FREE Writing Resources ~ UK Copyright

September 2019

Copyright is, even more, a topic now than it was in 2014 when I wrote this post. I have to admit that I still am not sure most of the time but just make sure I give credit where credit is due. I schedule this post in April 2019 just after the EU got their new rules through about copyright and sharing on the internet. So by the time this post is up again it might be a big topic again.

December 2014

Last week I was introducing you to the BBC Skillwise page which offers down to earth English lessons and games to improve your English skills.

In the process of posting, I was wondering if I can use their logo without asking for permission. Therefore, I googled both “fair use” the US-American term and “fair dealing” the UK and other English speaking countries term. Even though I found enough information, I still felt pretty unsure about the whole concept. So I took my usual path: search for a picture of the BBC logo on Flickr with the creative commons and “allowed for commercial use” filter.

It bugged me though that I am so unsure of the copyright in general and how to go about using other people’s work, which for me mainly includes using pictures. And I thought some of my readers might feel the same and would be happy to have a little library to find out more.

In my search for the “fair dealing” term, I stumbled over UKCS. UKCS is a UK copyright service which offers a huge information centre about intellectual property, copyright, trademarks, design rights and patents half of which I have never heard of.

I still feel pretty overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information given. But I decided this is a link for my “Writers little helpers” bookmark in Chrome where I have saved everything practical for my writing from spell check to name pages.

Even though the page is mainly designed for the usage in British copyright law, it also gives a good overview over US-American laws and international agreements which is very useful.

I feel this is a page every author and writer should know about and have bookmarked to ensure a better understanding of copyright and its use.

What about you? Do you know your countries copyright laws and how to deal internationally with copyright or do you feel as unsure as I?

Maybe you know a great page with down to earth explanation of copyrights? Please let me know! Thanks.

FREE Writing Resources ~ Mslexia

September 2019

That is a really great magazine and I am gifting myself with another subscription when I got a new job! Their homepage has changed a little, that is why the links don’t work anymore but this post gives you an insight on how it was. It’s definitely a great resource for women writers.

November 2014

I spend a lot of time in the World Wide Web. I love to scour Twitter, Facebook and Google for resources for writers and there is not a lot that makes me really excited. Today’s FREE resource though is different:

Mslexia

Mslexia is a magazine for women writers which offers information about writing in general, publishing, on- and off-line resources as well as agents. Their homepage is a well of information if you want to publish in the UK.

The Magazine amazed me

They have amazed me so much, that I allowed myself an early Christmas present (or late birthday present 🙂 ): I signed up for a one-year digital subscription on the magazine. If you have an iPhone or Android phone you can even read the magazine on your phone. The subscription gives you the opportunity to browse older editions as well.

Great resources for writers

But I digress: Why is it such a great resource for writers (and yes men will find useful information too!)?

Mslexia’s resources page is one of the most comprehensive I have ever seen. First on the list is the writer’s tip: Right now, it offers insight on how to write non-fiction and is aimed at poets and/or prose writers.

Spotlight on

Next, they put the spotlight on literary magazines, publishers and more interesting discoveries on the web: Both the literary magazine page and the publisher pages gives you a broad list of UK-based you-need-know-if-you-write publishing opportunities. A short explanation tells you what the organisation exactly does which ends with the link to their page.

On the web

“On the web” gives you anything from an app to block your internet connection to get you writing instead of browsing; over dating for book lovers to communities for writers. This is a well of miscellaneous pages that can make your writing life more intense and fun.

There is more

But there is more: Look at the left-hand side to the “Key resources” area which offers you links to agents, reference books and societies/organsiations. All three links are the same layout as the publishers and magazines pages: a short description to each book, organisation and agent and after that the link to their homepages.

A must

Mslexia resources page is a must for writers who want to publish and work in the UK. But not only for those who are already in the business. They offer you great advice and help if you are just starting to get into the publishing world of the UK.

What do you think?

Are you a subscriber to Mslexia? Did you have a look at their resources page? Then please let me know what you think about the magazine and the resources page. Thanks!

Resources:

Wikipedia
mslexia

image of dark grey cloudy sky and a buddlea in front of it

Of Good News, Coding and Tips for Writers

Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is! Anne Frank

Read more at Brainy Quotes


Hello everybody, how are you doing? I hope life is treating you well and if not remember, you are in my thoughts and prayers!

Happy Good News Tuesday!

For today’s good news I am sharing a video by Great Ormond Street Hospital. Their surgeons have separated conjoined twins in several operations. The BBC mentioned them yesterday and I am just amazed at what is possible today. You can read about it in this article on the BBC webpage.

As far as I understand they are well and hopefully now have the chance for an independent life. Great Ormond Street Hospital has made a video to explain further what they achieved. Please follow the link under the video if it doesn’t play in this post.

video credit: Great Ormond Street Hospital on YouTube

If you are in need for some more good news please head over to JoAnna’s Blog and find some more. Or do you have a post of your own? Then please let me know and I come along.

The Bee Codes (or at least tries to)

It was rather cold overnight here in North Norfolk but warmed up as soon as the sun came out. At 10.49 am we have 19C/66.2F and I already watered our veg, did some weeding and worked on a page project for Free Code Camp to finish the tests for learning HTML & CSS. They say about themselves: “FreeCodeCamp.org is a tiny nonprofit that’s helping millions of people learn to code for free.” and you can support them here on their donation page if you have a little to spent and want to help people like me learning to code and hopefully find a new job at last.

I am supposed to create a tribute page on Code.Pen which is a site where you can play around with code for free. The test description is here if you are interested and my page to Octavia Hill is here.

So far I have the basic set up and the HTML. HTML in coding gives you the content of a page and CSS helps you to present in a good way. That is where I struggle a little. I have read and gone through the chapters and in theory understood what everything stands for but when I am supposed to implement it then my mind goes blank.

And the procrastination automatism kicks in. Mine consists of W3School for reading up stuff, Sololearn which I have as an app on my phone to repeat everything I already know and Grasshopper to get ahead and play around with JavaScript. I didn’t know that Java and JavaScript are different things but the good old “For Dummies” series told me that. Yes, on top of all of that I am reading “Getting a Coding Job for Dummies” by Nikhil Abraham. That book is from the library and from 2015 so I take its information with a grain of salt. 4 years is several lifetimes in tech and coding as far as I can see but at least it should give me the basics. And it mentioned Free Code Camp as a good way to learn so it can’t be that bad 😉 .

It also mentioned that if you learn by yourself you get stuck and it would be a good thing to join a community to get some support. Coding seems to be a community thing anyway. Coders help each other when they get stuck with what they created or help each other to test out their code. I like that but at the same time I am a little well really very insecure and I just don’t like to ask. So here is a lesson for me to learn 🙂 .

Yes, I have already joined the Free Code Camp forum and read several posts but haven’t said or asked anything yet. Don’t want to waste anyone’s time. I think I might just have to get over myself. I keep you updated.

Have you ever tried to learn something by yourself? How did it go?

And what else?

And what else will I be up to today? I usually walk the dog a second time around lunchtime but she is a little reluctant lately. There are tons of squirrels where I walk her and she just stands there and watches before trying to jump at them. You can imagine that I am not too keen so I try to coax her into walking along. It wasn’t a problem until a couple of days ago. She just ran ahead to the next squirrel tree. But now she just stands there and looks at me and her eyes say: “Yes, go on, try me!!!! You’re not gonna win MUM!” LOL.

So today I will either walk her somewhere else which usually makes her run mad with sniffing out the new area or I just do some training at home in the garden. I feel a bit guilty driving to other places to walk her because I consider myself a rebel for life and using the good old petrol car should be out of bounds for me. However, it’s a little C1 that doesn’t use much and the wellbeing of our dog is important, isn’t it? So I tell myself 😉 at least.

Besides that, I might keep on renovating our bathroom. It’s tiny and pink and I hate, hate, hate pink. So I started to scrape off the color on the wall in March I think. Haven’t gotten far because it is a rather unthankful job. But I told the best husband (Jeremy Clarkson voice) in the world that he doesn’t need to do anything so I am stuck with it.

I also need to do the shopping and get some more dog food. And cook. And then there are so many cool blogs to read which I have neglected a lot lately.

Here are some of the bloggers I visit:

Karen Deanna Joyce

JoAnna

And for my German-speaking readers:

DGHDE

Well, I won’t be bored, will I?

Originally I wanted to write a poem for you guys too but my concentration is down in the dumps now. I need another coffee or something to eat so I send you over to Carol Anne where I have posted a poem of the day already.

This just leaves today’s blast from the past from 2015:

Tips For Writers by John Matthews (A Blast from the Past)

Today I am honoured to have a guest post John Matthews who has kindly agreed for a guest post on writing tips for self-published authors:

Three Key Tips For Writers

If you’re a self-published author or are now diligently working on your first book, then read these three important tips for writers. Competition is fierce to become successful and achieve your sales goals. You need to establish your brand as a writer one step at a time and get credibility. It is important to be proactive, work efficiently, and have a lot of patience with the self-publishing world.

  • Create the best content possible. The tougher the competition is, the more important it is to produce a top notch manuscript. Read other best-selling authors in your genre to get ideas of which writing styles work. Learn from their successes and improve your writing technique. The best writing methods have held true for decades and as new authors, we all have a ton of learning to do. Once you think your manuscript is finished, get a few close friends to read it and give honest feedback. Use any constructive criticism positively. Tweak your manuscript as you see fit until you are really ecstatic about your final product. Finally, get it edited and proofread by other friends and a professional. Make sure that book is squeaky clean when you are ready to publish it.
 
  • Pitch to book review blogs. Find lists of blogs that do book reviews for self-published authors. Make sure that their reading preference includes your genre. Read about the bloggers first and take a look at their social network profiles. Take a look also at other book reviews that have been posted on their blog. If it looks like a good fit for your book, send a courteous and professional email. First have a close look at the submission guidelines on each blog so you can meet their specific requirements. Remember that you are only sending a request for a book review and that anyone has the right to politely decline it. Book reviewers are very busy and usually get more submissions than they can keep up with. Here is a helpful list of ten great book review blogs.
 
  • Organize your marketing efforts. There are a lot of options for self-published author marketing. What’s important is to manage your time and money effectively. Know what your budget is and try to do as much of the work yourself as you can to keep things low cost or free. Find websites and blogs for self-published books that have forums and accept guest posts. Write high quality articles for submission on these sites and participate in forum discussions in your genre. You have to have time to keep writing your next book, so don’t allot more than half of your working time to marketing. Maintain a list of all blogs and other websites you are working with. Get into a daily routine for your marketing efforts and be efficient. Patience is key and remember that everything you write is important for establishing your brand as a writer.

Using these three key tips for writers should help you in your writing career. As is always the case with self-published authors, patience is the key. Establishing yourself will take time and perseverance, but if you succeed the payoff will be well worth it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thank you very much John for your tips on self-publishing!

If you want to know more about John please look here:

John Mathews is a tenured University Professor of English and living in Rome, Italy. Immersed in a long and somewhat stressful career, he feels the desire to break out of the mold and delve into macabre thriller fiction novels which focus on the dark side of human nature. He writes captivating thriller and suspense fiction books with the goal of pulling the reader into the plot through the minds of unforgettable characters. Complete with great suspense, plot twists, and shocking scenes, his stories will keep you guessing until the very end.

(Taken from John’s Amazon Author Page)


You’ve managed to read the whole post? Blimey, I am impressed and thank you very much for staying with me for so long. Want a cup of coffee? Tea? Cocoa? A cookie? You certainly deserve all of it. LOL.

Take care my dears and don’t forget:

love & rage my friends love & rage

Blast from the Past: Baking up Inspiration ~ #amwriting

June 2019

I certainly have done enough baking in the last 12 months 😉

December 2017

It’s December and many of us take the time to bake cookies. In June 2014 I wrote about inspiration and baking and it seems a good time to re-post this entry:

June 2014

Do you like baking? I do even though I never do it enough. Unfortunately, there are only 24 hours in a day :-).

For me, baking is a very creative process: Besides the fact that you can decorate for example cookies or cakes in many different ways alone the process of creating something delicious out of flour, butter, sugar, eggs and some spices which on their own are not very delicious is fascinating.

In a way that is what writers or bloggers do: Out of some words which on their own would not make any sense or are just not very interesting the author or blogger creates his own voice and paints images in the reader’s mind. What a wonderful thing to do to spend your time?

Baking also has some symbolic meaning in the writing process (if you are into baking that is of course 🙂 ): When I am blocked and cannot get on with my writing or just cannot motivate myself to get on with it I often stop and bake something. My soul and my muse seem to interact with the baking process. Like mixing

the ingredients, putting the dough in a form, baking it and taking it out they seem to mix ideas, images and words together, bringing them into form and then baking them together into something new which usually emerges when I have tried the cake or cookie I baked.

What can be more motivating than a piece of freshly baked cake? Coming back to my question above? Do you like baking? Does it have the same effect on your writing or do you have other symbolic activities that bring back motivation to write or activates your inspiration? Please feel free to share them with me. I am always happy to try out something new :-).

FREE Writing Resources ~ Sarah Kolb Williams & WritingForward.com

May 2019

A re-post of a re-post?! Well, yea, sorry but this writing resource is worth it!

December 2017

There are a lot of great and free writing resources out there and I am surprised how many I found in 2014 still exist. Here is one of them

July 2014

Hello, apprentice science fiction writers.

Have you wondered how to start writing good science fiction and are you looking for some resources to help you? If so, you are in the right place. On my travels in the world wide web for some guidance on better writing I have come across an article by Sarah Kolb-Williams on writing science fiction, which was first published on Writing Forward: “9 Steps to Writing a Science Fiction Novel”

I have come across Writing Forward at first on my search for poetry prompts for “A Prompt A Day For Bee” at the end of May just before I started my year-long poetry project. The page seems to be a great resource in itself, but this post just hit a note.

So who is Sarah Kolb Williams? Sarah is an editor and blogger specialising in science fiction but open to other genres as well. She has a wonderful page where she offers e-book proofreading, copyediting services and developmental editing. Her blog gives you lots of information around science fiction, but more importantly, everything you ever wanted to know about editors and how to approach them the right way.

Her nine steps to writing a science fiction novel seem pretty logical when you read the article, but knowing my own writing practice with the sci-fi serial “Morsmart at the End of the Galaxy” has shown me that you can get carried away quite easily. And then you are in trouble. She warns of being carried away. One of her first pieces of advice is to really get your world right and know the rules of it. Readers do not like books that contradict themselves and I know she is right. I am a reader :-). But not only the world building is important. Stories happen to characters and if you neglect to live and breathing characters in your novel you will not get anywhere.

Then, of course, advice you will hear again and again: Write! All your great ideas are for nothing if you do not sit down and get to the tough bit of writing it. And then forget it. Yes, she wrote exactly that. A tip you hear very often is to let your first draft rest for at least a month as you then can go about it with a readers eyes and not the writer’s eyes. Those are too much that of a mother hen protecting every single chick in our case words. But if you want to please readers you need to see it through their eyes and rewrite until it is perfect which is another tip of Sarah Kolb-Williams.

Another good advice I think is even when you self-publish to afford the expense of an editor as again the mother hen eyes come into play. But she also suggests using the help of beta-readers. And at last: You need to get out and sell the thing. Hopefully with much success.

The reason why I like this article so much is Sarah’s style: it’s professional but at the same time amusing. She keeps you interested in short paragraphs which give you the essentials in understandable words.

This has been just a short summary of Sarah Kolb-Williams post on Writing Forward and why I like it. However, I suggest you head over and read the real post and bookmark it to come back to it again and again: 9 Steps to Writing a Science Fiction Novel

Guest Post: “Fact vs Fiction” by Tamara Ferguson

Portrait of Author Tamara Ferguson

This was first published on my old blog in February 2015

FACT VERSUS FICTION

Writing Contemporary Romance
Just howimportant is it to stick to the facts when inventing the background for your story?
This question never really came up for me until I submitted Tales of the Dragonfly Book II: In Flight for a Wisconsin Romance Writers contest back in 2013.  Overall, the rough draft had scored fairly well in the Chicago Fire & Ice RWA Contest a few months before.
 
Since time is an issue in my life, it’s difficult for me to participate in workshops, even when they’re online.  These RWA contests have proved to be some of my most valuable learning tools when it comes to assessing my writing.  I try to take advice from my judges and work it into my manuscripts as I revise and edit.
 
I’d like to think I’ve conquered the majority of my problems I’ve had with my POV and fondness for adjectives.  But a couple of unrelated comments from the judges from a Wisconsin really threw me!
 
In Flight takes place in the lovely growing resort town of Crystal Rock, Wisconsin.  Loosely resembling the small town in Northwest Wisconsin where my family cabin was once located, this setting is purely fictional, and larger than life.
 
Since I created a fictitious town as well as The Dragonfly Pointe Inn, I thought—why not invent fictitious transportation?  After all, with the emphasis I put on the enchantment of Dragonfly Pointe, there’s a slight element of fantasy running through all of my stories, anyway.
 
Coincidentally, it was kind of a family joke that there was no other means of reaching our cabin other than to drive, since the final leg of our journey, until

recent years, had always been along a narrow two lane highway.   

 
Well—when scoring my manuscript, two out three judges drew attention to the fact that there was no train running through that region of the country at the time period in which my story takes place.  One of them even went so far as to research the railroad and bus schedules.
 
Okay—when developing my characters, I do agree that it’s essential to get the facts straight when it comes to creating their background.  In fact, I’d give it a 10/10 for its importance.
Examples:
In the novella I’m currently writing—Two Hearts Surrendered—the hero of my story will be one of the pilots responsible for dropping bombs used to contain terrorists in Iraq.  And he’ll return to his hometown physically and emotionally scarred.  I won’t go into too much detail about the war—after all, it is a romance.   But I’ll validate facts like the branch of the service he served in, as well as the actual timing of the attacks to coordinate with my character’s homecoming.  I’ll even research the design and color of his uniform, since he’ll come home on leave to attend a wedding.  These details are important to make your characters believable.
But, did I go back and rewrite my prologue for In Flight, and eliminate the train, just because two Wisconsin judges told me to stick to the truth—even though one of these judges actually subtracted points from my score sheet? My answer is no.  Don’t be intimidated into thinking that the advice from those who critique your work is an absolute.
 
But do go back and analytically evaluate their suggestions before you make any final decisions to ignore them.  If five out six judges point out problems with your sentence structuring or POV, then you know you have a definite problem and need to fix it. But when it comes to advice that’s not related to your writing, itself?  You need to think carefully.
 
First, I considered my target audience.  My Tales of the Dragonfly is romantic suspense, and meant to appeal primarily to women—but within a broad age group.  Would my readers really care that there wasn’t a train running through Wisconsin when they’re reading my story?
 
My answer was no.  In fact, out of all the critiques and reviews of my book, not one single person seems to have noticed it.  And then there’s that one remaining judge from Wisconsin, who gave me my highest score, and mentioned nothing about it at all.
 
Secondly, I considered the train as I’d used it in the prologue of my story.
Example 1:
Murphy had his nose back in his paper when he suddenly became aware of another presence rising up from the very rear of the deserted passenger car.  Odd, Murphy frowned, with a confused shake of his head.  He was slipping.  He could’ve sworn he was the only one left in the car.  Of medium height, the individual held his head down as he quietly shuffled by, seeming purposely to conceal himself. 
Example 2:
Suddenly, a calculated movement from further down the station platform snapped Murphy’s eyes back through the window.  Hovering only a few yards behind the woman, the stranger in the hooded sweatshirt stealthily pulled out from the shadows of the dimly lit stationhouse.
Impulsively attempting to draw the woman’s attention, Murphy knocked on the window of the train.  Apparently aware of the knocking, tauntingly challenging Murphy, the stranger in the sweatshirt met his gaze through the window with a shattering, bleak hollow stare.  Helplessly, Murphy watched while the woman entered the stationhouse, the shadowy figure in the sweatshirt following closely behind. 
Would I have been able to substitute this train with a plane or an automobile?
This time I answered with an emphatic no.  This change would’ve impacted my entire novel.  How would I have been able to build this degree of tension on a plane or in a crowded airport?  And would the villain of my story have even been noticed? 
 
Expert though the person or persons critiquing your work may be, you need to remember, when it comes to advising you about conceptual details, it’s largely their opinion.
 
It’s important to stick to the truth when at all possible–I’d give it a 7/10.

 

But, as a writer, the first thing you should do is eliminate your self-doubt.  The key to believable and effective writing is to always be true to yourself.  This is what makes your story unique.
 
Thank you very much, Tamara, for this brilliant guest post. I enjoyed it very much!

Blast from the Past: Good Morning Writers! ~ I don’t wanna be in that dark place!

May 2019

I never realised in what a bad place I was in the last couple of years until recently. Hopefully, I managed to get out of there now…

January 2015

How is your writing going? Are you inspired or in a rather dark place?

After a spell of activity and writing like mad, I am going back into the dark places. Winter is always a hard time for me as it seems to be more difficult to keep my thoughts and feelings on a positive path.

St. John’s Worth has always helped me and so does it now, but I do not want to take it longer than six months which is probably too long anyway. I start taking it in October one pill every day but now I try to wean myself off it. Meaning I take one every two days.

It has an effect on my mood, of course. I am back on the coffee and a little alcohol which does not help. My usual downing thoughts are arriving: “I do not want to be in that dark place.”

It’s no point though to pity myself. I know I suffer from depression and it just needs managing which I can after 20 odd years of living with it. No matter the healing I have gone through. It’s just part of my life.

I also think it’s part of my creativity. There are so many who have and still suffer from it. Some are highly successful no matter what. Some aren’t, and some have not survived it.

That’s a matter of fact if I like it or not. I just go through my cycles and keep on writing. Because there is one thing I have learned in those 20 odd years: If you give up doing what you love you have already lost. No matter how hard.

How about you? Do you have cycles of writing and not-writing?

Ingermanson on the “Luxury of not enough Time”

This was first posted in December 2017
Wow, dear readers 2017 is nearly over and it is that time of the year, you know, Hanukka, Bhodi Day, Yule, Christmas… . No matter if you are following any religious holidays or if you just have to deal with year-end stuff: December is always a busy month and this article by Randy Ingermanson fits perfectly in my opinion.
This article is reprinted by permission of the author.
 
Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, “the Snowflake Guy,” publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 17,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.
I can only encourage you to sign up to his newsletter. It’s always good advice on anything writing- and publishing-related. Enjoy!

Organization: The Luxury of Not Enough Time

When you don’t have enough time to do everything you want to do in life:

  • You have a good reason to cut out the less-important stuff in your life without feeling one bit guilty.
  • Which forces you to think about what actually matters to you and what actually doesn’t.
  • And leads you to make a conscious decision about how much time you’ll spend on each of the things that actually matter, even though none of them will get “enough.”
  • But that means when you finally get a chance to start working on each thing that actually matters, you’ll be desperately eager to get rolling because you know you can’t waste a second because you’ve only got so many minutes today that you can do this thing that you care about so much.
  • And it ensures that when each time slot is up for the day, you’ll be thinking “I wish I had ten more minutes because I didn’t have all the time I wanted today,” instead of “I sure hated that last ten minutes because I had too much time on my hands today.”
  • Which means you’ll be ending every single time slot in your day “wanting more,” rather than ending it “wanting less,” which is probably the best way to stay excited day after day after day about the things that really matter most in your life.
  • And it also means that every day when you wake up, you’ll be gung ho to get rolling on all the cool and amazing things you can do today in the limited time you have to do them.
  • Which is not a bad way to live your life.
  • And that means that not having enough time is a luxury that makes your life better, not worse.

You don’t have enough time for everything you want to do in life.

I don’t have enough time for everything I want to do in life.

Aren’t we lucky?

Aside

Sing me a song of longing?

This week, Bee challenged me to write a poem using the prompt sing me a song of longing. So I shall try, not sure how good it will be, not really feeling the creative streak at the moment.

sing me a song
a song
as I long
for warmer days
brighter times
peaceful nights
I long in my heart
for all that is calm
sing me a song of longing
a song which brings joy
to my heart and mind
just sing, sing
sing me a song of longing…

Ingermanson on “Why You Need A Weekly Review”

March 2019
I am a little more organised now but it’s still good to look back and learn 🙂
October 2017
Do you, like me, suffer from “organisation phobia”? You have brilliant ideas and even manage to write them down, however, when it comes to putting them into practice and organising yourself all hell breaks loose.
It is time to stop doing this to yourself! Now is the time to change and find a way fulfil all those writing dreams and I have the right man an article for you:

Ingermanson on “Why you need a weekly review!”

This article is reprinted by permission of the author.
 
Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, “the Snowflake Guy,” publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 16,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.

I can only encourage you to sign up to his newsletter. It’s always good advice on anything writing- and publishing-related. Enjoy!

Your Weekly Review

If you’re serious about getting things done in your life, then you need to have a regular weekly habit of reviewing the previous week and planning the next one.

That sounds fun, doesn’t it? It’s right up there with changing the oil and cleaning the toilet on most people’s list of Things To Avoid Doing Pretty Much Forever.

Why You Need a Weekly Review

Here’s the thing. Your novel is not going to write itself. Big publishers are not going to throw money at you to write your novel. Truth be told, if your novel is never written, nobody will notice or care. (The good news—if your novel does get written, there’s a fighting chance that people will notice and care.)

The brutal reality is that if you want to get a good novel written, you’re going to have to do three things that are highly labor-intensive and that won’t earn you a dime up-front:

  1. Develop the skills to write a good novel.
  2. Write a good novel.
  3. Polish your novel.

I’m not trying to rain on the parade or tell you there’s no parade. There is a parade and it’s a good one. I’m trying to say that it’s a serious, major effort to make the parade happen, and you won’t get paid for it until very late in the game, if you ever get paid. You’ll need to spend hundreds of hours on this thing. Maybe thousands. You need to find a way to squeeze those hundreds of hours out of an already jam-packed life.

That means giving up some things. Saying yes to writing a novel means saying no to a lot of other wonderful things.

This could take you forever, or you could get it done in short order, and get your book out the door, and have it earning you money. The choice is yours, and a big part of that choice is taking control of your life.

I know some lucky people who are good at taking control of their life. I’m not one of those people. I have a lot of things going on in my life, and they all want to take control of me.

I deal with them by fighting back, and a big part of that fight is my Weekly Review.

The Weekly Review

This is not complicated. Once a week, (almost always on a Saturday afternoon), I sit down with my gigantic To Do List and work through it. I look at how I did last week, but more importantly, I look at what I want to get done in the next week.

There are three key questions to ask:

  1. What things are scheduled in already?
  2. What unscheduled things do I have to get done this week?
  3. What optional things do I most want to get done this week?

Questions #1 and #2 are key. Those are my constraints, because they tell me how many hours are already spoken for in the coming week. Question #3 then lets me pick out the optional things that I could reasonably get done.

Why is this useful? That’s easy.

I mentioned I have a gigantic To Do List. It’s uncontrollably large. But the key point is that every item on the list is tagged. I tag them with the time-frame in which I want to get them done. There are things I want to do “someday maybe.” There are things I want to do “this year.” Others that I want to do “this quarter.” Others that are “this month.” And a few that are “this week.”

The Weekly Review lets me keep the set of “this week” tasks down to a reasonable number. These are the things that matter right now. The other stuff will get done in good time, but just not right now.

What this means is that every day when I decide what I’m going to tackle today, I have a short list of things to choose from. I don’t have to look at the gigantic To Do List. That would be too cruel. All I have to look at is the items tagged “this week.” Every day, I choose a reasonable set to tackle. And it takes me five minutes, maximum, to plan my day.

I don’t have to wonder if there’s something coming up that I’ve forgotten about. During my Weekly Review, I already looked ahead and checked that. If there’s something coming up this week, my Weekly Review tags it as “this week.”

This is how I get stuff done without going crazy.

The gigantic To Do List will never go away. It’ll always be gigantic. It’ll always contain a bunch of pipe dreams that will never happen.

But the Weekly Review ensures that the things that are either urgent or important bubble to the top and get done.

No, the Weekly Review is not sexy. It’s not fun. But I find it absolutely indispensable. It takes about an hour each week, and at the end of it, I have some feeling of control over my life again.

Homework

  1. Are you doing a Weekly Review already? If so, congratulations, and you get a gold star. You might want to think about whether you can do it better. Maybe you can make a template for the Weekly Review so it goes quicker and so you never forget a step in your process. But if it’s working well for you, don’t change it. You’re good.
  2. If you’re not doing a Weekly Review, I’m not here to shame you. I’m here to tell you to do it, because it’s good for you. You’ll get more things done. You’ll be more in control. You’ll feel better. Really, you will. Now what day of the week can you schedule your regular Weekly Reviews? What time of the day should you plan on? How much time do you want to budget?
  3. If you don’t have any idea what to even do in a Weekly Review or how to get started, and you’d really like to punch me right now, that’s OK. Keep your distance, please, and go check out TheSecretWeapon.org,  which has a bunch of free videos on how to take control of your life. In an hour, you’ll know exactly how to do everything. That’s an hour well spent, and you may never need to learn one more thing about organization in your entire life.

This is not a feel-good article today, and my apologies on that. I’m not trying to make you happy. I’m trying to radically boost the chances that you’ll get your novel published someday.

You can thank me when you accept your Pulitzer.

Thank you, Mr Ingermanson for helping us along to get organised!

Related blog posts:

James Clear on Continuous Improvement

A Gentlewoman and Scholar on being productive even when you are sick

Cheryl Fassett on Finding what you did not lose

Val Mills on Daily Writing

Now go & organise yourself

because 

you can do it!