I know I have recently updated you on my self-published colouring book, but I thought I’d do a little post about where I’m currently at with my writing projects. I thought I’d done one of these before (a long time ago), but I can’t seem to find the post, so perhaps I just imagined it!
Up until about a year ago, I only had one main writing project on the go. I had also written a handful of short stories, some of which I submitted to competitions (with no success), but mainly, my whole focus was on writing my YA dystopian novel, which is called Zone Seven. Here are some photographs which hint at the plot, without giving too much away (all images downloaded from unsplash.com).
So, what’s new?
Well, for starters, Zone Seven is still not finished (lol, whoops), but it has come a long way since then. Over the past 5 (!) years that I’ve been writing it, I:
- Wrote a terrible first draft of 55,000 words. I’m using the term first draft rather loosely here, because to be honest, it was more of a zero draft.
- Re-wrote it (second draft), and cut about 20,000 of those first awful words, maybe even more – it’s been so long I can’t really remember.
- Muddled on for a bit, before I stopping to re-evaluate the whole thing using the notecard method. There’s a whole blog post devoted to that which you can read here. It is one of my more popular blog posts, so hopefully, you will find it helpful.
After I was somewhat happy with the new scene structure, I participated in and won (woohoo!) Camp Nanowrimo 2017, where I wrote 40,000 new words, bringing my total to roughly 71,000 words.
Since then, I have been sporadically re-writing my chapters. I’ve changed tense twice and am now back with my original tense (because of course I am!). At this point in time, I have edited the first 34,000 words, most of which I now need to go back through and re-write the tense again. WHY AM I LIKE THIS?
So basically, to finish this next draft, I need to re-write chapters 1-23 in present tense and then edit the remaining 40,000 words. I am still a long way off, but I will finish this novel, even if it kills me…
Why has Zone Seven taken me so long?
About a year ago (April 2018), I started writing another novel. This is now what I refer to as my ‘main’ novel, because honestly, I think it’s better than Zone Seven and has been so much easier to write. It’s a domestic thriller which was originally titled Can’t Say No, but I have since changed this, although I’ll be keeping the title a secret for now! The story seed for this novel, came to me in a dream (all my ideas seem to come to me this way, which is great!).
I was originally going to write a different thriller (too many ideas, send help) because I thought Can’t Say No would be too complicated as it has more than one narrator, but before I realised it, I was outlining it.
I wrote the first 11,000 words pretty quickly and entered it into a novel writing competition, and then was going to write it for my Camp Nano 2018 project. I started really well, before stalling at around 15,000 words. I pulled out of Nano and spent months re-structuring, before plunging back in with actual Nano in November 2018, where I succeeded in writing 50,000 words, bringing my total to about 70,000 words.
I thought that would be me done in terms of word count, but this novel is looking to be about 90-95 000 words, so I still had 20,000 left to go. Over the past six months, I have managed to reach 81, 000 words, but have stopped to edit what I have. I am very specific about my writing process and see no point plundering onwards without first ensuring that the foundations laid at the beginning of the novel are strong.
So from now on, I’ll be methodically editing my draft, until I feel ready to write the remaining 10-15,000 words, which I’m hoping will be easier once everything else is as it should be!
Those are my main projects.
Am I working on anything else?
So to make life even harder for myself, I have another few projects on the go, which probably explains why I haven’t finished anything yet. I am working on a novelty short-story anthology (I think I’ve decided to do an anthology instead of another colouring book for now, but knowing me, I’ll change my mind again. In fact, I just had an idea for another activity book…), and have also started two shorter romance novellas. These novellas are ‘on the back burner’ for now, but if I have time, I like to add a sentence or two to them on my phone, using the OneNote app, which is super helpful. I’ve written two chapters this way, and it seems like a stress-free way to write and is more productive than browsing Facebook in my otherwise ‘dead’ time. I am hoping to write a blog post on this, as it might be a process that others find useful.
So yeah, that’s it really! Now you’re all caught up. I’d love to know what you are all working on in the comments!
So you might be aware that I’ve spent the past five years working on several novels, all different genres (because why not make this writing lark harder than it already is, am I right?). I love writing, and creating images with words; if I didn’t, I would have given up ages ago.
But there’s something else I love and that’s graphic design. I don’t regret taking Graphic Design at University instead of creative writing. It’s such a great feeling, to be able to need something or want it, and have the ability to design it myself. Birthday cards, invitations, planner pages, outline templates. Everything I could possibly need, I can create.
Although I want to be traditionally published someday, I also love the idea of self-publishing some projects, and my graphic design degree gives me the bonus of being able to design my own book covers. In fact, I’ve already amassed several designs for each of my writing projects. I’ll let you in on a little secret: designing book covers for my WIPs is how I procrastinate when I should be writing.
But anyway, I digress. After five years of writing with no publication, I needed a break. A project that I could write, create and publish in a few months. I thought for ages about what my new project could be. I explored ‘blank book’ publishing, but decided against it, due to wanting to provide people with something with a little more substance and quality. What about non-fiction, then? A nice idea, but what could I write about? I wasn’t sure.
Then I stumbled across an idea for a colouring book almost by accident. My book started as a passion project, as it was originally going to be something I created and made for my boyfriend’s birthday. An ‘in’ joke, if you will. But it soon became apparent that it might appeal to more than just my other half. The idea snowballed, and soon enough, after many fun-filled hours of writing and illustrating, my colouring book was finished. Just so you know, it’s a novelty colouring book about an Avocado called Adam and his friend Toast, and it’s aimed mainly at millennials, but will appeal to anyone who likes avocados or cute things with faces.
I had an absolute blast making it, and I’m so proud to finally have a finished project. Although I’ve only shown it to family and friends for now, they have been overwhelmingly positive about it, which is great.
I created the drawings in Adobe Illustrator, as I’m not very good at freehand sketching. The drawings are very simple line drawings, and each drawing is single-sided to avoid show-through. Each illustration has a simple sentence above it which tells the reader more about the fictional protagonists! Here is an example of two of the inside spreads.
As you can see, I was aiming for ‘witty and relatable’ captions, and I hope I succeeded! Some of the drawings are more complex than the above. Some are less complex.
Once the illustrations were all done, I exported them into Adobe inDesign which is where I laid out my book and added the text. It took a while to get everything right (line thickness, choosing a font, sizing the illustrations correctly etc.), but finally, it was finished.
I created a cover and uploaded it to KDP. I then ordered a proof copy, so I could test out the thickness of the paper and see what cover finish I wanted. I started off with matte, but then decided that the laminated cover suited the colouring book genre better, so I changed it. I also noticed some mistakes. Nothing major, just little things that would have annoyed me had I left them in. So I made some alterations. Ordered another proof copy. And now it’s available on Amazon for the world to see. It is exhilarating, yet also terrifying.
It’s been published for about a week, and thus far, I’ve only sold two copies, both to family. I’d love to sell a few more copies, but the idea of promoting it scares the life out of me. I’m not really sure why; I guess it’s a mixture of being a perfectionist and worrying it’s not good enough (even though I am so proud of it) and being an introvert. The whole ‘self-promotion’ thing and putting myself out there is so far out of my comfort zone, but I know I’ll have to if I’m going to get the audience for it that I hope for.
Now it’s finished, I’m already starting to think of my next mini-project. Another colouring book, perhaps. Or maybe a puzzle book. I’m not sure, and it’s a dangerous game, really, as I’m worried I’ll put my longer writing projects on the back burner for too long. That’s always the risk when you’re juggling several projects at once!