As the end of the year approaches, I start thinking about next year – mainly because I tend to go into hibernation mode during this time but I absolutely love the fresh new start of January and get far more excited by the new goal setting and planning of a new year.
I’ve tried to recognise that I go into a bit of an energy slump in December and have scheduled a light month. However, I’m a bit behind on some of my November goals, so I want to really push myself this week to get as much done as possible before I wind down for the year.
I have revisited my goals from January this year and I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve achieved, but if I can tick a couple more things off the list then even better!
I encourage you to check in with your goals on a regular basis – but definitely at large junctures like quarterly or at the beginning, middle and end of the year. When I’m feeling overwhelmed or like I’m not getting much done it can be either encouraging to see what I have actually managed or the kick up the backside I need.
This year I planned to write, edit and publish Stop Worrying; Start Writing in all formats. The ebook and print versions are done and the audio should scrape in under the wire, I hope!
I also did extensive structural rewrites on Beneath The Water (now available to pre-order – meep!), finished and rewrote my supernatural thriller, and have almost finished the first draft of a new novel.
In writing terms, it’s probably my best, most productive year yet but I am still aware of how much more I am capable of or, more accurately, how much more I want to do. I think I have to be happy with my own process, but also to push myself a bit and keep trying to refine my work habits. It’s a tricky balance.
This year I also planned to do some real life events, meeting up with author friends who live around the UK and beyond, and I managed a couple of lovely lunches – hurrah! I also made strides with my business training by completing the SPF 101 course and ‘advertising for authors’, both from the excellent Mark Dawson. I’ve started to experiment with ads with some success, so that’s pleasing. I’ve also been building my mailing list, although I have a lot more to do in that area.
This month, I was lucky enough to get attend a Performance and Presentation training day put on by the Scottish Book Trust. There were workshops from Jenny Lindsay, a spoken word poet, and Alex Gillon, a voice coach.
It was an intense day and quite hard in places, but the workshops were incredibly powerful and useful.
Mindset is important!
- Remember why you are doing this (to share your work).
- The people in the audience are not out to hate you or have a bad time and they won’t be hyper-critical if you make little mistakes or seem nervous.
- Think of it like talking a group of people you’ve just met in the pub. You don’t know them well, but they seem nice.
- ACT FINE. You don’t have to be super-confident or to feel fine, you just have to act fine.
- Walk the space beforehand.
- Insist on a sound check.
- Warm up with stretching, shaking out the tension in your body and do some breathing exercises before you go on.
The other big takeaway for me was the idea of really performing the piece. Having only presented non-fiction, I hadn’t appreciated how much feeling and variety you need to put into a piece of fiction to make it come alive. It’s no good just reading the text nice and clearly; if you want your listeners to experience it properly, you have to act with emotion and use different voices for the different characters and so on.
I am so grateful to the Scottish Book Trust for the opportunity and feel more confident than I did at the thought of reading my fiction to an audience. I’m still terrified, of course, but it helps to know there are techniques and tips I can follow.
This month’s listener question is from Georgia Economides. Georgia wrote:
I am currently learning how to edit my first draft of my very first novel! I am planning on making it the first of three in a series. I would like to try to get it traditionally published…
However, I have a full-time job and am worried that even if I did manage to get a deal for all three, trying to write to a deadline alongside a full-time job would be too much. Would it be better to write all of the series and then try and get it published? Or would publishers be reluctant to buy a series all in one go?
Thanks so much for the great question!
My advice is to start querying as soon as book one is ready. Traditional publishing is very slow so you will have time to finish your second and maybe even third while you wait to hear from agents and publishers. A publisher might not want to buy a trilogy so it is a good idea to make sure book one can stand alone, too.
I’ll answer it on the show and credit you (unless, of course, you ask to remain anonymous).
I have a fabulous interview with psychological thriller author and publisher (Manatee Books), Lisa Hall, to share with you, and will also discuss my goals for 2018.
Thank you so much for your support this year and I wish you a happy winter holiday!
Thank you for listening!
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