And to think that I nearly stopped writing!

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I’ve written all my life, to some degree. Fantasy, scifi, horror, romance, comedy etc. Yes, I’ve written roughly thirty unfinished novels in pretty much every genre that exists. I never took it seriously, you see, never thought any of it was any good. Until 2007.

I started writing the original Diary of the Displaced that year. I wrote what was to become the first eight “episodes” in about 2 months and put them up online for anyone and everyone to read. I also sent out about thirty emails to publishers and agents at the time spouting about how I was writing this book, and would they be interested in taking a look at it. I guess at the time I failed to look at the guidelines for a lot of them, I was all too excited about what I was writing.

Of course, what this resulted in was a year later and I’d recieved no replies at all. I also didn’t pay attention to the stats for the website that I created for the book, otherwise I may not have given up. After about a year of what felt like “nothing” I did what so many others have dones. I gave up. I lost heart. I’d written some more of the book, but I never bothered to put it online. What I originally thought was a cracking idea for a novel – maybe even a series – can’t have been that good.

I also stopped writing for the first time in my life. The writer’s career, that dream, was officially over.

Until november 2010.

For two years I hadn’t written a single word. Nothing. Nadda. I didn’t have it in me any more. Then, one day in November, I got an email from my webhost provider saying that www.diaryofthedispalced.co.uk was now due for renewal after two years. Had it really been that long? I went onto my hosting package client thingy and was about to click on the “Don’t renew” button.

Something stopped me. To this day I don’t know what it was. Maybe curiousity.

I went into my email program and looked into the accounts. I’d never even added the email address there. I’d never collected the email from my diary of the displaced email account. oh, well, I thought. May as well have a peek at it before I get rid of the domain name. I’m not paying for something I’m never going to use.

So. I added the details for the email account, after faffing around because I couldn’t remember the password, and finally hit “send and receive”.

Nothing happened. The little indicator for how many email were being collected just sat there frozen. Sigh. Oh well. I went outside for a cigarette and came back five minutes later. Maybe the program had frozen?

No it hadn’t it was on 10% collected, after five minutes. And the inbox said 2100 unread messages. Spam? must be spam I thought. Crikey can you really pick up that much spam on an email address over 2 years?

Turns out most of it was spam, but nearly 4000 of the 20,000 ish emails were from folks saying that they liked the book. When was the next episode coming out? Are you still writing this? Have you vanished? hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people had emailed me over the two years since I posted those first episodes.

Some people had been waiting for two years for the next episode!
(Is it too late to apologise to them now?)

It’s strange (actually no it’s not) how something like that can imediately switch the writer in you back on. From november 2010 to May 2011 I finished that book. The first book I’d ever completed in my life. These days I write about two to four pages a day (ish) and I’m now writing my sixth ebook, and I’m we’re still in 2011. In five days it will have been six months since I released the finished version of my first book. Just six months.

I do wonder if things would have been different if I hadn’t given up back then. If the lack of response from publishers and agents hadn’t put me off (How many writers stop writing because of that?), how many books could have I written in those two years? I also wonder what would have happened if I’d never collected those emails.

I guess I forgot what really mattered and was so wrapped up in my rejection from those in the business that I forgot that they actually stand for nothing without the people whose opinions really matter. That would be the readers. I’m so glad that this digital ebook boom has opened the doors that the gatekeepers kept shut for so long. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not bitter about the rejections – at least not like I was a few years ago – they are just business people looking for what they can sell. No different to any other business, I guess. I don’t really give them much of a passing thought these days and I think that in some ways I had some lessons to learn. I just write the stories, design the covers, and them put them online and two days later anyone that wants to read them can. Job done.

How to get that novel written (how I do it)

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A lot of folks have asked me how I manage to write as much as I do whilst juggling a day job and a family. Well, here’s the thing. 60k words or 90k words or 20k words for a novel or a novella sounds like one hell of a lot to write and I think a lot of folks get put off by the sheer volume that is mounted in front of them. My kids do exactly same if you put a huge plate of food in front of them. They’ll pick at it, but not eat it all. Of course, if I put a tiny plate of food down in front of them they will eat it all and ask for more, resulting in the big plate getting eaten.

Um, yeah, so, my really life changing advice for writing a novel is to eat like a kid.

Ahem.

No, really. It sounds daft doesn’t it?

Let me show you what I mean in a way that actually has a result.

I want you to sit down and write 200 words. Right now. Don’t think about it.┬áOpen “Word” or grab a pen and write 20 lines of absolute rubbish. Doesn’t matter if it’s dazzling prose, or if its utter trite (Some people say that’s what I write anyway so if it works for me…)

Don’t continue reading until you have done that.

Okay? We now have 200 words on screen or on a piece of toilet paper, or wherever you put it.  How long did it take you? Ten minutes? Five Minutes? Twenty?

Here’s the fact.

If you do that every day, this time next year you will have written enough for a 300 page novel.

200 x 365 =  73,000 = 300 (ish) page novel.

Or 3 novellas. Or a short novel and a novella.

This is something you have to do every day, including your birthday and Christmas, otherwise you will get out of the habit.

Dealing with the other issue – continuing the novel.

It’s sometimes hard to pick up where you left off. Actually, it’s always hard to jump back into that frame of mind in an instant, and how you are going to do that is by not finishing what you started each day. Yes, ignore all that “Finish what you start” stuff. You’re going to finish what you start by not finishing it every single day.

Leave your writing in mid-sentence / mid-paragraph. Leave it hanging. Try not to leave it sitting there waiting for you on at the start of a new page or a new chapter. If you leave it mid-sentence you will be in a much better place to get into your “writing mind”, because you already knew what you were going to write next, and finishing that sentence or paragraph should be enough to drag you into your writing “place”.

To give you an idea of how writing just a little bit a day can soon add up. This blog is just over 550 words long and it took me five minutes. I don’t blog every day, but if┬áI┬ádid I would have clocked up 200,000+ words every year. or three novels worth (Or ten novellas).

This works for me, working 50+ hours a week for a paper writing service, being a husband and a dad. It can also work for you.

So, to follow my own advice I’m going to finish this blog in mid…

 

 

 

A little bit about what’s to come…

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I thought I would put a quick post up to clarify a couple of things and to let you know what’s coming soon. First off I started writing some of Diary of the Displaced 2 about a month ago, got 10,000 words in, and realised that I needed to put it aside for a short while – just long enough to sort a few of the ideas out in my head. So it’s coming, but it’s not coming next. Yes, I know it’s the one that everyone who reads my stuff wants next, but I have to make sure it’s good and not crap.

To correct a confusion – Chasing spirits is a stand alone novel, not the sequel to the Diary, and not the first in it’s own series, but we haven’t seen the last of Reggie, Joe or Marie (see Diary of the Displaced 2 – when I finish it.)

What is next…
As much as I get told off for writing multiple projects at the same time, there isn’t a lot I can do about it. It’s how it happens. The next book that will be finished is the first in a new series that continues the tale of Joe Dean from Chasing Spirits. ┬áThey will be novellas, and I’ve got ideas for lots of them (I already know the rough plots for the first three).

Some interesting posts from two writer’s blogs that I follow

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Think like a publisher by Dean Wesley Smith

Dean has been doing a lot of posts giving guidance to not just Indie authors, but authors in general.
If you are published, or thinking of publishing, check out his blog. He has┬ácertainly┬áopened my eyes about just how many venue there are for ebooks. Dean, I’ll hit the donate button on my next visit!.

What Works: Promo for ebooks by J A Konrath

His most recent post is certainly apt for me, having recently published my second book only 2 weeks after the first. I’m sort of in limbo with sales and a bit clueless about how to reach people who might like my writing. So I tried giving stuff away on feedbooks.com, and it certainly gained the attention of a small but very keen bunch of readers out of the thousands that read the first book, but of course most feedbooks readers are aldiko readers (like me!), who won’t┬ánecessarily┬ávisit smashwords or amazon.

Time to start hunting down another way to reach people!

How did that happen?

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I’m not sure how it happened, but I accidentally started writing the next James Halldon Diary.

It would seem that it is insisting on being written next. I only meant to make a few notes and BOOM, three Episodes escaped. I’ve also written some bits of later episodes, which also were only┬ásupposed┬áto be notes but somehow turned into diary┬áentries. One interested note though. it would seem (and I wasn’t expecting this either!) that my third book – the second Diary of the Displaced – is the sequel to both books currently released. Get your head round that one (I haven’t yet)

🙂

Day 52…