Freedom From The Mundane - A Writer's Blog

Saturday, January 07, 2006

December's GDR and the 2005 Review

Fiction
* Query What A Waste to more target markets (BBC R4, paying mags) - not done
* Work on Stella - WIP
* Complete first refradft of Hunting Jack - 64/81 done
* Keep on top of submissions list - done
* Start conversion of What A Waste into a play - not definite, depends on other work - not done
* Submit first couple of chapters and synopsis to Undiscovered Authors competition, deadline 31/12 - done

Poetry
* Launch Fringe Fantastic on 2/12 - done
* Write poems as the moment takes - wrote several loose poems now WIP

Non-Fiction
* Complete Ian Rankin feature for Scruffy Dog Review (deadline 15/12) - done
* Write story/article for Being Dad Anthology - pending
* Complete first issue of Scotland's Treasure for TSDR. (Deadline 18/12) - done
* Write four weekly blog entries for TSDR 2/4 complete (Muriel Spark, One City)
* Write Robert Burns article for Circadian Poems. Deadline 15/01/06 - pending

Marketing and Promotion
* Market and promote Fringe Fantastic (see spreadsheet for full details) - WIP
* Print bookmarks (need card, have asked Mik for advice) - done
* Keep website up to date - done

Reading and Research
* Release Tall Tales and Short Stories Vol.2 into the wild - not done
* Read from my 'waiting to be read' pile - Strip Jack by Ian Rankin, One City by Rankin, Smith and Welsh, Pilgrim Heart by Brooks Carver
* Buy book on The Cold War - not done
* Research The Cold War on the web - not done

Other Projects
* Stay on top of editorial work for TSDR - done
* Put together a GDR for 2006 - done

Things That Turned Up
* Attended the One Book, One Story event at the Festival Theatre with Ian Rankin, Irvine Welsh and Alexander McCall-Smith.

Successes
* Interactive Dad published Top Mistakes Stepdads Should Avoid on Dec 5th
* Writer-on-Line publised How to Make Your Own E-book For Free on Dec 7th
* Books finally arrived on December 8th

Failures
* Failed to continue great word-count into the second half of the month
* Failed to plan out the month’s work as best as possible and allowing outsde influences to impact my goals.
* Storyhouse bought over - all poems returned

Statistics
Fiction - zero!
Non-Fiction - 13,450
Blog (inc.TSDR) - 10600

Summary
After a great start to the month, writing over 10k and having a couple of non-fiction articles published, things took a downturn. The holidays and other unforeseen events contributed to cutting off my output rather dramatically. Better planning could have avoided this, but sometimes this s the way it goes. I will learn from the mistakes I made this month, of that I am positive.

I felt tired by the end of the month. Tired and drained. I never wrote anything during the second half of the month so by the time my holidays came I felt guilty but relieved to get away to the Scottish highlands.

The past year has been exciting, dramatic and full of twists and turns. Have I achieved what I set out to do one year ago? Here's my review of the year.

GDR 2005 - Review
(Written in January 2005 and updated monthly throughout the year)

1. Where do you want to be with your writing in the long-term?

* To be an accomplished writer. - I feel I have made major strides towards this in 2005
* To be able to resign from my job, in the knowledge that I can support my family to at least the standard of living we have now. - Still a long way off!

2. Where are you with your writing now? (end of 2004)

* Much further than I expected!
* 1 Short Story published May 2004 - online magazine - non-paying
* 1 Short Story accepted (subsequently pulled) for February 2005
* 6 Poems published - 2 online magazines - both non-paying
* 1 serial published - online e-zine - paying

This year I have had:
* zero short stories published
* 6 indvidual poems published
* 2 chapbooks published (1 online, 1 paperback) constituting 13 poems in Brick by Brick and 58 poems in Fringe Fantastic.
* 7 non-fiction articles published


3. What project did you leave unfinished last year that you need to finish for your own peace of mind?

* First novel Work In Progress: A Friend To Die For - 40% complete - not worked on in 2005

4. What creative goals do you want to achieve over the next year?

* Complete Hunting Jack to novel length - completed in May
* Move Hunting Jack into new areas - e-book was planned but cancelled after KIC folded. Looked at self-publishing the serial but moved that project to Fringe Fantastic. PSH Contest sponsor prize was test run for self-publishing HJ through my site. 1 month successful.
* Complete A Friend To Die For - not worked on in 2005
* Write 1 short story per month - target not met but now writing for specfic markets. Prefer to write about what I want then try to pitch. Found no use in scheduling work. Feel better letting it happen than forcing it.
* Write 2 'deliberate' poems per month - way over target including Fringe Fantastic chapbook. Best as and when. Found chapbook method of writing (themed) a great way of approaching the writing.
* Continue to write inspired poems as and when - see above - moving into whole new poetic territories. Haiku, sarcastic, comedy, observational and traditional all expanded.
* Write 3 KIC Website columns - on track as at Feb 05 - mag pulled early March 05
* Write 3 KIC Theatre Review columns - on track as at Jan 05. Feb (for May) still pending. - mag pulled early March 05
* Look for interesting articles to write in other areas (music, travel etc.) - Edinburgh Literary Figures articles for Literary Traveller led to Great Scottish Writers series. Possible move into travel writing though not happened yet. Regular column with The Scruffy Dog review called Scotland's Treasure covering the arts, theatre and music in Scotland starting December. Started writing articles on step-fathering and began work on a similar themed anthology wth Tall Tales Press whch will move into 2006.

5. What financial goals do you want to achieve over the next year? Yearly? Monthly? Weekly?

* This is not my driving force. Getting published and recognised is more important to me. Of course, in the transition from full-time office-worker to full time writer this has to become an issue, but until I feel I am at a certain standard with my writing and inner-belief, then I cannot use it as a means to forward my art.
* This still stands but I made big moves into more paying markets.

6. What steps do you see necessary in your life to achieve these goals?

* Keep to a target of words per week - not so much. Tried to stick to GDR and project targets rather than words. Once serial complete, tried to keep to word count on novel WIP and other fictional projects.
* Research and target more paying fictional and non-fictional markets - progress was slow. Not deep enough to start but got first paid non-fiction sale with RLS article at The Literary Traveller.
* Be more strict where I submit to - targeting more paying and print markets and 'tough' online markets - achieving this with multiple submissions of work and starting to see paid acceptances.
* Be more organised with my marketing - specific targeting to journalists and relevant publications has produced some interest. PR working better and learning the trade as I go. 10 week marketing plan developed for Fringe Fantastic launch.

7. Each month, pick one step and work on it.

January - Research non-fiction markets
February - Research fiction markets
March - Research fiction markets
April - Review submission tracker and divide into paying vs. print vs. online
May - Keep focussing on writing and submitting to high profile/paying markets
June - no progress
Jul - no progress
August - Business cards and marketing at the Festival

* This approach isn't working for me on a monthly basis. Too rigid. I prefer flexibility to get through more work. This section will be scrapped in next years GDR.

8. What will make you refer to yourself, first and foremost, as "writer"?

* Complete Hunting Jack as a novel in its own right - complete as at 31/5/05
* Complete A Friend to Die For and search for an agent - WIP
* Establish myself as a good columnist for KIC Magazine - 1 issue complete then scrapped when magazine folded after 1 issue
* Become a regular columnist for other markets - no progress made. Fiction the priority. Non-Fiction advancing well. Regular column now with TSDR (Scotland's Treasure).
* Have stories published in paying and quality markets, especially traditional print - submitting continuously. Slowly seeing better results.
* Have others around me see me as a writer and not an office worker - getting there slowly in work and family. Business cards, website, leaflets and work plan have helped. Publication of Fringe Fantastic seems to really be forcing people to take me seriously and has surprised a lot of people as to how serious I am.

9. What steps do you need to take on the technical front to achieve your goals?

* Grammar - took free online courses and did reading on areas of writing. Want to get Eats, Shoots and Leaves.
* Internal Thesaurus - still need to develop more as writing. Use of thesaurus and noting interesting words.
* Editing - developed a process of editing which seems to be working. Tested on large pieces of work such as HJ, Fringe, Stella etc. Experimenting with new types through work incorporating different pov. Getting easier to do as a habit while writing, not after. Joined a crit forum, which has helped me since I am not only crittng other fiction but learning from crits received.

10. What steps do you need to take on the creative front to achieve your goals?

* Get more organised - Home office complete. Filing much more organised.
* Take on new and challenging fictional projects - e-books/chapbooks self-publication becoming more interesting. New projects after HJ include Project X (on hold just now) and other blog-related work. Fringe Fantastic launched Dec 2nd. New novel WIP - Stella. Became Associate Editor at The Scruffy Dog Review.

11. What changes do you need to make in your daily life (interaction with friends, family, job) to make this work?

* Continue to make progress convincing my friends and family to consider me a writer first and foremost. - Easier said than done. Still feel as though it is viewed as a hobby by most people though Fringe Fantastic has really moved people's attitudes, but some folk just refuse to see it. I'll probably stop trying to convince people because it's a waste of energy and up to them. Be nice to have more support but it's not essential. Everyone wants a free copy of FF just because they know me! I‘m very self-motivated when it comes to my writing career.

* Be more devoted and committed to the act of sitting down to write. - getting easier to find time and am squeezing writing into my notebook wherever I go; inside or out. Getting to write between 2 and 5 hours per weekday, sometimes more at weekends. Proving to be more difficult balancing family and workload so having to extend working hours to more difficult times of the day. Creation of flexible writing guide and agreeing all my work shifts in advance with my family has greatly improved motivation as well as output.

12. What marketing steps do you need to achieve your goals?

* Develop and organise the process I built when promoting Hunting Jack - developing for use with other projects - basically a checklist but always flexible for improvement. Updated as I go.
* Make the process quicker and develop templates - done and updated when new ideas come to me. Follow through ideas instead of letting them fester.

13. How much time each day do you vow to devote to your writing?

* Weekdays - 2 hours minimum - doing 4+ per night on an average night
* Weekends - 10 hours minimum - fluctuates but on average I am meeting this. 66 hours per week timetabled out in work plan.

14. With what new type of writing will you experiment in the coming year?

* Technical writing - web manuals coming along nicely but stalled since spring. Wanted complete by end August but never happened with FF taking over. This really needs looked at now. Other things took over in priority but must not let it slide. Have thought about self-publishing it. Would depend on success of Festival chapbook. Needs to be seriously looked at start of 2006.

15. What new non-writing interest do you wish to add to your life this year?

* Find the time to start fly-fishing again - got fishing equipment back from folks. Need to find rivers in Lothian and renew old license on River Gryffe.
* Read a book on Buddhism - took web links and read up on it. Got major issues with religion (any kind) at the moment.

16. What writing breakthrough this past year (2004) made you the proudest?

* Having my first short story story published
* Having my first poem published
* Having Hunting Jack accepted as a serial by KIC as paid fiction

This year the major breakthroughs have been:
* Self-publishing of Brick by Brick e-book
* Self-publication and marketing of Fringe Fantastic
* Meeting with and learning from Ian Rankin
* Networking and contacts made with other writers and journalists through PR


17. What other goals, dreams and resolutions in your non-writing life do you want to work on in tandem with your writing goals?

Buy a new house with Gail - Complete as of April 15th 2005.

All in all - a DAMN good year!

My plan for 2006 will follow in tomorrow's post.




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Colin 2:50 pm

2 Comments:

Good Morning, I find reading blog articles like yours most rewarding at times. It enhances the experiences of life in many cases.

Being a physician, amongst other things I often have a soft spot for blogs related to article database and /or sites that are built around article database type items.

Once again, thank you, and I will look for your posts again in the future. :-)
Good Morning, I find reading blog articles like yours most rewarding at times. It enhances the experiences of life in many cases.

Being a physician, amongst other things I often have a soft spot for blogs related to writing articles and /or sites that are built around writing articles type items.

Once again, thank you, and I will look for your posts again in the future. :-)

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