The state of the lost dabs project

An update

So it turns out that it’s not as easy as I thought it would be to write a book and update a blog at the same time! One of them always gives way to the other.

When I started writing this blog, I wasn’t doing any writing, I was making notes and thinking about things that affected the book. I wanted to discuss my thoughts with other writers to draw on their experience, and I used the blog to channel this. All my writing was in blog posts and it really helped structure this project.

Now I have moved on to writing my book, I’ve found I don’t have the time to write on here, and it shows. I’m not posting anything, no ones interested in the project – and why would they be? For all anyone knows, I’ve given up and decided to do something else instead.

The word count

So here’s an update. I’m still going! In fact, I’ve been pretty productive this past week. I don’t really want a word count on the blog as word counts are no measure of quality (I might as well write the word ‘porridge’ 70000 times, but that wouldn’t make it a book). However, I feel that as part of an update on productivity, the word count is a good metric to use – you’ll just have to trust me on my own measure of quality!

In my post https://haroldhuscin.wordpress.com/2013/08/17/fixed-deadline-go-flexible-on-the-plot/  bejamin4 added a comment to say that he structures his writing by chunking it up into 10000 (10k) word blocks. The idea that it is easier to get to the end of one block rather than to fixate on the total 70k word book. It’s worth reading his comments in our conversation on this post as they really made sense to me.

So now I’m shamelessly copying bejamin4’s style on writing – and I think it really works. My original structure of a beginning, and end and five middle sections also goes with this – I’m now aiming for them to all be 10k words each, rather than the complicated split of sections I described elsewhere on this blog. I’ve already defined what the sections are going to be about, I just need to work out the detail whenever I start a new section.

I’ve also established a new timetable for writing: write a thousand words every day for ten days. Edit for three days. Repeat. Seven times in total means a book of 70k words in 91 days. I’m planning to edit the full manuscript during December, ready for the launch before Christmas. Sounds easy!

So where am I now? I’ve written 7000 words so far. This was a great achievement last night as it constitutes 10% of the whole. Reaching this landmark has made me realise the end is achievable. The Lost Dabs project is good!!

Going forward

So my question to the world is… what do I write about on the blog? Some of you write loads about your books and I always like to read what other people are doing and where their writing is going. How do you find the time? Do you find it worthwhile to take a break to blog about something different rather than always concentrating on writing the book?

All the comments I’ve had on my blog so far have been really helpful and inspired me to carry on and have steered the way I’ve thought about this project. In my mind, I need to keep reading as I write and take as much collaborative input I can into this process, posting my thoughts as I go along. If there’s anything I’m missing, or any thoughts that are useful to publish, then I’d love to hear what you think. As always, I am completely open to sharing and discussing all thoughts on the writing process, so please leave me a comment below if you’d like to join in.

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Is there any value in posting your work in progress?

The critics

Writing a blog is about drip-feeding your thoughts to anyone who’ll listen in the world and getting immediate feedback on it. Seems to work well. Writing a book is all about the big bang. Landing an entire magnum opus on the reader and expecting them to devour it in one sitting, hopefully emerging full of praise on the other side.

So is there any middle ground? Is it worth getting the opinion of the community on some half-written text before the big release? Does any interim feedback simply serve as self-gratifying validation for the author, rather than gently steering them in the right direction?

I recently wrote a screenplay for an amateur animator friend. It was pretty intense work and included eight songs, all of which I recorded and posted on youtube for her. I sent over the first act and she liked it. Buoyed by this response I carried on with the screenplay and eventually completed it. It had taken about three months but had been a labour of love and a great writing experience.

After sending it over, it took my friend a while to go through it. When we finally caught up, it was a very different conversation. She picked the smallest holes throughout the plot and put up barriers to show why she couldn’t start planning the filming. I guess she didn’t really want to make it in the first place.

So I don’t like a critic, is that the problem? I guess I don’t mind a few general pointers, hints, even criticisms, as long as it’s constructive and not just negative for the sake of it. In my case, I’d written a three act script and eight songs which I was pretty proud of, but I don’t think my friend even listened to them. She just read the words in the script and moved on to where she thought the problems were. I wouldn’t mind, but I’m sure anyone could find just one tiny piece of positive to reflect the obvious effort I’d put in.

Publish as you go

I’ve been thinking about publishing some of my writing for the book on this blog as I go along. Mainly so that I can show a bit of a flavour of where it’s heading, but also to get some feedback on what I’ve done. Following my recent experience, I’m not sure if this is the best idea.

When I wrote the screenplay, I was writing on my own. I showed it to one other person and got their take on it. The other person had some different views to me so we ended in a stalemate – how I wanted to write the story versus how she wanted to animate it. It was my word against hers.

Now I am pitching to a bigger audience, is it a good idea to encourage feedback on work in progress? Does anyone have experience, either positive or negative with this? I am completely open to comments on anything I write, as long as it’s constructive. In fact, I am always hoping to enter into a discussion around everything I do, as long as it helps the learning and improving process.

One issue around reviewing someone else’s work is personal opinion. When I am reading other people’s work I try to be objective about it. I may not like the genre, but if the writing’s good then that’s the feedback to give. If the writing’s bad then I try to say what’s wrong with it and not let the subject matter influence me. This can be tricky but it’s the most important thing about writing – different people like to read different things. There’s a market for everything, and that’s why we do it.

My view is that I want to share as much as I can and encourage all comments and opinion from anyone with an interest. It’s then up to me how much I take on board and adapt my writing accordingly. The only issue is that too much influence from outside could put a strain on the timing of the project, but at least I won’t end up in a one-on-one stalemate like I had with my now defunct screenplay.

As always, I’d really like to hear any comments or thoughts you have on this, and will be happy to discuss them below.

An Introduction to the World of Indie Publishing

A Project Update

I put a countdown on my blog to keep my ever impending deadline in mind. However, after a couple of days I had to move it down the page so now it doesn’t appear on my laptop screen when I go onto my blog. No one needs to see their deadlines all the time.

So far, the Lost Dabs project is a mere 13 days old. So much has happened in the last couple of weeks of Foundations: I’ve decided on how the book will be published, the timescales for writing and editing, some of the characters details and an outline of the plot. I’ve created a method for capturing all my data around each character and the background facts of the world and developed a method for incrementally writing about each.

However, I’ve also learnt about something that I knew nothing of when I started. All I wanted to do was to publish a book myself using an established outlet. In my mind this was the Kindle Store – it seemed like the obvious choice as it has a large market share, the Amazon Store is something I already know about and, possibly most importantly, I already own a Kindle, an iPad with the Kindle App, an iPhone with the Kindle App… it’s all pretty accessible.

Doing It Yourself

But them I started reading about a whole world of Indie Authors. People who make a living doing what I’m trying to do. I realised that I am in massive danger of making light something that other people have spent years of their lives working on. I realised that I can’t produce any old crap and call myself an Indie Author. I realised I have to be a signed up member of the Indie movement.

This is the best news I’ve had since starting this project – the number of people who are all writing and independently publishing are all part of a great community. There’s massive competition in this market but I don’t want to see it. I want to embrace what other people are doing. I want to eschew the books I’ve bought on my shelves and start reading Indie Authors. I want to see what other people in my position are doing. I want to explore different genres and engage with people who are writing.

It’s the only way the Indie community can function: if I want people to read my book, I need to read and engage with those writing their own books.

As an unpublished Indie Author I don’t feel I can call myself fully part of this wonderful community yet, but I feel strongly enough to make it only a matter of time. Watch out world, the Huscin is coming! The countdown is ticking… maybe I should move it back to the top of my blog?!