Welcome to the new instalment in the Diary of… series. The Diary of… series is a set of three books, each one set against a year in the life of a freelance writer.
Book 1 is Diary of a Scaredy Cat: a year in the life of a frightened writer. Book 2 is Diary of a Pussycat: a year in the life of a freelance writer. Book 3 is Diary of a Tiger: a year in the life of a fearless writer. Book 1 is widely available, in ebook format and in paperback, while Book 2 is in production. Now I start to write Book 3.
Each book follows my writing diary, which I blog about on a weekly basis. The added value with the books is that aside from having all of the chaff included on the blog edited out, each week also includes a set of 5 exercises for readers to try now – as they read the book.
I hope you’ll continue to join me as I share my ups and downs.
Chapter 1: Week commencing Monday 4 January
I’m starting this week’s instalment from Monday, but future weeks will start on the previous Friday. This is because Friday was still last year, and this is supposed to be this year’s diary. However, as I update the weekly diary on a Friday, it makes sense to use Friday as Day 1 of the week.
Monday was a bank holiday this week, our New Year’s Day holiday in the UK as 1 January was on Saturday. The plan was to go out to the seaside for the day. However, the poet hadn’t been 100% well for a couple of days and we struggled to get up early in any case. So we chose instead to go for a short walk locally with the dog. (The poet’s much better now.)
When we got back, I had work to do. I was in the middle of a ghostwriting job that should have been in the previous Friday (ghostwriting client #1 = GW1 Book 8). However, Christmas, family, life and all that got in the way, and anyway, I was on holiday. So I was already late completing the current instalment.
I ended up doing a load of faffing as usual, first of all sharing posts I’ve created on Canva for Instagram. One was my January reading post, the other was my January publication post. I also investigated a load of online workshops and selected and enrolled on three that were in a half-price sale.
Another thing I did was play around with the publishing challenge schedule. (The publishing challenge blog post will usually appear on a Monday, so I’ll try not to duplicate that on here.)
The book I published on Monday was a short story, One Born Every Minute, as part of the Wordsworth Shorts series.
The ghostwriting was hard by the time I got around to it. I started by stealing the end of Chapter 11 and adding it to the beginning of Chapter 12. Then I had to do the same thing at the end of Chapter 12 and move it to the beginning of Chapter 13. Then I wrote the rest of Chapter 13.
I only added 1,714 words to the book, bringing this section (Part 2) to 6,314 so far. That left me with 7 more chapters to write. Then I wrote an email to the client with an update.
Once I’d given up on that one, I did some admin for the other ghostwriting job (ghostwriting client #2 = GW2), but I didn’t have any words to write for that one as I’d booked the entire Christmas fortnight off with the client. We revised the current contract, and I start that one again this week.
Finally on Monday, using the lovely new laptop the poet bought me for Christmas, I played around with my Asana project management. I listed all of the projects I had tasks to do on for this week and next week, I prioritised them, allocated them a time slot on a particular day, and then transferred the first day to the diary.
The Asana is the planning tool. It’s colour-coded and I can see at a glance how well, or not, I’m doing with my scheduling. I can also easily move each task around to fit it in. The diary is my at-a-glance prompt, so I don’t have to fire up a computer each time (or my phone or tablet) just to see what my workload is like.
First thing Tuesday morning, GW1 client replied to my email, telling me to simply send the next instalment to him when it was ready. GW2 client also sent an email confirming the new contract submission dates and asking me to tweak the current contract that’s already live.
When I got to my desk, the first thing I did was start off two new blog posts. The first one was Tuesday’s publishing challenge update. The second one was this one, which I usually open on the first day of the week and update as I go along, saving it until I’m ready to hit publish.
The next thing I did was choose the artwork for the publishing challenge book. Then I created the working cover for it. I like to have a cover for a book right at the start as I use it in my Scrivener binder for each project. Finally for this one, I created the Scrivener binder and transferred Chapter 1 across.
I have to copy the blog post into a Word file, then upload the Word file to Scrivener as copying it direct to Scrivener throws out the presentation and layout. It seems like a faff, but once in the swing of it, it all becomes quite automatic and, of course, it saves time at the other end faffing with layout issues, and it keeps the entire series in one place.
I updated the sidebar on the blog to include the new book cover for Publishing Challenge and to change ‘out on 3 January’ to ‘out now’ on this week’s book publication. And I completed Tuesday’s publishing challenge blog post.
After breaking for a quick dinner, and doing some online reading while I ate my sandwich, I really, really then needed to carry on with GW1 Book 8 Part 2. I broke off for tea (cooked by the poet) and carried on working until 10:30pm while he did some work in the studio.
I wrote Chapters 14, 15 and 16, and added 5,931 words, bringing this instalment to 12,245 words in total.
Both the dog and the cat disturbed me several times during the night. The poet slept right through it all, so when he got up at 8am, he was raring to go. I went back to sleep for another hour, which meant I was late getting to my desk.
I’d already copied Wednesday’s blog post over to the drafts here, so I quickly read through that and published it, thinking it had saved me a lot of time choosing an old post to reproduce. Unfortunately, the layout was all over the place and it took me about another half an hour to tidy it all up.
There comes a time when you simply have to leave a thing, though. So I left it looking at least tidier than it had started. I didn’t bother copying the post over to Medium, because Wednesday’s article started there in the first place. That did save some time.
I shifted some of my tasks around in Asana, and was able to write another two chapters for GW1 before breaking for dinner. While I ate, I came in and updated this post.
As soon as I’d eaten, it was back to the page for the final push on the last two chapters for this section for GW1.
There are times when I can write a whole chapter in around an hour. There are other times when that same chapter could take an entire day. At the moment, on average, they’re taking around two to three hours each. The struggle is currently real.
I finished Chapters 19 and 20 and, altogether, added a further 7,257 words to the book, bringing it to 19,502 in total, 498 words short. It was close enough, though, and I submitted GW1 Book 8 Part 2 at 5:30pm. Then I did some more admin for GW2 before closing down for the day.
After submitting Part 2 of Book 8 to GW1 client before the end of Wednesday, I woke up on Thursday morning to emails off the client (a) authorising payment, and (b) attaching the contract for the next instalment. Part 3 is due on 20 January.
I updated my Asana project management and added the tasks to the right days between then and now.
Thursdays are supposed to be book review days on the blog. I’ve skipped it this week, though, mostly due to the fact that I don’t have any books to review. Or not for NetGalley at any rate. I need to schedule in the non-NetGalley books I read too, I think, so I don’t have more gaps like this in future.
My ‘my work’ jobs of the morning were to read through The Fool, brainstorm 2 short stories, and outline 1 short story. I started by brainstorming the two stories, and I disappeared down a plot-generating rabbit hole.
Not that I usually use a plot generator. I was just a bit stuck on story #1, and by the time I’d given myself a bit of a boost on that one, I’d also come up with some more ideas for the other story. It’s not the plot-generated ideas I’ll be using, but the ideas the plot-generated ideas led to.
Another project of my own today was to start my own personal development. This consists of practising my typing, learning shorthand, and attending some online or pre-recorded lectures or workshops. On Thursday, I put aside 10 minutes to watch the first of my lectures.
Much of the day was relaxed and easy-going as I’d already worked so hard at the start of the week and even over the New Year weekend. So anything else I had left to do I moved to Friday.
Today is a relatively easy day, although I do have work to do.
First of all, I want to read through The Fool, as I need to finish that in time for the next Words Worth Reading. It’s okay, though. Now I don’t have to meet the 50,000 word-count for NaNoWriMo, I can cut out a lot of the chaff to bring it down to around 40,000 words.
I think all of the novellas are going to run to no more than 40,000 words. The novels will be closer to 80,000 words.
I have the first draft of one of the stories I brainstormed and outlined, also for Words Worth Reading. And I have a Wordsworth Short to prepare and publish in time for a week on Monday.
This afternoon, it’s client work.
Note: I’m not including links because they take forever to edit out when I’m preparing the final version of the book for publication.