Ladies and Gentlemen, this is what I'm currently doing. Plotting. Otherwise known as 'getting your ducks in a row'.
In 2004, I embarked on a Creative Writing degree. There I got to experiment to my little heart's content with different styles, genres and I got to play with art. Good times. Then I needed to pay my bills. I've been putting off writing my own stuff with some rather excellent excuses (if I don't say so myself), but as it's turned out, in the meantime, I've learnt some rather good things from copywriting.
The first, most important thing for me, is to know what I'm going to write.
I've currently got 3 chapter 1's of stuff I've started and then run out of steam. I didn't know where to go. I know how to begin, but to complete a big writing project has eluded me.
People bring the most amazing set of baggage to writing. I have been no different. Ultimately, what distinguishes the wanna-be, from the writer is 50,000 words or so. It's not a romantic or an easy way to spend one's time. Marion Zimmer-Bradley always said, writing is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration and she's not wrong.
Copy-writing has beaten out quite a few of my excuses. Telling your manager that you're not 'in the mood' to write that website copy she needs yesterday, is not conducive to paying the gas bill before the second red letter. I can write copy in a noisy open-plan office, with a To Do List with 16 things breathing down my neck like a serial killer, curled around my jumper fighting off stomach cramps and with tissues stuffed up my nose. It doesn't have to be great copy, that's what editing is for, it just has to be words on a page.
I can do this now because I plot. I create a structure, I then make it more detailed, and then I write it paragraph at a time. Because if I know what I've got to write, I can sit down and transfer it from my head to the page.
Plotting takes me most of my time with small projects. I've learnt to create pages and pages of notes. I do these long-hand on loose bits of plain paper. I keep them clipped together with bulldog clips. I then transfer them to digital when they're done. By the way, deforestation of the Amazon is my fault. I'm considering taking out shares in WH Smith. I'm fussy about the pens I write with, the paper I write on and the bulldog clips I keep everything together with. A stationery store is my idea of a good time.
I digress. Plotting is the unseen work. Plotting happens when I'm driving to work, doing the dishes, making dinner, standing outside staring up at the stars.
I have 3 writing projects, all with different rules and needs and my plotting needs to be tight.
Romance. Yes, I am writing a Mills and Boon. For those people who think it's easy, do it and come back to me after you've got 50,000 words to your name. Readers of romance have very specific requirements for the type of experience they're after. They are some of the most discerning and demanding audience a writer will ever have to face. There's a very tight structure, without much room for manoeuvre and it's a difficult market to break into.
I read a lot of romance. It's my feel-good reading of choice. I love a happy ending. It's the glass of gin at the end of a hard day, kind of reading for me.
Genre - Urban Fantasy. Good genre fiction is hard to find. It also has its own rules and much of the good stuff, comes from across the Pond. There's more dross than bears thinking about and many books that should be apologising to the tree that went into producing them. I'm letting my imagination run riot. I want to produce an excellent genre novel, based in the wilds of Norfolk. It's going to be a bit of fun.
This is my tour-de-force. My serious bit of writing. It's ambitious and I am battling the worry that I am not able to do it justice. Based in Trinidad in the late 1960's -, it's been rattling round my brain for the last 2 years. This is going to be the hard and painful labour.
Three writing projects is a bit of an ask. It's hard enough working on one piece of writing.
However, I am good at chopping and changing, hopping from one project to another. Faced with one thing, I tie myself up in knots. With three, when I get stuck, I can move on to another, where I can be productive. I can let my unconscious sort out the stuck bits as I work on something else. It's very easy to get sick at the sight of a piece of writing and when copy-editing, it's incredibly important to remain fresh - your brain will automatically translate what's on the page, to what you meant - the two are guaranteed not to be the same.
So here goes. Wish me luck.