Sunday, 31 July 2011

ROW 80 Check-in 31st July

Ok, we are four weeks in and I have met all my goals this week! For four weeks I have met all three of my goals each week. For a moment I questioned whether I had challenged myself enough with my weekly goals. Just to recap they are:

* Complete the weekly Fiction Friday prompts from (on 'our writing prompts' page).

* Spend 30 minutes a day on writing or writing related activities (e.g. planning, researching, revising). So in a week I am aiming for 3 and a half hours of dedicated time. If I miss a day I will try and make up that 30 mins elsewhere in the week.

* Post ROW80 check-ins on Sunday and Wednesdays and also one additional post a week. So three posts a week.

I started thinking I should change my goals, maybe aim for more time spent writing but I have decided against this. I have had to work to reach my goals each week, it hasn't happened easily. I have got up early to write (fairly unsuccessfully I might add!) and stayed up late to write. I have written in coffee shops, in bed, on trains and buses. I have been frustrated when some days have not allowed me to write but have managed to make it up on other days. I am actually writing which I never did before, I just thought about writing. I am going to keep my goals the same but hope to exceed the 3 and a half hours of writing related activity a week. I am going to try and see 3 and a half hours as a minimum, not a limit.

However, I am going to add in another goal which is slightly writing related. I am adding in the goal:

*To exercise atleast twice a week.

I have realised that when I write I eat. I drink a lot of coffee. I snack. I need to start exercising as I do feel sluggish and if I make it a goal here it is a lot more likely to happen!

So, back to check-in and this week. Very exciting development this week is that I have actually started writing the WIP that I have been planning, outlining and developing characters for! The fear was getting huge and I have to say I wrote the first line and thought 'That is hideous!' My plan is to get down the main story in the chapters I outlined but I can tell I am racing through the story and I have to add in lots of detail, dialogue etc. I may go back and edit bits as I go but I am writing it which is a huge accomplishment for me!!! After writing my post on location I have decided to make up a town in my first draft and see how it goes. If it doesn't go well then I can always make changes during editing etc.

On Thursday I spent 40 minutes writing it (need to think of a working title) and wrote 687 words and added some details into my outline. On Friday I spent 10 minutes plotting the timeline of the relationships involved, read through what I had written on Thursday (not editing though) and then 22 minutes writing 608 words.

On Saturday I spent just over an hour writing and wrote 1,249 words making a grand total of 2,544 so far! I am making lots of notes in my WIP notebook as already I want to change the order of chapters and move things around but I am going to persist with writing a bit more before I start editing. If I do any writing today then I will be exceeding my 3 and a half hours (I think I already have by a little bit) so that is a bonus.

Thing are going well but I have some things coming up that may interfere with my achievement streak so am trying to work out how I can still meet my goals. I had a lightbulb moment about when I am away for 5 days. I am going with friends who know nothing about my writing and I am not ready to tell them. I do not want to miss 5 days but I am going to be sharing a room so it may be tricky. I am going to take my WIP notebook and print out my children's stories and maybe what I have for my WIP and maybe do some editing as this can be done anywhere and does not rely on a computer. That is my plan! When I get back I have friends coming to stay so again my writing will be a covert operation. We will see how it goes!

Hope week 4 has been good to you. As usual am off to check out some check-ins!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Location, Location, Location

I have been doing some work this week on location, in particular the location for my longer piece. I need to think of a working title for this but will just refer to it as my WIP. This is not to be confused with the two children's stories I have started and all of a sudden moved away from as I have got carried away with this idea! I will get back to them one day though!

I have realised my 'teacherness' is coming out as I learn more about writing. I am a teacher, I need to plan. I need to learn. I read up on things before I start writing anything. I need notebooks and post its and pens. I kind of like this about me as a writer. I do worry though that I am putting off actual writing of my WIP as I am TERRIFIED! What if it is no good? What if it doesn't come out the way I am intending? What if I tell the story in a page and have no where else to go? Anyway, you will no doubt hear all about this in the coming weeks so I will get back to the point of my post.


I have been toying with where to set my story. I live in a seaside town in Devon and whilst I don't want to write about my particular town, I want to write about a town. With a city nearby. London will appear at some point because I love London when I visit but I don't feel I can write as someone who lives there.

Now, in terms of the town I am thinking of making one up. One that has the characteristics that anyone who knows Devon and its towns will recognise but in this way I am free from details and facts. There is also a bit of scope for artistic license with the history of the place which would be fun to make up. I drew a map, it is a wonder to behold. Not really, I can't draw for toffee. But I know how it looks.

My plan is to use aspects of the places I know mashed together to create a new town. I did read somewhere (in my 'learning phase'!) that a problem with using a imaginary place is people are used to reading about places they know. If the story was set in London people would automatically have a picture in their head. I guess with careful description you could get around this? I guess this isn't an issue in stories where you build your own world. Check out Jamila's world and inspirations -

I have not ever really consider writing fantasy or building an entire world but after seeing these outfits I may have to consider it! I want!

So, after a long rambling post my question is, do you make up your story locations or stick with what you know? Or do you write about places you have visited but you don't necessarily know really well?

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

ROW 80 Check-in 27th July

All going well this week so far and I don't want to speak to soon but I might, just might, be ready to actually start my WIP! As in write something rather than plan/outline it. I have been at my boyfriends for a couple of days and have been unable to open any of my files as he has a different word version. It wasn't a big problem but made me a bit itchy to start writing. I take any frustrations like this as a good sign as usually I would use it as a good excuse to not do anything.

So, on Monday I spent 25 minutes using the same prompt from Write Anything that I had written from charcter 1's point of view and this time wrote from character 2's point of view again experiementing with writing in the 1st person. Did I mention the prompt was - Begin your story with, “In retrospect, I wouldn’t say it was my best idea.”
Then I spent 10 minutes making some notes about location. I am going to write a post about location in the next few days as one of my posts for the week.

On Tuesday I used the same Write Anything prompt and wrote in the first person from the man who links character 1 and 2 together. This has helped me get to know them a bit and has made me eager to start writing. Still not sure about the 1st person thing though. Spent another 15 minutes looking at location.

Today after check-in am packing and travelling home so will do this weeks Write Anything prompt on the bus - more elbowing of strangers!

Hope you are having good weeks and I will check out some check-ins tomorrow when I get a chance!

ps.I think I am 5 minutes ahead of my 30 minutes a day goal! Tiny bonus!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

ROW 80 Check-in 24th July

This week, all goals completed!

This is my third of the three posts I wanted to write. I loved writing the one on my ideal writing place. I keep adding details to it in my head.

On Thursday I worked on a loose outline and tried to just plot my ideas in some way. I know this will change but I think it was good for me to set out the main things I want to happen. I also thought about the tense I will write in and decided to have a go at writing it in the first person but from both girls points of view (more on this later).

On Friday it was a late 30 mins when I had gotten into bed but I did them. I made notes on my character notes as little bits and pieces had come to me over the last couple of days and had been saved on my phone or on scraps of paper as often they came to me when I couldn't write them anywhere else. I also did some practical bits like transferring all my writing bits to my memory stick so I have them with me now I am away for a few days.

On Saturday I made further character notes and I think I have made character 1 more likable by simply adding more relationships into her life. I want her to be a sort of lonely character (which will explain why she does what she does) but want you to like her too. She is not a bad person, just struggles to be alone. Even with friends around you can still feel alone so I have given her more friendships. I also did my fiction friday (check!) on the bus on the way up to london. The prompt leant itself to be written from my character 1's point of view so I gave it a go writing in the first person as my character 1. The first time I tried to write as her. It was HARD! I don't know if I will write in 1st or 3rd person. I felt I struggled to get the location, actions etc in when writing in the 1st person tense. But it could just be my lack of experience so will keep an open mind and see what happens.

So feeling good this week. My Saturday writing was done on a bus, sat next to someone who got elbowed a lot as I balanced my notebook on top of my handbag but I did it. I did an hour yesterday as I knew a check-in would be all I have time for today.

Hope you had good weeks! Off to check some check-ins out!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

ROW 80 Check-in 20th July

This week has been all about the characters for me. After my really grumpy week last week (thanks for putting up with me during that!) I turned to the characters I mentioned last check-in.

On Monday I spent 30 minutes reading up on how to develop credible characters and made lots of notes from different sources which I hoped would help me.

Yesterday I spent 30 minutes developing character 1. Once I started writing a character profile of her the ideas just kept popping up and I really enjoyed it. I do think however she doesn't seem terribly likeable at the moment and I want to give her some warmth which I am hoping to do when I find the right occupation for her. Also I posted about my dream writing location which is one of my three posts this week. I would love it if you read it and let me know what you think. What would your dream writing location be?

Today I have brainstormed character 2 and also the man that links the two girl characters. I am starting to see what people mean when they say you get to know your characters and they become real to you. I sort of 'knew' things about them without really thinking deeply about them. So exciting!

So things are going well this week.

I have two more days and then we break up for the summer! I should have lots of time to write however as I am pretty anonymous in my desire to write (only a couple of people know this and know of my blog) it may be difficult to write over certain periods e.g. when I am on holiday with friends. I am going to plan for it and always have my notebook on hand to help me. I am sure I can grab 5 minutes here and there and other days I will be free to do lots. We will see!

Hope your weeks are going to check out some check-ins!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

My dream writing location

A recent post by Lisey McGrath got me thinking. She asked: 'If you could make your own writing space without realistic constraints (i.e., money, time-space continuums, physics) what would it look like?' You can see her answer here -

Now I have been thinking about this and I think my answer is fairly boring but nonetheless, it is my answer.

I would like a warm room somewhere with lots of books. Books inspire me and the sight of row after row of books is beautiful to me. I guess because I would love to have books I have written up there. The warmth could come from an open fire. One that obviously lights/extinguishes itself when needed and the wood supply just appears without any effort on my part.

I would like a big wooden desk, fairly old fashioned I think with drawers. One which locks so top secret things can be kept in it. A comfy chair is a must! In my current flat I don't really have anywhere comfortable to sit. I have a hard kitchen chair to sit on as I write. For when I want to change location in the room I also would like a rocking chair, a windowseat and a comfy armchair like this:

I would like wooden floors and really comfy slippers.

I would also like a really good nosey-persons view. Something that overlooks a busy highstreet or something as people watching is possibly my favourite thing in the world.

I would also like a chain coffee store (preferably a Costa or Caffe Nero, hell why not both!) nearby as I love coffee shops where you can spend time and not get rushed out. I love their hot chocolates. Yum. In the magic writing room I would like really yummy snacks such as crisps and biscuits but they don't make you gain weight and also a selection of drinks available at all times.

I would need a television with a DVD player and a CD player as I always need some kind of background noise.

I would love a whole cupboard of stationary. Files, notebooks of every description, post its and every type of pen known to man. I would like a laptop and printer that never needs new ink.

I would love this magic writing room. What would your dream writing location be?

Sunday, 17 July 2011

ROW 80 Check-in 17th July

Ok, cranky start to the week....but since wednesday I have been less grouchy and I have met my goals this week! It has been a tough slog though!

Thursday - woke up earlier to squeeze my half an hour in before work. Turns out I may not be a morning writer! In fairness I had been having a cranky, tired week so maybe I should give it another go at another time when I am not in such a grumpy place! So tried to write, nothing came. Tried to revise second children's book, wasn't happening. So I changed tack and did 30 mins of reading up on plotting as I have been thinking about a longer piece of work and I know I need to do some plotting beforehand as it is very much an idea with not alot of detail at the moment.

Friday - 38mins spent completing my friday fiction piece from 'Write Anything'. Enjoyed this and randomly decided to write from a man's point of view....not sure my 'man speak' was very accurate. The word 'mate' featured alot when different characters were speaking to each other! Didn't really like doing this in a notebook (but was on a train) especially as I don't know the word count. Was several pages though.

(Also on Friday I went to my first book club! I really enjoyed it. Was very relaxed and no scary questions. I was brave and offered ideas and shared comments and we just spoke about what we liked and didn't about the story and the characters. Will definately go to the next one which isn't until September as we are about to have our summer holidays so won't be in school. I have actually already read the book we are going to discuss next time but enjoyed it so will read it again. Ok, back to ROW 80).

Saturday - no writing but I knew I wouldn't be able of the drawbacks of not many people in your life knowing you are a writer (or atleast trying to be!) was that I couldn't carve out 30 minutes as was with my friends constantly. Brilliant weekend though so not complaining!

Sunday - on the train again, with 38 mins on friday needed 52 minutes today to be on track. Five minutes was spent writing notes in my notebook about a conversation I overheard (actively listened in on) whilst waiting for my train. Then 48 minutes working through part of Susan Bischoff's blueprint for plotting. It is genius and can be found here - It is basically a guide to planning out or 'getting to know' a story before you try to write it. I basically worked through it for my idea and was pleasantly surprised that it does have some potential I think. However, there are many holes, a big one being the fact I know it revolves around two girls who I call 1 and 2 and although I started to come up with some background for them, I really need to work on this before I try and write it. Exciting!

So this week, fiction friday done, three posts done and 3 1/2 hours done! Yay! I have found it hard and frustrating at times but I have managed it with some planning. What is positive is that writing is definately at the front of my mind and everything I came across this week my first thought was about how it may effect my 30 minutes that day.

ps. I genuinely time myself as at this early stage of the 80 days I don't want to do 'about 30 mins' as I know I am at times pushing myself to do 30 minutes and if I estimate I am sure I would come up short!

Hope you had brilliant weeks!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

ROW 80 Check-in 13th July

It has been a miserable week. Well not miserable but changes of plans, increased workload etc have meant I have been tired, stressed, cranky, all of the above.

On monday I didn't finish my work work until 10.30pm and my eyes were burning from staring at the computer but I wanted to write so I did an old 'Write Anything' prompt and wrote 1,195 words. I had meant to start writing up my second children's book idea but I was so tired and I was worried I would struggle with it so I did something different, but I did write!

On Tuesday again work work got the better of me and I didn't write. But when I wrote my goals I knew there would be days like this so today I have written up my second children's book idea which took just over an hour so I am back on schedule for my 3 1/2 hours writing in a week.

I was really annoyed, almost cross yesterday that I didn't get time to write but I am taking this as a positive thing. I didn't want to not write. I want to reach my goals this week and I am happier now I am back on track. I know this weekend I may not get a chance to write on saturday but am prepared for it and will write for longer on sunday to reach my goals. I am even going to get up earlier tomorrow so I can write before going to work. This will really pain me but I am going to do it!

Before I go check out some other ROW80 writers I am going to give you another quote from "A Prayer for Owen Meany" By John Irving. Am on page 560 of 637 so nearly there! I stopped and read this quote several times.

The quote is Owen talking to his friend John (the story is told from John's point of view):

'I want to go on being a student,' I told him. 'I want to be a teacher. I'm just a reader,' I said.
'I learned it from you,' I told him.
Page 521.

Love, love, love this.

Monday, 11 July 2011

A little bit of inspiration....

I had all kinds of lovely things I planned to write about here tonight as this was one of the only nights I would have time to post my non check-in blog of the week and then guess what? Life has got in the way! Well work has. I am in a foul mood but after writing this I will go and do my 30 minutes of writing for today and writing this post checks off one of my 3 posts for the week (2 check-ins and 1 non check-in). So is not all gloom and doom.

Two things I am inspired by this week.

1) The 'Write Anything' prompt for this friday is:
"Your character is at work and prints something personal or sensitive. Unfortunately, they realise they sent it to the wrong printer and,unable to cancel it, by the time they get to the printer, it has disappeared. Now keep writing."

When I saw this I was immediately excited about using it as a prompt but I am going to hold off and do it on the train on friday as I am going away and it will be the perfect thing to scribble in a notebook as I travel.
(See my blog roll for the link to this site if it interests you)

2) As I have mentioned many a time I am reading 'A Prayer for Owen Meany' by John Irving for my book club (first meeting this friday!). I am really getting into the book and put in some serious reading over the weekend so am on page 505 of 637 so am getting there!

A sentence from it made me beam the other day and gave me a nice warm feeling. After his friend shows a complete lack of interest in reading a particular book, Owen Meany says to him:


I write in capitals as all of Owen's dialogue is written in capitals. I love the idea that a writer is someone who has worked out a way to see the world. It doesn't matter what way they see the world but they have developed their own way of doing so. I love this!

Ok, off to do my 30 minutes.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

ROW 80 Check-in 10th July

Week One has gone well and I have achieved all 3 goals! Yay!

On Thursday I spent 32 minutes (yes those two extra minutes are important!) doing some research for the second children's book story I am starting. I now have 6 pages of notes about this one with a rough outline of the sequence of events and even a really badly drawn map of the location. I think tomorrow's task will be starting to actually write this one down.

On Friday I changed the name of the goldfish in the pet story (pivotal I know!) and then completed the fiction friday prompt from 'Write Anything' and wrote 948 words for this which is the most I have ever written when following one of these prompts so was pleased with that. Although I did kill off all of the characters which was a new and morbidly thrilling experience!

Yesterday I felt poorly so brain wasn't up to much so I sorted my writing bag. I have a bag where I stuff magazine articles and clippings that I think may come in useful one day. However I have been lazy recently and stuffed whole magazines and newspapers in it so I went through these and took out what I actually wanted and put them in a nice folder. I am ALL about the stationary! I also looked at the few notes I have made over the last year or so for a longer piece probably best described as chick lit and feel there may be some hope in the ramblings somewhere.

Today I went back to the pet story and it is now at 716 words. Is amazing that every time I leave it I am happy but when I go back to it straight away I can see things I want to add or change.

So week one big fat ticks next to all my goals! I have made a table I can literally tick. Is this normal?!

As mentioned yesterday I have a busy week coming up so I am going to have a little think now about how I can fit everything in. Need to crack on with my work work then spend some quality time with my book club book!

ps. apologies for how long my check-ins are but at the moment I feel I need to account for my half an hour of writing related time so I don't slope off and distract myself with other people's blogs etc!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Mini Book Club Update

The first book club is this friday the 15th of July and I am just under halfway through the book. It is over 600 pages (637 to be exact) and as I have actually spent some time on my writing this week I have somewhat neglected my reading. I need to try and work a bit more reading into my day so I get it finished for Friday as I don't want to turn up not having finished. I am really enjoying the book (A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving) and am glad I am giving it a go as it is not something I would have naturally picked up to read.

I did start reading it trying to take in every sentence and think of clever things I could say at the group as I am very nervous about going but I drove myself crazy by overthinking every page and event. I am just going to read it and like with most books I read, I am sure I will have opinions on it without analysing every word. I hope!

I do have some work work to do this weekend and a hideously busy week at work coming up with some evening things going on so I am not sure how I am going to meet my ROW80 goals and read and do all the other things I need to do but am already thinking about how to get things worked in. One thought was getting up earlier on the days I know I am busy in the evening.....we will have to see about that one! This post is trying to turn itself into a ROW80 goal check-in but that is tomorrow so will head off to read some more.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

ROW 80 Check-in 6th July

Well, first few days have gone well!

On Monday after posting my goals I spent 30 minutes typing up a children's story I had half written in a notebook and had on scraps of paper. Lets call it the pet story.

On Tuesday I re-read the pet story from above and changed bits and edited a bit and it grew from 523 to 579 words. Whilst it is still very much a WIP I feel happy that the idea is down in some ordered form and feel it has potential. Then I planned out the other children's story idea that has been in my head. I literally had one sentence written on a post it as the idea struck a while ago but have tried to map it out a bit. Then I spent some time doing some simple research and looking at the thesaurus' on The Bookshelf muse which has brilliant ideas for descriptions of sights and sounds etc. 45 minutes in total which doesn't seem like long but guess 45 focused minutes is better than 2 unfocused hours!

Today I am out for most of the evening so came home as quick as I could and did 15 minutes revising the pet story which is now 639 words. I wanted to post tonight for first check in so was gutted I had to stop at 15 minutes to make time but with yesterdays 45 mins I am still on target!
While lots of the things I have done are little bits and pieces, I truly never actually focused and worked on  my writing. I read other people's blogs and wanted to write but never actually did it so already I feel I have taken a huge step forward. I can feel a change in myself already as I would have used being out tonight as an excuse but I have made enough time to do what I need to get done. Some of my weekend plans might be cancelled and my first thought was 'Oh good, more time for writing!'

Also, it is so motivating to have so many people swinging by my blog and even though I haven't had time today I am going to make time to look at the blogs of other ROW 80 writers as it is so inspiring, encouraging and supportive. Ok, gush, gush, gush. Need to go put some make up on to go out. Hope you have had brilliant starts to Round 3!

Monday, 4 July 2011

ROW80 Goals Round 3

The time is finally here to set my goals for ROW80 and I think I have finally decided on them. Please bear in mind I am a baby writer. Meaning I am new to writing and not that I am a baby or write about babies. Although they may feature. Goodness I am tired. Hope these make sense.

My goals for Round 3 are:

* Complete the weekly Fiction Friday prompts from (on 'our writing prompts' page). I enjoy spending some time on these prompts as they take you off in a direction you may never have ventured down and I really think that they will help me develop a writing style.

* Spend 30 minutes a day on writing or writing related activities (e.g. planning, researching, revising). So in a week I am aiming for 3 and a half hours of dedicated time. If I miss a day I will try and make up that 30 mins elsewhere in the week. I am not going to put a word count on this as two of my ideas are children's picture books. May change this if I start work on a longer piece.

* Post ROW80 check-ins on Sunday and Wednesdays and also one additional post a week. So three posts a week.

I just noticed something. Round 3, 3 goals, 3 (and a half) hours a week, 3 posts a 3 my new lucky number?