Sunday, March 20, 2011

Reverse procrastination

Something wonderful happened yesterday. I sat down to write a blog post, and couldn't think of what to write so I ended up procrastinating by writing a page of my novel.

Ridiculous, I know, but a tactic to consider in future!

Meanwhile, I saw an ad in the paper this morning for 'The 7 minute work day' ebook, which got me thinking. The idea of getting all my work done in 7 minutes a day seemed a stretch. I'm all for efficiency, but when it takes 5 minutes just for my computer to boot up. . . and then I have to check my email, surf the procrastinet, and by then it's morning tea time.

7 minutes? What secret am I missing?

As it turns out, when I looked up the website, the 'work' in work day involves dodgy share trading of aussie dollars guaranteed to make you rich by working just 7 minutes a day (don't ask me why it's dodgy, but NOTHING could be that easy).

So no tips on how to speed type, hyper-multi-task, or mind map your way to an instant novel. Unfortunately. Once again, it looks like the only way is the hard way.
Has anyone ever found any shortcuts that work?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Short success

A small success!

I have had a short story 'merit' listed in a short story comp. Although it doesn't win me any prizes, it does mean my story has been published in an anthology put together by the competition organiser.

It's my first published piece of fiction, so I'm quite pleased with myself. The best part is that they actually put out a hard-copy version, as well as an ebook, so I'll get to see my work in print on paper! (Both available here.)

This is the blurb from their website:

The Umbrella’s Shade and other stories from the Stringybark Short Story Awards

This unique anthology brings together 27 short stories from established and first-time writers. The themes are many and varied. They are united by a common passion and curiosity for exploring the Australian character and how Australia’s big, broad land affects those who live here. Dip your toe in and sample the very best entries in the Stringybark Short Story Award 2010 as selected by David Vernon, Gina Meyers and Andrew Perry.
    For readers, these short stories are clever, poignant, witty, amusing, sometimes sad but always well written and give an insight into Australia and Australians.
    For writers, these short stories illustrate what makes a great short story. You can’t write short stories unless you are familiar with the genre. Buy a copy today and be entertained by quality Australian writing.
So there you go. I'm still waiting for my copy to arrive, so haven't read any of the other stories. But it will be interesting to see in what other ways people have written about this 'big, broad land'.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Some good news in the world of books

There's been a bit in the news recently about the viability of books, publishing and book stores - mostly due to the recent bankruptcy of Borders and Angus & Robertson.

But here's some good news! Research commissioned by American journal McSweeney's shows that in the US anyway, book sales are still healthy - significantly up from 20 years ago - the book isn't dead or even on it's way out, and (my favourite stat) 68% of Americans had a library card in 2009.

Check out all the good news at

Not sure if all this applies to Australia, but hey, it's nice to hear something positive about the state of books. I was beginning to wonder if there would even be a market left if I ever did finish my manuscript.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Excuses for doing writing research

One appealing thing about being a writer is what you get to do in the name of 'research'. Particularly if your novel, like mine, is slightly historical (as opposed to slightly hysterical, although it is sometimes).

Aside from a recent writing gig where I had to 'research' pubs, cafes and bars (which was oh, so difficult!) I have bought, borrowed or borrowed indefinitely heaps of books on 19th century Australia in the name of researching my novel:

What did people do for fun in the 1800s? Maybe I should buy a book about it (Geoffrey Blainey's Black Kettle and Full Moon, for anyone who's randomly interested in the lives of 19th century Australians)

How did they speak? Hmm, better raid Mum's bookcase for stories written at the time (The Anthology of Colonial Australian Gothic Fiction is coming in handy).

How did they dress? Time to go to the museum...

Trust me, if you're a history nerd like myself, it's fascinating. And for a writer, there's the added bonus that doing 'research' is an inexhaustible source of procrastination. I may not have achieved my 700-word target for the week, but by studying up on the Indian Raj down under, I feel like I'm still working on the novel.

Does anyone else find themselves doing this? Anyone who just 'had' to do or buy anything in the name of writing research?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Novel revelations

I had a revelation about my novel the other day. It was while I was doing something else though - polishing up an article for a pitch to The Age (the Melbourne broadsheet, we'll see, fingers crossed).

I wrote the article, 640 words, in about 2 hours, but then spent at least another hour tidying it up, making it catchier, taking out all the cliched phrases and all that. As I added the final touches and sent it off to the editor, I thought, 'Cripes, if I just spent that long editing a 640-word article, how much work has to be done on my novel??'

That was one part of the revelation - how much work there will still be once I've finished it! (Say my novel comes out at around 60 000 words, at 1 hour per 640 words, that's 94 hours, = 4 days, or 12 working days!)

The other part was: all those parts that are a bit crap now are going to be so much better after a decent edit!

Kind of daunting and comforting at the same time.

[Word count for this week, 470, but I've still got a Sunday arvo up my sleeve...]

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pat on the back

So I might not have acheived 100 words a day, but on average, with 735 words for the week, I did it!

I'm pleased, because it's difficult doing work at home when I've been at work all day, particularly since my work during the day is also writing (of a much-less-fun, writing-about-stuff-that-doesn't-involve-character-development-or-evil-villains variety).

For now, I'm sticking with the 100-a-day challenge, and hoping I can keep it up!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Well, that was never going to happen. First day at a new job, and then someone suggested going to see a band in the city . . . somehow I just didn't manage to get time at the 'puter to do my 100 words.

However, I've made up for it today, writing 287 words as soon as I got home. Straight away. That way, I don't have a chance to sit or eat or get distracted or realise how zonked I am from learning all the new stuff at work.

So, so far, so good!