How to Make Time to Write Every Day

As all writers know, one of the major things you have to do to succeed as a Writer is to write. All the time. Every day. But as many of us (in the real world) also have ‘proper’ jobs that we sort of have to do in order to stay alive, making time to write every day isn’t always easy.

So here’s a few ideas that might help:head thinking words

Stop Watching TV

Okay, so maybe that’s an obvious one, and I know lots of people who would never consider this to be an option. But let’s face it, most of us spend around four hours a day watching the goggle box (according to the BBC) and that’s a fair stretch of time. Even if you’re a slow writer, you should be able to knock out at least 500 words in four hours.

Admittedly, I don’t actually have a TV, so it isn’t such an issue for me. However, I’m not claiming to be Saint Colin, since I do watch stuff on BBC iplayer. The difference is that because of the way I watch (choosing specific topics rather than just sitting in front of the TV), I only actually see one or two programmes a day, so my viewing time is probably about 60-90 minutes in total, which I don’t think is bad. I also have days when I’m so engrossed in writing that I don’t think about TV at all.

Give Up Your Social Life

Don’t panic, I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t have fun occasionally, but if you’re the sort of person who spends more than three nights per week out of the house, then maybe it’s time to cut back, I mean, how much drinking/eating/partying can one person do? Look at it this way – if you have say, three evenings a week with dedicated (ie uninterrupted) writing time, even if it’s only one hour, that’s already three more hours than you had before. And of course, if you put in the time now, it’ll pay off later, cos when you’re a famous novelist you’ll get invited to loads of great parties. Apparently.

Be an Early Riser/Night Owl 

I always wake up early so it wouldn’t be a bad plan to get up and write for an hour before getting ready for work, since I’m already awake. If you’re more of a night bird, the same goes for going to bed a little later, thereby creating a little bit of writing time for yourself. Again, it doesn’t have to be several hours, just enough to keep things ticking over.

Write Every Day

It doesn’t have to be a mammoth task. People who write every day – whether it’s work on their novel, blogging, Twittering or whatever – tend to find it easier to write on a regular basis. It then becomes a routine and like any exercise involving regular workouts, the more you do it, the better (and easier) it will get.

Give Yourself Deadlines 

I’m not talking about the I’ll-finish-this-damn-book-by-Christmas deadlines, but more the sort of thing you can reasonably stick to. Like completing a chapter in three days, a week or whatever. And the great thing about making your own deadlines is that you can break them! Not all the time, obviously, but if you have a particularly creative spurt one day, maybe you don’t need to go the whole hog the next day.

Essentially, all I’m saying is that those amazingly successful writers who we all admire, got to where they are by writing, instead of doing other things. So go fish. I mean write. You know what I mean.

 

Book Covers Aren’t Us

It’s always useful to get a bit of a knock-back and realize that what you thought was fantastic isn’t so fantastic after all. But that’s fine, since it helps keep things on an even keel, provides a bit of the old sense of perspective and such like.

My current cover for me eBook ‘The Architect’s Apprentice’ was (I thought), reasonably good, but apparently it doesn’t pass muster with everyone. Those nice people at ‘They-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named’ reckoned it was a bit lacking in ‘quality’. Okay.

So what now?

I used to think I was pretty good with Photoshop, but (as in this situation) it’s becoming more apparent that I need to up my game a bit. There’s a great set of vids on YouTube by Phlearn, who cover all those funny little tricks that can make a world of difference to an image. Yesterday I finally got the hang of the clone stamping tool, which is definitely the neatest trick I’ve learned this week. Now I can get rid of anything I don’t want in my images as if they were never there.

So now I’m working on a new cover for the aforementioned book and hopefully by this time next week I’ll have it uploaded to Smashwords et al. According to Smashwords founder Mark Coker, changing a book’s cover can make a boatload of difference to the number of downloads it gets. So we’ll see.

 

‘Burmese Days’ by George Orwell

Burmese Days 210x
Burmese Days
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Based on Orwell’s time in India, the hero of this tale is John Flory – a rather melancholy figure whose work involves overseeing timber excavation. Set in the fictional district of Kyauktada, the plot revolves around the humdrum existence of British ex-pat regulars at the British club. When the dreary regularity of their lives is disturbed by the arrival of a young woman, Flory tries to win her over. Local government corruption, however, and the newcomer’s distaste of Flory’s apparent love of Burmese culture, only serve to drive a wedge between them:

Elizabeth watched the dance with a mixture of amazement, boredom and something approaching horror. She had sipped her drink and found that it tasted like hair oil. On a mat by her feet three Burmese girls lay fast asleep with their heads on the same pillow, their small oval faces side by side like the faces of kittens.

There’s more than a hint of racism in a few of the characters and Orwell was chastised in some quarters for his depiction of the ‘old colonials’, but he maintained that while parts of the manuscript were complete fiction, much of it was based on simple observations made during his stay in Burma.

Orwell’s publishers (Gollancz) wouldn’t touch the book for fear of libel charges and it was eventually published in the US with some changes to the typescript to avoid possible identification with actual living people. Some years later, several ‘characters’ from the book were nevertheless identified via the Rangoon Gazette, but by then, Gollancz had brought out a British version of the novel.

Though highly enjoyable, and in parts quite fascinating, ‘Burmese Days’ is a bit of a sad book – it tells of a time and place when respect for the common man is at a low ebb. And without giving too much away, Orwell’s hero does not come out of it very well.

 
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‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ by Arthur Conan Doyle

Hound of the Baskervilles
The Hound of the Baskervilles
5 stars copy

When a visitor leaves a walking stick behind, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson ponder on who their unseen caller might be. As usual, Holmes is able to describe the visitor in great detail, remarking on the man’s profession, his pet dog, his age, poor memory and even where he might live and work. When the owner of the stick returns to collect it, Holmes is of course proved correct. The man introduces himself as Dr Mortimer and confirms that he recently moved from a post in a London hospital to one in Devonshire. His new post however, has brought him into contact with an ancient family curse, detailing a gruesome and murderous legend.

Sherlock Holmes is initially not impressed and waves Doctor Mortimer’s tale aside as only being of interest to “a collector of fairytales”. However, his interest grows when Mortimer reveals details of the recent death at Baskerville Hall of its owner, Sir Charles Baskerville. Mortimer is convinced that the Baronet’s death cannot be due to natural causes and mentions the footprints found near the dead man’s body. Holmes is still not convinced, until Mortimer utters those immortal words:

“Mr Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound.”

If Arthur Conan Doyle’s writing career had gone the way he expected, we might never have heard of ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’. Doyle wanted to leave his famous detective behind and move on to other novels (such as the Professor Challenger series), but the popularity of Sherlock Holmes got the better of him. The ‘death’ of the great detective at the hands of the evil Professor Moriarty (under the magnificent backdrop of the Reichenbach Falls), was a step too far for Holmes’ fans and Doyle eventually succumbed to public opinion. Finding a way to reinstate his illustrious hero however, took a little longer – Holmes eventually returned in ‘The Adventure of the Empty House’. In the meantime Doyle penned one of his most thrilling tales. Set before the events in ‘The Final Problem’ Doyle pits his hero against an unusual foe.

This classic tale of murder, mystery and spectral hounds on the sinister and ominous moors will keep you reading till its thrilling climax.

 

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