Tag Archives: writing

New Year Goals – don’t say the ‘r’ word!

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New Year’s Day is for nursing hangovers and banishing the regrets of last year, which is why I’m writing this on January 2nd. Yes, it’s that time again. Time to lay out my reso – NO! DON’T SAY IT! Let’s use goals, targets, milestones – anything but the ‘r’ word. Call me superstitious but any time I make a new one of those, it’s nothing more than a distant memory by Valentine’s day.

As this is mainly a blog about Writing, I’ll save all my empty promises of more exercise and less food for my loved ones. Bearing in mind I have to fit my writing around a full time job, here’s a run down of what I want to achieve this year.

THE NOVEL

I will finish a major rewrite (2nd draft) of my WIP by next Christmas. This means having it in good enough shape to either go to a professional editor or be ready for beta readers. This will be no mean feat. I’m currently up to 94k words and I’m pretty sure it will be well above 100k by time I’ve gone back and filled in gaps to complete my first draft. I do this in full knowledge that I will probably lose around 20k after the first major edit. It’s not the most efficient way to write a novel but it seems to be the only way I know how!

SUBMISSIONS

I want to sub AT LEAST one thing every month – to average at least 12 subs over the year. These will include short story submissions for competitions and publications.

NEW WRITING

I want to write 4 brand new short stories by next Christmas. Now, I know that doesn’t sound like much – infact, it sounds pathetic! – but the novel really has to take priority this year. In 2016, focusing on the novel was great, but it was at the cost of my new work and I didn’t write any new short stories.

WRITING PODCAST

With the help of my co-host, Leah Osbourne, I’ll be producing at least one new full-length show of The Joined-Up Writing Podcast. We feature interviews with guest authors, screenwriters, editors and agents. We began the show back in 2014 and it’s going from strength to strength, with 50 full length episodes and more than 30 episodes of our Two Minute Tips (TMT) series. We’re always looking for new guests and ideas for topics to cover so feel free to get in touch. The full archive is available here and you can subscribe on Stitcher and iTunes.

SCREENWRITING WORKSHOP

In addition to all that, I need to write and deliver my first writing workshop to the members of my critique group – a bunch of people I have huge admiration and respect for. No pressure! The working title for the workshop is ‘Screenwriting Tips For Non-Screenwriters’ and I’ll be delivering it in March.

So, I think that’s enough to be going on with – at least a good baseline. Anything else will be a bonus. Who knows what 2017 will have in store for us, but I’m sure with a bit of positive thinking and alot of hard work, we can make it a happy and productive one.

What are your plans for the year? Are you sharing them with the world? Any hints and tips you want to share? Feel free to share links to your own goals and blog posts in the comments below and I wish you all good luck for 2017.

 

 

Write Up to Date #4 – Coming Up For Air

Resurfacing - Photograph courtesy of Anita Gould - Flikr
Resurfacing Photograph courtesy of Anita Gould – Flikr

If anyone has been paying attention, you will notice I am more than a week late with this post. Life and, unfortunately, Death pushed my writing to the sidelines for a while.

Sadly, my Grandad passed away on May 1st. It was sudden, unexpected and in a foreign country, which complicated things even further. He will be sorely missed.

There has been lots to deal with – both emotionally and practically – and I am only now coming up for air. It will be a while before things return to normal, but my desire to write again is resurfacing and I will be pushing myself to reboot and start again this week.

Target Review

A quick review of the targets I set two weeks ago:

1. Summarise end of Novel Number One and type THE END – COMPLETED (more on this in a future post)

2. Write 1500 on the crime story – 300 WORDS

3. I WILL sub at least one piece this week – NO SUBS

4. Edit and release this week’s Joined Up Writing episode – COMPLETED BETA READERS EPISODE

5. Complete Phoenix Writer’s challenge – NOT COMPLETE

Completing the novel – even in a very roughshod, abbreviated manner, was a big milestone that I still haven’t really had a chance to consider.

This week’s targets

I still don’t feel completely back in the game, but let’s try some light creative stretching for my first week back. This week’s targets:

1. Write 1000 words on crime story.

2. New Blog Post.

3. Record new Joined Up Writing Podcast.

Wish me luck and I hope you are all feeling productive and positive. Let me know what you’re up to and make sure you hold me to account!

Happy Writing.

Write Up to Date Post#2 – The Nearly Man

                          Did I hit my targets?
Did I hit my targets?

It’s that time of week again. No excuses. Last week I set my writing goals for the week. Here’s a summary of what I was aiming to do – along with how I got on:

1. Write minimum of 1000 words of novelACHIEVED – 1200 words written.

2. Write minimum of 1000 words on my short story (working title ‘Cops and Robbers’) WHOOPS – 600 words written.

3. Submit 2 short stories for competition or publicationACHIEVED.

4. Record new episode of our writing podcast, Joined Up Writing with Leah OsbourneACHIEVED.

5. Complete Phoenix Writers challengeACHIEVED.

Ok – 4 out of 5 ain’t bad? If I’m honest, I’m a bit annoyed about not hitting the target on my crime story. It was a relatively low target to begin with and all I managed was 600 words.

However, let’s be positive. I made a big stride towards completing the first draft of my novel and it was fun to write.The podcast recording was squeezed in and released on schedule. I subbed another two stories and, thanks to the support of the members of the Phoenix Writers Subs Group, I have more ideas and leads to follow-up. I completed the challenge for the main critique group and also read the first section of my crime story, receiving some helpful feedback.

It has been a busy week with lots of band commitments – including two gigs and a rehearsal – and I still managed to push on with two different WIPs, record a podcast, sub my work and complete my Phoenix Writers homework. It’s a positive start to the new regime and I think both myself and fellow writer Maria Smith over at First Draft Cafe, are glad to be making plans and moving forward with our writing goals.

Speaking of goals . . . here are this week’s:

1. Write minimum of 1500 words on novel – I want to increase last week’s word count and maintain the momentum.

2. Write minimum of 1500 words on crime story – same again, but no excuses will be allowed for failure two weeks in a row!

3. Record, edit and release this week’s Joined Up Writing Podcast – due for release on Thursday.

4. Complete Phoenix Writer’s Challenge before Saturday.

5. Sub one piece of work to a competition or for publication.

What are your writing goals – long and short term? Have you tried teaming up with another writer to motivate you to achieve? Let me know what works for you? Leave your comment below or tweet me @MrKelly2u.

See you next Sunday for the next update. Happy writing and have a great week.

Time for ACTION! Writing Goals – Write Up to Date Post Number 1

Time for ACTION!
Time for ACTION!

This is the first of my ‘Write up to date’ posts. These will be weekly updates and in addition to my regular blog posts. The idea is for me to better plan my writing activities, become more accountable and to bring you ‘Write up to date’ with my progress. That accountability is key – your comments and interactions will keep me honest and give me a better chance of success. So, no pressure.

Long-term Goal – Finish first draft

In last week’s post I laid out my current dilemma around the completion of my WIP, “Let Sleeping Gods Lie”. Thank you for the comments, help and advice you all gave me. Throughout the week my resolve has wavered and I have changed my mind several times. However, the time for dithering is gone – positive action is needed.I have made the decision to push on from where I am at the moment, ignore my doubts and write the last part of my novel. Only when I have reached the end of this ugly brute of a first draft can I psychologically move on to outline Novel Number Two.

We are stronger when we work together so I have teamed up with fellow writer Maria Smith from First Draft Cafe and we have made Sundays our check-in day of the week.

My goal is to have finished the first draft by the end of June – including the missing chapters from the early section of the book.

Writing Plans this week

1. Write minimum of 1000 words of novel – I know, this seems like I’m going easy on myself and maybe I am, but it has been some time since I wrote anything on my WIP and I want week 1 to be achievable. It’s also not the only writing I’ll be doing.

2. Write minimum of 1000 words on my short story (working title ‘Cops and Robbers’) – This ‘short’ story seems to have a life of its own and I am writing the first draft without limiting myself to a specific word count.

3. Submit 2 short stories for competition or publication – I am part of a submissions group and our monthly meeting is on Saturday April 18th. I have already subbed 2 other stories and want to have 2 more subbed before the meeting.

4. Record new episode of our writing podcast, Joined Up Writing with Leah Osbourne – this week’s episode is all about collaborating with other writers on large scale projects. I need to have the episode edited and uploaded by Thursday.

5. Complete Phoenix Writers challenge – our critique group challenge for this week is to re-write a cliche. Not as easy as it sounds!

See you next Sunday?

Ok, that’s it for Write Up To Date Number 1. I have a busy week ahead – including 2 gigs with my band and a rehearsal, not to mention my day job. Next week I’ll report back on my progress and outline my plans for the following week.

In the meantime, let me know about your writing plans and feel free to share any tips you have for setting and achieving your creative goals. Happy Writing!

Why you should be listening to podcasts – grabbing inspiration on the move. 

picture of a home podcast studio
My home podcast studio

Podcasts are a great way to multi-task – getting advice on writing from shows like Writing Excuses, listening to the musings of comedians like Bill Burr or getting hooked  on true crime stories like the brilliant Serial. I’ve been listening to podcasts for several years and as of last December, I’ve even begun to produce my own show, Joined Up Writing, with fellow writer, Leah Osbourne. 

Many people don’t think they have time to listen to podcasts, but the great thing about them is that you can have them on your phone or iPod and listen to them anytime – on the daily commute, in the car, during your lunch break. It’s a great way to multi-task and there are literally thousands of shows on every topic you can think of. Personal finance, news, creativity, music, science, comedy, DIY – you name it, it’s been done. 

You can listen to them online, but the most convenient method is to subscribe on iTunes and have your favourite shows automatically appear on your phone or iPod every time a new episode is released. And did I mention that they’re free? 

They can also be really interactive – most podcasters love to reach out to their audience, to hear their ideas and include their thoughts on their shows. You can even help to shape content and future shows – not something you can usually do with national TV and Radio networks. 

I listen to loads of great shows, but hear are just a few of my current favourites. 

WRITING PODCASTS

Writing Excuses – a great quick-hit of regular writing advice and tips – 15 minutes long, because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart! 

Narrative Breakdown – Often focuses on different forms of writing, particularly script writing for film and TV. 

Dead Robot Society – quite long episodes, but lots of interesting free-ranging conversation between three genre writers. 

COMEDY, ENTERTAINMENT OR INTERVIEW PODCASTS

Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast – very US-centric and lots of sports talk, but don’t be put off. Bill is hilarious and has lots to say about relationships, modern life and the environment. 

By The Way with Jeff Garlin – Funny and insightful interviews with writers, actors and musicians, recorded in front of a live audience with Curb Your Enthusiasm funny man, Jeff Garlin. 

Here’s The Thing with Alec Baldwin – more interviews from host Alec Baldwin. Look out for Billy Joel show and John McEnroe. 

Serial – feels like I’m jumping on the bandwagon a little by mentioning this one, but have a feeling most UK readers won’t have even heard of this. It was a massive hit in the US. Brilliantly produced serialised show that covered a true crime story and possible miscarriage of justice. Fascinating stuff and you’ll need to listen from episode 1. 

No one said it would be easy . . .

(Hitchcock Calendar - pic by Wayne Kelly) This year has been a scream - can you believe it's nearly over?
(Hitchcock Calendar – pic by Wayne Kelly)
This year has been a scream – can you believe it’s nearly over?

This will be a short post as I still intend to do a “Review of the Year/Looking Forward” type piece to kick off January, but yes, I feel I have neglected the Kelly’s Eye blog of late – my last real post being way back in July. July?! I blinked and now I’m staring down the barrel of 2014. Scary stuff.

I haven’t been resting on my rump though. My day job has been pretty full-on for the past few months, I’ve been trying to keep on track with my writing submission goals, working on a new project with Phoenix Writers and blogging over on the Phoenix Subs blog. Oh, and, you know, living my actual life. So, as a consequence, like a long suffering canine friend, my personal blog has been waiting patiently to be once more taken for a walk.

Whilst I have continued to submit my writing for competitions, I haven’t spent a lot of time working on new content. I did have a month of chairing the Phoenix Writers meetings, which was interesting and rewarding, but did mean that I focused less on producing new material to take for critique and more on ensuring the work of others was aired and commented on.

Having said that, I have written a new short story for an upcoming anthology our group is working on, and have edited and submitted another that I was working on a few months ago. I have also had some excellent advice and motivation from a fellow writer to help me get my unfinished novel back on track. My first draft is stuck around the 70,000 word mark and is so near to completion that I can almost see the words ‘The End’ shimmering in the distance. It is my number one priority to at least get the ball rolling again during the Christmas break.

I know I’m not alone in struggling to knuckle down to any focused writing at this time of the year. Everything is so manic, at work, at home and everywhere else that when I do get the odd half an hour to sit at the keyboard, my mind is zipping off in several directions at once or cloaked in the fog of exhaustion. For the past few weeks I was battling with this, beating myself up about not being as creative and productive as I would like, but then I realised I was fretting about a lot of things that are out of my hands.

I was getting stressed about ‘not doing enough’ when really I should have been pleased with the things I was achieving. I have managed to consistently submit work since joining the Phoenix Subs Group, I’ve written a new story and I’m regularly attending critique sessions. These are all positives and I just need to ensure that I make the most of the rest and relaxation I will have over the Christmas break.

So, what about you? Have you found the lack of daylight and the stresses of modern life have been affecting your creative endeavours or do you thrive on the extra pressure? If it’s the former, take my advice and go easy on yourself, stay positive and enjoy the holidays.

Merry Christmas and take a minute to comment below. I would love to hear how you are all doing.

Writing – taking stock and moving forward.

Marble Head Sculpture in Cartagena, Spain - Wayne Kelly
Marble Head Sculpture in Cartagena, Spain – Wayne Kelly

It’s been a few weeks since my last post – I had a manic time at work, followed by a fantastic two week holiday. Now I’m back, refreshed, recharged and ready to write.

Actually, I was ready to write after only a few days away, and I began a brand new short story whilst holidaying in Spain. The story seemed to appear, fully formed from nowhere, but was no doubt inspired by the sand, sun and sea all around me. It’s called ‘Beach Hut Monsters’ and is quite a departure from the stuff I have written of late, being firmly in the action/horror/suspense genre. I have almost reached the end of the first draft and it’s coming in at around 5,000 words. I’m hoping to get the word count down with subsequent edits.

It has been great to work on something new and to recharge my creative batteries. I was feeling fatigued and jaded before my holiday, but time out has allowed me to take stock and set some new writing goals. It was only with hindsight that I realised I currently have a number of stories that are near completion, but need to be finished ready for submission. These are:

Life of an Artist – During a book signing a successful children’s writer is confronted by a mysterious man from her past, transporting her back to a cold, dark and rainy night on a railway bridge when she was ready to take her own life. The story needs quite a bit of editing before being ready for submission.

The Autumn Anecdote – Two aging musicians reunite for one last night of glory at the local pub. Will they be ready for their final performance? Will their patience and aching bodies hold out? This story just needs a few more edits and a tweak to one of the main scenes, but will then be ready to go.

When Your Number’s Up – Doris can’t believe her luck when she wins the strange automated bingo calling robot, ‘Willy Balls’. However, she soon discovers that Willy isn’t quite the model house guest that she expected. This is very nearly ready to go – just a couple of edits and it will be ready for submission. If possible, I’m looking for a bingo themed short story competition.

Beach Hut Monsters – My current WIP. 3 adults and 2 children find themselves trapped in a beach hut on a secluded coastline, surrounded by terrifying creatures that have emerged from the sea. But are the real monsters inside or outside of the hut? I am nearing the end of the first draft, so there will be a couple more drafts before I’m ready to do anything with this one.

As well as the above, I also have a number of flash fiction pieces (many of which can be found on my blog) some of which I would like to enter in online competitions.

My aim is to finish all of the above, and submit at least one of them. Then, and only then, will I return to finish the first draft of my novel, ‘Let Sleeping Gods Lie’.

Time away from ‘real life’ can enable you to step back and put things in to perspective. It was only with this perspective that I could see that I was frantically moving from one project to the next without properly finishing anything. So my new goals are based around working on one piece, finishing it, and then moving on to the next. I’ll keep you posted with my progress.

How about you? Do you find it difficult to set goals and stick to them? What works best for you? I would love to hear your thoughts below, so please comment, subscribe to the blog or follow me on Twitter.