Just trying to make it in the big bad world of writing.

Overnight Success – Really?

Posted on June 18, 2019

Hello everyone!! Sorry it’s been a while since my last post, I’ve had a super hectic week and the odd struggle to contend with. See I suffer with something called crohns disease which excuse the pun, has been nothing but a pain in my ass recently. I’ve also found myself getting de-motivated at times as the scale of some tasks become daunting, hence why I’ve spent the last few days away from my current projects and A.P Writing. But believe it or not I’m actually glad I’ve had these difficult days to deal with, because they’ve helped me put certain things into perspective. Now as I sit here writing this post I feel much more relaxed, motivated once again after a few days reflection and time spent mostly lost in good books. Over the course of those few days I suddenly came to realise that this dream of mine, the one in which I make it within the big bad world of writing, is no quick fix. So, with that in mind I thought this is as good a place as any to focus my latest post.

Somehow I’d gotten hooked on the belief that I was just going to achieve success and it would be quick in coming. Those notions make me look and feel rather foolish now, there is no set process that needs to be followed for success, only hard work and determination. Each individual writer has their own way of doing things, their own processes if you like, and with that comes varying results. Something that works for one writer might not work for another and this is what I’ve learned. I’d often find myself reading how one author had used a certain process and then think oh well that will work for me, how wrong I was. Of course, take what you can from another person’s success and use it to your advantage, but don’t fall into the trap of believing that it will always work for you too.

Now enough with the negativity, lets add a sprinkle of positivity, shall we? In time we will all achieve our goals, whether tomorrow, or ten years from now it doesn’t matter. Just try not to make everything so serious, that’s how you end up de-motivated like me, good things quite often take time. I truly believe that, and with time comes experience, we only have to look at some of the worlds most famous and successful writers to see it can be a waiting game. Tad Williams worked numerous jobs over many years until finally getting his big break, Christopher Paolini toured over one hundred schools all across America promoting Eragon before he found success. JK Rowling’s story is perhaps the most motivating, working on the first draft of Harry Potter for over five years, raising a young child while penniless and still managing to write. I think what Williams, Paolini and Rowling show us is that if you want to achieve those lofty dreams then you can, but you have to work hard and never let doubts or disbelief’s get in the way. I’m sure there where many times they wanted to give up under mounting doubt, but they didn’t and look at them now.

Thanks for taking the time to read through my post, I hope you can take something useful from it and don’t fall into the same mistakes as me. Feel free to comment and I’ll see you all soon.

Your Writing Voice

Posted on June 12, 2019

Welcome back folks, I hope you’ve all been making the most of the sunny weather, I definitely have. Today we’ll discuss a topic I personally feel is key to writing development, our own individual, unique, writing voice. The aim is to help you identify if possible, certain area’s that can add value to your writing, therefore improving any work you might produce in the future. Of course, some people reading this may already be doing all these things, congratulations if you are, but if not, hopefully you’ll find this useful and pick up a few tips here and there.

So, what is Your Writing Voice?
Put into simple terms your writing voice could also be referred to as your writing style. Readers will be able identify you from it, by the way you write, it’s something that with time and practice will mature, like a fine wine getting better with age. That said, you won’t have to wait years for everything to just suddenly fall into place and find yourself with a wonderful style, hard work is key here. Part of me also feels it comes down to confidence, a confident writer is more often than not happy with what they produce. They’ve created their own voice with which readers can identify, keeping them coming back for more.

So why is it important to have your OWN writing voice?
There are so many vital reasons for having your own writing voice, perhaps the most important one has already been highlighted above, it gives you a unique style that is yours alone. Why is that important? I hear some of you ask, well if you’re unique you’ll stand out, being just one of the crowd is not interesting, readers want something firstly, that they can relate to, and secondly that holds their attention. If your writing is the same as everyone else what makes you different? Why should they take the time to read your work and not something similar by another?

Now for me writing is quite a liberating experience, it allows me to express myself how I want, when I want and in whichever form I want, whether that’s writing this blog post or putting my time into the children’s story I’m currently working on. There literally are no rules, you can be as imaginative and creative as you want. However, it hasn’t always been so enjoyable for me and I will be honest with you, my first attempts at most forms of writing were pretty average to say the least. Why? Because my writing voice wasn’t my OWN, I was trying so hard to be like, sound like my favourite authors, my favourite journalists. I remember my mother reading an early draft of some vampire thriller I’d been working on and her response was ‘it’s okay but its very similar to everything else out there’. In that moment I realised that it was in fact the same as everything else, and pretty boring really. For me, quite new to writing at the time and inexperienced, I was transferring more of what I’d read directly from others than I should’ve been. This is not something to be ashamed of and in the end I embraced it, a lot of our first attempts are cheap copies of favourite stories, but instead of hiding them away forever, use them as a reference for how far you’ve come, how unique you’ve made that writing voice of yours. Now, I wish it was as easy as sitting down, picking up a pen and being able to write a masterpiece, wouldn’t that be great? Unfortunately, many things affect how quickly an individual improves though and I’ll touch on those now.

How to develop your writing voice
The two forms that have helped me develop my writing voice further are perhaps the most straight forward, reading and writing daily. Let’s focus on reading first, and why it’s so important. Reading allows you to see what works and what you enjoy, it will also show you what you don’t like which will encourage you not to use that in your own style of writing. Someone’s idea of perfection could be another’s idea of rubbish, and that’s the harsh reality, we all like different things, it’s about learning from others. I’m not encouraging you to try and copy other writers, just realise what you enjoyed about their work and why, think of it as having access to all the worlds best teachers and cherry picking what will work best for you. I also feel it’s important to read a variety of different material, my favourite genre by far is fantasy, but I will read crime, science fiction and non-fiction because they allow me to learn and improve.

Writing daily again is important, practice makes perfect right? The more we write the more we begin to see that writing voice of ours shine through, mistakes we make are easier to spot and confidence grows. I do understand with this one though that finding the time isn’t always easy, most people like myself work full time or have busy days to contend with, that’s part of what makes me so motivated to turn my writing into my lifestyle. There are a couple of things I do to make sure I have that time to write, learn and improve. Planning specific days during the week is my main combatant, I then know in advance that I’ve put that time aside to write and cannot let other things get in the way. I have also started to plan how long I’ll spend writing and exactly what needs to be written in that time frame. If you manage to spend 2-3 hours a week writing you’re doing well, sometimes that’s all I can manage what with work and my other commitments, but at least those hours are invested in yourself.

Constructive criticism is another way to help you expand your writing voice, it’s lovely when we give our work to someone and they tell us how wonderful it is, we feel proud, but is that always helpful? I will confess I’m just like you, I secretly hope for positive responses to first drafts of things, but I’ve learned that sometimes criticism is more useful. Nobody really likes to hear it because in an ideal world our writing would be perfect straight away, but that’s not really possible, even the very best authors have numerous drafts before a book can be released. Constructive criticism goes a long way to help iron out mistakes, and most people are only trying to help us improve, you don’t have to always listen but don’t let it dent your pride either.

Always have a notebook handy for when ideas might pop into your head, I never really took this seriously to begin with, I thought my day will be far to hectic to even consider my writing, but I was wrong. Ideas can come at weird and wonderful times, most of mine come when I’m at work and having something to jot them down in is important. As you become more confident you’ll start to find idea’s are pretty free flowing which is why a lot of writers seem to struggle switching off. If like me you find ideas coming to you while at work but aren’t able to just jot them down easily, there are other ways to still get them on paper.

I’ve been lucky or unlucky whichever way you look at it, to have worked in a few different jobs. When working for one of the retail giants if I had an idea I’d tear of a piece of till roll and write on the back, taking it away and then transferring it properly to my notes when I got home. This was only possible in periods of quiet, mostly in the mornings when customers were few and far between, but everyday It worked, I’d write my ideas down, practicing and developing my writing voice. My current job is far more hands on, I sell phones so don’t always have the time to get my notebook out and write something down, instead I open a word document on my phone and type it out, this is much faster, but again I only do this when I’m free to. If you work somewhere that doesn’t allow for this and you have a great idea, tell a colleague and ask them to remember it for when you’re on a break, always adapt to the environment.

Lastly, complete things like word searches, this allows us to learn new words that we might not have known previously, it also keeps our brain engaged. When I’m reading, I’ve started writing down any word I haven’t come across before, researching it and seeing if it’s something I could use towards my own writing. Therefore, improving my vocabulary and where possible making my style unique to me.

Make time for other things
Making the time for other things might sound a little contradictory to what I’ve discussed before but it’s important to get the balance right. Too much writing can cause us to become stale and frustrated, we do have other things we enjoy and we shouldn’t forget about those. I’m expecting a baby boy with my partner in September, we’re super excited and cannot wait, my writing will most likely take a seat on the back burner for a while when he arrives, but that’s not a bad thing, think of how motivated I’ll be when I return. That reasoning is precisely why we need to allow for those other forms of enjoyment in our lives, they allow us to see new things, think up new ideas and come back refreshed.

This could be a simple mountain bike ride or walking the dogs, give yourself that time to gain new life experience that will ultimately help with creativity in the future. That experience can only add to your own opinions and further improve your individual writing voice.

Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts and opinions everyone, I hope you all can take something away from them. Feel free to comment and discuss what I’ve just been through and also any topics you might want me to discuss in the future.

Adam

End of An Era – A Song of Ice and Fire

Posted on June 12, 2019

Greeting’s everyone, I hope you’ve all had a great day and are sitting comfortable ready for my next post. This will be quite an open piece in which I delve into everything Game of Thrones related, starting with how it’s impacted me personally and the many other aspiring writers caught up within its magic over the years.

So firstly, we have the age old debate that’s always popping up in everyone’s conversation. TV show or books? This for many of us is a difficult one, good or bad there is an argument to be made for both, often leaving us fans exactly where we started, still unsure. In my experience reading a book series first and then moving onto the TV adaptation afterwords works best, you’ve then had time to build your own interpretation of what a character looks and sounds like. Game of Thrones however is the exception for me, perhaps because I made the mistake of watching the show first before reading a single book. I’d never watched something so vivid and untamed on TV, almost as an afterthought it suddenly dawned on me that WOW if this is what the show’s like then the books must be out of this world. They of course where unbelievably good, one of my all time favourites, but I still found myself awaiting each episode with an excitement much stronger than any chapter in the books. Ultimately there is no right or wrong answer here, most peoples opinions will vary when asked as it boils down to personal preference. Spending time to enjoy George Martin’s work is what’s most important.

One thing that cannot be denied though is whether from reading the books or watching an episode, I’d never felt so inspired to write. Not once did George Martin swerve something difficult or unpopular, many issues still prevelent in our own society today form regular themes throughout A Song of Ice and Fire. The challenges faced with politics, poverty, social divide, wealth and inequality are far from easy things to discuss let alone base major story arcs on. It was this out of all of Martin’s skill that kept me intrigued, he wasn’t afraid of the touchy subjects that some authors sugar coated, he knew exactly the right amount of detail and when to bring it into play. Now again this is subjective as not every story needs to convey such complex subjects, but for Martin in my opinion it worked. Encouraging me and probably others to express ourselves more in the future. These topics are all a part of normal life, and Martin wove them so effortlessly throughout his series that I now make an effort to use them in my own, where I can. Childrens stories are giving me the most enjoyment from my writing currently, so I tend to tame these down and make them subtle. I don’t want to scare the reader but it’s important that they see the world’s not all sweet roses.

Now I’ll let you in on a little secret, I absolutely love dragons in epic fantasy, many think they’re a tad cliché and certainly if overused can sometimes become tedious, but for me they really brought A Song of Ice and Fire to life. Especially throughout the show where more often than not I’d tune in blown away by their story arc and how they affected those around them. This is just one small thing that will keep me coming back time and time again for more. I simply couldn’t write this post without giving them a mention, who could forget Drogon, Viserion and Rhaegal’s fiery reign? This was down to Martin’s effort in developing them all throughout the books and their steady growth during the show. They where badass , all three of them wreaking havoc. It just goes to show how incredible the brand is, for that’s what Game of Thrones has grown into, of all the incredible character development it was the dragons keeping me most engaged.

Lastly and perhaps most importantly I will touch on the legacy left behind by Game of Thrones. The reason I’m only touching on this is because I believe there is far more to come from both Martin and the shows creators David Benioff and Daniel Brett Weiss. We still have two books yet to be released and If reports are true, more than one spin off show planned for production. Add to all that the promise from Martin that his books will be steered towards a different ending when compared to the show and I’d say there is much legacy building still to be done. However even with all this on the way it’s hard to argue with what’s come before, the books and show have blazed a trail for so long now that it does feel a little like saying goodbye. Although it goes without saying that the story will live on, whether you find yourself re-reading the books hundred times or binging all 8 seasons at once, It’s inspiring stuff. When I’m struggling for motivation I often find it after picking up a piece of Martin’s work, the same can be said when I read Harry Potter. Occasionally reminding yourself what can be achieved with hard work, determination and a creative mind is all it takes. 

If you’re anything like me then you’ll need more worlds and dragons and drama to fill your inspiration levels with, so I’m going to highlight a few book series which have all those things in abundance. Firstly, The Shattered Sea series by Joe Abercrombie is a great place to start, there aren’t any dragons but it’s fast paced and full of betrayal. Targeted towards a younger adult market, I still found myself drawn in daily to see what had happened to my favourite characters, more than once shocked at how they’d changed. Secondly, and this is my joint favourite book series of all time, Memory, Sorrow and Thorn by Tad Williams. This series has everything any avid fantasy reader could hope for, full of twists, turns and magical creatures, it’s a real sword and sorcery, good versus evil game changer. Martin himself quotes it as one of the inspirations for A Song of Ice and Fire. A mention for Christopher Paolini’s Inheritence Cycle I feel is merited as well, a very engaing read and lastly, the Dragon Prince series by Melanie Rawn. This is a series I happened upon by chance, and I’m really glad I did as it’s soon becoming an instant favourite with me. Based on powerful families all vying for supremacy with some harbouring magical gifts. Plenty of romance and time spent on character development makes this series a particularly enjoyable read, and of course as the name suggests we see lots of dragons.

I hope you’ve all enjoyed my ramblings, if so feel free to leave a comment below along with anything else you’d like me to discuss in the future.

Adam

The Journey Begins

Posted on June 11, 2019

Greetings everyone and the warmest welcome to A.P Writing. I must confess that this is my first EVER blog post, so I’m a little nervous, but here goes. Firstly, a little bit of background information, my name’s Adam and I’m a 25-year-old with major ambitions to make it in the big bad world of writing. Having spent years buried in different books, exploring imaginary worlds and quite often blissfully lost I began writing my own stories about three years ago. Like many writers it’s been an on and off struggle with belief, always feeling I could make my dreams a reality but never quite confident enough to go after them.

I’m delighted to announce however that those nagging doubts are in the past and long forgotten. In December 2018 I learned that my partner had fallen pregnant and together we are expecting a little boy come September. Whilst incredibly excited at the news I suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of motivation, I wanted to make him proud. Since then there’s been no looking back, my writing began in earnest and the words have continued to flow.

So here you find me, working hard on various projects, with A.P Writing at the very forefront. Within this blog I look to give whatever advice I can, discuss relevant topics and post some of the stories I’m currently writing. Of course, my dream is to one day become a published writer, someone who can fulfil their days expressing themselves through storytelling. A.P Writing will allow me to communicate with those like-minded people who also share a love for reading and writing. I look forward to hearing from you all and hope you get as much enjoyment from reading my stories as I do from writing them.