February is always tough for me. I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe it takes me a month to get my plans for the year into action. Last year February saw me struggle with rewrites and decide to get my health in order. It signalled the start of a very tough year. This year, February once again tried to throw me with health worries.
So I look back at March as the month I pulled things back on course. There’s a huge change from where I was at the beginning of the month to where I was at the end.
I went to see my GP after my hospital screwed up my appointment. I was worried that symptoms I was having. Was the condition I had worse than they thought? And to be fair, this wasn’t just me being a hypochondriac. The symptoms were very similar except for one small difference according to my GP – I had sporadic issues whereas the condition would have given me constant issues.
But from that discussion I was able to go away and diagnose what was causing my stomach problems (as it turned out a mix of worry and artificial sweeteners). I’ve actually introduced more sugar into my diet as a result and have improved considerably.
I think I did a good job in February of keeping it together / channelling my angst, but March felt like I brought things closer to my normal self.
As a result, my word count rose. I wrote twice as many words in March as I did in February. I’m on around 120k for the year all combined which isn’t bad but is half of where I was 2 years ago.
The important thing is that whilst the novel progress has been slow at times, there’s been constant progress. I originally wanted this draft complete by the beginning of March. It’s probably looking at end of April or beginning of May now. Not that I’m too worried. The Shade Knight books are pretty big and even at this pace I would still be comfortably able to turn one out a year. February had the chance of derailing me like last year but all it did was slow me down a little
What I’m finding interesting is how much rewriting Black as Knight has taught me. As I’m writing book 2 I’m seeing a lot that I need to improve in the next draft, but instead of going and fixing it there and then, I’m just making a note and finishing off this draft. Who knows, perhaps I’m starting to love editing and developing a process?
I think that will be key to me. Once I develop an editing process to the level of my writing one, that should help speed me up even further. Of course, given how busy my life is this year, I’m doing well. If I was writing full time I think I would be twice or three times as fast.
It’s not all been successes though. I’ve still not found time to go over those synopsises. I recently said in The Climb that I need to be better at tracking my tasks, as whilst I’m being good at making sure the novel gets the focus, some of the other stuff can be forgotten in the process and these synopsises have dragged on for over a year now to the extent that they’ve become a chain around my neck.
I’ve not had editorial comments back from my agent. I see she’s signed a few deals so I guess that’s taken priority. Whilst there’s an impatience inside of me that wants to know now (and secretly fears it’s so bad that she’s sitting there wondering how to drop me in the nicest possible way), I feel patience is something I’m really going to have to master if I want to be a published writer. Until I start earning money I fully accept that I’m not going to be a priority. And so, the thing I’m really trying to master is using these patient times to write another draft or learn a new skill.
Being a writer seems to be a case of either doing nothing or locking yourself away from family to meet a deadline. If there’s one skill I want to master then it’s to optimise my workflow so that I make sure I recharge but also so that I’m always ahead of myself and can avoid these last minute panics.
My short story project, Climb The Sky, has continued but it has slowed down as the month has progressed. However, given that, at this stage, I’m just reading stories, it’s not too much of a worry until I complete this novel draft.
I’m pleased that I’ve managed to get the words done when the real danger has been letting all this social media stuff take priority.
I’ve spent a lot of time learning the complexities of social media but outside of Instagram basics I’ve yet to put a lot into practise. Perhaps there’s some fear there of stepping outside of my comfort zone but I need to remind myself that this is the perfect time to experiment.
Instagram continues to slowly climb and I feel that it’s now a case of just continuing what I’m already doing. Snapchat still hasn’t any traction and I think the advent of Instagram stories (and now Facebook stories) means that Zuckerberg is out to take Snapchat down.
Instead I’ve been putting some focus into Facebook. Everything I’ve read and watched tells me how this is the best platform for building an audience. Trouble is, I’ve been neglecting my Facebook. So in the latter part of the last month I’ve done some work to change that. I’ve also thought about how people would funnel from Facebook into the website and The Climb. As a result I’ve made some changes to help ease that transition.
It’s not perfect and there’s still further things I want to do, but I’d like to be here this time next month telling you about how Facebook advertising worked for me.
The Climb seems to have now found its rhythm. The readership hasn’t grown but I’m strangely OK with that. I think that will happen once I get a deal because people will then want to read back on how I got there.
The biggest challenge is giving it focus. Because everything you do as a writer can impact your writing, and because I don’t know whether something unrelated will have an impact on the page a week later, trying to keep it writing focused rather than just a rambling diary is a challenge. I’m sure that will improve with time.
My aim for the next month is to play around with titles. I’ve already seen that some get better results than others and that might be because they raise interest better than others. So I intend to play around with it and see what works and what doesn’t.
Next month I also want to start the vlog. I’m aware this could be a big time sink so I have enlisted some friends to help with editing. I also think there’s not enough interesting stuff going on for it to be anything more than fortnightly but my initial plan is to do something monthly with maybe some other videos as well. I’ve bought a camera specifically for vlogging so now I just need to go out there and do it badly.
Storm chasing plans have continued to evolve. There’s not a lot I can organise from over here so it’s more just talking to the rest of them and agreeing with their plans. In the meantime I’m trying to test out my camera gear ready.
Swordfighting has been a bit quiet. It’s that time of the year where you just knuckle down and work. I’ve not seen any particular improvement in myself but sometimes that’s hard when everyone is levelling up together.
So, all in all, March was a better month than February, and like my swordfighting, there’s not been any big major development. I’ve just continued to do the hard work for the success down the road.
Jump aboard my daily progress from 1st April with The Climb #69