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.

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:


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.

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?