For quite a while (years), I’ve wanted to write longer pieces of fiction – serials and novels – but so far, only actually managed to complete one (it’s available on Amazon but I’m not asking you to buy it).
That particular experience was so painful that it rather put me off having another go. Then, to complicate matters, I found that I was actually rather good at writing short stories and that I could make a living doing that. Ever since, I’ve found it hard to step off the short story writing treadmill. The reason was pure and simple. I make a living writing stories. If I take time out to write a book or a serial, they might not find homes and I would be out of pocket (writing is my main source of income and will be until I get my pension which, from the way the entitlement age keeps going up, may never happen).
Last year I was ill with depression, and still struggling to come to terms with various personal problems. I sold 20 stories, mainly to poorer paying markets, which translated means those that pay less than £100 for a story. This year I tried an experiment. What if I worked part time? Would less writing result in better quality?
Amazingly it worked. To date, and I don’t’ expect to sell any more this year, I have sold 44 stories, the vast majority to the better paying markets which means my income tripled and my work load was more than halved, leaving me more time to enjoy life (currently I have four Christmas stories out in Take a Break mags (F Feast and the Winter special) as well as a longer story in Woman's Weekly Fiction Special.
I recently had a course of hypnotherapy, in what felt like a last ditch attempt to shift various blocks that were holding me back (if you’re near Leeds and want Daniel’s contact information, do get in touch). My last session was yesterday. Of course, it’s too soon to say; the proof being in the pudding as they say but I have finally figured out a way to do everything I want to do and still have time to spare.
I have made a timetable game. The board divides each day into 3 blocks, morning afternoon and evening, each around three hours long. Regular commitments have been blocked out. There are six counters - three marked S for stories, three marked B for book – which can be moved around the board. The idea is that when a block of work is achieved, that counter is turned over, revealing a black square. At the end of each week, a tally will be kept of how many counters were successfully turned over. This will be linked to some kind of reward system (not decided as yet), I might even discover that I have to introduce a penalty system. The beauty is that it makes writing books look easy. If I wrote 500 words an hour, in one three hour block that comes to 1500 words, multiplied by three blocks for one week gives 4500 words. After just ten weeks, that’s 45000 words, which would mean that I’d have the first draft of a 90000 word novel in twenty weeks. How easy is that? Of course, I’d then have to edit it and so on, but breaking it up into smaller steps makes it seem so much less daunting.
The photo shows the rough trial version. If it goes well, I will produce something sturdier.
I will post progress reports as I go along.
I just want to finish my wishing everyone a peaceful, happy and healthy Christmas, full of love and good cheer. I’ve neglected so many people in recent years, I can only apologise. I will try to do better in 2015 but if I fail again, please forgive me. I’m doing my best. Remember, Christmas is a stime to get in touch with friends and family, people you’ve lost contact with or had a falling out with. Send them a card. Put your phone number inside. Build a bridge or two.