Site of the writer Andrew Wood

Archive for December, 2010

New Year’s Resolutions

I have had a serious think about what I aim to achieve in terms of my writing. I am hoping that after my Open University course finishes in May I can polish off whatever I have written up to that point.

My biggest hope would be to complete 2 manuscripts before next Christmas even slithers its way into people’s thoughts. The biggest problem that will be faced by myself and many others will be the acquisition of time to sit down and do things.

Time is our biggest friend and our biggest enemy… so let’s steer in the path that we wish to travel down.

Happy New Year to one and all!

Thoughts For The New Year

I am currently wondering what next is going to bring. I already know a few things that won’t happen but I am turning those things around into positives.

As for the written word – my freshly painted ideas for a new novel will still need to be refined and set out with more depth. This will take a lot of time and effort but hopefully I will prevail not long after I have finished my Open University course.

2010 has been a strange and fairly quiet year, compared with 2009 and 2008 for instance. The only downside in my life for 2010 is that I have not achieved as much as I had hoped to do! This has made me pretty down lately – I know being ill over Christmas has not helped – but the only thing I can do is soldier on and avoid the hindrances I presented myself with in the past 12 months.

This is my New Year’s Resolution. What are yours? Comment if you like :-)

New Year and Christmas Doings

I hope everyone had a joyful Christmas. I would have been blogging but I was ill throughout the festivities – did not stop me from drinking however :-D

My writing has been suffering due to me being walled up with cold, headaches and tiredness.

The new year is yet again a time of uncertainty for a lot of people I’m sure – what will this coming year bring? Will it be better than the previous one and the one before that? Well… who knows really? All you can do is try and make the best of whatever it throws at you :-)

Here’s wishing people a good new year and just remember that to do the things that make you happy is the best way to live!

Book 1 – My New Fantasy Series

So now that Book 1 of my new fantasy series is all planned out and drawn up I can now go about setting the scenes and really hammering this idea out onto paper. I will try and keep people updated whenever possible in between other random posts :-)

I am planning for this idea to span out over 3 books or maybe more if I feel that it could go further.

Wish me luck!

A Change of Heart

With what I thought was ‘writer’s block’ settling in for a stubborn period, just like the UK weather, I went about thinking about it all and I came to the conclusion that I have been working in the wrong genre for a while now. I knew I had not found my niche and this has just told me that real world fiction really is not the area to go into.

Fantasy has been calling for a good long while and my mind is brimming with it all – I feel like I really CAN see this idea through!

Fantasy writing is much more freeing! Let the game commence!

Writer’s Block – A Headache

“Great composers have come through creative blocks to produce outstanding works.”

So what is it? ‘A periodic lack of inspiration that can descend on the most experienced of writers and that results in an almost pathological inability to put pen to paper’ - Brewer’s Dictionary of Modern Phrase and Fable.

It has been known to last for weeks, months, and sometimes years, which has lead to a somewhat understandable development of alcoholism and depression.

“Frequently, the onset of depression announces a period when an artist cannot find inspiration. Various studies show that suicide is more common amongst creative people. Certainly, they are more likely to suffer frightening mood swings – being particularly creative when elated, but much less so when feelings of inadequacy or worthlessness set in.

This surely is why many creative people abuse drugs. Coleridge, de Quincey and Berlioz all took opium for stimulation, and Byron, Shelley and Poe notoriously sought ideas using different drugs. And Kary Mullis, the Nobel Prize winner for DNA analysis, admits he gained inspiration through using LSD.”

Some people could use it as an excuse not to write, but surely it is a taunting psychological problem?

Sigmund Freud proposed that the personality or psyche has three parts: the id, the ego, and the superego.  While the id is often compared to the devil that sits on one shoulder and the superego to the angel on the other, the superego is really the one responsible for the Critic’s hurtful and demeaning remarks.  In other words, your Critic masquerades as a helpful little angel that just wants the best for you.

Reasons for this block to settle into your psyche are many and extensive. A lot of the time a writer does not know what has happened to his/her own mind to cause this to happen. What is there to do to overcome it all? There is a list of top 10 tips for tackling it on about.com - http://fictionwriting.about.com/od/writingroadblocks/tp/block.htm

When it comes to practical activities, such as those on the web page which I linked to above, it is best to keep an open and positively reinforced mind in order to benefit as much as possible. Tell yourself you can do it… revisit prior research… go for a jog or some other physical activity… maybe even take your mind away from the whole thing – ‘the answer will come when you least expect it’.

Do your best not to slip into the depressive/alcoholic/drug using trap as many authors have done so in the past. Find what is best for you – this blog post is just a rough idea! Good luck to you!

e-book Publishers and Student Reading Lists

There is the typical view of a student – one who does not have a big attention span and prefers to surf the net and scan things in. Students are given reading lists, or ask for them, but some are not prepared to read whole books… just the ‘specific chapters’ they need. If they only need one part/chapter of a certain book then purchasing it is not a desirable option for anyone. This is, of course, not an image of all students.

“e-Book publishers have seen this gap in the market for some time and are experimenting with licensing e-books to libraries with payment structures in line with the number of expected downloads, which can be calculated, for example, on the number of students signed up to a course where the book is recommended reading.

But university libraries in many countries baulk at the cost of such licences. Many are seeing their budgets cut and those in less affluent countries simply cannot afford a licence that has to be renewed every year for each incoming cohort. The cost of a licence can exceed the traditional cost of, say, a reference copy from which students would normally photocopy a chapter or two (and pay the cost of copies themselves)”

Bit of a let down eh? Courseload.com, a digital textbook provider, is currently testing a system which delivers textbooks, to do with whichever module the student wants, from major publishers direct to the student’s computer… for a fee of course. These delivered texts are said to be fully interactive and can be digitally annotated.

“Flatworld Knowledge, the largest commercial publisher of open-source higher education textbooks, offers free online access to a range of textbooks for students, and if students want to download, charges around 20% below the print edition price.”

Still does not sound very appealing does it? A better option is lurking around…

“Launched last month in Britain, Reference Tree focuses specifically on the higher education market. Its uniqueness lies in the ability for students to purchase e-textbooks by the chapter and for a limited time, thus reducing the cost.

“We enable higher education institutions to license a chapter for six to 12 months so that students can obtain a chapter of a book when they need it,” said Amil Tolia, founder and CEO of Reference Tree.

“It represents a high saving over a complete textbook because they get it for a time-bound period,” he said. The saving for a student can range from around 20%, when compared to full e-books, and 40% when compared to buying a paper book. A typical textbook may cost £40 (US$63) while downloading a chapter for a term or more would be around £2.10 (US$3.30) – a significant saving.”

This idea is still early stage and I would imagine that universities and publishers alike are working out how to break up texts into chapters and modules without destroying the market for the entire book.

And here you have it - http://www.reference-tree.com

Importance of a Writing Schedule

This is a key area for any writer. A lot of ‘how-to’ books have something in common – they focus on having a writing schedule. This is a major basis for creating an habitual routine for sitting down and hacking out whatever is brimming in your mind. Of course you may be working well without one – it isn’t mandatory but it is a great help when it boils down to it!

It does not have to specify a certain time window to write in… it could specify a certain number of words you should aim to write per day, per week, etc. Or you could have it telling you to write for 1 or 2 hours a day no matter where you slot it in. It is entirely up to you of course.

If, like me, there are concentration and discipline issues at hand then a schedule is almost like a bible! If you do not have the urges or the inspiration to write you might feel like ‘oh I can’t be bothered. I can’t think of anything’. This is a bad occurrence but a nonetheless common one amongst writers. I’m sure many of us have moments like that and it is imperative that we find out how to overcome it so that it doesn’t happen as often. A schedule is a number 1 step to tackling this.

It does not, however, just apply to writing – it can apply to anything! When it comes to sources of inspiration then this is, as I have written before in my ‘about the author’ section, a personal thing (in my opinion anyway) as it is unique to you. What gets your mind going could be anything, such as music, films, books, your surroundings, going for a walk and observing people and places, the news, an activity, etc. Whatever works for you is best for you.

And you can surely incorporate these things into your schedule if you so wish. Free up a slot or specify a certain amount of time to perhaps go walking or to read. If, like me, you are balancing a job, a relationship and an optional (or compulsory) education then a schedule will be like a lifesaver when it comes to the crunch. Post it up on your noticeboard next to your work area, pin it to the wall, print it out in large print to make it more noticeable, maybe even highlight it with bright colours.

I will now refer you to a site which I had a good look at. I think it is a very good source for planning out a schedule. It is all in one block of writing so try not to be put off – copy and paste it into a word processor and paragraph it… that is what I did! ‘Six Steps To A Writing Schedule’ by Megan Crewe - http://www.writer-on-line.com/content/view/1139/66/

Ebooks… Publishers to Lose Out?

A new survey shows that even though the ebook and e-reader market has exploded, publishers might not benefit from huge profits.

“Between the Kindle, Nook, Apple’s iBookstore, and now Google eBooks, its clear that the era of mass market electronic reading is here. And with impressive sales of the major e-reader devices, as well as less common options like the Sony and Kobo readers, it seems clear that the public has embraced the ebook as a viable alternative to traditional print books. And that’s not even mentioning the various e-reader apps for iOS, Android, and BlackBerry devices.”

This is a boost for small publishers and booksellers but what about the bigger ones? The ones who deal out the likes of John Grisham, James Patterson and Stephen King? They themselves do not know what the long-term effects are going to be when it comes down to revenue.

“A recent survey of 600 publishing houses cited by Publishers Weekly reveals some almost startling facts (more details available from Publishers Weekly):

  • 64% are now offering ebooks (74% in trade houses)
  • Of those avoiding ebooks, 71% had no particular reason to give as to why
  • 66% have no clear idea if they’re even making money from ebook sales
  • 15% said return on investment was better than print titles
  • 13% said their return was lower than print titles”

Maybe the current climb of e-reader and ebook sales will tip the balance against printed titles… maybe not. It won’t occur in the next year or 2 but it will happen eventually.

“Grudgingly or not, the publishers embracing ebooks and new workflows now will probably be the best suites to thrive once that point is reached. In fact nearly half of all publishers surveyed (49%) and more than half of trade publishers (55%) indicated ebooks were of “high importance” to their growth plans.”

At the end of the day this might become a bit of a double-edged sword. Personally I prefer a printed title in my hands… less strain on my eyes!

The Creative Genius Deck

After having a browse through the writing blog of one ‘Nick Daws’, I came across an interesting post about something called ‘The Creative Writing Deck’. It is a set of 52 cards used during creative writing or visual art. Originally designed as an iphone and ipad app by Damon Jones and John Molloy of inSignificant Productions, the deck has now been turned into something physical.

As you can see from the video the cards are of an old fashioned design and are intended to overcome writer’s block and stimulate creativity. Even though the messages on the cards look a little vague at first, there is a booklet that comes with the deck that explains each card and its meaning. They are on sale for £16.95 with free postage up until December 31, 2010. You may not think that they are cheap but to be fair they are hand finished and only a limited number of decks have been made. To purchase them then follow this link - http://creative.ideasdigital.com

The maker also has a blog at - http://goingdownwriting.wordpress.com – on which he is offering a copy of his ebook ‘Let’s Write A Story’ and a free copy of his hypnosis session entitled ‘Amplify Your Creativity’ if you start a new subscription… pretty good!

I might invest in some of these in the new year as they seem well worth a go.

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