Sarah Ann Hall

Reporting on writing in progress or, more probably, not.

Posts Tagged ‘priorities

#amwriting – honest, I am

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It’s difficult to blog about writing when one isn’t doing much. I have (mostly) written a weekly flash and am tweeting haiku most weekdays. I’ve also been doing a bit of reading about writing, but still have a big pile to work through, and there hasn’t been much progress on short stories or other move substantive works.

On the advice of a new, and proving to be dear, writer friend, I am heading back to my currently-with-agents novel to look again at chapters 1 to 3. These are the ones that need to hook and grab and sink in claws that cannot be removed until the remainder of the manuscript has been read. I have never been happy with the opening lines of my book – they stink. So with Lou kicking my backside, I will be tightening, shaping, and giving these opening 7000-words a perfection makeover.

As clients fall but the wayside I have lost 11-hours a week of paid work and will have more time to write. I have divided this week in to days on which to complete different tasks, and subdivided in to mornings/ afternoons/ hour-long windows. For example, today (Tuesday) I wrote up my work reports in the morning and scheduled writing this blog post for the afternoon, as well as catching up on emails hanging over from the weekend. Wednesday morning I will re-read chapters 1-3 of the aforementioned novel before getting out my red pen. At some point during Thursday or Friday I will revisit the short stories I plan to have finished by the end of July. However, I feel that with the lack of progress made during the past month, that deadline might slip by. I have even timetabled an hour of Italian practice for later in the week. I need to master, or at least revisit Italian personal pronouns if I am ever to move on.

 

Priorities for the next fortnight: read and sharpen chapters 1-3 of novel; edit and write short stories based on friend’s picture prompts; prepare more agent submissions.

Ongoing projects successfully met: Friday Fictioneer stories have been posted; I’ve crocheted some flowers.

Ongoing projects partially met: blog posts about writing and blog reading are both too sporadic.

Ongoing project fails: learning Italian and piano practise have been non-existent.

Written by Sarah Ann

May 9, 2017 at 1:21 pm

Priorities updated

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As days and weeks have progressed, my priorities listed in February have changed. Since setting them out, I have met Priority 1 by continuing to blog relatively regularly. Priority 8, contributing to Friday Fictioneers, has moved up; Priority 3, self-publishing my narrow boat diaries, has shot down the list. I read the opening paragraph only to decide there is far too much work to be done.

When I first started to plan this post, I was moving short stories and writing to a prompt and a deadline into last place, as if detracts from other self imposed tasks. However, the week after I thought that, I was pootling online when I found a free to enter competition and, within four days, wrote 1700 words of a story with a loose theme of getting a loan. I’m sure it wasn’t ready or good enough, but I worked to a deadline, showing me I sometimes can. I have also set deadlines, albeit loose ones, for some of my ongoing priorities.

Herewith, updated priorities list:

 

Task & original priority position – re-ordered April 2017   Ease of completion   Progress 6 weeks later (end of Feb)   Progress another month later (first week April)
             
1. Keep up with blog   Variable on time allowing/ having anything to say. Hopefully on the easy side.   Not great. I’ve not posted as often as I would have liked.   I’m doing better, but I might be running out of things to say already.
             
2. Read 85k word novel and decide whether to pitch or ditch.    

 

Easy and relatively quick if I decide to ditch.

Time commitment if I’m going to pitch and it needs editing.

Time commitment if start sending to agents.

  I have allocated the week of 13-17th March to do the read through. I’m away from home and will have the head space.    

 

Done – it’s a pitch.

Sent to an agency’s open pitch process.

I need to go back to a list of agents to approach I drew up 12 or more months ago and submit to others.

Deadline to have made other submissions: end of April 17, and ongoing.

             
8. Friday Fictioneer stories    

 

Easy to do if have nothing else on. Requires time and concentration. Can be addictive so need to limit or will get caught up and carried away to the detriment of other things.

   

No progress.

I wrote a story to one prompt, which I was pleased to have achieved, but didn’t manage to post it.

   

I have managed to write and post a 100-word story two weeks running.

It’s a bit early to say I’ve succeeded with this priority, but it has been met earlier than expected.

             
4. Write short stories to go with friend Jan’s paintings/ prints/ illustrations.

 

  Relatively easy if I come up with any ideas. Enjoyable. Able to do between other things as shorter time commitment.   I have drafted one short story and am looking at the other pictures chosen. I need to re-visit the project with Jan to see if she wants to paint to my words.   These stories are progressing slowly. There is a lot of research and re-drafting to be done.

Need to determine number of stories to write and liaise with Jan on how to take forward.

Deadline to complete stories: end of summer.

             
4 NANOWRIMO story from 2014. Work up 51k words into a novel.   Medium. Big time commitment. Hopefully enjoyable to do.   No progress    

No progress.

I want to work on this story as I want to get back to the characters.

Deadline to have started second draft: end of summer.

             
7. Short stories for competitions   Quite hard. Time commitment to look for competitions and then write themed stories to deadlines.   One short story submitted. No other competitions identified to enter.    

I have written another short story to a prompt and submitted it.

This is something ongoing that I will fit in as time and interest allows.

             
3. Edit diaries of living and travelling on a narrow boat and self-publish.    

Hard. A lot of editing and additional writing to be done. Self-publishing is new. Large time commitment and learning new skill.

  No progress   There is too much work required to get this to a state suitable for publication. The narration needs to be completely re-written.
             
 

4. Continue with novel-length abuse story started 2014.

 

  Medium. Need time and space to pick this up again. Has a beginning but needs a middle and an end.   No progress   No progress.

This is a project too far for 2017.

Written by Sarah Ann

April 6, 2017 at 7:08 pm

Work Life Writing Balance

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My current job, while part-time, takes place over four days. The one contact-free day, Tuesday, I am usually writing up reports from the previous day. For this post I drew up a schedule of my week to see how my work hours fit in with everything else. This has helped me realise why my writing has been suffering – I don’t have free time of any length to write.

Hubby and I are trying to work the same hours so that time home together is just that, spent together and not with either one of us with our eyes glued to a screen. Weekends also need to be down time, as his job is emotionally demanding. Having spent many years self-employed in the same business, we are used to spending all our time together. Our more recent foray into working for others, and the need to sometimes work from home, has caused sniping and arguments, so we’ve set boundaries – no work at the weekend. If we both agree to do some work at the weekend then fine, but otherwise it’s verboten. Just as much as his client logging and statistical reports, my writing, work-related or creative, distances us from each other, and what’s the point of being in the same room if either of you is not present?

My work rota is drawn up a month in advance and so far I am scheduled to do the same hours in May as in April and March. At the moment, I am resolved to try to use the evenings of Monday and Wednesday, when hubby is out with clients, to complete my reports from the same day. However, to have a whole day free, as I did yesterday thanks to cancelled appointments on Monday, was bliss, and I made the most of it by working on my novel synopsis and covering letter, doing some blog-reading, and emailing writer colleagues. I have therefore decided to monitor my writing progress during April to decide whether I need to ask for a change in hours/days worked to get a completely work-free day so I can write creatively.

 

Priorities for the next fortnight: finalise covering letter and synopsis and submit to agent; work on short stories; review priorities for the year in light of current progress.

Ongoing projects successfully met: I’m managing to blog regularly, but it’s still early days; I have contributed to Friday Fictioneers; I’ve crocheted three eggs for Easter presents.

Ongoing projects partially met: I fell across a short story competition on Monday needing an entry by this Friday and I’m 1800-words in. It won’t be ready in time, but it had a theme and I forced myself to write to it. That’s what can happen when I have a completely free day.

Ongoing project fails; I’ve done no piano or Italian practise; having looked briefly at the boating diaries I planned to self-publish, I think this might be a project too far as they need more work than I’m prepared to commit at the moment.

Written by Sarah Ann

March 29, 2017 at 8:55 pm

Preparing to read

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Next week is the week set aside to read 85000 words I think form a book. Other people have read the words and encouraged me in the belief they are a book. After a long period when the manuscript and I have done nothing, it is time to decide whether to leave it alone forever and move on to develop new ideas, or to concentrate on getting the work published.

I have packed the manuscript in my rucksack, along with the diaries that are Priority 3 on my wish list of things to get done this year. I always give myself more to do than I can ever acheive, and write similarly over-long lists of jobs to do. I’m not sure why I do this. It seems a silly idea as I am always going to fail, but it would be worse not to have anything to look forward to.

Here’s looking forward to a week of productivity, one way or the other.

 

Priorities for the next fortnight: read putative novel; work on short stories; read through boating diaries.

Ongoing projects successfully met: I am now crocheting eggs for Easter; this is my second blog post in as many weeks.

Fails: blog reading has not increased; Italian practise has gone by the wayside; the piano is getting dusty; short stories have been neglected.

Written by Sarah Ann

March 8, 2017 at 10:02 pm

Accountability

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When I blogged in January, for the first time in 18-months, I didn’t have huge ambition for the coming year. I wanted to get back to writing and I needed to plan and organise. This was helped by a fellow blogger, Erin Leary, who commented on that initial post and suggested we become accountability partners. The concept was new to me, but made perfect sense for two people with a number of ongoing projects. As accountability partners we would report to each other, keep each other on task, support and maybe chivvy a little. This idea focused my energies and I listed what I wanted to achieve during the year. I then ordered projects in terms how long I estimated each would take to complete, and the ease with which it could be completed. The combination of these two factors enabled prioritisation. The last task, and the one I have still to complete, is to set deadlines by which each job should be completed. There are 8 things I hoped to achieve during the year, which I share with you below, along with my progress 6 weeks later. After all, the more people to keep me on task, the merrier.

Task & Priority   Ease of completion   Progress 6 weeks later (end of Feb)
1. Keep up with blog   Variable on time allowing/ having anything to say. Hopefully on the easy side.   Not great.I’ve not posted as often as I would have liked.
2. Read 85k word novel and decide whether to pitch or ditch.   Easy and relatively quick if I decide to ditch.

Time commitment if I’m going to pitch and it needs editing.

Time commitment if start sending to agents.

  I have allocated the week of 13-17th March to do the read through. I’m away from home and will have the head space.
3. Edit diaries of living and travelling on a narrow boat and self-publish.   Hard. A lot of editing and additional writing to be done. Self-publishing is new. Large time commitment and learning new skill.   No progress
4. NANOWRIMO story from 2014. Work up 51k words into a novel.   Medium. Big time commitment.

Hopefully enjoyable to do.

  No progress
 

4. Write short stories to go with friend Jan’s paintings/ prints/ illustrations.

 

  Relatively easy if I come up with any ideas.

Enjoyable. Able to do between other things as shorter time commitment.

  I have drafted one short story and am looking at the other pictures chosen. I need to re-visit the project with Jan to see if she wants to paint to my words.
 

 

4. Continue with novel-length abuse story started 2014.

 

  Medium. Need time and space to pick this up again. Has a beginning but needs a middle and an end.   No progress
7. Short stories for competitions   Quite hard. Time commitment to look for competitions and then write themed stories to deadlines.   One short story submitted. No other competitions identified to enter.
8. Friday Fictioneer stories   Easy to do if have nothing else on. Requires time and concentration. Can be addictive so need to limit or will get caught up and carried away to the detriment of other things.   No progress. I wrote a story to one prompt, which I was pleased to have achieved, but didn’t manage to post it.

 

Priorities for the next fortnight (as before): work on men-on-bench story; get into a routine of blog reading and writing; start short story based on picture of a hare.

Ongoing projects successfully met: I have finished a crochet project (see below); I am bouncing Italian possessive adjectives around in my head; piano scales have been practised and an old piece rehearsed.

Fails (as before): blog reading has not increased.

 

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Written by Sarah Ann

February 27, 2017 at 1:29 pm

A mixed bag

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Writing progress has been made of sorts. After writing 1000 words of a new short story and feeling very pleased with myself, I roughed out a second half on paper and then typed it in. However, marrying the two together hasn’t happened yet, and I’m not sure about the ending. I keep reminding myself that the deadline is 13th February so I have plenty of time, but I know I don’t. If I want to get it finished and leave it a while before editing, then I need to get on with it.

On the plus side, I did start to write a story based on my friend Jan’s picture of two men on a bench. This has been on my list of jobs to do since the beginning of the year and was facilitated by a train journey to London. After a break of possibly two years, and at least 18-months, I had lunch on Tuesday with a couple of women I met on a writing course in the autumn of 2014. One of these now has an agent for the book she was writing at that time, but has since largely re-written, and we heard how friends and acquaintances helped in that process. The other has ditched the book she was writing when we met, the cathartic one she needed to write, and started afresh, and we were all excited by her new departure. Only I have not developed my book of the time, it having been re-drafted but still sitting waiting for the re-read that will determine if I continue to pursue its life or decide it was my cathartic book and needs to be laid to rest.

Lack of routine has always been an issue for me getting around to writing. I had pencilled in Thursday to be my writing day, as currently have no clients booked on Thursdays. However, my hours at work have increased and I worked 10am to 6.30pm on Wednesday, which meant I spent Thursday writing up reports. I am sure that when I get used to my new client list, I will find the pockets of time free to write, but even fashioning a daily haiku has been a struggle this week.

 

Priorities for the coming fortnight: knit the putative halves of my short story together; type in and finish my men-on-bench-picture-inspired story; blog my progress.

Ongoing life goals slowly being achieved: I have leant a bit more Italian and emailed an Italian colleague mostly in Italian; I have completed my first piece of crochet and gifted it to the aunt to whom I made the promise to learn.

Fails: there’s been no piano practice; I’m still putting off reading my novel, the excuse being I need to get these short stories written first; I haven’t upped my reading of other’s blogs.

 

Written by Sarah Ann

January 28, 2017 at 11:33 am

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