A very Merry Christmas to you all, may the festive period be full of wonderful memories with family and friends. This is a time to be thankful for what we have, that one day to cherish the people most dear. Let’s smile and be jolly, open all those presents and, in some cases, get merrily drunk, you deserve it. While we’re here I’d also like to thank you for your support with A.P Writing over the last 8 months, I’ve got many exciting things planned for the new year. See you all real soon.
Hey everyone!! It’s wonderful to be back posting on A.P Writing, I hope you’re all feeling great and enjoying life. This next post as the title suggests delves into the importance of reading, I’ll ask some key questions and try to give you some insight into my mind set. Now, as Ned Stark would say, WINTER IS COMING, the days are growing shorter and before long our days will be nothing but dark mornings and gloomy evenings. Ah, but is this not the best time of year to read? Just imagine the scene, you’ve had a stressful, tiring day at work, you get home, brew yourself a cup of tea and sit in that cosy little chair with a good book, total bliss ehh? Of course if only it was that easy, I’m sure like me many of you would love this to be their daily routine but life will inadvertently get in the way. Perhaps some of what I’ll discuss below will encourage you to squeeze that half an hour into your evening, to read a good book while nightfall creeps in.
So, firstly we should think about just what it is we get from reading, for me there’s a hundred different answers I could give, and the amazing thing is that mine will probably be different to yours, reading like writing is a unique experience. With that in mind I’ve compiled a list of questions we can talk through. To begin with why not look at what got us into reading, we all had to start somewhere. I personally took up reading as a child, I’ll admit looking back now I wish I’d done a lot more, my earliest memories of books that I really truly enjoyed were Anthony Horowitz Young Bond collection. I continued to read on and off through my early teens but found a real passion for reading and writing when I hit my twenties. I was utterly taken away by the escapism and for the first time in my life remember thinking this is what I want to do, I’ve got so many stories to tell. Was it the same for you? Have a think back to when you started reading, we’ve all probably been doing it much longer than first thought.
Now, I read somewhere that 10,000 hours of practicing something makes you an expert, does this make us all experts in the art of reading? We spend hours at a time engaged within a book, how many hours is that over the last however many years you’ve been reading? The point I’m trying to make is that we keep coming back, why is that? As stated earlier I gain so much from the escapism a book brings, getting to be someone else, achieve things we never could in real life, that’s liberating. Whether you see yourself as rouged Jack Reacher, solving crimes and helping the innocent or enjoy having the ultimate power at the hands of a Targaryen and their dragons, there can be no denying sometimes it feels good to forget our own lives in favour of our fictional hero’s. I also love how reading engages the brain, we’re constantly thinking about different scenarios and how a scene might play out, slyly amused when the author fools us again.
In my opinion we learn something new every time we finish a book, so ask yourself while we’re here, what knowledge do you keep? Yes that’s right, believe it or not there’s more to finishing a book than just the sense of satisfaction you feel, think of the writers style and what you liked about it. Think of all the words you read and didn’t understand, I’m not ashamed to admit that sometimes when reading I come across words I’ve not seen before. So what do I do? Well I write them down of course, research what they mean and then use them when applicable in my own writing, if I wasn’t reading just think how many fresh, exciting words would go unread. Without knowing it we’re always soaking up little snippets here and there when reading, especially from our favourite authors.
I’m guessing some of you are following this post thinking ‘wow, Adam really does look at all this reading stuff through rose tinted glasses doesn’t he?’. If you are then well done, I salute you. At times reading can get boring and frustrating, but I’d argue that it’s perhaps what you’re reading and not reading itself that’s the issue. On the very rare occasion I’ve begrudgingly admitted that giving up is the only solution, although I can count on one hand how many books I’ve started and not finished. If a piece of writing does nothing but irritate you, if the story you’ve started makes you want to launch the book rather than read it then what are we gaining from that experience? Absolutely nothing. Move on and find something that’ll engage your brain, you can thank yourself later.
What specific part of a story holds your interest most? There’s probably another cascade of answers for this question but we’ll discuss nonetheless. Lets start with plot, part of what grabs us from the get go is wondering what happens next. Is the main protagonist heading for trouble? Well I guess we’ll just have to read on and find out what happens, eventually wondering to ourselves ‘where did all those hours go?’. But in all seriousness we need to have a strong plot, the suspense adds another dimension. So what about characters? This is what grips me most, If an authors invested time developing a character then we really begin to care about them. Look at Mr Harry Potter, JK Rowling created such a relatable individual that half the world waited on baited breath for what came next. Add to that the fact we got to see those characters grow up over many years, often mirroring our own life experiences you can see why characters become such a draw. Another personal favourite of mine is the landscapes we experience when reading. Lets be honest here, I’m never going to visit Mars but through Andy Weirs The Martian I feel in some ways I already have. This was a book I happened to come across when scrolling through my kindle and was quite glad I did. Tad Williams Osten Ard is another prime example of a landscape within a book series that we can get totally lost in. I’ll close this question with another, how many points of view do you get to experience in daily life? For most of us it’s just our own, now think how many you get to experience when reading a story.
It feels like we’ve been discussing for some time now, there’s so much to cover and probably a lot more I’ve missed but I’m going to finish with one final question, multiple genres or just one? Personally I’m a big advocate of reading far and wide, I see reading as escapism but also as a tool to improve my craft as a writer. However the important thing is that we’re reading, if one particular genre is the only one keeping you interested then stick to it. A recurring theme throughout this piece has been how we’re all unique and respond differently to different things, whatever it is that keeps you reading, do it because reading is the key to so much more.
As always thanks for taking the time to read through my post folks, I really do appreciate it. Please feel free to leave a comment, I’ll see you all real soon.
Hey everyone!! It’s been a little while since I last managed to post a piece for you all on A.P Writing, and for that I apologise but it’s due to a very exciting reason indeed. As I’m sure those of you awesome individuals who spend the time to read through my posts will know, my partner and I have been patiently awaiting the arrival of our new addition. Well with great pleasure I can now announce that on the 11th September our little man arrived and we have named him Ezra. As with all first time parents the last four weeks have been the biggest learning experience, everyday is unique and completely unpredictable. We spend our days in a whirlwind of sleep deprived drowsiness while Ezra quite rightfully takes precedence, but you can also see why A.P Writing and my other writing projects are taking a rather lengthy hiatus currently.
Initially I was in a state of panic when I went that first week without so much as looking at my computer, worried how far behind I’d fall back with the plans set out for this coming year. This is of course a ridiculous notion to have had and by week two I was so tired that the thought of writing simply didn’t appeal, during the rare occasions Ezra slept, so did me and my partner. It soon became clear to me as a parent (wow, it still feels strange calling myself that) that these early stages are not about me, in fact a lot of things aren’t about me anymore, this time was all about Ezra, about bonding with him and welcoming him into our family. Having a child is a truly life changing experience.
I still manage to fit in some reading when possible, although sometimes I try to read and my eyes end up betraying me, but every now and again when Ezra allows I spend some time engrossed in a story. Even twenty minutes is enough to keep those creative cogs swirling in my mind, ready for a time when I can get back into some kind of routine with writing. I’d like to finish this post by thanking you all for visiting A.P Writing and taking the time to read through my ramblings. At present 90% of my time is occupied with Ezra and the other 10% catching up on sleep, so regular posts may become a tad irregular. I also head back to the dreaded land of work on Friday when my paternity ends, but one thing I promise you is to always try my hardest and strive to produce the most exciting and interesting content I can, so keep coming back folks, I really do appreciate you all.
Hey Everyone!! I hope you’re all well, sorry it’s been a while, life’s been pretty darn hectic recently. Welcome back to another blog post from A.P Writing, this weeks focus will centre around what’s important when trying to achieve our writing goals. Writing, as with most things in life is full of ups and downs, In the next few hundred words I’ll detail what I do to stay motivated, hopefully you’ll find it useful.
Be Confident I’d like to start this paragraph with a question. How successful will we be if our subconscious thoughts are full of nothing but negativity? The answer is probably going to be not very far at all, personally I think confidence directly affects our performance. Now I’m not talking Conor McGregor’s bordering on arrogance kind of confidence but you must always believe you’re good enough. It’s not always easy staying confident or even being confident in the first place but with practice you’ll start to feel a little more at ease with your writing. I’ve had terrible confidence issues in many things throughout my life but I’d go as far as to say that my writing holds none. It’s perhaps my most confident area in fact, somewhere where I’m comfortable and positive about things. There’s a few reasons for this but ultimately it comes down to the work I put into writing, it’s my dream and the harder I work the more confident I become. If you find yourself full of doubts just ask yourself what’s stopping me? You’ll probably find it’s a lot less than you first thought.
Persistence is also hugely important, having that never say die attitude will help us all greatly when things are looking a little bleak. It’s a tough old world the writing industry that’s for sure, with the emergence of self publishing through companies such as Amazon the landscape is incredibly competitive. There’s thousands of new books published every day, staying persistent and working hard will make your work stand out. It would be easy when we’re having one of those de-motivated days to just give up, how can we ever be better than all these other writers right? But you see that’s where we will be different, we’ll be persistent, whether that’s reading everyday, writing anything for the practice or working on your projects after a stressful day at work when all you want to do is rest, hard work pays off.
Set Targets Perhaps one of my weaker areas but still a very important one when looking to progress, setting clear targets will help us in the long run. With a target to achieve it gives us something to aim for, in my experience it can become quite disheartening when we’re working hard on things but have no end goal in sight. Of course everyone is different and we all have certain strategies that work for us, some individuals may not need to set targets to get the best out of themselves, I unfortunately am not one of those people. If we have one huge target such as one day being a successful writer then we have to ask ourselves how are we going to get there? Setting smaller targets will allow us to break that large target down and make it feel far more achievable. One thing I will say however is treat these targets as guidelines, I recently sat back and did my yearly review of the targets I set for myself last August, I hit some and completely missed others. My current writing project AOKTKC was meant to take me 12 months, I’m now 14 months into writing it and anticipate the first draft taking another 4-6 months, am I upset though? Absolutely not. I’ve worked hard all year and that’s what counts, I’ll touch on this a little later on in the post but there’s no rush, I’d rather take more time and produce better quality writing than stress and rush my work. I did however identify areas in which I could improve and therefore set new targets aimed at improving those areas.
Honesty is the best policy If you feel something isn’t right or working out for you when it comes to your writing, change it. This could include a multitude of things and be applicable at differing stages of a writers career. Listen to your gut at the end of the day, if the story you’re currently working on feels more like a chore than a release then perhaps it’s time to put it aside for now, focusing instead on something that stirs your passion. Be honest with yourself, just because you’ve put something aside for now doesn’t mean you wont go back to it again in the future. I find if I’m writing something and it’s becoming monotonous it strips the enjoyment right out of things, my creativity suffers and this is where those ‘Am I really good enough?’ doubts creep in. Personally I always take on board everyone else’s honest opinions as well, that doesn’t mean I always agree with them but sometimes advice and criticism, when constructive can be very useful.
Determination is KEY Stay devoted, reaching our end goal will be no easy task, there’s going to be times when all feels hopeless and we want to give up, when we’ve been rejected for the fifteenth time and making a career from writing seems impossible. Well all I’ve got to say is DON’T GIVE UP, try remembering in those situations why we started in the first place, use those thoughts to stay driven and determined. For every dark night there’s a bright day after that, and yes for those of you out there wondering, I did just quote Tupac, but I feel his words are very apt. We will face dark times full of rejection letters, (unless we’re super lucky of course) and gloomy days but eventually we will get there, we’ll achieve what we set out to do.
What Inspires you? For me, the answer to that question branches off in many directions, but ultimately it’s the work of other writers I’ve read over the years that’s inspired me most. The idea of earning a living doing something I love inspires me greatly. Also it’s often life’s little surprises that inspire us, finding out I’m going to be a father motivated me hugely, I want to make my child proud. However inspiration can come in many forms, if you find that writing relaxes you and that’s your inspiration for doing it then keep going.
What’s the rush? This is more of a personal opinion but the more we rush things the more room for mistakes we create. Again this could be relevant in lots of different situations, getting a book published, creating a blog post, writing a chapter, or working on an assignment if you’re still in education, why rush? When the time is right to unleash our work on the unsuspecting world we want it to be the best possible example that it can be, sometimes we don’t get a second chance. Liken it to building a brand for ourselves with the work we produce, we want people to keep coming back. I’ll end on this point, honestly at the moment it feels like I’ve got very little to show for all the effort I’m putting in, but I don’t rush, instead I tell myself that one day all that hard works going to pay off, and that’s my mind set moving forward.
As always everyone thanks for taking the time to read my blog post, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll be back real soon with another.
Afternoon everyone, and welcome to A.P Writing on this stupidly hot day. I hadn’t intended writing a blog post today but alas here I am. Over the last few hours I’ve managed to flit through a hundred different moods, of course today’s heat hasn’t helped but one thing became clear, I’m de-motivated. This at first thought seemed quite uncharacteristic of me, but having taken the time to analyse my situation properly things became clear. I’m now going to share with you why I’m struggling with my writing and what I’ll be doing to rectify those issues.
Firstly, and I’m pretty sure a lot of you will have felt like this, everything seems so far away. I’ve got all these wonderful dreams, all of them filling me with excitement but how do I achieve them? I know roughly how I’ll get there but why does it have to take so long? That thought process has been exactly what’s plagued me today, for the first time in a long time I doubted myself, which is disappointing. I sat down and spent an hour on my current writing project, originally meant to be two hours worth of work, only to find the words staring back at me, unable to write. This is the time when I need to instil that inner belief once more, I need to tell myself that no matter how far away everything feels, I will get there eventually. It might not be today, nor tomorrow or even in a years time but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen one day, just don’t give up. As I hinted in my very first blog post my dream is probably the same as you, I’d love one day to make my living through writing stories, there is no reason why this can’t be achieved. The only person capable of stopping us is ourselves, just tell those nagging doubts to shut up whenever they surface because they will, we’re only human at the end of the day.
Secondly, I’ve gone nearly a week between writing chapters, this might sound like quite a short space of time but for me is pretty disrupting. I’d spent a lot of time planning the chapter and then worked on it daily, everything was stored fresh in my mind. Imagine then not looking at it for seven days, trying to pick it up again proved difficult. I can’t blame laziness for these missed days, I’ve just yesterday finished my house move. There are also other writing related projects I’m working on which take up my time, perhaps I should prioritise a little better moving forward though.
Lastly, it’s crazy hot outside. How can anyone focus when their main priority is keeping cool? I must admit I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to summer, as mad as it sounds I much prefer cold days full of snow. Trying to sit down and focus in this heat is difficult at the best of times, but it’s one of those things I’ll need to get over if serious about achieving those goals of mine. Now, I hope you’ve found some of that useful, we all have days like this, it’s just important that they don’t stretch into weeks as that will definitely stall our progress. Keep positive everyone, we can do this!!
As always thanks for taking the time to read through my blog post, feel free to comment and I’ll see you all real soon. Adam
Welcome everyone, I hope you’re all well and enjoying this quite balmy summer we seem to be having. As promised last week I will be dipping into all things character related today, mainly discussing what I like and dislike, what I think aids character development and also a particular focus on creating vivid characters for our readers.
In my opinion and it is just my opinion of course, the way a writer develops their character over time is perhaps the most important ingredient keeping us readers coming back for more. If a character’s story arc is frustrating or monotonous or even really predictable, we can sometimes switch off and lose focus. Spending time in the development and planning of our characters story arcs is vital. I’m most engaged when kept guessing, at times finding a favourite character’s trials and tribulations becoming my own, at that point the writer has probably got me hooked, therefore encouraging me to read on. The way I try and achieve this is to always keep the reader guessing, if they can see a character’s progression from a mile away what will keep them coming back? As touched on in previous posts, planning is a big thing for me, I really struggle writing something off the cuff, I need to sit down and think about different scenarios and how certain characters and also different areas of my story will be affected by the decisions made. This often translates into many hours drafting notes before eventually sitting down to write a chapter, but for me that’s the process I follow to get the best results possible for myself. It’s subjective however, some writers may struggle with so much planning and find that when the ideas are flowing that they’re best off getting to work, it’s about whatever works for you.
Now, getting a reader’s attention straight away is important, when introduced to a new character I want to know the basics quickly, such as what colour hair they have, how long it is, what colour their eyes are, how short or tall they are. Why is that important? Well firstly from those things I can already picture the character, and once I’ve learned what those things are, I’ll know for future reference when reading on. I don’t want to find out in chapter 25 that my favourite character is bald when I’ve been picturing them with long hair for most of the story. Drip-feeding more subtle characteristics throughout the story can take more time but help with building that image of a character for us as well, this could include a hobbled walk they may have, or something like a nervous twitch when they speak. These things can sometimes allow us as writers to introduce a character into a scene without them needing to speak. An example of this in the story I’m currently working on, working title AOKTKC, is a character with very defined features, things that make it easy for me to bring them into a scene. I also have a character with a very pompous nature, his behaviours reflect that, and the reader will be able to easily identify them through those behaviours.
My next point may sound a little contradictory, but I’ll try explaining it as best I can. When growing with a character I don’t like it if I’m aware of all the information regarding where their story arc is heading, so in a way I’m advising you not to give away all the information at the start. This may sound quite obvious, but it can definitely be overlooked sometimes, we’ve got this great idea and can’t wait to share it with the reader, so we tell them straight away that the protagonist is a long-lost son of the king or something. I’m not ashamed to admit that in my first few attempts at writing I was guilty of this, but you learn with time and practice, some people may just pick it up naturally. Sharing significant details over time helps build suspense and will ultimately keep us wanting more. Also, now this is a bit of a difficult one, as it requires serious consideration and judgement, try not to become so overly attached to your characters that it affects your decision-making process. You may sit there reading what I’ve just written thinking you’re absolutely bonkers, how could we not grow attached to our own characters? Believe it or not I agree, it does sound ridiculous but think about what I’m saying. If the story would benefit or could be enhanced significantly by a character’s rash decision or even potentially losing the character would you write that into your story? What if you’ve grown so attached to them that you can’t? We will of course find ourselves changing the plan while we work through a story, new ideas will arise and sometimes you think of things you simply didn’t at the beginning, but try not to be ruled by your love for a character you’ve created. I know it’s hard, sometimes we’ve spent years writing them and the thought of saying goodbye can be difficult. The example I like to use for this is George Martin with A Song of Ice and Fire, look at how many characters he waved goodbye to. It couldn’t have been easy but he made those choices and the series benefited as a result. Believe me there where times I could’ve throttled him, especially when the Frey’s murdered half the Starks, but each and every time I wanted more.
Lastly, I’m going to touch on a couple of my favourite characters and what makes them stand out. Perhaps the most well-known character in the world today takes first spot, Harry Potter captured my imagination the second I picked up the series. He was different and I liked that, we found out very early on about his parents and Lord Voldemort, but the rest of his journey was incredibly well weaved over seven books. In some ways I could relate to Harry and in others I couldn’t, he was a wizard at the end of the day, but all his highs and lows become my own. My second favourite character is Simon from Tad Williams Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series, although a much more traditional story arc of young magician’s apprentice, it captured my imagination in so many ways. Tad gave him such a personality I almost felt like he was my best friend at times, constantly eager to find out what happened next. I think with both of the characters above they would never be what they are today without JK Rowling and Tad Williams incredible skill. I was left in suspense at all times and could barely put the books down before picking them back up gain to find out what followed. Spending time reading and writing will ultimately help us decipher what we like and dislike in a character, so again this is my number one piece of advice when learning how to write them into your stories. I would also like to finish on the theory that you should always go with your instinct. If a character forms in your mind and feels right whilst you write them onto the page then go with it.
As always thanks for spending the time to read through my post everyone, feel free to comment and I’ll see you all real soon. Adam
By goodness it feels great to be back, I’ve spent the last few weeks in a bit of a whirlwind and at last have found the time to write a post. I’ll keep this one short, starting with hello and sorry that I’ve been away for so long, although my absence has been unnnavoidable I must admit I’ve missed A.P Writing.
To my own admission I’m not a particulary prolific blogger, but recently I’ve been pretty slow in getting content out there for you all to read. Let me shed some light on the reasons why. As I touched on earlier in my previous blog post ‘Rainy Days – My Current Writing Projects’ my life is getting quite busy. I’ve recently managed to move house which let me tell you has been no easy task and have just about unpacked. Work as always remains stressful but perhaps more managable, I try to shut out that stress when it creeps up on me now, there is to much to look forward to in life, why let work bring you down? Lastly, my partner turns 32 weeks pregnant on Thursday which as you can imagaine means lots of time spent at baby groups and midwives apointments.
Now, you might be wondering what does all that have to do with my writing? The answer of course is it has absolutely nothing to do with my writing, but also everything. Moving house, preparing for the arrival of a little baby and work are all incredibly time consuming things, now I’m one for always trying to make time for writing, but sometimes life will take over and that’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up, I haven’t written a single word for 12 days, if anything it’s made me realise how much I’ve missed it whilst away. So, with that in mind I’m going to give you all a quick insight into what you can expect over the next few weeks from A.P Writing. My next post will discuss all things character related, what I look out for in a good character, how I feel a character develops over time and much more. AOKTKC also remains a priority for me, but I feel perhaps it’s time to give away a few more pieces of information, maybe even a verse or two from one of the chapters, so keep your eyes peeled for that. These are just two things to look forward to, I’ve got many more interesting topics penned in for writing, just keep on dropping by A.P Writing folks to find out what they are.
Feel free to leave a comment everyone and as always thanks for taking the time to read through my post, I really appreciate it, see you all again real soon.