What I’ve learned from Ghostwriting.

1 Comment

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

Thank you everybody!!

2 Comments

Today, I received this notification from WordPress:

1000 likes

Thank You

Thank you everyone, for your support, comments, likes and encouragement!

I look forward to following your wit, wisdom, tips and pics in the future.

.

acern270ginger write on

Writing is not for the impatient

16 Comments

patience mrsmas

It’s now just over six months since I self-published my first novel, ‘A Construct of Angels’ and I have learned many a lesson in just that short time – and I know that I still have much to learn before I finally end up in a long wooden box.

The first lesson, as the title suggests, is to have patience.

L-o-t-s of p-a-t-i-e-n-c-e.

Writing is a long, slow process – even if you have just emerged, breathless, from a month-long NaNo sprint. Not only must you have patience in yourself in order to create that precious first draft, but you will have to watch and wait as your query letters flow first out, then back in as (hopefully) requests for the full MS or (more likely) rejection slips. There are many agents and publishers out there and the water must be tested with each one before moving onto the next. If you’re a nail-biter who doesn’t like to wait, then this will be a nervous time for you. Even if you choose to self-publish, then all the fun of formatting your book lies ahead.  And boy, does that take some patience!

The second lesson is to keep, keep, keep plugging away at spreading the word. Unless your sole ambition is simply to see your poem / artwork / novel listed on-line and you have no further desire to engage with it, you owe your magnum opus (or opus minus if you are less confident in its greatness) some degree of dedication towards seeing it flourish even briefly within the publishing world. As much as you’d love to imagine the scenario, there will not be a stampede of global proportions for your newly-published works. Yes, there could be an initial (and quite encouraging) surge as your friends, followers and family click ‘purchase’, but that interest is finite and unless you are very lucky, your eBook could languish in the doldrums for some time, only picking up the odd sale here and there.

Patience, my friend…spread the word as thoroughly as you are able via word of mouth and your (essential) author platform. If you tell everyone that you meet about your book, then you can rest a little easier knowing that you are doing everything possible to encourage sales. Last week, for example, I managed to generate some interest amongst the Polish community in North West England – something that seemed counter-intuitive at the time – because reading English-language books helps to improve their written English skills.

The third is to absorb every piece of advice from other authors, editors and publishers that you can. You don’t have to use it all as not everything will be relevant to your situation, but take note anyway. You never know when your self-published book might get picked up by a publisher and you suddenly need to know about contracts, or you may suddenly decide to begin giving away swag and have to find a printer or jewellery / fridge magnet maker in a hurry. There are always new skills to learn and the number of published authors is ever-increasing…as is the wealth of experience out there. Many of us have made mistakes, spent money unnecessarily or gone with the wrong publisher. Some are happy to relate their experiences and we owe it to them to pay attention and do things better. But all these lessons cannot be learned in a single day – and they do not arrive on our doormat in a brown-paper-and-string parcel. This is where our author platform becomes an essential tool, connecting us to our peers and more experienced colleagues.

Your book might be listed on Amazon / Kobo / Smashwords / Scribd (delete as appropriate) but at this stage the process is far from over. As my driving instructor told me on the day I passed my test; ‘Now you can really begin to learn how to drive.’

And so it is with publishing. Many lessons lie ahead – but so do many adventures.

keep calm plus author inside

Honoured to receive the Dragon’s Loyalty award

8 Comments

.

Love that picture!

I was very pleased (not to mention surprised) when Briana Vedsted nominated me for the Dragon’s Loyalty Award!

This was an award I’d not seen before so I was delighted when Briana chose to nominate me and my blog.

The rules for this award are:
1.         Display the Award Certificate on your website.
2.         Announce your win with a written post and link to whoever presented your award.
3.         Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers.

4.         Drop them a comment to tip them off after you have liked them in the post.
5.         Post 7 interesting things about yourself.

So here goes!

Seven interesting (I hope) things about me:

1.         Robin Hobb’s ‘Blood of Dragons’ might be the last paper book I will ever read…

2.        Writing has become my anchor in an otherwise chaotic life.

3.        I dislike the cold and grey of winter – but I love the snow!  How weird (S.A.D.) is that?

4.         I have a terrier who may have been an engineer in his former life.  He’s the smartest dog I’ve ever seen.

5.         I’m fascinated by sunsets and cannot stop taking photos of them.

6.         My biggest regret is having not pursued motor racing in my 20’s.  I still think I could have made a career out of it.

and…
7.         I can find peace and inspiration if I stop to watch running water.  Perhaps my Muse is a water-spirit…

And now for my nominees (I’m doing 10 instead of 15):

As it’s a loyalty award, I will nominate those who have been with me, who have encouraged me and stuck with me throughout my (and their) ups and downs…

Ryan Casey – without whom I may not have (self) published

Candace Knoebel – whose adventures have blazed a fiery trail!

Sonya Loveday – for her love, encouragement and inspiration here and on Facebook.

Jon at Jumpingfromcliffs – for keeping me going when things got sticky.

Michelle Proulx – for her zany (and often surreal) humour and for introducing me to the word ‘Woot!’

Pat at patwoodblogging – for her steadfast encouragement even when it snowed.

…plus a few newer followers with whom I have enjoyed much banter;

Karen Gadient – it seems we share much that is non-corporeal!

Daphnee at AnEvilnymphsblog – who is anything but evil (sorry, didn’t you want that known?).

Nightwolf aka KisaWhipkey – for encouragement via blog and Facebook

Fortyoneteen – thanks for your insight.

.

Please pass this award on to those bloggers who are deserving of a loyalty award.  We gotta stick together!

.

untitled

How to find more bloggers like you…

5 Comments

Female student outdoors with computer

If you’re short on followers or don’t have many interesting blog posts appearing in your feed, a simple way to search for others who are writing about your interests is to explore via the bloggers that you already follow.

By commenting on your (I’m assuming here) small circle of bloggers posts, others will see those comments and perhaps be intrigued enough to search for you – especially if your comments are witty and / or informative. The more often you comment, the better your chances.

The flip side of this is that when you see a useful comment on a blog site, you can visit that blogger in one of two ways;

Click on the blogger’s name (beside their gravatar) blank Gravatar

and that should route you directly to their site.  You can then browse to see if their content is of interest to you.  If it is, ‘follow’ them, ‘like’ their posts (if applicable – if not, why would you follow?) or even leave a nice comment…which might intrigue other visitors to seek you out.  See how it works?  Caution – if you leave a comment without following too, your comment will most likely be held in a moderation queue pending approval by that blogger.  This will not only delay the posting of your comment, but a busy blogger may miss it altogether.  I know because I’ve discovered pending comments days after they were posted.😀

Another (sometimes less effective way) to find bloggers is to click on their gravatar.

blank Gravatar

This will route you to the bloggers gravatar page where you can read all about them – assuming they have posted anything.  Not everyone does and you can be left staring at nothing more than a larger version of their gravatar.

Note to other bloggers – please put some details on your gravatar!  Other bloggers are interested in you.

Here’s mine;

my gravatar

.

I’ve tried to include as much relevant information on my own gravatar page so that I can be located on WordPress, Twitter, Goodreads, Twitter and LinkedIn.  To find my WordPress site, you’d only need to click on the site name, andrewtoynbee.wordpress.com.

However, even if a blogger that you are desperately keen to follow hasn’t posted any details (and one has to wonder why), the mighty Google can come to the rescue.  Simply copy (or memorise it if you’re good) their blogging name, open the mighty Google (other search engines are available if you prefer) and type ‘WordPress’ followed by their name;

.

google wordpress

.

Voila!

You can then click to find the site and ‘follow’, comment or ‘like’ as before.  The blogger may be kind enough to follow you in return and hey presto! you have increased your feed and your following in one simple move!

For blog sites that are not hosted by WordPress, you may have to be a little more creative, omitting ‘WordPress’ from the search and perhaps adding spaces in their gravatar name.  If you know which host they are using, add that into the search box instead.  Then, if you wish to follow their feeds, copy their web address, go to your ‘Blogs I Follow’ page and paste their URL into the box at the top of the page.  I’ve covered this in slightly more detail on my How to follow non-Wordpress blogs post.

.

Happy blogging!

.

untitled

Spread the word – linking your posts to other media

2 Comments

hoefi chain

If you have other social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and LinkedIn, it’s a straightforward matter to have your posts automatically repeated on them, saving you time and the hassle of re-posting each time.

If you want to utilise this, first open the appropriate social media page in another tab or window in the background first.  Depending on your browser settings, WordPress may auto-fill and save you having to re-type manually.

Stage One;

At the bottom of every post is a link to something clever called ‘Publicize’.  Pick a recent post, find the link and click on ‘Settings.’

stage one

Stage Two;

A selection of social media will appear in the next window as per the image below.  Or…

stage two

…if you haven’t any linked sites, you might see a series of social media options;

.

Click ‘Add new Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn (use as appropriate) connection.’

This should prompt a permissions box to appear.  I’ve shown the LinkedIn one;

stage three

This may auto fill as you begin typing, or you may have to complete both boxes, depending on your browser settings.  Either way, completing the box should take you to your social media page and allow you to link it to your subsequent WordPress posts.

Beware, though.  Using ‘Update’ on any older posts will cause them to be re-posted (as I’ve found to my cost), so use it sparingly, or your followers will be blasted over and over with your wit and wisdom!😀

.

untitled

End of discussion – period

13 Comments

I was browsing Facebook when I found this link to theworldsgreatestbook.com.

As a child of the 1960’s (I must have been – I don’t remember being there), I was startled by this discussion.

Am I the only person here that still inserts two spaces after the full stop (period)?

:O

.

untitled

Older Entries

singhanshita1

Be what you are..

teenswrite2teens 🐯 Author Sophia Whittemore

Has a Mom from Indonesia (Taiwanese Aboriginal Descent), a Dad from America, and a Heart from Writing

Melanie Toye - Inspiring, Creative, Writer

Author, Writer and Dream Go Getter

BRIDGET WHELAN writer

Muse, News and Views

CR Hodges, Author

Tales of Valkyries and Martians, ghosts and kitsune, were-coyotes and neodymium lasers. Not all at the same time, thankfully.

Universe Sings

We are listening

Daren Valis

Erotic and Love Thoughts

A.D. Martin

writing - novels - film - television - video games - other stuff

Little Rittwolf's Book Blog

I thought having my own blog would help me....Squirrel!....stay more focused. I could be wrong.

Storytime with John

Pull up and listen...I've got a funny one for ya...

Kendall Kessler Art

Original Art by Award Winning Artist Kendall Kessler

Laura’s Word Press

Laura Lis Scott's offset thinking.

beautiful absurdity

a blog about people and ideas

Soft4Crack

Download software with working crack, keygen, patch & serial keys

Steven K. Berg

Author of Errand Runner

Iridescentfox

There are no foxes here

RELATING TO HUMANS

Where Humans and Kurt Relate

Annie Bellet

Author, Gamer, Nerd

Felicity Johns

This site is rated for MA audiences only.

Kev's Great Indie Authors

Supporting Indie Authors Worldwide

Steve Says...

"a random blog for random people"

Nicholas C. Rossis

Award-winning, dream-protecting author

J.M. Weselby @ Magpie Creative Writing Services

because all writers are magpies at heart...

jisbell22

Random Observations of life

Eternal Atlantis

Official Website of Luciana Cavallaro

goddess0510

The greatest WordPress.com site in all the land!

Daniel Pátaro

exploração e fotografia

Beautiful Life with Cancer

Discovering the Gift

onalajabukonla Blog

This site is all about inspirational poems and quotes

Kindness Blog

Kindness Images, Videos, True Life Stories, Quotes, Personal Reflections and Meditations. Because Kindness Changes Everything.

Nina J. Lux

Author of YA fantasy series The Landskapë Saga

Human Relationships

Human Relationships, Marriage Relationships, Children/Parents Relationships, Sexual Relationships, Work Relationships, Friendships, Love, Abuse, Addiction, Support, Health.

Zee Southcombe

[Inactive Site]

waltbox

humor | musings | fiction

dpersonality.com

Inspiration by Chichi

lankapoojitha

Aeronautical Engineering

Ryan Gruss

Inspirations & Ideas from a young entrepreneur

%d bloggers like this: