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Tuesday, 30 March 2010

How to Plan Your Writing Day

Taken from our March Issue (5) of Getting Published. Click on the archive link above to check out the full newsletter.


Cliched, it's true, but this week we look at what is the most important part of writing your book or novel - actually sitting down and completing it. In ISSUE 5 of Getting Published, 24 Hours' author, the fabulous and talented Marsha Moore, will give you her tips for getting the job done.

Plus, our new regular columnist,
Elle Symonds, tackles her writing demons in 'Diary of a Newbie Novelist'.

Once again, thank you for the positive feedback we have been receiving for Getting Published. Please note that we have a new submissions' address. Check out the details on our

All the best, and as always, feel free to retweet or to link to our

The Editorial Department at Prospera Publishing.


As we told you last issue, we have just signed the wonderful Elle Symonds. This is Elle's as-it-happens account of her own publishing journey. As usual, we must say thank you to Elle for making time to help and entertain other newbie novelists.

PS: We know a few of you have asked for more information on Elle. Stay tuned for a bio next issue (due out end March 2010).

#2 - Head - Meet keyboard.

It seems like a long time since the first installment of Newbie Novelist. Since the announcement of my publishing deal, my inbox and Twitter have been filled with congratulatory messages, offers of lunch and numerous questions. (Still no cake). I've only just got round to answering them all.

So, last issue saw me ... you know, the one in which I mentioned my new status as 'newly signed author' (cue excited squeal) ... contemplating the rewrite of my upcoming book.

It's only been a couple of weeks, and whereas I'd planned to at least have half of my chicklit masterpiece completed by today, I've now resorted to smacking myself in the head, simply because it's a lot less painful than banging it against my keyboard. I need my keyboard.

And why the annoyance? Because I've been suffering from ... wait for it ... writers' block.

I'll admit it. There's no shame in it. Quite frankly everyone I know who writes has had the misfortune of an awful bout of the block, and if you thought I was this amazing person who sits at her desk tapping out the next big sensation (that's better than sliced bread and Jammie Dodgers and sex all rolled into one), without a care in the world. then you're mistaken!

This week, I've been extremely annoyed with yours truly, simply because, as I put it one rather chilly morning, 'MY FUNNY IS GONE.''What?' asked my friend, confused. 'I said, 'my funny is gone.' Seriously. I can't be funny anymore. It's like it got up and left for a holiday in Brighton or something, and won't be coming back.''Oookay.'Admittedly, it did seem odd, and I wouldn't have been surprised had two men in suits come to collect me and put me in one of those 'special jackets' before leading me out of the place and into a van with blackened windows. Oh, the imagery.

Even so, what started me on this little issue was the fact that I had got up early in order to do some work on the book. I turned on the PC, got out the purple journal I'd bought specifically for my book notes, opened Word, raring to go. And then ...... nothing happened.I'd been fine the day before. The words had poured out, my typing was hurried as I tried to get everything down. Ideas popped into my head constantly. I was on my way to writerly success for sure.And now?

Now, it was gone. And I had no idea why.

Everything that I planned on writing - every little joke, every piece of dialogue, the chapter plan that I had in front of me - had simply disappeared. It was as though my brain had decided to disengage and have its own little 'I'm not doing it anymore!' Veruca Salt-esque tantrum. (Damn you, brain.)I couldn't be witty. I couldn't be funny. It just wasn't flowing freely anymore.

'Fine,' I said to myself, not willing to give up just yet. 'I'll go and get some coffee. See how you like THAT!' Two minutes and a latte later, my wit was still nowhere to be found. But I still wasn't giving up. 'Okay, brain,' I said menacingly. 'You win THIS one. I'll sit and wait until my wonderful ability returns. YOU WON'T GET ME!' 9.05am: Reluctantly accept that my free-flowing ability to put very good words to paper (or, um, Word) has vanished. Unwilling to lose the battle, I decide to wait.

9.07am: Get another coffee. It's still not back.

9.10am: Read my favourite newspapers online.

9.20am: Try to write - and fail.

9.24am: Read though more book notes.

9.32am: Stare at blank screen for approximately three minutes. Still no joy.

9.35am(ish.) Get more coffee.

9.38am: Play Facebook Scrabble to try and clear my head. Find that 'a quick game' becomes the ultimate Scrabble smackdown when some girl beats my Countdown-esque efforts ('Ha! 'Supercalifragilisticexpialodocious! Beat that!'), by putting 'zoo' on a triple word square. Cow.

9.48am: Give in to Scrabble ass-kickery and try to write. Get approximately 500 words written but it's still not the same, NOT. THE. SAME.

Writers block is well and truly awful. You want to write. You know it's there. You just need to let it out. And will it emerge? No way. It's like when you're sat at a job interview and have a million great things to say about why you're the perfect candidate. You've researched and rehearsed a thousand times, have an answer to every possible question the interviewer can ask you, and you open your mouth to give one of your perfect, A-star answers and ...... NOTHING COMES OUT.

Such a block makes you want to scream and shout and quite possibly throw your PC out of the window. It's annoying enough getting it when you're not on deadline. When you ARE? It's ten times worse.Thankfully, the following day my funny returned, and here I am again, frantically working on the book. The next few chapters are going to be great and I can't wait to write more. Panic over! Let's just hope it stays that way.

Newbie out (but not down).

x Elle.

Planning Your Writing Day by Marsha Moore

Marsha Moore's new 24 Hour guide, 24 Hours Paris, is due out in May. She is also working hard on a commissioned fiction title. So how does she fit it all in? Read on as she reveals all.

When I first started writing full-time, I wondered how on earth I was going to fill the hours ahead of me. I needn't have worried - within a week, I'd discovered that organising cupboards, cleaning the floor (how had I never noticed how dirty it was before?) and foraging in the kitchen for anything that resembled snack-food took up plenty of time ... not to mention the lure of Twitter and Facebook.

In short, I became an expert in the art of procrastination. After several weeks of being thoroughly annoyed at myself - and producing only a few random chapters - I'd had enough. I needed to get serious, to treat my writing as I would any other workplace task. I needed to form routines, set targets, and I needed to deliver. I'd done it for my previous employers, so why wouldn't I do it for my writing?

So I made a routine, and I stuck to it. Getting myself to sit in my office chair at 8:00 am was half the battle. I allowed myself an hour for lunch - just like my office job - and I kept going until 4:00 pm. After a few months, I began to feel guilty if I wasn't writing by 8:00 am or if I stopped early.

Not everyone has the luxury of writing all day. But even if you only have an hour, if you set a specific writing time and stick to it, after a while it will become habit. Now that I was in the chair, how could I measure my output? I had plenty of practice eking out the nine to five slog, so I needed to make sure I was actually writing.

Every writer works differently, but for me the most invaluable piece of advice on setting writing targets came from Stephen King's On Writing. King writes every day (including Christmas!) and he sets himself a daily word target: in his case, 2000 words a day. Sometimes the 2000 words take him an hour or so, sometimes the whole day, but he always gets them finished. I liked the thought of having a measurable target so I decided to follow suit. It's definitely a struggle some days, but at least when 4 pm rolls around I know I've accomplished something.

Things become a bit more complex when I have multiple projects on the go; for example, book promotional activities as well as writing drafts. When I'm trying to organise my head space, I break down the day into chunks, still setting definite times and measurable outcomes to make sure I don't drift off an iron shirts or stare in the fridge for a few hours. Writing requires inspiration and creativity. But it also requires an iron will to sit down and just write.

Once your words pile up, though, you'll be happy to have whipped yourself into shape!

24 Hours London, recommended by Mayor of London Boris Johnson, is available via Paypal with free worldwide postage from our website, or on Amazon or in the UK and Europe via your local bookstore. Marsha Moore's 24 Hour Paris is due out May 12th.

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