Writing Journal 36: Journals and Story Journals

Writing Journal 36: Journals and Story Journals

My writing journal for Wednesday, September 17, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

Another slow start this morning. Late yesterday a copywriting client called and asked for a rush job. He needs some marketing materials by the end of his week. He’s bought out another company’s inventory. The new stock is a change of direction for him.

So before I could get on with the novella, and the nonfiction book edit, I needed to rearrange some of this week’s projects to make room for this new copywriting project. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of wiggle room, which means that I’ll be working late.

With that done, it’s onward with the novella. Yesterday’s brainstorming means that I’ve got a firm grasp of the story and the characters, so things should go more smoothly. They do; I manage 2,700 words.

A couple of readers have asked me about journals.

Journals and story journals

I have two kinds of journals, this journal, which is an expurgated version of my daily journal (a work diary, if you like), and project journals.

Journals are invaluable because they keep you writing. I handwrite my daily journal, three times a day. Always before I start writing, then after lunch (sometimes before lunch) and again after the writing day is done.

People keep journals for many different reasons. My reasons:

  • My journals clear my mind; they keep me focused on my writing tasks;
  • They help me to both capture and work out ideas;
  • They get any emotional stuff out of the way so I can focus on words.

Focus is especially vital when you’re writing fiction; a novel, or as I’m writing currently, a series of novellas.

Over the years, I’ve ditched several novels because I lost their emotional thread. Anytime you take time off from fiction, you take a risk that you’ll lose your inspiration.

Keeping a story journal helps: you can talk to yourself on the page. Mystery author Sue Grafton often talks about her book journals.

Journaling is a form of pre-writing, and it helps my productivity. Whenever I get “too busy” to journal, I end up writing less.

I don’t have time for the nonfiction ebook edits this morning; I’ve slated them for tonight.

Time for Honey’s breakfast. Then I eat my own, while dealing with email.

Next, some phone calls, and then onward with the company history. I manage to write 2,400 words; it’s going well.

I’m tempted to eat at my computer, but that would be stupid. I didn’t go for a walk this morning, and I need a break. It’s a lovely day, so I go for a quick walk, then come back and have lunch.

The two presentations are almost done. It takes another two timer sessions, then they’re ready for Julia to check.

More email and phone calls, and then it’s back to the company history book, so that I can read over what I have, and make some notes for tomorrow.

Research for the rush copywriting job

I called the client, to get some phone numbers. I need to do a couple of quick research interviews. I manage to catch both people in their office, with time to chat. That’s wonderful; it means that I can get most of the material I need.

My Livescribe Echo is perfect for these kinds of interviews, because I don’t need to record the entire conversation, just important parts.

The time slips away. Before know it, the day’s done. I do my daily review, and total my word counts. I’ll need to work on the nonfiction book edits later tonight.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 27: Use Scrivener for Everything

Writing Journal 27: Use Scrivener for Everything

My writing journal for Monday, September 8, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

I woke up this morning with an idea for Christmas short story. So instead of working on the novella I’m ghostwriting for a client, I decided to write the story instead. I managed 1800 words of the story; very satisfying. I’ll work on the novella later today, or perhaps tonight.

Then on to the client’s nonfiction book. I did a rough edit of several chapters, and compiled them to PDF, so that I could send them to him. Scrivener makes it easy to send out as little or as much as you like of any project.

A couple of students have asked me about ghostwriting with Scrivener, so let’s chat about that.

Scrivener for freelance writers, coaches, and consultants

Although I primarily use Scrivener for long projects, you can use Scrivener for short projects too. For example, I use Scrivener for my retainer clients — clients for whom I write regularly.

I don’t use Scrivener for blogging, even though many writers do. Thaddeus Hunt has a complete blogging system, and so does Jennifer Mattern.

Scrivener’s wonderful for medium to long projects, because you can develop many novels within one Scrivener file. The five novellas I’m ghostwriting for a client are all in one file. This makes it very easy to compile one ebook, or few chapters and send them to a client. You can also keep your front matter and back matter within the file, duplicating them and customizing them for each ebook.

Monica McCarty uses a Scrivener file to manage her series’ Bible. Visit the Scrivener forum, to see the many ways in which people use Scrivener.

On to email, which is light, just some student material for review. I zoom through that, and it’s time for Honey’s breakfast. I review my Christmas short story as I eat my toast. I can’t resist writing another few hundred words. That takes the story to 2,500 words.

A client presentation…

It’s time to develop a pitch presentation for a client. I start by researching his marketing materials, and creating an outline. He’ll be delivering the presentation, I just need to create it. I do some thinking, and brainstorming, and then put it aside for tomorrow, to let it gestate.

No time to walk today; I have a meeting this afternoon, and need to run some errands after that.

I create some notes for Julia. She needs to chase up the subject matter experts so that I can complete a draft of a client’s website content for his product launch. I didn’t think it would happen on Friday, but it needs to happen today or tomorrow.

I spend a couple of timer sessions developing questions for the SMEs.

Next, I check on my draft blog posts, and add some material to several. I’ll schedule them for publication once I complete them. Usually, I’ll schedule posts for publication several days ahead. (This is a reason I don’t use Scrivener for blogging; I’m in and out of the WordPress blog editor several times a day.)

And it’s time to go…

Back late

I’m glad I got so much done this morning. I got back to the office very late. Time to catch up on emails, and phone calls. Then my daily review, total up my word counts, and the work day is done.

With luck, I’ll write a couple of thousand words of the novella tonight. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 26: How to Make Writing a Habit

Writing Journal 26: How to Make Writing a Habit

My writing journal for Sunday, September 7, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

Another wonderful morning for my fourth novella for my ghostwriting client: 2,700 words. It’s flowing like water, AND the characters keep surprising me. That’s the reason I love fiction: it’s a true joy when the characters become real.

The nonfiction book is doing well too. Another 1,500 words, in just two timer sessions. I could have carried on with it, but it’s Sunday.

How to make writing a habit

A reader asked me whether you “should” write every day.

Do what you can. In my first few years as a writer, I didn’t write every day. I’ve often talked about how challenging I found writing. It wasn’t easy. I wanted to write, and I loved writing. But I had to force myself to sit down at the typewriter and then stay where I’d planted myself, rather than running away.

Looking back, writing became much easier once I got my first Apple computer, and studied Gabriele Rico’s book.

Before the Apple, writing meant golf-balls, carbon paper, and correction fluid. A nightmare. I adored my Apple, because I’m a truly lousy typist.

Larry Block helped immensely too. I took his Write for Your Life seminar at the Vista Hotel in NYC in 1985. That seminar was a huge turning point for my writing. I played Larry’s tape of affirmations for years, until the cassette broke. :-)

Over time, writing just became a habit. I can’t imagine not writing every day.

However, asking whether you “should” write every day is the wrong question. If you’re asking yourself this, ask yourself how you can make writing more fun, instead.

If writing’s fun, you won’t be able to keep away from your work. Eventually, writing just becomes something you do every day – habitual.

As Carl Jung said: “The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect, but by play.” It’s my favorite quote. Focus on having FUN when you write. You can’t be creative without an element of play. When writing’s fun, you want to do it.

After I’ve fed Honey, and made some toast, I check the day’s email, which is light. I use Send to Kindle to add some students’ stories to my iPad, so that I can focus on them this evening.

Then, I send the MP3s of yesterday’s phone coaching sessions to the students.

Sunday is draft blogging day

Sunday, as always, is the day when I add to my collection of draft blog posts on my own blogs, as well as on client blogs.

A reader asked how many draft blog posts he “should” have lined up. I’m not big on stuff you “should” do, as you may know.

I like to have at least ten draft posts in each blog. I review them every few days. Some I discard, because the inspiration’s gone, or because I did some research and decided against the post. Other blog posts grow organically. Then I add some more content to them, and line them up for publication.

Do whatever is comfortable for you. I know a couple of professional bloggers who create no drafts. They have no editorial calendar. They know they have a certain number of blog posts to write each week, and they sit down and write them, cold. I admire that, I truly do. However, I couldn’t work that way, because I have too much going on. Having a cache of draft posts gives me a sense of security, and confidence.

Time for my walk.

And now it’s time for Sunday’s commitments.

Planning and preparing for the coming week

Several of my clients have sent me images, so I need to look them over, and Photoshop them a little to get rid of distractions in them. I also download some images I’ll need for my own blog posts this week.

Then it’s time to for the weekly review, to check last week’s progress, and check this week’s deadlines, to make sure that everything is on track.

That done, I tot up my word count for the day, and Sunday’s over.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 18: Scrivener and Blogging

Writing Journal 18:  Scrivener and Blogging

My writing journal for Saturday, August 30, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

Firstly, thank you for the kind words, if you sent me a message, or called to say that you enjoy the journal entries, and that they inspire you when you see what writing for a living involves. That’s what I hoped the journal entries would do… :-)

Busy: fiction and nonfiction

After yesterday, I was determined to get a flying start on fiction and nonfiction, so I kept going until I had 2,000 words of each.

The novella’s progressing well. However, I needed to introduce one of the characters earlier. It’s a romance, so the sooner you get the romance moving along the better. Ideally that happens on the first page, or at least the first five pages.

I’d written some cute material. but it had to go. Now both main characters appear in the first scene. It’s still cute. :-) When you start a novel, or short story, there’s a lot to set up. Don’t try to get it “right”. Just get something written. You can fix it later.

So I wrote the first scene, then went back to writing the next scene I’d outlined. Usually, I’d wait to fill in scenes until I finished the first draft. Whatever works. :-)

Speaking of drafts.

Second drafts in Scrivener

Nicole Crail asked about “version control” of drafts in the Scrivener Community on Google+.

You don’t need to use versions when you use Scrivener.

Here’s what I said…

I use Snapshots, icon changes, labels and annotations for revisions, rather than saving versions, as such. Pretty much as Gwen Hernandez suggests in her excellent article.

I also use a lot of Collections, to work out character and plot arcs. I use Collections to remove characters too – if I create a search collection for a character’s name, and see that he appears in just a couple of scenes, that’s a clue that he probably isn’t all that important.

Scrivener’s tools are brilliant. And you can use Compile as often as you like. Before the first edit, I compile the material to MOBI, for a read-through, away from my desk. I suppose that’s a version, but I delete it immediately I’ve read it.

I do a lot of ghostwriting, so I often compile chapters to PDF, for clients for feedback.

When Scrivener was in beta, I’d save the entire file under another name, but I haven’t done that in years. Scrivener saves my backups to Dropbox automatically. The backups are there, all zipped and ready, in case disaster happens to the file. I’ve never had it happen, but it could. I look on the backups as versions, too.

Email – student feedback, and projects

Time for email, and Honey’s breakfast, then my own.

As always, there’s a mile of email. Lots of feedback for students. I can’t get to the longer material until this evening, so I use Send to Kindle.

I mentioned Notability yesterday. Now that it’s on Mac too, it makes it easier to grab my notes add them to email. I can make notes on Notability on my iPad, and they appear on my desktop, ready to use. Perfect.

Client blogging — draft posts

My eyes are on the clock, because I need to run errands this afternoon. (Sigh.) So I dive into clients’ blogs, to create a couple more draft posts. I manage to complete three drafts, and schedule them for next week. They’ll go out automatically.

I’ve got a boilerplate “SEND ME MORE STUFF TO BLOG!!” message which I send to three blogging clients. Of course, the boilerplate message is phrased more delicately than that, but it reminds them to send me what they have.

Errands…

Out to lunch, and to run errands.

Back too late to do anything except answer some email. A respectable word count today.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.