Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Writing Resolutions!

I don't do New Year's resolutions anymore, I always end up disappointing myself. So I don't set myself any, then I can't be stuck in that neverending circle of beating myself up about things!

I do however set myself writing resolutions, because I know these are achievable and something I actually want to do. I suppose they are more goals than resolutions, but both have the same outcome anyway.

I've had a lot of ups and downs during 2014, deaths in the family, and mini dramas throughout the year. But 2014 also was the year I managed to achieve something I have dreamt of for many long years. I finally got an agent! I still get that giddy rush of excitement when I say it out loud. It's taken a lot of hard work and perserverance, but I got there in the end.

That's what brings me round to my first writing resolution, and the reason I came to the attention of my agent...

1, Enter more writing competitions. *Cliche alert* You've got to be in it to win it. If I learnt one thing from 2014, it was that putting my self or rather, my writing out there more gets results. Even when those results aren't necessarily what you were hoping, it still means you're writing is out there and being read by others, the ultimate goal!

2, Write more. Sounds so simple, but it's not always that straightforward. Day to day boring stuff like washing up and putting clothes away gets in the way of the interesting stuff like writing. I need to set aside a certain amount of time every day and stick to it. Or if I can't do that, set a small writing target each day. Even if it's only as small as 100 words, that's still 3000 words on an average month, and you can guarantee there will be days that you do double, if not triple or more than that.

3, Read more. I achieved this in 2014, but I'd still like to read more often. Like writing more, little and often goes a long way.

4, Finish editing my novel. I'm on the fourth round of editing now, after the initial proof read and note making, then an edit to tidy it up and fill plot holes, then trying to make it better. Now I'm trying to make it much, much better! My agent read it after my last effort and gave me some pointers, so I'm working through those. I initially had my usual 'Oh god I can't do this!' panic moment, and this still creeps up on me at times but I have to try and push those fears away. Fear is good, it makes us want to work harder and better, but it isn't a very nice feeling, you just need to remind yourself that you are good at what you do, and most importantly you enjoy what you do. Even those writers who have already achieved huge success have doubts! It's just our instincts for self-preservation kicking in.

Set yourself achievable goals/writing resolutions and be realistic. No doubt there are some that could write a novel in a week, but it's not likely to be easy for most of us. Start small and build yourself up. Doing the same thing for 30 days in a row sets it up as habit, so keep that in mind when you organise time to write.

Happy New Year everyone, and I hope that 2015 brings you all your writerly dreams, happiness and health! :)

Friday, 26 December 2014

9 days, 3 books, 3 films

People have been telling me for years that I'd love The Hunger Games, well, they were right! So much so that after watching the first film I downloaded the first booked to my Kindle the same night and read the book over the next couple of days. 9 days later I have read the complete trilogy, watched the first two films on DVD and went to the cinema with a fellow fan to see The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.

It's rare that such a good book or series comes along that takes my interest in this way. I can count on my fingers over the years how many have. I love getting such a buzz from reading, it really feeds into my own writing and since finishing reading The Hunger Games I have gone back to editing my own book with renewed vigour! Good readers make good writers, reading informs and inspires.

So in your post-Christmas phase where life can sometimes feel a little flat, I thoroughly recommend reading! Escape to another world, country, planet. Live a whole other life and go on adventures you could never dream of by opening a book and jumping between it's pages :)

And if you fancy The Hunger Games, I give it a doubel thumbs up. The Hunger Games is a science fiction novel by Suzanne Collins. It's written in first person from the view of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in the dystopian, post-apocalyptic nation of Panem in North America. The Capitol, a highly advanced metropolis, exercises political control over the rest of the nation. The Hunger Games is an annual event in which one boy and one girl aged 12–18 from each of the twelve districts surrounding the Capitol are selected by lottery to compete in a televised battle to the death. The Hunger Games is punishment for an uprising many years prior to the novel, and the subsequent novels deal with the reaction to Katniss' outcome during the first book and the revolution that is brewing within the 12 districts of Panem.

I can't really say much more without giving away too many spoilers from the first book. I personally enjoyed the up close encounter of each event through Katniss' eyes. I'm not usually a big fan of first person as I like to be able to get an overview of what is happening elsewhere, but it's handled so well by Suzanne Collins that it only adds to the tension within the plot. But it also gives you that closeness to Katniss, a very strong yet flawed female protaganist who unwittingly inspires others by her actions. There is also an element of romance in the series, with a typical love triangle, but this really does take a back seat to the action throughout. I'm not one for romance usually (though I am a self confessed Twilight fan!) but it does add a subtle extra dimension to the characters problems and long term outcomes, and influence decisions.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Hunger Games, and wear my Mockingjay brooch with pride :)

'May the odds be ever in your favour!'