A Literary Audit

Literary Audit 2016The tax year just having ended, I’m taking stock of my business from the past twelve months – doing accounts and such – but, seeing as how my business basically boils down to a lot of words in a lot of places, I thought it was time to crunch some numbers on those, too.

I’ve done this before, but the results of that literary audit weren’t very organized and are now massively out of date.

But what exactly is a literary audit? I hear you ask.

Well, it’s the process of looking hard at everything you’ve written/created/had published, and putting together some facts and figures based on what you find. The purpose of this is two-fold: to see how far you’ve come, and to give you a better idea of where you might want to go with your work in future. You might find, for example, that you have written a lot of short stories, but that you’ve only ever submitted a tenth of them to journals, blogs, or competitions. Knowing that leaves you with the obvious next step of going out and making a fresh round of submissions.

SIDE NOTE: While I’m on the topic of submissions, have you heard about Submittable? It’s a website that lets you submit your work to relevant publications quickly and easily. I can’t recommend it highly enough (read more about it here).

How does one conduct a literary audit? I used a spreadsheet with several tabs, and way too many midnight hours.  Continue reading

Productivity, Procrastination, Deadlines, and Goals

Before I get onto the main point of this blog post, I really recommend watching this YouTube video about procrastination. (Yes, I mean that all irony aside.)

I agree with the conclusions of the video – that there are no such people as non-procrastinators, and that procrastination falls into two main types: short term (in which there are set deadlines) and indefinite (in which there are not).

I suffer from the latter.

Now, that isn’t exactly news to me, but what has changed is my approach to the issue.  Continue reading

Current Ploy for Productivity

I watched a TED talk once (I love TED talks!) in which some scientist or doctor or something said that people most likely to reach their goals A. actually outline their goals (rather than keep them as vague ideas just in their heads) and B. don’t necessarily have more self control than those people who fail but, rather, put things in place to take them out of the path of temptation, so they don’t need to fight themselves in the first place.

Well, I like setting myself goals, and I’m not particularly good at sticking to them, but this new thinking resonated with me. As such, I have a new ploy to stop myself from getting distracted on the internet when I should be writing, which is (drumroll please!): disconnecting the internet before I go to bed.

Genius, right? Okay, well, to some people that may sound daft, or obvious, and certainly not worthy of a blog post, but hear me out.

Turning off the Internet before bed means that you’ve already got a good chance of success before you even begin your day. Going offline is so much harder half way through the day, when you’re already lost in a sea of cat GIFs on Tumblr.

Continue reading

Paper / Notes to Self

One of my life goals is to have fewer little pieces of paper surrounding me, each containing reminders of tasks undone. A clear ‘to do’ list is the surest sign of freedom, I’m sure. But right now, what I want to pin on my notice board of stuff, is a humble note to self:

You don’t have to do everything at once

You don’t have to do everything

Life does not require you to be ready

 

 

The Addiction of Instant Affirmation

I would rather write one-hundred thousand words of fan fiction than ten-thousand words of “original” fiction. Is it because I have fewer ideas for original stories? Is it because I prefer the writing process with fan fiction, or that writing fan fiction is in someway easier? Nope, nope, and not at all. The key is motivation – let me explain:

Ten-thousand words of a novel is ten-thousand words of a novel. It’s not a complete novel. Unfinished as it is, no one wants to read it*. And, generally speaking, you shouldn’t want to show it to people before it’s ready anyway. Posting it online severely lowers your chance of getting it accepted by a traditional publishing house. While giving friends and family a sneak peak can be a blessing or a curse, and there’s no way to tell until it’s too late.

So, basically, you’re left with ten-thousand words to worry over. Is it good enough? Will people like it? Even if you’re certain you’re penning a best seller (which you absolutely can not be sure of) you have to slog on and go through the long process to publication. It can take years, and it can be demoralizing.

Fan fiction, on the other hand? Because it’s not for profit you can share it online to your hearts content and, when you do, your heart is indeed content. You get reviews, and compliments, and people boast about you on Tumblr**. To me that kind of affirmation is like a drug***, and that’s why I do it. The fans. The community. People placing value on my work.

 

…I would rather write one-hundred thousand words of fan fiction than ten-thousand words of “original” fiction. This is a problem, because I have a novel to write. Can someone start paying me for Spike and Buffy stories?


Recommended Video: A TED Talk on Self Control (It’s vaguely related, and very interesting.)


*I’m throwing generalizations around, here.

**Okay, so you’re not guaranteed to get showered in praise but I’ve found that – excluding a few haters here and there – fan fiction readers are lovely, and if you come up with anything half decent you will no doubt get fans/followers.

***Disclaimer: drugs are bad. The high doesn’t last forever, and the following slump can be crippling. Same goes for writer’s block, though obviously to a lesser degree. Haters do hate, and they will kill you slowly if you let them.

Priorities

Recently I read ‘Finish Your Damn Book’ and ‘Are You Finished Yet?’ – both great blog posts which I really recommend everyone else check out. Even for those who haven’t clicked the links, it should be pretty obvious from the titles what they’re about, namely: actually achieving your big goals instead of just thinking about it.

Trying to do everything and failing to get anything done is a pretty big hole to fall into. So, I’m aware it’s February and no longer New Year, but my writing goals for twenty fifteen are these:

  1. Toss out the tiny ideas that don’t matter, and clear the recesses of my mind of projects that are lurking back there that I know are nothing more than a fanciful waste of time.
  2. Actually sit down and force myself to finish the big projects.

Sounds simple, right? Well, simplicity is what I’m aiming for. We’ll see how it goes.