Tag Archive | writing course

Progress, Planning and Philosophising

It seems a little wrong checking-in today for ROW80 when I only wrote my goals yesterday, but seeing as I should have written them on Monday, I guess I should. Plus, you know, it’s good to check-in on time. I should have put that as a goal this round too.

Well. Four main goals, here we go – day 1.

Writing – Well… I thought about doing some writing… then got sidetracked. Yesterday’s blog from Kait on the A Round of Words in 80 Days blog, was all about ‘The Test Mile,’ in exercise the way to make yourself go out is to say you’ll just run a mile (for me 10 minutes) then see how it goes. It works to get you out becuase such a small thing seems to easy, but then when you get to the end of that allotted mile (10 minutes) you usually feel good about it so carry on. Kait suggests we writers use the same principle with writing. GENIUS! On days that I don’t want to run, if I say to myself I’ll sit down and just write 100 words, I BET once I get to 101, 102 etc I’ll want to carry on going. Hopefully tonight I’ll want to write, but if not, Kait’s Test Mile is something I’ll be trying.

Reading – What did I say yesterday? That I seem to either write or read? Guess what I did last night? Yeah, I must have spent a couple of hours reading. I’m reading Petit Anglaise by Catherine Sanderson. I’m really enjoying it, but was thinking about it last night. It’s not what I’d call ‘unputdownable,’ but I keep coming back to it. It’s good, and it’s making me think about going to France and learning better French (more of this later).

Exercise – I’m rocking this one too (you know, in the one day I’ve been doing it). I wanted to go to the gym yesterday, but I had to go home to take a library book back (lame excuse I know, but it works for me). Instead I walked to the tube (2.2km) then from home walked to the library and back (1.6km). Not a bad start. Tonight I go to the gym.

Eating – I had chocolate yesterday. And cheese at lunch and dinner. Considering that, I didn’t do too badly – I ate 1650 calories. Not the 1400 I was aiming for, but still enough to lose weight. I also got my 5 portions of fruit & veg. Yay!

I’m planning on the rest of this week going better than yesterday did, I’m planning on hitting all 4 goals, not just 2. I can do it. Today is the day to show myself I can!

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know I’m a big believer in things (everything) happening for a reason e.g. I didn’t get into the NWS this week. Maybe that’s because I’m destined to get myself published without help. (Or maybe I’m destined not to get published – lets not think that way though); And when my boyfriend and I split up last year, it was horrible, but when we got back together, it made us stronger.

Things happen for a reason. Also, coinsidences happen a LOT! I like to think more the first – gives me hope in some things I think.

Yesterday, this happend twice.

Remember my blog yesterday? The one where I read Laura’s goals for the year and remembered my writing course? I was thinking about it more after I finished the blog. The next assignment is to plot a novel. I was thinking that maybe when I’ve finished draft 1 of The Man of My Dreams, I might ‘plot’ it and use that for the assignment.

Last night I went home and read for a while. When I finally dragged myself away from the book, I decided that instead of writing, I was going to hoover behind our bed. I’m not sure if I can admit that I’ve not done it since we moved in. It needed doing, but I’d been putting it off for ages. The bed is in a corner, so wall on 2 sides. I’ve been putting it off for fear of what I’d find undermneath – dust, spiders, dustry spiders? dusty paper? I just didn’t know.

I took the plunge. What did I find? Only the module booklet for the novel plotting assignment. Spookey eh? I literally had not thought about the course for months, and had been putting off doing the hoovering for weeks (fine, months). I think it means something that both these things happened in one day. Especailly when boyfriend came home and asked me what inspired me to finally do it – I had no answer?!

The other weird thing.

Boyfriend has dreams of one day living in France. It’s quite a good idea – I’ve been there a few times and quite like it and used to like the language (at school I was really good at it!). I’ve told him that if we ever do plan on moving there when we have kids (forward planning!!!) we need to teach them French from when they’re born. Which means us speaking French too.

This book I’m reading – Petit Anglaise – is about an English girl living in Paris with her boyfriend and little girl who is learning both languages side by side. Over the last few days it’s got me thinking more about France and how cool it would be to relearn the language – and to better than GCSE (age 16) level. Also I’ve been thinking that it would be awesome to go to Paris again (I’ve been a few times, and thought I was sick of it – seeing as there’s so many other places that I’ve never been before).

Last night, boyfriend comes home with an idea of going to Paris for a long weekend. Hmmm.

It feels like there’s weird things going on in my life at the moment. Weird, but maybe things pointing me in certain directions. Or maybe there were just a few coincidenses yesterday!

2012 Planning

Well, we’re here again – time to make some new goals/plans for the year. I’ve not evaluated last year’s performance yet. I’m pretty sure I never evaluated 2010’s year! Maybe I should do that first? Nah!

I’ve not really thought about what I’d like to achieve this year very much. I have a few ideas, so let’s see how it goes:

  • A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80). I love this challenge, I have to do it again. It kept me motivated for about 160 days last year (one of the rounds went down the drain for some reason, and I only heard of it at Round 2). Plus I have an awesome buddy in the form of Laura Parish who really pushes me. I need ROW80. Hopefully it can get me writing again (which I haven’t done since Mid ish December).
  • ROW80 – round 1. Obviously I’m not going to make my goals for round 2, 3 and 4, but as Round 1 started yesterday – I need to make goals for that. ROW80 2012 Round 1 goals listed below in numbered bullets:
  1. Writing. This is my main goal. I HAVE to finish The Man of My Dreams soon. 1,000 seems a lot, but 500 words a day doesn’t seem enough. How about a flexible 500 – 1,000 words a day? Might backfire if I only write 500 every day, but let’s see how I go on that. When I finish The Man of My Dreams, I’m going to do random writing for a month (30 days exactly, no matter when I start it) before going on to editing TMOMD. That random writing can come from prompts etc. or whatever I can think of. 500 – 1000 words though!
  2. Reading. I want to find a way to balance my life with reading and writing. This is something I’ve not really managed up until now. I seem to be either reading, or writing. It’s probably because I feel like I don’t have enough time for them both, but hey. I want to read more. I want to read at least 2 books a month. So 6 books (ish) during ROW80. I’m going to attempt to do my 2 reading challenges throughout the year – rather than squeezed into the end like the last few years. Baring in mind that, 3 Mystery & Suspense books and 3 TBR Pile books by the end of the round! That’s doable! I have no idea how to split that down to a daily or even weekly goal – I don’t know how many hours it takes me to read a book. Guess I’ll just play it by ear. A book every 2 weeks. Ish.
  3. Exercise. I like having exercise as a daily goal, and seeing as I put on half a stone (7lb) over Christmas, I need to keep up with it. I really enjoyed the Wii challenge I had in December, so am going to stick with 20– 30 minutes on it a day. EXCEPT I’ve also joined the gym. I don’t really want to do the Wii and gym on the same day – so either 20- 30 minutes on the Wii, or AT LEAST 20 minutes at the gym. Also walking. I HAVE to walk to the train station at least once a day (the one 1.7km away) rather than getting the tube – twice would be great. At weekends I need to do some walking (and not just to the corner shop).
  4. Eating. Again, because of the 7lb, I need to diet. I don’t particularly like the word ‘diet’ so I’m just going to watch what I eat. Ideally I’d like to ‘watch’ myself eating 1,000 calories a day, but that’s really, really ambitious. 1,400 was working for me in December and I was losing weight doing that and the exercise. 1,400 it is then for now. I can always reduce it later if needs be.
  • (back to annual goals)
  • Get The Man of My Dreams finished. I wanted this finished by December. I’m going to extend that to the end of January. Ideally I’d like to before then. Let’s see how I do.
  • Edit The Man of My Dreams. After I’ve finished it, I’d like to leave it for a month, then go back ‘fresh’ to edit it. I hate editing and have never attempted to do it to a novel. I love this book though, so NEED to edit it.
  • Submit TMOMD to agents. Yes, bold statement. But if anything’s going to get me there, out of the things I’ve written so far, this will do it. I had originally put a date of the end of March (when I thought draft 1 would be finished last year). That’s WAY too ambitious. May? June? Somewhere around there. Definitely. Definitely, definitely.
  • More writing. Obviously at some point I’m going to finish TMOMD so need to do some more writing. I’d like to get back into Fiction Friday, or maybe take the plunge and try some Friday Flash (Flash Friday? Can’t remember what it’s called. You know what I mean? I do anyway!). Something different. Or different from the novel anyway.
  • Reading. Obviously I’ve got the 2 reading challenges – Mystery & Suspense and TBR Pile. Obviously, some can overlap the 2 challenges. I’d like to read 25 – 30 books this year. Some of them from different genres. Maybe a little more Sci-fi? Maybe some Fantasy (I still NEED to read Robin Hobb (Assassin’s Apprentice) that was recommended to me last year!)?
  • Exercise and eating. I’m joining the gym. I’ve got Wii fitness games. You get the picture. I’d like to lose a stone. I wanted to lose a stone when I was 8 lb lighter. 1 stone 8lb. Let’s see how I can do.
  • NaNo. Everyone knows I love National Novel Writing Month. 3 years down, with 3 ‘wins’ on my belt, you just know I’m going to try again this year don’t you. Hey, I might even give CampNaNoWriMo a try this year, or maybe NaNoEdMo (editing month).
  • Ooh, I’ve just been reminded (did I say Laura was awesome? I may have to take that back!) about my writing course. Laura’s only on module 4. I think I’m on Module 3 and started it before her (if I remember correctly). Maybe I should give that a go. Maybe once I’ve finished the 1st draft of TMOMD I should get on with another assignment or something. Agh! Damn you Laura (although not really!).  

Ooh, I’m sure I have a million other things I’d like to achieve this year. I just can’t think of them. I’ll add to this list as I think of things, but no taking away!

Bit of bad news before I sign off. I didn’t get into the New Writers’ Scheme at the Romantic Novelists’ Association. I had internet problems, then brain problems, so by the time I sent the email, it was 0.07 on 2nd January. The email I got back said they were full by 0.02 (they started taking applications at 0.01!!). Damn. Well, there’s always next year. Unless I get published myself… The good thing is guests can go to the events, so if there’s one I fancy (the conference in the summer maybe?) I can still go. I was gutted when I found out last night, but if it wasn’t meant to be, it wasn’t meant to be. I’d planned on finishing TMOMD this year and submitting it before I thought about joining the NWS (where someone from the organisation reads and comments on your novel) so I just need to revert back to that plan. As you can see from the above, I’ve already done it. It’s sad, but it’s not the end of the world!

As we all love a good picture, he’s a couple to end with.

For Christmas I got these lovely writing books from my boyfriend (Best. Boyfriend. Ever!)


Then just after Christmas we went shopping and I got more NEW BOOKS (and a couple of bookmarks from my mum) 🙂

ROW80 – Round Three – GO!!!!

Oh dear. I’m already a day behind on both blogging and writing. Only one way to fix that…

It only seems like yesterday that ROW80 Round 2 finished, and yet we’re now on Round 3. How did that happen? I’m ashamed to say that I’ve done nothing since the last round. Well, I’ve done lots of reading, but no writing. No editing. None of my writing course. It’s a good thing I’m going to get on with Round 3 eh!

So, goals for this round? Last time I had weekly goals equivalent to 7x daily goals. Each ‘day’ was 300 words, or 30 minutes of either my writing course, or editing. I like how that worked, so want to stick to the weekly goals, but I found it hard to get that many last time, so I’m going to reduce it, so I don’t feel lIke I’m always behind.

This time, I’ll go for weekly goals, this time equivalent to 5x days, and I’ll cut it down to 250 words, or 25 minutes or the writing course or editing (I like my numbers to be similar to track easily).

So there are my goals. Are you doing ROW80 Round Three? If so, what are your goals? If not, why not? Have a look here: http://aroundofwordsin80days.wordpress.com/

ROW80 Round 2 Wrap Up

I’ve done it, I’ve got to the end of A Round of Words in 80 Days writing challenge. Well done everyone else who’s got here too.

So, how have I done? My goal was a bit of an odd one. I wanted to get writing, editing and my writing course in there, but I wanted to make them all equal. I also wanted weekly goals, not daily ones, because I knew writing EVERY day for 80 days would just be impossible.

Therefore I decided that my weekly goal would be the same as 7 days of writing 300 words, editing for 30 minutes, or working on my writing course for 30 minutes. That would mean that at the end of the 80 days (Wednesday) I would have 2400 minutes of editing/writing course OR 24,000 words written, or a mixture of the three. I originally wanted 250 words a day, but 300 worked easily with 30 mins of other stuff in my geeky chart, so it had to be 300 (on the chart I changed each 10 words to 1 – so if I wrote 244 words, it went in the chart as 24.4).

Here’s how I did:



Not great. But, not all that bad. In total I wrote 17,084 words, I edited for 205 minutes and I did 30 minutes on my writing course. I’m actually pretty happy with that. No, I didn’t reach my goal, but I think had I not have been doing this challenge, I wouldn’t have done anything like what I did. I think I estimated the other day that I would have written about 7k in that time. 10k more than that is well worth it.

There’s now a break of a week or so, before round 3 starts on 4th July. I don’t think I’m going to have time to write my goals this weekend (Hard Rock Calling festival tickets, with VIP entry to see Bonjovi on Saturday should keep me away from the computer!), so I’ll do them next week.

So, if you did ROW80, how did you get on? Are you doing round 3? If you didn’t do it, you temped by round 3? It starts on 4th July!

ROW80 Check-In – Tuesday 17th May

I’m either a day early, or a couple of days late for a check-in, but I figure I’ve got the time right now, so I may as well make use of it.

I’m doing so much better over the last week than I had been before (although you wouldn’t notice from my failings to check-in). I’ve not quite reached my goal for the week, but if I can manage to write 63 words this evening (highly possible) I will, for the first time in the challenge. Likelihood is that I’ll go over 63 words and so beat my weekly goal (I’m talking Wed-Thu here, not a real week!). WOO!

I went through how much I’ve written over the last 6 weeks last night. I’ve actually written over 8,000 words. Considering before I started the challenge I was probably averaging 2,000 a month, I call this a success.

I did think about lowering my goals, but then I realised it’s good having something big, but doable rather than something easily doable. If I lowered my goals too much and reached them, I would be likely to stop writing.

Last year, I used to write monthly goals. It was actually a good way of getting me to write regularly. However, there were a couple of months where I reached my monthly goal way before the end of the month, and you know what I did? Instead of seeing how many more I could write, I stopped. Stopped until the next month when I started again (but set higher goals). So I’m keeping my goals high.

Really, 2,100 words a week isn’t that much. It is and it isn’t. Generally my Fiction Friday pieces are around 1,000, so that’s just another thousand on top to make the goal. Not too much at all and as I’ve proved this week, I can do it (even though I didn’t go near a computer/pen/pencil over the weekend).

You may have noticed that all my recent talk has been about writing, but my goals are EITHER writing OR working on my writing course OR editing. That’s because all I’ve been doing is writing. I do plan to do some of the other two, I’m just taking the easy route because I find writing easier. Having said that, I dug out my printed copy of Italian Infatuation last night in the hope that I’ll start editing it soon. Or at least read through it again (which I’ve not done since Jan – Jan 2010 that is!) and make notes on what I need to change. Which I guess is editing really!

That’s my challenge after today then – start reading/editing II. And to keep on with the writing. If I can write and edit at the same time?

If you’re also doing ROW80, how are you getting on. If you’re not doing ROW80, how is your writing going anyway?

ROW80 Check-In Thursday 5th May

One day I’m going to manage to actually write and post my check-in on the correct days. It’s Wednesday and Sunday Helen – get it in your head! I’ve even got Kait’s reminder emails going to my phone email, and I still can’t manage it.

The writing however is going much better this week. Since my last check-in when I realised that although I’m not hitting my writing goals, I’m writing well more than I was before I started, I’ve continued to do more writing than I was before. With the exception of yesterday, I’ve been written every day this week. Unfortunately none of it is for any of my novels, or for tomorrow’s Fiction Friday or anything useful right now. I did however start last week’s Fiction Friday really late, then work on it more and more. I didn’t post it, but kept working on it, and now it’s a 1200+ word section of a bigger story (I don’t know what yet). I may not ever use it for anything, but I think I’ll probably use the characters as I quite like them.

See it’s going pretty well.

I’ve got a plan.

Over the next week or so, I’m aiming to ‘catch up’ with ROW80. I’ve got a spreadsheet showing how much I should have written/edited/studied by now compared to how much I actually have. In the coming days I want to get to a point where they match up. I’m going to do that by writing, then when I get to an even point, I’m going to change my focus a little to my writing course.

I’ll try to remember to check in on time over the weekend with my progress!

#ROW80 Check-in 27th April

Oh dear, I’m failing on this. Actually I’m not, I’m just not doing as well as I’d like. Over the weekend I’m going to think about dropping my goals a little. But maybe with another 4 day weekend (thank you so much William & Kate) I’ll be able to catch up a little.

The thing is, I may not be doing as well as I’d like – but I’m still doing more than I was before I started this challenge. To me that’s a win!

I’ve still not done any more than 30 minutes on my writing course, and no editing at all, but I’m writing. Maybe over the weekend I’ll dedicate a whole day to working on this stuff. At the moment I’ve got no plans for 3 of the days, so that’s totally doable!

I’m not really even finding the time at the moment to read. As much as I love my 25 minute door to door commute, I miss sitting on a tube for 20 minutes and reading, especially as I’m only on E for the A-Z challenge. I should be on H or I by now. Oops. I’m not at all worried about this though, I can catch up when I go on holiday in the summer. Maybe I’ll try to finish this book over the weekend.

I’m reading Ben Elton’s Past Morten. I’m not loving it as much as other books I’ve read of his (This Other Eden and Meltdown spring to mind), but I think that may be because I’m reading the hardback so it’s a bit of a pain to carry round and to hold when reading. It is good though, if not a little graphic.