Progress

The poem Progress by Mark Anderson Smith with a greyscale background of a wooden grid

I wrote last week that I was setting a new target to write 5,000 words a day.

Why do I do this to myself?

The results are in. I think I managed a thousand words one day that first half week, then I’ve managed 4,790 this week.

That’s not even a fifth of what I’d imagined might be possible.

I think it’s okay though. I’ve written several new scenes and expanded on both the character and plot for a main character in this new season. I’ve also broken out my initial synopsis and plan, using Scrivener, so that every key scene I’ve planned is in order, so that it will be easier to focus on a specific character’s story while writing.

If you are interested, after splitting out the synopsis and looking at what I feel I can actually use from my initial writing, and including the scenes written this week, I now have 30,292 words. My goal for Season Two is 120,000 words which would give 6 20K episodes. A bit shorter than Fallen Warriors, but with my publishers hat on, cheaper to print!

Since I started using Scrivener, I’ve found it really helpful for dealing with the complexity of the stories I want to tell. I can group scenes by chapters and by episodes, keeping the TV theme I’m using for the Fallen Warriors series. I can search for a character name and filter so that only scenes where they appear are shown. This allows me to read through their story and check I’ve covered everything I need to happen. Also so I can check their story is consistent all the way through.

I can add notes to each scene so i can remember why I wrote something, or add hyperlinks to research I’ve done. I can backup each scene individually as many times as I want. And I’m probably not even scratching the surface of what the application is capable of.

I’m still aiming to work up to 5,000 words a day, but am conscious that might not be possible unless I try something radical like switching to dictation. I’ve been looking into Dragon speech to text software, but at £350 for the professional edition which allows you to record and transcribe later, I’m hesitant to shell out that cash.

I think 2,000 words a day might be a more realistic daily target for the next month as another issue I’m facing is that I need to spend time setting up marketing and promotion of my next book: Double Your Salary. There is no point in publishing a book if I don’t make an effort to promote it, and it makes a lot of sense to start that promotion now.

I’ve been able to look at what writing 2,000 words a day might mean. I could finish the first draft of Fallen Warriors Season Two by mid August. That might then allow me to edit and ready for publication by Christmas, or if not, the three year anniversary of Season One’s publication date.

I would be happy with that.

I thank God for the progress I’ve been able to make. I’m conscious I’m still not really well. Finished the course of antibiotics, but am still coughing and my sinuses are full. If I could complete 10,000 words over next week, I would be delighted with that, especially if at the same time, I’m able to make progress towards promoting Double Your Salary.

I would appreciate your prayers.

Progress

I tell myself
my novel is a book
made up of words.
The first word
followed by another,
each word building
on the words before,
creating something of beauty,
of purpose,
of insight.
The novel does not yet exist.
But it will,
if I keep writing,
one word at a time,
until it is finished.

Copyright 2019 Mark Anderson Smith

Jamaica? No, she would have done it anyway…

photo of feet wrapped with chains

One of my many favourite things about writing is getting lost in research. Tracking down a fact, or answer to a question that might be useful or essential in taking the story forward.

I rarely share any of this because I’m terrified of giving the plot away. But is that just a wasted opportunity?

Would you be interested in joining me on some of these trips down a rabbit hole?

I wonder if it’s possible to share at least some of what I’ve found out on my research trips without giving too much of the game away.

Today’s (or yesterday when this is published!) fascinating expedition was to the Caribbean island of Jamaica. I just wish it had not only been virtual!

I found this article by Professor Geoff Palmer: Slavery, the Scottish Caribbean connection, which has given me an insight into one of my characters in the sequel to Fallen Warriors. It’s a fascinating read in any case, diving into Scotland’s connections with the slave trade, our hypocrisy in ignoring how many in Scotland benefited from slavery and tried to prevent abolition, and also revealing that in spite of a dreadful past, and maybe even because of it, there are thriving communities and people that have much to contribute.

It’s a complex and messy world out there. Have you ever been to Jamaica? What do you think of Professor Palmer’s article?

Instagram

View from Cliffords Tower in York looking towards the Minster

I signed up to Instagram months ago on the recommendation of fellow writers. Followed a few people, but just didn’t get it. I’ve struggled to know how to use Facebook and Twitter, and Instagram seemed like just another social media platform that I didn’t have time to use. Until a couple of weeks ago…

Turns out I quite enjoy using Instagram and maybe I do “get it”. At least, I get how I can use it.

I drove down to York (taking our electric car which may inspire another post shortly) for the weekend to do some research for the sequel to Fallen Warriors. I wanted to walk through the city, remind myself of how it feels to be there, and scout out locations to use in the next book.

As you’d expect I took a bunch of photos, and thought I might share some of them on Instagram as the weekend progressed. I added some short descriptions, not really understanding the potential the descriptions gave, until I posted this one of Monk Bar: https://www.instagram.com/p/BxkwnuUBiF_/

I hashtagged it #FallenWarriors, wondering if hashtags work the same way as on Twitter. Turns out they do! And of course, descriptions are searchable…

I’ve tried posting photos on Twitter and on Facebook, but neither platform really seems to fit for what I’m trying to convey. Instagram does. I want to be able to post a photo that intrigues me, a scene that has captured my attention, and share a short sentence about that photo. I also want to drop clues about my books, things that only readers will understand. Add cryptic notes as hints towards what I’m planning to write. Maybe even lead people up a blind alley, after all, it’s all about the journey, right?

And there is no pressure. I can post one photo a day, or not, and regardless, everything I’ve posted will be there for people to stumble across. Unlike Twitter which feels every time I use it like I’m trying to drink from a fire hose!

So, if you’d like to see what I’m up to on Instagram, you can find me here: http://www.instagram.com/my100goals/

I intend to post at least one photo each weekday for the next month and then review. Look forward to connecting with you on Instagram!