Writing Essentials – a writing diary entry

Say what you will about Covid-19, but it hasn’t only brought bad things in its wake. The international lockdown, variously applied, has presented a golden opportunity for the web-based service industry and been a spur for the development software supporting on-line work.

For example Zoom Video Communications, at the time of writing, has just raised it’s annual revenue prediction from US$905 million to US$1.8 billion. Like a lot of people, I’d never heard of them till corona struck, but now I’ve been on several internet video conferences with them I’m impressed.

Another development…

For years I’ve had my eye on the writers’ courses run by Writers & Artists in London. But all the courses are weekend or evening based and most of them take place in London. The courses themselves aren’t cheap. Add on the cost of staying over a weekend in London and the cost of travelling there. They have always seemed prohibitive.

Last year I wrote to them asking about on-line courses. The reply was along the lines of: “Yes, we’ve thought about that. It’s something we might possibly get around to offering in the future sometime, maybe.” Six months on and I’m now in week 3 of their first 6 week on-line course Novel Writing Essentials.

I signed up as soon as I saw the course was available.

No, that’s not true. What I did first was look at my cash flow, look at my work load, discuss the idea with Mrs SC (who is working from home herself at present). And then I signed up.

Novel Writing Essentials

The course leader is William (Bill) Ryan and there are 9 of us course participants. Mostly from Britain, I think, though there’s at least one person with an Irish accent and a couple of Americans, one of whom is linking up from Seattle.

Every Monday evening at 6 pm British time, we login to our Zoom classroom and Bill delivers a presentation on some aspect of novel writing. So far we’ve covered POV, Tense, Style, Setting and Research, and Characters. Coming up is Writing Scenes, Plotting and How to Write a Synopsis and the grand finale when we get the answer to the question: What Does a Literary Agent Do?

Extracts of Elin

That’s the first hour. The remaining hour and a half is given over to workshopping extracts of novels we course participants are working on. I have disinterred Elin’s Story from the archives, dusted it off and I’ve started my – what is it now? My fifth? – rewrite.

The first two weeks I shared previously written extracts, but I’m on to material written specifically for the course now. Last week my secondary pov character, George North, met Elin for the first time at an inn in Telge (modern Sodertälje). Next week Elin in her own voice will describe the moment she first got on Princess Cecilia’s bad side. I hope. Still working on that one.

#Stuckhome – SWF20

One reason I could afford to take the Novel Writing Essentials course was the cancellation of the Stockholm Writers Festival 2020 at the end of May. With the cost of the tickets and the hotel room in Stockholm refunded, I felt like I’d had a windfall. Almost like I’d won the lottery. (OK, it was my own money coming back, but that’s how my mind works.)

And then the people behind SWF20 announced a virtual festival instead: #Stuckhome 2020. Only SEK 400. I bought a ticket.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf

In the end I was a bit pressed for time and missed some parts of the virtual festival, but I greatly appreciated Jess Lourey‘s session on planning for writers. Not everything appealed, but some of the ideas fit well with my new-found enthusiasm for Bullet Journaling (about which more later, perhaps).

I’ve planned my writing schedule for Elin’s Story, I’ve set up a system of “rewards” for different milestones, I’ve written my future self a couple of letters through Future Me. Let’s see if it helps me actually get to the end of a book I’ve started at last.

One other thing I took away from Jessica’s session: commit yourself to writing by sharing your determination and progress on a social media platform. Mmmm … I’m not going to do that. I’ve done it before so many times, if I did it again it would have more than a flavour of The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

People I know would shrug and say: Oh, yeah? If you say. We’ve heard it before…

Instead, I’ll write it here!

OK, that’s my writing diary written up. What are you doing?

Writing essentials: The Long Way to Writing Elin
The Long Way to Writing Elin

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