Diary of a freelance writer: 23 March 2016

We’ve been running all over the place, attending appointments and interviews, some of them joint, some where I’ve waited in the car and either read or wrote. I’ve not cranked up many words, but at least there have been some words.

Wednesday 16 March 2016
Last Wednesday we had a joint meeting in the morning … that turned out to be for the following day (sigh!). The person on the phone had definitely said Wednesday because we had another appointment in the afternoon and the poet had told them we couldn’t do then so they said “how about that morning, then?” So that was a wasted morning.

We nipped home, had a quick dinner, then went out for the afternoon appointment in Leeds. The poet was on a business trip and I sat in the car. I wrote 293 words of notes and ideas for short stories and, when we came back, I wrote a 539-word blog post.

So the day was not entirely lost.

Thursday 17 March 2016
Thursday started much the same, with us dashing out for our 10am meeting, rescheduled from the day before. This time we were in the right place at the right time with the right paperwork and everything – although the lady we saw did seem a bit worse the wear for … something ...

The afternoon was spent catching up on admin and sharing the gig list. Then Thursday evening the poet had band practice. I didn’t do any shopping as we were going out for that another day. Instead I read.

Friday 18 March 2016
Friday morning dawned with another business appointment, this one over in Liversedge near Heckmondwike. This was a shorter meeting, though, so I only managed to do some reading work.

I didn’t manage to do much beyond admin or reading in the early afternoon, so as it was Friday, I gave myself the rest of the day off.

Weekend
We had a very rare weekend off and pottered in the garden or did little jobs around the house that have been neglected.

I was able to pot 2 fruit bushes son #2 + g/f had bought for the poet for his birthday (in February!) and I weeded the patio. Then the poet fired-up the lawn mower for the first time this year and cut the grass.

We also enjoyed some much overdue retail therapy, which resulted in new camping gear for us and a new computer for the poet.

Monday 21 March 2016
Back at work Monday morning saw me doing all of the admin jobs again. I wrote a 550-word walking blog before backing up my system and then setting Windows 10 in motion for upgrade.

I had Windows 10 before but it crashed all of my Office 365 documents, including Word files I was in the middle of working on for clients, so I wasn’t very happy. With the new pc coming with Windows 10 already installed, they seem to have ironed out a lot of the bugs, so on Monday afternoon I went for it.

So far, so good …

Tuesday 22 March 2016
On Monday evening we were sent a text asking us to call one of the many offices we’ve been to in the past week, and when we called them back, they wanted more paperwork. So, first thing Tuesday morning we were back in town. These business meetings do cut the day in half!

When we got back I was greeted with an email from a magazine I’ve been trying to crack for 31 years. No, they still weren’t buying a story … but if I didn’t mind having a go at some suggested rewrites they’d be happy to look at it again … It was a no-brainer really, and the furthest I’ve ever got with this particular market.

Homework w/c 23 March 2016
So, I have that story to rewrite and send back, then I still have all of those short stories to write that I had to write last week, and I still need to get back to the fiction writing course. But at least there has been some freelance movement this week, in between all of the other stuff.

After only 2 last week, I have 5 throwaways this week, for October:

  • on 8 – 9 October there is something called the Much Marcle Big Apple in Hereford
  • 9 October is Siddington Harvest Festival Corn Dolly Display in Cheshire
  • 21 October is Apple Day
  • 21 October is also Trafalgar Day
  • 31 October is Samhain

What do these 5 things inspire you to write or find out? Do you want to write a short story or an article?

  • What on Earth is the Much Marcle Big Apple? Could this be a feature on various weird and wonderful customs around the country? Or a travel feature on Hereford?
  • What can you find out about corn dollies? Are you already an expert in making them? Where do their origins lie? This could be a historical (I sound the H when I say historical, so therefore it’s preceded with an a) folklore feature or it could be a spotlight on Siddington or an interview with some of the people behind the festival. Or it could be a harvest festival feature or short story.
  • Lots of places do lots of things on and around Apple Day. Where are its origins? What are some of those customs?
  • Trafalgar Day could be a piece on Lord Nelson or his column or his birthplace or somewhere he lived. Or it could be a short story from the perspective of someone who fought alongside (or against!) him, or someone who had a romance with someone who did.
  • And Samhain, or Halloween. The short story magazines always like something set around this time of year. But it’s not all just about ghosts and ghoulies. What else can you find out about the feast? Or perhaps you’re already an expert. Are there any projects for the craft magazines?

Two of these are date-specific for 2016, but they’re all evergreens too, as in they happen every year. So do try to find a 2016 date-specific slant to encourage editors to use it this year rather than hold on to it forever.

And don’t forget to let me know how you get on if you decided to go for either of these ideas.

Diary of a freelance writer: 16 March 2016

So I took a deep breath, grabbed last week by the scruff of its neck and gave it a good kick up the bum. Things are nowhere near as settled as they were a few weeks ago yet, but we’re getting there.

Wednesday 9 March 2016
Last Wednesday started with the usual admin morning. I didn’t even look at the filing, but I did at least write 1,054 words on one project.

We had a meeting on Wednesday evening for the pro-bono project, and we managed some more visiting.

Oh yes, and it was my birthday, but we didn’t do anything for that.

Thursday 10 March 2016
Thursday started pretty much the same, I completed all of my admin chores (apart from the filing), then the rest of the day consisted of various meetings in town. We did a bit of shopping, then the poet went to band practice while I tried to catch up on some work.

Friday 11 March 2016
On Friday afternoon I had a hair appointment, so the rest of the day revolved around that. During the evening I managed to write 867 words on the 2nd draft of a long short story, which is a sequel to one I had published in a magazine (and in Twee Tales) quite some years ago, but by popular demand.

Weekend
The weekend consisted mostly of visiting members of the family. I wrote another 704 words for the short story and on Sunday we went on a very short walk in a bid to start breaking in my new boots, which were a birthday present from the poet.

Monday 14 March 2016
I was back at my desk Monday morning and once again did all of my admin (apart from the filing …). I wrote 1,571 words, and finished the long short story. I could have gone straight into the next one on the list, but I was feeling a bit drained, so instead I did some more work on the pro-bono project.

Tuesday 15 March 2016
Tuesday meant another meeting in town and I didn’t do any writing work.  All the admin was done again first, though (apart from the filing …).

Homework w/c 16 March 2016
I have another short story draft 1 to write, then I hop back and write drafts 2 and 3 of stories written last week. One of these will be draft 3, which is the first typed draft. I also want to get some study in on the fiction writing course.

ALCS payments are due this Friday. (Hurrah!)

I only have 2 throwaways this week, for September:

  • on 7 September they have an annual horn dance in Abbot’s Bromley in Staffordshire
  • on 10 September it’s the Sheriff’s ride in Lichfield

What do these 2 things inspire you to write or find out? Do you want to write a short story or an article?

  • What else happens in Abbot’s Bromley in Staffordshire? Where is it? What happens at the annual horn dance? Could this be a travel article or an article about similar customs in the same area? Can you interview one of the dancers?
  • Can you think of a travel article for Lichfield? Or can you write a short story inspired by the sheriff or his ride?

Don’t forget to let me know how you get on if you decided to go for either of these ideas.

Diary of a freelance writer: 9 March 2016

First things first, altogether now …

Happy Birthday to me
Happy Birthday to me
Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday to me!

And apart from that … it’s been another very busy week with other stuff not letting me do as much writing as I’d like.

Wednesday 2 March 2016
Last Wednesday, pretty much, I made the first of 2 momentous decisions – I decided to only do editing work for publishers from now on, rather than trawl for individual clients again. Working for/with individuals is great, and really rewarding. But there isn’t enough continued work to build up and maintain a nice working relationship. And sometimes they need, want and expect a lot more time than I’m able to give or they’re able to pay for.

I’m happy with the decision. I shall probably panic every time I go from feast to famine, but it did feel like a huge weight off.

I’d like to spend the extra time working on my own writing and I’m hoping that the extra investment will pay off.

Aside from that, Wednesday was quite a good day …

I wrote 910 words for this blog, I wrote a further 235 words of notes and ideas for short stories, and I helped to crash the ALCS site – our statements were ready so there was a mad rush to the website that resulted in the statements area being taken down. But I did sneak in before they went and was able to see how much I can expect from them on 18 March, and that helped with the budgeting.

In the afternoon, I continued with a hard-copy client edit (a publisher).

Thursday 3 March 2016
On Thursday morning I made the second of last week’s momentous decisions. It was World Book Day and I decided to make more time for my own reading. This means less time on playing games, and any otherwise quiet periods spent reading. It also means I’ve been reading more writing books and I’ve been doing the exercises – the only kind of writing exercises I do are the kind that lead to a finished, marketable product. I don’t do writing exercises for exercise-sake.

That reading time included market study, aka reading a magazine. And that magazine reading time resulted in a story of mine being slightly tweaked and then sent on its merry way.

I also had a successful 25-minute Pomodoro Tomato filing sprint, and I sat down and worked out a writing schedule. This is where I alternate different drafts of different pieces of short work, fiction and non-fiction, to (a) keep me interested, and (b) always have something on the go. And it currently looks like this:

Untitled

Key
O = outline
#1 = draft 1
#2 = draft 2
#3 = draft 3
E = edit
SS = short story
F = filler

I wrote that 1,416 words of the brand new story you can see right at the top, and I started the electronic edit for the client book.

Friday 4 March 2016
The good work continued on into Friday. I did another 25-minute Pomodoro Tomato sprint on the filing and I wrote a 506-word walking blog post for Baggins Bottom. I started to edit Baggins Bottom Best Bits Book 3 (I’m going to do just a month at a time), I submitted another short story, I updated my short story market guidelines, and I almost finished the electronic edit on the client book.

We had a Monkey Dust gig Friday night. But then things went a bit pear-shaped and we got a bit busy again.

Weekend
On Saturday we went out to get my birthday present off the poet – he bought me a fantastic pair of new walking boots, only the ones I’ve always wanted. But then the rest of the weekend was once again spent visiting various members of the family.

Monday 7 March 2016
Most of Monday was also lost to visiting and hanging around, although I did manage some admin in the morning, and I was also able to finish and submit the book I’d been editing. We also received some major news, which I’ll go into more detail about once it’s all resolved.

Tuesday 8 March 2016
I seem to have lost much of yesterday. The morning was spent doing admin, and I think I used the afternoon to read and recharge.

Homework w/c 9 March 2016
Despite stuff getting the better of us again, I do intend to get back into the saddle from today and try to work around everything. I currently have no books to edit for anyone and only my own writing work to do, plus a load of admin and support for the poet.

You can see my writing schedule, so you can see that I have various drafts of various projects to be getting along with, as well as the various books and novels that are already on the go and in various stages of completion.

Here, then, as promised, are my throwaways for August:

  • 1 August is Lammas Day
  • 20 – 21 August is the Saddleworth Rushcart
  • 25 – 26 August is the Notting Hill Carnival
  • 28 August is Plague Sunday in Eyam, in Derbyshire
  • 30 August 1976 (40 years ago) the Notting HIll Carnival ended in a riot – do you see a tie-in?

What do these 5 things inspire you to write or find out? Do you want to write a short story or an article?

  • What on Earth is Lammas Day? Where does it originate? Are there any local/national customs?
  • What on Earth is the Saddleworth Rushcart? Could this be a travel article? There’s not a lot to see on Saddleworth Moor, but there is some dark and sinister history up there.
  • Could you write a story around the Notting Hill Carnival? After all, they made a whole film about Notting Hill … Or could it be a travel feature – 5/10/20 things to do in Notting Hill?
  • The Eyam plague is well-documented. Can you come up with an original slant? Or a short story set against it?
  • We’re back in Notting Hill again. Has security changed much in the past 40 years? What happened to the people involved/affected by the 1976 riots? Could this make a good human interest piece?

Apart from the anniversary piece, these are all evergreens. So if you do pick up the gauntlet, do try to come up with a topical peg on which to hang your idea. And don’t forget to let me know if you used any of them. I’ll have a few more for you next week.

So – again – what will you be up to this week?

Diary of a freelance writer: 2 March 2016

I can’t believe we’re in March already. What happened to the year so far?

It’s been an okay week, mostly catching up on stuff and making plans for the future. This week’s post brings back the original “throwaway” ideas for you to try if you’re interested.

Wednesday 24 February 2016
Last Wednesday was a bit of a washout, but I also did something quite important. Much of the day was spent sorting out the huge and numerous piles of paperwork dotted around the house. Now I just have 2 massive piles of filing, while the rest went in the bin.

I also carried out a bit of advance house hunting that also included some of the retirement plan.

Thursday 25 February 2016
On Thursday I cranked up the Pomodoro tomato and had a 25-minute filing burst. I also did gig list admin, for today and in advance for Monday, and I caught up on some study work. I also did the daily competitions and the daily surveys, as well as diary work, and I wrote 476 words for one project at least.

On the evening I dropped the poet off for band practice – but we had to use his car as the battery was flat on mine – and then I went off to do the weekly shopping.

Friday 26 February 2016
Friday was the poet’s birthday. I only managed the daily stuff, and on the evening I treated him to a meal and a gig in Holmfirth.

Weekend
He had a great weekend as one of his sons and his girlfriend came to visit. We went to see Dad’s Army in Penistone on Saturday night and we went walking in Langsett on Sunday morning.

Monday 29 February 2016
Half of Monday was tied up with hospital visiting but, again, I managed all of the daily stuff before we went.

Tuesday 1 March 2016
On Tuesday I was very, very busy. I usually am on the first working day of the month. But this week I was catching up on freelance diary work I should have been doing for the past 4 months but haven’t. The day started with all the usual daily stuff as well as new month admin, and some credit control, which always annoys me.

Then I sat down and did the freelance diary. As it’s March, I should be thinking October, querying September, writing August and submitting July. But as I’m a bit behind, I was also thinking September, August and July and weeding out what doesn’t interest me or what I don’t have time to do or what is too far away for me to do. I’ll include the throwaways for July only (might do August next week, September the week after, and October the week after that …) in the homework section below.

I also synchronised my current Kindle reading on 3 Kindles – desktop, Fire and Paperwhite – so that I can work from exercises at my desk (on the desktop), read books comfortably in bed (on the Paperwhite), and use the Fire the rest of the time.

My target word-count for March is 23,000, and I have a few ideas for short stories and articles to sift through too.

Homework w/c 2 March 2016
I still have a book that needs editing, so that I can get it back to the client. And I still have 2 books from the same client that need proofreading. This is my priority after my own work.

I still have short stories to write and now I have articles to think about too. I also still have my own books to get on with, including 2 fiction and 1 non-fiction.

I have study work to catch up on some more, and I have pro-bono work to do this week ahead of next week’s meeting.

The blogs are falling a little behind amid all of this, but hopefully, when things settle again and I get back into the swing, these will be back up to par.

Here, then, are my throwaways for July:

  • 9 July is the annual Durham Miners’ Gala
  • 15 July is St Swithun’s Day
  • 28 July 1866 (150 years ago) Beatrix Potter was born
  • 31 July oyster season begins
  • TBA there’s a 12-hour lawn-mowing race somewhere in Sussex

What do these 5 things inspire you to write or find out? Do you want to write a short story or an article?

  • What happens at the Durham Miners Gala? How long has it been running? Do they pronounce it gar-la or gay-la? Because it’s an annual event, the gala could be an evergreen, so try to hang it onto this year’s date, or visit this year with a view to using pictures next year.
  • What would 40 days of rain mean? Who was St Swithun? St Swithun is an evergreen.
  • Beatrix Potter could be a look at the woman, her life, her books, her art, where she lived, a comparison with a living children’s author today. Ten top children’s authors?
  • Where do they celebrate the oyster season? Are there any feasts or events anywhere? Ten top tips for using oysters? Oyster season is an evergreen.
  • A 12-hour lawn-mowing race? Really? Could this be targeted towards a machinery magazine? This annual event could also be classed as an evergreen.

Evergreens are articles that can be filed and used any time whenever there’s a gap in editorial at that time of year. I prefer to hang articles on a specific date so that it becomes out of date if they don’t use it. But I don’t mind writing short stories up as evergreens.

So, what will you be up to this week?