Diary of a Freelance Writer: 14 December 2016

The writing week has not been very productive. This is because it was mostly interrupted, either by chickens or by having a poorly poet at home. Thankfully, the chickens have settled in and the poet has gone back to work – I mean because he’s better, and not because he’s not under my feet! 🙂 I do actually enjoy having him home, even if he is poorly.

Today, however, the interruption is mostly the internet not working properly. Yesterday I had 2 powercuts and today the internet isn’t working. It does annoy me when things you pay for don’t work.

Wednesday 7 December 2016
On Wednesday I managed to write 1,223 words for a blog post and I finally settled down to some study work. For this I managed to write 180 words of notes. (They all count!) The rest of the day was taken up with chickens and the husband.

Thursday 8 December 2016
On Thursday, the only ticks in my diary are against gig list admin x 2 and chickens … I’m sure I did a lot of reading work, though. Perhaps I should start to log my reading work too.

Friday 9 December 2016
On Friday I wrote a blog post about the chickens and I backed up all of my critical data on the desktop computer. I managed some more study work, this time I read an entire module for the article writing course.

Weekend
At the weekend we had a visit to Doncaster on Saturday, a Monkey Dust gig on Saturday night and a visit to Birmingham on Sunday. We got back just after dark on Sunday, the first time we weren’t there to put the chickens to bed while it was still light, and we thought we’d have a song and dance trying to find them all … but when we got home they’d all already put themselves to bed and were clucking quite contentedly. All we had to do was put their water in and lock the door.

Monday 12 December 2016
By Monday we were in more of a routine with the chickens, and they seem to need less attention the longer they are with us. The poet went back to work as well, so I was able to settle down to some work.

I wrote 620 words for a blog post, 500 words of the second draft of a short story, and 136 words for my article writing assignment. This was more like it. However …

Tuesday 13 December 2016
… on Tuesday I felt like Widow Twanky with all the household chores I had to do – including chickens! They took the entire morning – empty the dishwasher, fill the dishwasher, empty the tumble dryer, fold the washing, empty the washing machine, fill the tumble dryer, sort the dirty washing, fill the washing machine, empty all the bins in the house, take the recyclables out, feed the garden birds, feed the pets …

By the time I sat down at the computer to do some work, the power went off! I did some reading instead, and when the power came back on again I tried again … and it went off again! So the next time it came on I saved some work to memory stick and booted up the notepad. Then, at least, I was able to tweak a rejected short story and get it ready for going out again. When I got back onto the desktop computer, I printed off the story and a cover letter.

When the power went off for the second time, I re-jigged the diary for this week and completed it for next week. I’ve turned away a lot of editing work this month so I can concentrate on my own writing work, and I wanted to schedule in the various drafts of the short material.

I wrote the Canadian Christmas cards and decided to go for a run out to post them as the last guaranteed posting date was the following day. I also posted the tweaked short story, so that should arrive on Wednesday too. While I was out I went up to the farm to collect our milk and a bag of potatoes. Then I nipped to the new Fox Valley shopping centre in Stocksbridge to get the poet his Christmas card.

By the time I got back, I only had time to do more reading, and then put the chickens to bed.

Homework
This week’s homework is to continue to write up some of the drafts for my short material. This consists of short stories, fillers, reader’s true experiences (RTEs) and the odd article query. I also want to finish going through Diary of a Scaredy Cat so that can be up and for sale in the new year.

What are you up to this week?

Diary of a freelance writer: 7 December 2016

It’s been a full and busy week with mostly admin work and not as many words written. As usual, there’s a fair bit going on. But it’s all do-able.

Wednesday 30 November 2016
Wednesday was the last day of NaNoWriMo, and while I limped over the finish line, I’m delighted that I did it again. When I added my words to the NaNo site to have the word-count verified, they gave me an extra 16 words too. Had I known it was going to do that, I might have stopped sweating slightly sooner.

Anyway, thanks to NaNoWriMo 2016, I now have more than 78,000 words for Catch the Rainbow. I’ll have a closer look at those in the new year.

I wrote 1,579 words on Wednesday for NaNo, and I wrote 924 words for a blog post. I didn’t get any additional writing done, but I did continue with a client edit in the afternoon.

Thursday 1 December 2016
Thursday began with a huge sigh of relief, then I cracked on with gig list admin and new month admin.

New month admin consists of two new daily threads for the Seriously Serious Scribes plus a new word-count tracker spreadsheet that also includes a list of short writing work, and the various drafts-stage they’re at, and any books in I have to edit for clients. The SSS work isn’t necessarily mine, it’s usually whoever of the 3 admins gets around to it first.

In the afternoon I continued with the client edit, which has been particularly useful for me as it’s set in the same place as my story Mardi Gras (last year’s NaNoWriMo project).

Friday 3 December 2016
On Friday, I worked overtime on the client edit as I wanted to get it back today. This meant I didn’t do much other work.

When I’d finished we went to a friend’s birthday party … only to discover it’s next Friday … Oh dear! But, as we were were out anyway, we went to the pictures instead, to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

We did have another party we needed to be at too, and we did say if we got back in time we’d go. But we didn’t get back in time as the film was quite a bit longer than we thought it would be.

Weekend
On Saturday we went to collect our chickens from Letwell. We rescued six chickens via the British Hen Welfare Trust. They were very scraggy and sorry-looking, and they were jittery too. So we put them quietly in their new coop, made sure they had enough food, water, straw and wood-shavings, and left them quiet, while we went to a Monkey Dust gig over in Doncaster.

On Sunday morning we were rewarded with 6 eggs from our hens. When the sun came around, we opened the doors and let them out for an exploration. They didn’t stay out for long, so they clearly feel quite safe in their house. But they were picked on a bit by the existing resident peacocks, guinea fowl and chickens, although they did stand up for themselves.

Monday 5 December 2016
I now have a new job to add to the daily household chores, morning and afternoon – “chickens”. And while we all get used to each other, while I check they’re okay and happy and not being bullied, this is taking up time throughout the day too. Also on Monday I had a poorly poet home sick with a stomach bug.

Despite this, I managed a lot of reading and planning work for my writing, and I wrote 450 words for a blog post.

Tuesday 29 November 2016
Yesterday consisted of a lot more planning work and more reading work, but now I think I have a workable, if busy, schedule. I’ve caught up on my think/query/write/submit regime and I also wrote 796 words of notes and ideas. I also still had the poorly poet home.

Homework w/c 7 December 2016
With a Christmas break on the horizon, I have a lot of planning work to do and, hopefully, plenty to write about. It’s December, so my think/query/write/submit is July/June/May/April. Here are some throwaways if anyone fancies giving them a go (don’t forget to confirm the dates before sending out any queries):

  • 8 April 2017 is the Grand National (date specific)
  • 14 April is First Cuckoo Day (evergreen)
  • 24 April 2017 is Hocktide (date specific)
  • 14 May is Pag Rag Day (evergreen)
  • 29 May is Oak Apple Day (evergreen)
  • 15 June 2017 is Corpus Christi (date specific)
  • 21 June 2017 is the Summer Solstice (date specific)
  • 12 July is Orangemen’s Day in Northern Ireland (evergreen)
  • 28 July 1967 the steel industry was re-nationalised in Britain (50 years ago)

Any of these topics can be written about, all except for one can be written about each year. They can be turned into features or articles, or short stories can be woven around them. Some are politically sensitive, some are controversial.

There are also a number of countries celebrating their national days over this period. These include:

  • 17 May – National Day of Norway
  • 27 May – National Day of Afghanistan
  • 31 May – National Day of South Africa
  • 1 June – National Day of Tunisia
  • 2 June – National Day of Italy
  • 5 June – National Day of Denmark
  • 6 June – National Day of Sweden
  • 17 June – National Day of Iceland
  • 23 June – National Day of Luxembourg
  • 1 July – National Day of Canada
  • 6 July – National Day of Malawi
  • 9 July – National Day of Argentina
  • 14 July – National Day of France
  • 18 July – National Day of Spain
  • 21 July – National Day of Belgium
  • 22 July – National Day of Poland
  • 28 July – National Day of Peru

Now, there are so many topics that can be written around these dates, and they’re not necessarily travel features, although travel features are great if you have that kind of knowledge (and photography). However, if we take, for example … Argentina. What else can we write about Argentina, other than a travel feature? How about:

  • wines of Argentina
  • food from Argentina
  • football and Argentina
  • walking in Argentina
  • wildlife in Argentina
  • birdwatching in Argentina
  • flora & fauna of Argentina
  • culture of Argentina
  • Evita and Argentina
  • Argentina politics
  • the Falklands
  • interviews with famous Argentinians
  • profiles of famous Argentinians
  • independence from Spain

But if you want to write a travel feature, concentrate on one thing, such as:

  • a city profile of Buenos Aires or Córdoba or San Juan, etc
  • eating out
  • night life
  • the Glaciers National Park
  • the Iguazú Falls
  • the southern-most city in the world
  • touring the Andes

This is what I’ve just come up with off the top of my head for Argentina. You could try the same kind of brainstorm for any of the countries mentioned, or you can go beyond and do some research. Their national day is in July, so that gives you plenty of time to do the research, see which topic(s) excite(s) you, and query your favourite magazine(s) – or a(ny) new magazine(s).

Whatever you decide to write about, and whether it’s a short story or an article or a feature, remember to mention the date in your query/cover letter so that the target market has a date peg to hang it from. This will give them an extra excuse to accept your query or story.

I hope that’s given you plenty to think about. Please let me know if you use any of these suggestions for your work.

I’ll be working on the think/query/write/submits that I’ve kept for myself, as well as various drafts of various short projects. And I’ll be editing Diary of a Scaredy Cat. What are you up to this week?