xchng

Could someone please pass the fingertip balm?

acern270ginger write on

 

 

‘A Fury of Angels’ is now available for pre-order

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April sees me unusually organised with my work.

With ‘A Fury of Angels’ out for beta reading, I’ve already listed the book provisionally on Amazon, and its now available for pre-ordering, should anyone be keen to read it.🙂

There’s plenty of time for me to make final changes to the MS before it goes live, but I thought I’d set myself a publication deadline in order to get this, the final story in the (first) trilogy completed and put to bed.

Put to bed? Nah!

It ought to be rising with the lark, ready for the day ahead, its tummy filled with tasty breakfast!

Just to demonstrate that Amazon’s pre-ordering system works, I found this whilst browsing:

A Fury of Angels japan

Also available for pre-order in Japan. Don’t you love the 21st Century?

Have a great day!

I must now Write On. Half a million words aren’t going to write themselves!

Andrew Toynbee logo

Cover reveal – A Fury of Angels.

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It’s been a few months since my last post. I’ve been extra busy this year with artwork, formatting, editing and writing. Already my word count is matching that of 2015, which means I might once again hit half a million words, even though I’d only planned a target of one third million.

One of the projects has been ‘A Fury of Angels,’ the final story in ‘The Angels of York’ trilogy.

Yes, Sara and Michael’s adventures have now concluded, although they haven’t ended by any means.

So here, for the first time, is the third cover, as created by the talented Ravven.

angel_promo

It’s consistent with the previous two covers, featuring the quatrefoil tower, stormy sky and mysterious supernatural character. I’ve already received early feedback that this colourful cover is more eye-catching than the first two, something which was intentional.

Each new cover is brighter than its predecessor, promising a better and brighter future for my characters, even though the stakes are higher and the danger grows.

I’m close to completing the Kindle-formatted ‘Fury of Angels,’ and the Createspace layout is all but finished, meaning the trilogy will be complete and up for sale very soon.

Watch Amazon and Smashwords closely!

Until then, I continue to;

acern270ginger write on

Acer Switch half million words

 

 

Is half a million words per year normal for a writer?

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Goal achieved.

Acer Switch half million words

Fifty-four short stories and a 60K First Draft later, I finally reached my target, with three weeks of 2015 still to go.

*celebrates*

Entering NaNoWriMo for the first time this year probably helped me to hit the magic number a little earlier than I would have.

half a million

My average for the year to date was around 1,400 words per day (very much an average. Some days were noticeably better than others), and November’s average was a little over 1,700 per day.  I would still have reached the half million, but the race would have been much closer to the wire.

The obvious question now hangs over me:

Can I do it again in 2016? Would I want to?

The answer would largely depend on how much work I can bring in. 2015 has been particularly fruitful for short story projects, keeping me busy for the entire year. If I work as hard as I did in 2015, half a million is possible.

1209718_84380950

Over the past few months, I’ve begun to wonder what the ‘normal’ output is for a writer, particularly someone who writes full time. For the record, I also have a full-time job. I was speaking to Sheila Quigley, another North-East (England) writer  about my endeavours. When I told her about my target, she stared at me, then blew out a long breath.

I got the impression that 500k is not the norm.🙂

My work / life balance means that I work away from home and have my evenings free from distractions as I write in my hotel room. When I’m not away, I find it tricky to concentrate with the TV on in the background much of the time.

So, what is everyone else producing over twelve months? I’d be interested in hearing from both full-time and part-time writers. How do you manage to keep up the pace when you work AND live with a family? What’s your routine?

Andrew Toynbee logo

 

NaNoWriMo – dipping a toe…

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NaNoWriMo logo

Okay, so I’ve signed up for the crazy whirlwind of NaNoWriMo for the first time ever. I want to see what all the fuss is about, and to be honest, I’m still in two minds about the whole event.

However, being a creative sort, and willing to dip my toe into all kinds of new adventures (up to a point), I decided I’d use the opportunity to build the remainder of my third novel, ‘A Fury of Angels.’

Okay, it’s already 36k strong, but I need to add at least 50k to make if full-sized. So, I’m starting NaNo with half a project, but I consider it to be part of my story planning. I know how it will end, and I already have the beginning, so let’s complete the rest.

50k in one month? Well, I’ve already written 442k this year, so I’m merely continuing that pace through November, and adding a large chunk toward my ‘half a million words in one year’ project.

Acer Switch half million words

We shall see how it goes…😀

Andrew Toynbee logo

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