How do you Manage to get your Writing Done?

This is a question people who know me sometimes ask, and one that today I would like to ask all those other writers out there.

This has nothing to do with the muse or ideas, but simply getting it all done.  I think I am a good example of a self-published author, I am married with two young children and I work a full time job.  In addition to this I am a freelance writer and currently am studying to become an Accounts Technician through an online course.

My day starts between 5am-6am when one or both of the boys will wake up.  From 6am-7.50am, between my wife and I, we walk the dog, get the kids ready, get breakfast, put on clothes washes, empty the dishwasher etc., and then get ourselves ready for work.  

At 7.50am I drive the two kids to the childminder’s house and leave there about 8.10am for work.

My work day starts at 9am and runs to 5pm.  I collect the kids at about 5.40pm and am normally home around 5.50pm/6pm.

From 6pm-8pm the dog is walked again, children are fed and played with before a bath and bedtime.  8pm-9pm is spent making and eating our dinner, hanging up clothes and getting the next wash ready.  One of us will be constantly going up the stairs to check on the kids or to tell them to pipe down and go to sleep.

At 9pm I start my online lecture.  This will go on until 10.30pm and during this I might make the lunches for the next day, or cook something for the kids if my wife is not doing this.

Up until recently I was then doing freelance writing from 10.30pm-11.15/11.30pm and then trying to get some of my own writing done with what time was left up to Midnight.

As of late however, I have eased off on the freelance writing and I go to bed now at about 10.30pm/11pm and I have started doing my own writing there with a pen and notebook.  I also read in bed (as well as at lunchtime in work) and still turn of the light at about Midnight.

It makes me wonder what I used to do with all my time when I was single or even before we had kids.  My children are very young now (2 & 3 years old) and I imagine things will calm down in the next few years- fingers crossed.

Just a note on the above- on reading this is sounds like my wife does nothing, but I can assure you anything I didn’t mention is what she is doing, plus she works a little later than I do.  It’s a total team effort!

So my question is this, how do you manage to get your writing done?  

Writing your Masterpiece

I started writing a book in August 2009 that from the start I called ‘Crowbar Junction.’  An idea came to me one afternoon as I sat in the backroom of the house I lived in at the time; it was more of an image than an idea- A young boy, dressed in  grey clothing, tweedy, at the side of the road, waiting for someone who was never coming back for him.

From there, my story grew and I knew a lot of things straight off- characters, setting and era.  it all fell into place over the course of a couple of days in my mind and a few sheets of yellow legal pad paper.  This was by far the most clearly outlined story I had ever come up with.  I knew the opening scene and the final one and had plenty of ideas for the middle ones- but that was when I realised how literary I wanted this story to be.  It was going to be a work of art instead of simply a story.   This is where the trouble began.

I had the notion in my head that I would be able to write a better book if I did it by hand first and then typed it up.  At the beginning, I loved writing with my nice engraved Cross pen in my lovely brown leather notebook (both bought for me by my wife- whom I’d only started dating not long before this), working through the images in my head and getting them down on paper.  The mistake at that time was not writing by hand, but being so hard on myself while I was writing.  Because I wanted this book to be literary I felt every sentence had to be right, or at least very good from the start.  This resulted in days upon days when only a single paragraph would be produced and this was no pace to get a sprawling story written.

At last, I knew what I had to do – get a first draft completed!  With this in mind, I took to the laptop where I had typed all of the work so far and continued on there- I never wrote another word of the book with a pen.  I wrote and wrote and then came to an end of the storyline.  It was done- well the first draft was.  I read it all and I was very happy with what I had but I knew that there was still so much work to be done to make it what I wanted it to be.

I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do that work without taking a rest from this book and coming back to it with fresh eyes.  I needed to focus on something else for a while, so at this time I began writing much less serious stuff and then set about my self-publishing career.  I had so many ideas for books and I tried out many; some I abandoned and others were published to Amazon, but all the while I was working on these other projects the big one was still lurking in my mind.

Every now and then I would think of something to add or take away from ‘Crowbar Junction,’ and these little bits went on and on.  A full year after finishing the first draft (which had taken almost three years in the first place) I decided to rewrite the entire book one sentence at a time.  This took me a few months but it was worth it.  What came out of this exercise was a book that was larger and much better than the first draft.  I really started to understand what this book was truly about and this was a wonderful feeling for a writer to get.

I went back to other projects and wrote more books and started freelancing on a more regular basis and this took up all of my time.

Another year passed and I went through the book on a chapter by chapter basis making more changes and adding notes for myself as I went along.  It was starting to become something close to what I had set out to do- but not close enough, not yet.  I wrote some scenes set long before the story of the book takes place that will not be included in the final book but to get myself more immersed in the storyline and its history.   I found this very helpful as well for getting a better understanding of the characters in the book.

As things stand, ‘Crowbar Junction’ is 123,000 words long, but probably only needs one more draft before a few rounds of editing makes it final.  It has taken seven years so far- only a few more to go to finish my masterpiece!

I’d love to hear from anyone who is also writing what you consider to be your best book.  Do you have the same issues I do about it?  Are you trying to be so perfect that the book will never live up to your expectations?  What have you done to finish your won books?  How many of you have abandoned the ‘one’ after years of heartbreak on it?

On another point, if the book is as good as you hope it will be, isn’t there always the temptation to keep it all for yourself?

Let me know what you think in either the comments below or you can email me at info@ghostcreativeservices.com

10,000 Readers!

While I slept last night, someone in the United States became the 10,000th person to either buy or download one of my books!

It has taken 3.5 years but I think I have finally started to learn how to work this industry. I’m sure the next 10,000 will not take so long.  I have a new book out in September and am working on one now for release  between Jan-April 2017.  Fingers crossed!

I’ve had this 10,000 number in mind as a target for a long while now and it feels great to finally reach it. I wasn’t sure that I would but am delighted that I have.

The only thing now is to set a new goal, I think 20,000. I’ll let you know if it ever happens. ( I think it will!)

 

PS, please feel free to jump on the bandwagon and support my mailing list  here

Cover Reveal for Upcoming Novel

Hi all, just a couple of updates on what has been going on in the last couple of weeks.

 

First off my Mystery/Thriller novel  ‘The Dolocher’ has gone perma-free at all sites so feel free to grab a copy wherever you normally buy ebooks from.

I have been slowly building my author mailing list (sign up here if you would like to join and get a free novel, with another free book coming soon) and showcased the cover design for my new book which will be out in September 2016.

Here it is, I think it looks great.

Shadow-of-the-Dolocher Front Cover

After I got this done I decided to change the cover of the book that preceded this one so here’s that one,

Dolocher-2

I think this sits better with the storyline than the old one did.

My freelance writing has been keeping me busy the rest of the time!

 

Upwork Vs Freelancer

Upwork LogoFreelancer Logo

I have been a freelancer to various degrees since 2012 and a much more engaged one since starting my Business Ghost Creative in May 2015.  My first foray into freelancing was writing articles and, surprisingly enough, a fact book about a particular type of Tea!

I was already an indie author at this stage, albeit a very uninformed one, and I found a site called Freelancer.com  I signed up for my free account and got bidding on projects.  I went in at ridiculously low prices for the jobs as this was the only way I could think of to get my foot in the door as it were.  I began to be hired on a regular enough basis and a few reviews and very little money began to roll in.  It was nice to be paid for doing something similar to what I loved.

I did a few more jobs on the site and began to focus only on fiction writing.  The money increased (slightly) and more reviews came in.  I had a five-star rating and I was happy with that.

In May 2015, when I started the business I began to bid for more and more on the site and jobs started rolling in.  As I was highly rated by then, I no longer worked for peanuts,  I was in the Cashew league now!

Alas, I had noticed a decline in the quality that was once Freelancer.com.  As far as I could see, more and more projects were not real or bidders for projects I posted were not genuine.  Freelancer.com themselves really seemed to go on a profit making push, everything was suddenly more expensive and my newsfeed there was getting crammed with rubbish about freelancer t-shirts and services that I didn’t want.

I was offered a place in the ‘Trusted Freelancer Programme,’ which has turned out not to mean anything at all.  The only difference I have noticed is that I have  a new small badge on my profile and I get messages from freelance recruiters for Jobs that I wouldn’t or couldn’t do, all the time.  I keep telling them I don’t do website content, or I don’t live in a certain place as stipulated in the brief, I won’t work for an employer who has no rating or hasn’t verified their account, but the messages come all the same.

As an alternative, I signed up for Upwork.com  The set up was a little more complicated than setting up with Freelancer but it was not off-putting in any way.  The first thing I noticed after I had set up my profile was how stripped down the whole interface seemed to be in comparison to Freelancer.  It all looked so much cleaner and simpler.  I set my search setting to look for Fiction only and jobs started to appear in the feed at once.  (Unfortunately, non-fiction jobs show with this keyword!) I applied for some and was hired for one of them the next day.

I must admit here that as I was new to Upwork and had no reputation to go on, I was linking to my profile on Freelancer.com so prospective employers  could see reviews of work I had done in the past. This is what I believe got me my first couple of jobs on this site.

The first drawback I found with Upwork was with the rating system.  Employers seem to prefer to keep contracts open so they cane use you again rather than close after each agreed project and leave you a review.  This was a change for my mindset and it took me a while to get used to it.  What had happened in my case is that I have worked with a few employers over and over without having to set anything new up.  Upwork takes the 10% of new payments that it stipulates and all is well.  This has been fine for me but if people were only working on a once off basis I don’t see how they would gather a reputation on the site.

I no longer use my freelancer reviews to get jobs on Upwork, but just talk to the employers and use samples to get the work.  Once again this is fine for me, but could be difficult for others just starting out.

As I have been writing this post, Upwork has landed me a sucker punch!  They have changed their pricing structure in a way that they say is a reduction in costs to the freelancer.  in my experience it will be a massive increase in costs to me (to add to the VAT charges that came in at the start of the year)  Projects under $500- which is a lot of the market- will now b charged at a rate of 20% unless your lifetime work with an employer goes above $500 with the new project.  What this means now is that if you want to start working with a new employer you will pay double for the project until it reaches $500.  In a lot of cases, this will not be the case.

To be fair to Upwork they say that they are making losses on these smaller projects,  but I still can’t help see the hole in my own balance sheet growing.  As a freelance fiction writer, I find that most employers want to stick to a certain genre.  If I get tired of the genre or need a break from it, I will now have to seek out a new employer and work just as hard for them for much less payment; this is not a nice feeling.

So, in conclusion, I don’t know which site is best now!  When I started out with this post I was leaning towards Upwork, but the new pricing structure is not for me right  now, I will have to see how it goes.  I had already taken most of my business to Upwork in 2016 and have been trying to get more business through my website http://www.ghostcreativeservices.com so there are no project fees at all.

 

Let me know what you think of these platforms.  What do you love?  What do you hate?  Are there any other out there worth mentioning?

My publishing world

Free Book For You

Hi all, first and foremost I must say that if you like Mystery/Thriller books you can get a copy of  my 4.3 Star Rated ‘The Dolocher‘ for free by signing up for my author sign up list at http://eepurl.com/bWwroj 

It is not a spammy list so you will not be getting a weekly or even monthly update or anything like that so don’t worry.  It will mostly be related to my books that are for free or new releases.

 

What Do You Want To See In This Blog?

Secondly, I would like to know what you would like from this Blog.  Pease answer these 4 tick box questions at this link https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/QXQSQXF to let me know what you want to see.

My Writing Life

Now down to my books.  At the start of this year, I unpublished all of my books except ‘The Dolocher.’  I did this so as to be able to start building a more credible and better book list.  I had to be honest and realise that although I liked those books, they did not reflect the quality I am striving for now. In my younger author days, I couldn’t stop from pushing the ‘Publish’ button!

I have three more books planned in the Alderman James series of which ‘The Dolocher‘ is part.  The second book in this series, ‘Shadow of the Dolocher,’ will be out most likely in September 2016 (join the sign-up list to find out when and see the cover reveal soon!) but may be earlier if I can get my skates on.

I also have the storyline for a Fantasy Book planned and one more ‘Serious Fiction’ book to sit on the shelves at home with my other two ‘Serious Fiction Books’ also in varying draft formats and hidden from the world.

I’d love to hear back from you, so please feel free to leave a comment on any aspect of this Blog.