Tuesday, October 23, 2018

My writing and a personal update



I can’t believe it, but I am at the self-editing stage. I’ve been reading a lot of Dean Wesley Smith’s blog posts, especially the Killing The Sacred Cows posts (it deals with writing myths, not actual killings of cows). Basically, he doesn’t believe in rewriting, and many others, which I can relate to. He explains why in a lot of detail and I agree. It is how I always felt, but knew I had to rewrite the same book over and over in the hopes that I make it better, but I rarely do, because that is what all the experts say. Aside for fixing spelling and grammar, you leave your work as is. Of course you still focus on keeping the quality high. You only get better through practice, and thus, writing more books. 

I’ve also been reading a lot of Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s blog posts, and she gives a lot of help with the writing business and writing. She is equally as brilliant. She also has a very refreshing attitude and she doesn’t believe in rewriting either. Of course she is Dean Wesley Smith’s wife, but they are both best sellers in their own rights, and have published well over a hundred books each. They are both traditionally and indie published. So they know what they are talking about. And both are advocates of shaping your own writing career and following your own path. You can’t follow the path of someone else and expect the same results. So their work has drastically changed my attitude and my approaches to writing. It connected with a lot of things I always felt, and reminded me of the person I had been when I had started writing, before reading all those free advice and tips.

I still find myself reading lots of how-to articles on writing and reading tons of advice on what others say you must do to be successful. I have followed those tips, especially on marketing and it had me so overwhelmed that I hadn’t written in month intervals over the past few years. I was in constant panic. But both above mentioned authors believe that writing more books helps you more than constantly marketing. I agree with that too. But it is just so refreshing that two professionals actually spoke out and turn most writing books and advice on its heads. It goes against what most writing books (not all) tell you to do.

On a personal level
My brother is busy adding an addition on our existing house, which basically means that our home will be divided into two separate dwellings. But it has been chaos, living with the dust and noise, hence why I’ve been gone for a while. Also, I’ve been plagued with a lot of migraines, even before the renovations begun. But at least I had started the self-editing. I have been doing yoga regularly and it has helped me feel better and minimize my pain, as well as help with my depression (I’m still on my medication). I’m not doing yoga everyday yet, which is what I should be doing. But at the moment that is good enough for me.

Image Copyright Arista du Plessis

I’m also still working for my sister in her artisanal food/ baking business. It is going well. I can’t believe how much my experience from the business side of being an Indie author has come in handy. I do our marketing, branding, and handle our social media presence. Not to mention that I help my sister out in the kitchen. Nothing fancy of course. My jobs include simple things like measuring the ingredients, or lining the baking tins, or making recipes under my sister’s supervision.

We will be celebrating our first year in business this coming November, which is cool. The business is growing fast, which is always great. It keeps me plenty busy, and has long hours. But it is stimulating, and more importantly, it provides me with an income, which helps with my medical bills. It also provides me with a lot of stability, while I try and publish more books, and work on creating a larger body of work. Because I haven’t sold a book in years, and that is what happens when you only have one book in your inventory.

Let me know what is new with you.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Progress on book two



Lately it feels like everything I have posted about on here has only been negative. Well, I finally have some good news. I have finally finished the drafting stage of book two. Now all I have to do is add more description in the areas where I was vague, or delete where I tend to over explain. Then it is on to the self-editing stage. I'm still saving for professional editing. As that is my biggest weakness. Spotting my own mistakes. But I have a long list of critiques, which my editor had picked up in my first book, to look for and correct. As one tends to make the same mistakes, or use the same words repetitively.

Also, I'm still thinking of whether I want line editing, as well as copy editing, or if I can simply go with just copy editing. To be honest, I don't think my writing is that clean yet. But it is all about what my budget allows.

But all in all, it feels like a mountain has been lifted off my shoulders. I've done what I've felt was impossible. I finished this damn second book, after having rewritten, and starting over so many times in the past few years. So, as the gif suggests, I'm dancing.

How do you celebrate victories, big or small?



Monday, July 23, 2018

Catching up and where I am now

Work on my second novel, The Executioner, in my Thelum Series is still in progress. I made a mind map to help me get a grip on the plot. It definitely helped me simplify the story.


I’ve also decided to re-brand my Thelum Series. I’ve remade my book cover. It just speaks to me now, and I feel like it is really important that I make the covers myself. I tend to change things up, so now I can fix it if something bothers me, or if I just change my mind. As you can see, I went back to green, which is what the very first book cover was.


My chronic pain, which I’ve had for just over three years, has recently been re-diagnosed as Fibromyalgia. I’ve been having more and more symptoms, so that is why a new diagnosis has been given. I also already suffer from not only chronic depression, but also Major Depressive Disorder. The one affects the other, so now I have to work extra hard on my health. My biggest fear is what it means for my future, and how it will impact who I am, and what it will do to my writing.

Since December 2017 I have been helping my chef sister start her own business. She bakes from home now, so I help her out, as well as do a lot of her marketing. Everything I’ve learnt from trying to promote my own work has come in handy. I’m putting a lot of my focus on this project, because it has the potential to become a reliable day job. I know especially now, with all my medical bills, that I really need to work.

I’ve been really listening to a lot of Joanna Penn’s podcasts to inspire me. I’ve also been learning a lot about the type of writer I really want to be. And how I would prefer to market my writing. I’d rather keep blogging and prove that I’m a real person, than employ all these impersonal marketing techniques. It just isn’t me.

I feel like I haven’t been part of the writing community for a long time. I’m so out of touch with everything. Not to mention that I feel so isolated from it all.  I miss being able to relate to my fellow writers about how frustrating writing can be, but still so much fun. I just really miss being amongst like-minded creatives. We might all be writers, but we all are still so different, and that is so refreshing. Though we all write, our approaches are different.

So, this is where I am at the moment. How are you doing? Hopefully better than me. 

Monday, July 2, 2018

A new perspective on writing a novel




Have you ever given any thought to how you actually write? I mean, do you know how to go about it. Do you set yourself goals or deadlines, or do you just wing it and see where you end up?

I went very structured with my first novel. I had an outline. I had written down all the characters that were going to be in there, and what was going to happen in every single chapter. With the second book I threw that all out the door, and decided I’m a creative. I can’t outline. I’ll wing it and see what happens. Personally, I now feel like I’m lost. Or should I say, that is how I used to feel.

I listened to one of Joanna Penn’s old podcasts recently, I can’t remember which one, and she mentioned that if you know the length of the novel you are aiming for, you can break that wordcount down into smaller and more manageable chunks. Also, if you break your wordcount down into smaller goals, it seems more attainable. At least for me it does. I don’t know why I never looked at it like that. I guess I just needed to change my perspective.

For book two I am aiming for 80 000 words. And if I break that 80 000 words down into 90 days (about three months), I only need to write 889 words a day. You can even make your timeline longer or shorter if you wish. Breaking it down like that made me feel so much more hopeful. It doesn’t seem like such a monumental task.

Of course there will still be the second draft and the cleaning up of the manuscript, but that first draft is the most important, because you at least have the bones of the novel.

What used to freak me out about writing is that I would go in thinking “I want at least 80 000 words,” and my heart would sink every time I sat down to write. Now I can just tell myself, “I need 889 words.” And I can even take it a step further and break that 889 words for the day down into even smaller chunks. It doesn’t mean I have to do it all in one sitting. I can take 14 hours to write that 889 words. If you don’t reach your goal, you try and make it up over the next few days. If you write more than those 889 words, great.

This just seems like such a revelation. I know many of you might think “Duh, that’s how every one does it.” But I hadn’t, so there. Though, that is how I shall be doing it from now on.

I think it’s easy for me to feel like a failure. Especially when that depression monster hits. So I need things to be simple and uncomplicated. It really makes writing, and life so much easier for me.

So, how do you write your novel? Have you known about this tactic? Do you have another you want to share?

Monday, June 25, 2018

Keeping track of words written


When my brother was recently preparing for his wedding day, he decided it was a good time to declutter. You know, get rid of things he no longer needed, especially those from his bachelor days. While he was in this excited cleaning mode, he insisted the rest of us join him in this venture. I, one who doesn’t want to seem like a hoarder, got a few business diaries I had stashed in my room. As I got ready to toss these good looking diaries in the dumpster, a little voice (inside my head), not just some random voice, told me to look inside first. In my defence I’ve been having some problems with my memory, which is why I didn’t recognize these diaries at first. Once I opened them I found that these were the diaries I had used to keep track of which days I wrote, and how many words I had written, or if or when I was hosting someone for a guest post.

At that moment I felt like I had stumbled unto a goldmine. I could put all these numbers into an excel sheet and give myself a clue as to how much I had written since 2015 up until now. This is something that I have learnt from my researcher brother whose data I had captured for 5 years while he worked towards his PhD (which he got earlier this year). So I put it all into and excel sheet and this is what I got :

Year     Words  Months when written
2015 -    46659    (March, April, May and December)
2016 -    42674    (February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October 
                               and November)
2017 -    69884    (January, February, March and May)
2018 -    5858       (January, February and June)

I did a lot better than I thought I had. If you had asked me how the writing went, I would’ve said that I didn’t get much writing done in the past few years. But apparently I got a lot written. Unfortunately, it isn’t good enough for someone who wants to be a professional writer. The words per year don’t even add up to an average of one book a year. Maybe 2017 could be a novel.

Do you know the very sad part about the data above? All those words written were  towards my second book in my Thelum series, and maybe a few blog posts. Meaning, I have clearly rewritten this book several times since 2015. In 2016 I think I had decided to start over, which I had, and apparently last year I had decided to do so again. I have a bad habit of rewriting perfectly good books. With that I mean I was happy with the story and structure. And then for some reason I can no longer fathom, I would scratch it and start over. I am very upset with myself, and I know there is nothing I can do about it now. All I know is that I am determined to finish this second book. I feel like if I don’t finish it, I will never be able to move on to other writing projects. And I have so many new ideas.

I am still writing down my wordcount and adding to the excel document. It is such a great way for me to track my progress. On Saturday I had the urge to write and I wrote 440 words. I was happy with that. Every little bit helps.

How do you track your progress? Do you keep track of your wordcount?

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

On the agenda today . . .



Hello my beautiful friends. How are you doing today? I hope the past few months have served you well.

I am doing better. I am back in therapy and seeing a psychiatrist again, and obviously back on antidepressants. I’ve had a terrible relapse a few months ago, that was dangerous to my health. As I said, I’m doing better, but I still have a long way to go. I have to take things easy and not stress, which I’m working hard on accomplishing. Also, I’ve developed a sensitivity to sugar and am now more prone to migraines, but oh well. Things could have been worse.

I haven’t been writing, even though my therapist keeps encouraging me to write more. To at least write about how this experience is making me feel, or just vent. It’s been harder to write than I thought. Mostly because my memory keeps abandoning me. I will know what to write the one moment, and when I go to write it down, poof, the idea is gone. I often go into a room with a purpose and once I arrive there, I can’t remember what the reason for entering the room was.

I won’t lie. It has been very hard and frustrating. But I am coping better than I expected. I have definitely learned to focus more on my health. Thank you to everyone who has prayed for me and wished me well. I truly appreciate it.

On the agenda today is to do some yoga.