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?