Adding More Detail to the Dream

Thinking more about making the dream a reality – of being a full-time writer – has occupied a little more of my time this week than normal. I have thought about the amount I need to be writing to get there in the first place, and the way I’m going to manage the work when I do make it my profession. What I have yet to determine is the point at which I know I’m making enough to go full-time as a writer.

The amount of writing I do on any given day is… variable, at best. I have seen numerous articles, etc. on building up the word count, by practise and by motivation. I know the motivation I would like to use; it’s the practice element I’m struggling with with which I’m struggling. Getting 500 words written in a day is becoming an achievement, something I’m not really happy with at the moment; on the other hand, that’s 500 words more than I was doing before.

What is probably the biggest impediment is the lack of a set time of day or location in which to write. If I could only force myself to allocate a set period, I get the distinct impression I’d be more productive. Take this blog: I’ve promised myself (and anyone who actually reads this) that I will post once a week, on a Wednesday. WordPress is lovely and lets me schedule posts so I can write when I’m inspired and then forget about it until I have a miniature panic attack over being late with it. For reference, I get that way about being late for anything.

As regards writing once it’s the day job, I’ve been paying attention to the writings of those who have arrived before me. It seems likely that I’m going to have as variable an output as I do now, so the plan for now is simply, get into the habit.

Then it’s down to brass tacks. Ideally, I’d be making from writing the money I am now, but that is probably aiming too high. The minimum I would actually need to be making is enough to cover my existing costs (car loan, paying off credit cards, etc.), as I won’t have any childcare expenditure once I can choose my own hours. At least, that’s the theory.

In summary, and with much less flair than my thousand-word-epic from last week: I want to be a professional writer, and I really can’t wait until my dream comes true 😀

In Other News This Week…

I’ve had an oddly productive week, what with getting another couple of long scenes written and all. The discovery of TiddlyWiki has made it considerably easier to organise my stories within the world – and even allowed me to find links between stories I didn’t even know were there. It’s even got a journal feature, though I’m not quite sure whether I’ll end up using it for writing. That’s the other theme of the week – what software and/or system will work best for me and my writing?

First things first, I will pat myself on the back because I managed to get a good few bits written this week. Almost all of them were for the story I’m working on, and the one that wasn’t turned out to be a rework of one that’s on my list anyway.

Secondly, TiddlyWiki. In one of my numerous flights of fancy (I refuse to believe any fiction writer doesn’t go on them at least once a day), I envisaged a time when my stories were popular enough to get their own wiki. This led me to a search for wikis, and the discovery that I could create a fan based one for anything. That led to the finding of wiki software, and I promptly began building my grandly optimistic Codex Far. Far, it should be noted, is the name of the world where I set my fantasy stories.

It began easily enough, broadly covering the Ages where things happen, and beginning to build a picture of the geography and politics. Then individual characters came to the fore, and it’s alarming how quickly that devolves into more things I hadn’t realised needed linking. It rapidly became a regular requirement to check out any ‘missing’ Tiddlers (as TiddlyWiki calls them), and also any ‘orphaned’ ones (without any links from others). Shockingly enough, they get cleared up quite easily, which leaves me with a *lot* of Tiddlers.

Then came the realisation that this reference, while extremely helpful, would not relieve me of my dependence on OneNote, which coincides nicely with my other theme.

The beginning of this story is of good intentions. I have amassed a large quantity of music, all of which has been purchased or ripped from CDs (most of which were actually mine). This has been taking up a gradually increasing amount of space on my OneDrive (with a Terabyte, I’m in no danger of running out any time soon). I have employed a couple of different organisation methods previously, so in short the entirety of my music collection is a shambles.

It was brought to my attention by the shiny new Groove Music app available on Android (a discovery made by my recent upgrade to Windows 10), which allows me to stream my music from OneDrive wherever I am. This is a fantastic idea, as it is completely free and I have quite a lot of music which never makes it onto my (purposely) low-capacity 2Gb mp3 player.

However. But. A spanner flew into the works. It turned out that I had two or even three duplicate copies of some songs in the mess that is my music folder. What a colossal waste of space! So, like any enterprising harbinger of doom efficiency, I decided to organise my music collection. It began well enough, with me deciding to use a single, simple method to arrange the files – within folders by artist and then album. Straightforward, you say. Well, yes.

But then my innate blondeness rose to the fore – Malteserism runs in the family – and I DELETED THE ENTIRETY OF MY NICKELBACK COLLECTION. Which is their entire discography. Well, I hear you say; restore it from the recycle bin. Except I didn’t notice the deleting until I had EMPTIED the recycle bin.

At this point, thoroughly annoyed and disgusted with myself, I turned to the God that is Google, and the Temple of Music that is Google Play. What I found: I had almost all of it there. Good save. The two albums I had foolishly not uploaded? Hit the CD collection. Found one – sigh of relief. No sign of the other – panic rears its ugly head.

In this instance, I was saved by my other half and his squirrelling of songs on our NAS (Network Attached Storage) drive. Never Again*. I immediately uploaded all the songs I could find onto Google Play, in hopes of preventing a repeat. I have also been double-checking the recycle bin before emptying.

*coincidentally, Never Again is the title of a Nickelback song.

And back to the dependence on OneNote. That aside had a point, I swear, and it’s this: I do not want to risk losing ALL of my writing (as opposed to my ebooks, which are all also held with one provider or another) to an Act of Monumental Stupidity like the one this week. How to avoid it?

Well, there’s always the cloud. I store my files on OneDrive, and have the same free software installed on any computer which it might take my fancy to write on. However. That software, yWriter, while excellent, has a large flaw. The project file loathes and despises syncing, which leaves me unable to update it unless on my primary machine.

Ah, pants. Well, there’s always OneNote, right? Except that this application, at whose feet I worship when it comes to note-taking, is frankly not at all suited to novelling (if NaNoWriMo can call it that, so can I, albeit with the British double ll for verbing). Nor, it turns out, is there a writing application which is designed to sync across multiple devices. Obviously writers with my level of adulation for technology are thin on the ground.

I’m going to try several methods, and attempt to avoid a single point of failure, but the objective is this: make it about learning to write, and not learning to use an application.

Fin.

Please note: I am not in any way employed by anyone to plug any products. I just happen to have a major jones for the Microsoft Office suite. And the God that is Google*. That is all.

*I may have a story where that is the case.

Writing about not writing

So much for ‘I’ll get a few thousand words written this weekend’. Not a one. The motivation I have to write seems to be in direct proportion to the amount of work I have to do, which understandably inhibits my productivity in both areas. I can hardly be blamed for wanting to spend my most productive time being productive in an area of my own choosing, but a girl’s gotta eat, and without a paying job that would be decidedly more optional.

That said, eating much less would definitely help in losing weight, to which end I am going to embark on a dry September again this year. Fingers crossed not drinking any alcohol for a month will inspire me to write as much as read.

The heart of the matter is, I prefer to write in daylight, away from a television, at a desk, and there simply isn’t a spot like that in the house. Perhaps patronising a coffee shop of an evening would allow me the time, but I’ve a strong suspicion I’d spend the entire time surfing the internet.

Then there’s the issue of story planning. As with most things, I’ve done my homework before embarking, but being a newbie I’m struggling to buckle down and write the bits I know need writing. I’m currently toying with the idea of writing a short story instead of a novel on this occasion. Perhaps once I’ve worked out with myself how to get a story down in words I’ll be able to get a longer one down.

I seem to spend a lot of this time wittering, and it reads to me more like the diary entries I used to do (15 volumes of ‘Bob’ from the age of 14 to 17. I got through a lot of notebooks) than structured snippets of writing. There’s a risk that structuring them will prove to be too much like the writing I already don’t do; that the work will overwhelm me. We’ll have to see if the tone and layout improve with practice.

Scattered Thoughts

I was supposed to write this week. Instead, I found myself doing more driving than normal, by a long way, and I am utterly shattered. The writing I’ve been doing is spotty, but if I’m honest it’s still more regular than normal. I can make all the plans that I want, but until the day comes where sitting down at a set time and writing is part of my routine, it’s not going to happen.

Of course, I also discovered a new toy this week: TiddlyWiki. A free way to indulge in worldbuilding, with a personal wiki covering each aspect. I have a strong feeling I’ll be using it as a way to log characters and their bios, which makes me think I’ll finally get around to naming some of the persistently faceless ones who’ve been running around in my head for ages.

The writing I *have* been doing has been the usual mix of productive, many-thousands-of-words scenes and the ubiquitous passes-200-by-a-hair drabbles I’m so good at. Hopefully, as I get used to this One Project approach, I’ll improve on the former and cut down on the latter.

In other news, I passed my PRINCE2 Foundation exam this week. Yay! Of course, I spent a decent amount of the course time applying the approach to writing rather than business projects, but as long as it pays off I don’t see a problem with that!

In case you were wondering, the One Project approach is nothing more than my forcing myself not to write anything but one project, to hopefully get something written instead of it all living in my head.

All right, that’s enough for now. I will be spending this weekend catching up on sleep, TV and writing, so the next post should hopefully be a little more coherent.

Adieu!