Aimee Horton

Five procrastination clichés and how to overcome them.

Jan
20
image credit > click here.

We’ve been sick this week. Properly poorly. It started last Friday night when one child came down with a temperature, but he soldiered through the weekend just being grumpy and bad-tempered like he always is, and we thought we were winning. Then in the middle of the night on Sunday the other one woke up with a fever. This carried on onto Monday, and by the time Mr Aimee was home from work not only was 1 small child feeling fairly crummy, so were both adults. Fast forward to today, and we’ve nearly all recovered. Nearly being the operative word, my chest is still not ‘run outside in the cold’ ready, and the amount of snot on sleeves (not mine) is ridiculous.

But I have a deadline, one which I need to hit, otherwise publication date is implicated, and I am not letting some bo-jangled version of the flu ruining my summer release date.

However, I don’t know about you, but there are just too many excuses not to knuckle down and write. In fact, procrastination and excuses are the biggest reason I’m not further on with Dottie. I should have been FLYING by now! So with that in mind, I’m facing things erm, face on, and I’m kicking some procrastination ass. 

  1. I have too much work to do first.

 As loathed as I was to admit it, paid work always comes first. Well, while there are ASOS sales, and new fitness gear (ahem) to be purchasing, paid work will always come first. I’m not saying my books don’t pay, I think I’ve done blooming well to be honest, but, well, I don’t need to tell you writing books is for the love not the money *sob*.

 ANYWAY. Do you know how I’ve overcome this little issue. SPRINTS. One of my friends started me on it when I attempted my first ever NaNoWriMo. We’d get online together, and she’d say “right 20 minute sprint – GO GO GO” and we’d go. It’s amazing how many words you can get out when you are focusing.

I got out of the habit, let life and work swallow me up, but recently I’ve been coming home from the school run, and on the days I have work work, instead of novel work, instead of a long leisurely breakfast I’ve been sprinting. Half an hour at the beginning of the day, half an hour at the end of it.

ON IT LIKE A CAR BONNET.

  1. I just need to check Facebook/Twitter/Social Media…

No you don’t. You think you do, but you don’t. In fact, unless you write 1,000 words you’re not allowed on. GO GO GO.

No, seriously though. Social Media is my biggest suck in. Turn the internet off from your writing device. Switch off alerts. Those stupid POINTLESS quizzes you’re doing? Really? You’re using your free fifteen minutes to work out which disney ducking princess you’re going to be? I can tell you now which one you’ll be – the one that’s your favourite that you’ll tailor your answers towards. THAT is why I’m aways Ariel because I always liked her hair and was secretly in awe of Ursula’s bosoooms!

This is my key tip to be honest. Wasted in number two of five. REWARD YOURSELF. Hit a word count target, and then go on social media/browse shopping/get a brew and a biscuit.

  1. But it’s all shit.

 

I’ve told you. IT’S GOING TO BE SHIT TO BEGIN WITH! I’m sorry, not because you’re shit, you’re not at all, actually you are awesomeness personified, but, the first draft is. I KEEP TELLING YOU (and myself) this. But sometimes telling yourself this isn’t enough, and I undersand. I am a total loser when it comes to writing books, I’m NEEDY.

If you’re trying to complete your first novel, you need to find to find some good Beta readers. They need to be honest, but kind. You need to expect them to say “er, no, that’s not good” but rely on them to say “you’re doing it! This is good! You can do this!”

I am lucky, I have some awesome readers, those who I send stuff too and they are honest.

 

If you’ve published before, self or via more traditional methods, go and read a good review. GO ON DO IT. It’s not vain, you deserved your review, and you deserve the reminder that you did it before, and you can only do it again, better this time!

 

  1. My kids social life is better then mine.

 

I don’t know about you, but my kids have a better social life then me. What with tennis, swimming and homework, not to mention birthday parties, any free time where you thought you could bin them off in their bedrooms and grab a spare hour are quickly gobbled up.

Before I decided to write stories properly (i.e. not for my eyes only), I could write anywhere. Post-it’s next to the bed, notes in my phone, a quick ten minutes while an egg was boiling, you name it I did it, but somewhere along the line, I tried to get too ‘proper’ about it, and over the last few years I got into the habit of only being able to write if I was sitting in my study, with the right play list, my desk laid out in a certain way.

It got a bit shit to be honest. I was so busy making sure I was writing properly, I wasn’t actually writing.

AH HA! I can tell from that guilty look that you feel the same. There are loads of ways, in a notepad and typing up, tapping into an email in your phone, or investing in a keyboard to fit with your tablet. I have started to be able to sync quite nicely between iPad and mac, and I’ll write a post on that next week and how easy it is, especially for somebody so pernickety!

 

  1. But I just want to finish this book.

Oh. This is the one time you are excused. Well, as long as you don’t use this excuse every time you don’t want to write.

Don’t make the mistake of replacing valuable reading time with writing. After all, the more you read, the more you learn. Just saying.

This post is linked in with the #WhatImWriting linky hosted over at @rantybeast and @writingbubble. Click below to check out this weeks posts.

Muddled Manuscript

Just Do It.

Jan
06

Recent viewers of my Pinterest board – or those who have been lucky enough to receive a text with a barrage of trainers attached – may think this post is probably fashion orientated, or more importantly, about the fact that Pinterest has told me I REALLY REALLY need a pair of black Nike trainers.

Those of you throwing yourself into the new year spirit, may think this is going to be a spin on the fact that it’s time to get my bum in gear and work out (I have totally shredded once this year already. MOTIVATED).

But actually, I’m sorry to inform you, it’s not about either of those things. It’s about writing.

Over the last few months I’ve had a lot of people talk to me about books. It’s lovely, but when they ask me how they should go about publishing a novel of their own, I feel like a total fraud. How should I know?

That’s when my friends remind me that actually I have written a couple of books, and edited (with the help of my fabulous editors), and published them. So I should probably know a thing or two, you know, if I think about it and pull my head out of my arse.

So what advice can I offer?

I think first and foremost I should disclaim that I’m not an expert. Nor should I say that everyone has the same method of writing a story.

I think that’s what I love about this profession, the fact that it’s so varied, and everyone does it in their own way.

So here goes…

There is no right way to write a novel, you just have to find what works for you.

This is why I struggle to offer advice, because what works for me, may not work for you. I have a friend who has an amazing idea for a novel, but when I tell her my second tip, the tip which I was given and has helped me more than any other bit of advice I’ve ever been given, I can feel her, through facebook messenger, curl up in fear.

Which makes me sound like a Mrs Cranky Pants I’m afraid as I say…

Just bloody get on with it.

If you want to write a story, write it. A very wise author friend said to me just keep writing. Actually she said “just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” She couldn’t be more right. So I’m totally stealing it from her.

You can’t write a novel if you don’t actually write it. So sit at your computer and go for it.

Oh don’t you dare open your mouth now, I know what you’re going to say. You’re going to say what if people hate it? What if it’s rubbish? What if it’s boring.

HA! I knew it! How did I know? Because I say it every time I start writing a new chapter, paragraph, word project.

Let me explain.

In my opinion self-loathing, lack of confidence, and procrastination are natural parts of the novel writing process. I know I suffer from them, and I know a lot of very amazing writers suffer too. So if you know that’s normal, you have to just get on with it, after all, once you’ve made sure you have …

An overview, hook, and concept in your mind.

This might not happen right away, and how you deal with it is entirely up to you. Some people map it out by chapter. Some people by events. Some use scrivener, some people use postit notes, cards, or some people just brain dump.

For me, I brain dump an idea of the story overview, write a bit, sometimes a chapter sometimes more, then revisit the overview. Then I write some more. Then, like I did with the last book in The Survival Series, I got six chapters in, and realised that was actually the start of the book. Then I went back and re-wrote my overview, and completed my first draft. (All while bugging my very special friends anxiously asking if I’m making a huge mistake).

Which is a perfect time to drum into you…

The first draft of anything is shit – That’s Hemingway’s tip by the way, not mine.

You see, the first draft is going to be shit. There are many reasons for this, you don’t need to worry about them, just be aware, and don’t let it damage your already fluttering confidence…

There is always time to write.

One of the things people say to me, which probably irritates me more then it should, is everyone has a book in them. When I probe about what book they have in them, and when they’re going to write it, they often respond with ‘I don’t have time to write it.’

It’s very rare that an author doesn’t have another job. I took six months off to write my last book, and actually whilst it felt amazing, it did keep me very isolated. One of my friends, who has three book deadlines this year, has a full time job. She writes on the way to and from work on the train. She has two kids, and up until recently looked after other peoples.

Think about that. If she can do it, so can you.

And my final tip. Which isn’t really a tip but a quote I bloody love.

Write drunk; edit Sober. – Hemingway (again)

And with that, I will leave you, and go and read the rest of the entrée’s to this week’s #WhatImWriting linky. I’m sure I will impart more nonsense wisdom another time soon.

Muddled Manuscript