Category Archives: We All Fall Down

Have I Edited Today?

That’s a really good question. And… no. I haven’t edited today. But! I’m totally going to. I promise! After ignoring Scrivener wanting to update for about a month, I decided to finally let it update. That update is taking much, much longer than I thought it would. After 15 minutes of downloading the update, it’s only downloaded 15%… And when it’s finished download, it has to install the update.

I hope it doesn’t take all night.

Back to my original question and answer. After all my blogs of how I was going to get my novel edited before November and how having my desk was going to help, I didn’t edit. I maybe poked it with a virtual stick but I didn’t edit. And I pretended to feel bad about it. But, the truth is, I’m a horrible procrastinator. I’m pretty sure it’s trait which comes with writing. There’s so many other less important things to do which are suddenly more exciting! If I don’t check Twitter every few minutes, I might miss something! (I wish I was joking. But, sadly, I’m not. I’ve got Twitter open on Chrome right now and on my task bar I can see it says I have 13 new tweets to read. It’s killing me that I’m ignoring it.)

On Sunday, I decided to Do Something About It. So I made a sign. I made a sign out of bright orange paper and stuck it on the wall above my desk where I can’t help but see it. And that sign?

And on Sunday, I edited! On Monday, I edited again! It was brilliant! I actually guilted myself into editing my novel. I felt good, it was fun to get my novel moving again and I figured I may be able to at least get through the first edit by November.

And then on Tuesday, I didn’t edit. I went swimming after work and by the time I got back and had a shower and something to eat, it was late and I was tired and blah blah blah. But I didn’t edit. I pushed the guilt aside.

So now my sign has a friend:

And if I do edit:

And right now I’m considering adding a sad face for when I haven’t edited and a happy face for when I have. See? Procrastination at its finest! By the time the novel is finished, I’ll have a wall of messages to myself. I’m not sure if that’s pushing the boundaries of sanity or not.

My point is, it’s possible to make yourself feel bad and it can take more than staring at the paused DVD on your TV and debating whether to stop watching so you can write/edit. Because staring at the TV from the comfy-ness of your chair will not ensure you write. It will ensure that the DVD will stare back and force you to stay right where you are.

You need something that you have to move or hide or fix in order to avoid writing. Put a post-it note on your TV, on the fridge, on your current book of choice. Have your post-it note be blunt, be mean. Turn it into its own little post-it note character who won’t let you do what you want to do until you’ve done what you need to do. Have the post-it note stalk you around the house, taunting you until you sit down and write 500 words, or edit four pages. The post-it note is your worst enemy, yet it’s the best friend you’ll never realise you have. It allows you to hate it so you can be the person you want to be. Because it can take it. Because it’s not your hero. It’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight.

….

I got way too much into that didn’t I?

Highly personified post-it notes aside, you need to be strong enough to set up the reminder in the first place and let it guilt you. I don’t like sitting at my desk with a blunt “Why not?” tagged onto “Have you edited today?” Because I can’t answer it. I never have an excuse good enough for why I haven’t even given 10 minutes to my novel. But I know I can’t remove the “Why not?” until I have removed the need for the question to be there. So, I sit down and I edit. And then I can turn over my “Why not?” into “Yay!” and my world is a happier place.

I’m no longer entirely sure where this blog is going… my brain keeps conjuring vivid memories of the dream I had between 7:05am and 7:30am which involves our toilet breaking and water shooting up out of it, especially when I managed to disconnect the toilet bowl from the pipe underneath which looked more like a shower pipe. My dream self got very wet.

Also I keep thinking that it’s Friday.

But, yeah, guilt yourself with colourful notes. Your future self will thank you for it.

P.S. 

What I’m Learning From Editing

These last few days, I have been Seriously Editing. Don’t look at me that way, I have! Okay, so I didn’t edit yesterday but I have a perfectly legit excuse! I was training to volunteer for a children’s helpline. See, legit. I will be editing after I blog this. I have my Scrivener open and everything.

But I did edit for two hours on Sunday (as mentioned in my last blog) and for about an hour on Monday. Editing is actually fun sometimes. I haven’t read this writing in over a year and sometimes get so involved with the story that I’m supposed to be looking for typos and bad sentences. (Luckily, this is only the first edit so anything I’ve missed I have a good chance of catching the second or third time round.)

But on top of the fun-ness of realising my writing doesn’t totally suck, I’m learning a lot which is very interesting…

  • I write notes in whichever notebook I have closest at the time.

This is not as useful as it sounds because then, a month later, I can’t find which notebook I wrote in and thus can’t remember what my plan was. I then spend several minutes searching each notebook I can currently find (which isn’t all of them) and yelling at my past self.

  • I start a lot of sentences with “so”:

1. So did you find any groups at all?
2. So you only found one group, so what?
3. So that’s cool.
4. So he began to tell himself he was alright.
5. So go for it.
6. So no one begrudged him a bad night.

All those examples came from a section 353 words in length. Examples 2 and 3 were in the same bit of dialogue, one sentence after the other. I suddenly realised (probably around this point, which is in Chapter 9) that I start way too many sentences with ‘so’ and it’s really not needed in the vast majority of cases. I can just delete the word and the sentence not only makes perfect sense, it doesn’t read like a babbling fool wrote it. I’ve since realised that I say ‘so’ a lot when I’m talking, which is why it’s in my writing. Gosh darn it! I’m going to need to keep an eye on that…

  • I can see the points where I was hitting the wall and just scrambling for words.

And the penalty of doing NaNoWriMo: trying to meet that word count. These moments are jumping out at me and I can see that then I was either behind for the day and desperate or writing on kamikaze mode on Write or Die and just needed to keep writing no matter what so my words didn’t get eaten! For example, these two sentences came after each other yet both say the same exact thing, but differently:

“Right now their choices seemed to end up between a rock and a hard place. It was a case of trying to pick the lesser of the two evils.”

(If anyone’s wondering, I kept the first one.) It is interesting to see these sort of points in my writing though. It’s almost like I’ve gone back in time to watch my former self write the novel. A bit Ghost of Christmas Past. But with novels…

  • On occasion I had the same idea when writing, as I do when editing – 18 months after I wrote the first part of this novel.

Let me explain. At one point, I realised I needed a certain character to do something and I groaned because it would involve a lot of re-writing up ahead (I really wish I’d copied down the scenario because now I can’t remember it) but then a paragraph later, the character was already doing it! Which means that when I was writing it, I realised part way through that this character needed to do this particular thing and went ahead and changed the story there and then without going back to edit the bit before. This was an absolutely awesome realisation! Partly because it was nice to feel that my ideas are consistent, and partly because it was a lot less re-writing to do.

  • It is far too easy to switch a character name without realising it.

I have a character called Don but at various points in the story he becomes Dan, because clearly my brain has issues with vowels. And at one point Michael became Martin which was horribly confusing because I actually have a character called Martin…

And finally…

  • There’s something satisfying about deleting a bad sentence.

I don’t know about you, but noticing a truly bad sentence that has no right to be in your novel and just hitting that delete key is immensely satisfying. I enjoy having the ability to realise that it’s a bad sentence and that as I delete it, my novel is instantly that little bit better than it was before.

And that is what I’ve learnt from editing so far! It’s like looking into my own soul and I’m coming out the other side knowing myself that little bit better.

The Joys of Having a Desk

Do you remember my blog post about needing to have a particular set up in order to edit? (If not, well just clicky here!)

I’m super excited. For the first time in 2 1/2 years, I have that set-up! *does a little dance, makes a little love, gets down to tonight* A week ago I entertained the good people of Leytonstone in East London by purchasing a second hand desk from the British Heart Foundation second hand furniture store. Why is this entertaining? Because the desk had wheels. And since I only lived a 15 minute walk away, I decided to decline the store’s offer of delivering the desk and instead I wheeled the desk back to my flat. The majority of the roads I walked along were main roads with lots of people and passing cars. I told myself I was doing everyone a favour; when they went home, they’d have an interesting tit-bit to tell about the strange girl pushing a desk around.

In order to get to my flat, I had to pass under the A12 road, which was also the entrance to Leytonstone tube station. If you think wheeling a suitcase through a tunnel makes a lot of noise, you have clearly never wheeled a desk with a wonky wheel through one. I actually felt sorry for anyone I passed who was on a phone.

It was actually kinda awkward to push. It wasn’t heavy but it was too low down to push from behind without hunching over it awkwardly. I could push it from one side but one end tended to stray (like a trolley with a dodgy wheel). I ended up more pulling it along beside me and suffered a very stiff shoulder and arm for two days afterwards.

By the time I successfully manoeuvred the desk to my flat, I decided that pushing a pram around the pavements must be hell. They’re all bumpy with holes and in many places the ground is raised by the tree roots beneath it.

But! I had a desk! I then spent a good hour deciding where to put it. This involved much moving of furniture but eventually I decided to move my bed and put the desk between my bed and the wall, giving me both a desk and a bedside table at the same time (I know, I’m a genius).

I really like the desk. It’s small and used (and I managed to scrub some of the surface off when I was cleaning it) and I had to remove some weird half shelf which was at the annoying height of the middle of my shin but it’s mine. Why is that important? Well, I live in rented accommodation. I’m aware that the furniture isn’t mine and if I wreck it, I pay for it. But this little desk is 100% mine to do what I want with. I can burn candles without worrying if the wax drips, I can get ink on it, doodle on it or put stickers on it. And it’s a computer desk so it has the little pull out shelf for a keyboard. However, as I have a netbook, I’m using it as a shelf for my collection of notebooks. It’s totally awesome!

But the editing space wasn’t ready yet. Have you spotted why? Yes! I didn’t have a chair. Purchasing the chair was a less exciting story. I just bought a simple folding one from Argos and carried it back in plastic wrapping.

But what does this all mean? It means that I can now commence with Serious Editing (so serious is deserves capitalisation). And today, I did just that. It was glorious. I’ve edited on and off for several months but always in drips and drabs and never consistently over a number of days. That can all change! Now, I can have a daily editing schedule. It feels so wonderful I could cry. Today I edited for two hours in one hour slots. I intend on editing for at least half an hour a day from now on.

This blog was initially going to be about What I Have Learnt About My Writing From Editing but I kinda got carried away with the excitement of being able to edit. So, that blog will appear in a couple of days time.

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