The importance of scheduling your writing time.

The importance of scheduling your writing time Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

You want to finally write that novel? Here’s a great tip that has never failed me. I’ve spoken to many aspiring authors and published authors, and inevitably the discussion comes around to how do you write? The getting-stuff-done part, not the process.

Basically it has come down to a very simple rule for me (and nearly everyone I canvased for this article) – you need to make a dedicated window of time each day/week for your writing. I did this while I was working full-time, and when I started writing from home full-time.

The importance of scheduling your writing time Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleI have a rule of absolutely no interruptions for me to get in the zone and write. Even if the words aren’t flowing so well, I have a number of techniques to coax the prose. So writer’s block isn’t a thing for me. I have many tools to keep me writing, and multiple projects to jump to if needed. The biggest hurdle is having time to write.

No running chores, no telephone conversations, no social media, just a comfortable place to sit and get the ideas formed into sentences and on to the page.

At the moment I dedicate the minimum of an hour a day. I set a timer. And beware my demon snarling wrath if you impede on my creative time.

Usually I will write longer than this self-imposed minimum, but I found setting the bar too high stresses me out, leaves me feeling like I’m falling behind. It also allows me to plan my day, whether I have appointments, chores, or other life stuff to do; knowing I get at least an hour of dedicated writing time puts my anxiety in a box, buried deep in a dark hole, never to raise its bothersome head again.

Now this 1 hour minimum takes many forms in its delivery: I could be in my office, completely quiet; I could be in my pj’s lounging on the couch, the dog asleep on me feet; I could be at the library, noise-cancelling earbuds in playing chill-out tunes; maybe at the University library feeling studious amongst all those people filling their brains with knowledge; or even at a café where I can indulge in the atmosphere and the occasional pastry. Heck, I’ve even written on a blanket in the rainforest to the soundtrack of birds chirping, or under the shade of palm trees at the beach. Whatever is working for me at the time. I need to mix it up so I don’t feel complacent or stale. And as long as I get in a minimum of an hour a day to write.

The importance of scheduling your writing time Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Depending on your process, and your situation, you’ll have to adapt this concept to work for you. I know authors who write 10 hours a day in silence (in a stylishly converted shed); some 4-5 hours in a bustling coffee shop; I know a mom who has 1 hour of quiet time from her four children, locks herself away in the attic/office to get stuff done while her husband takes his turn of the child-rearing business. Heck, when I was working in the city and had an hours commute either way, I’d write while listening to music – that meant 2 hours a day to scribble out a narrative. Score!

Work out a reasonable goal for you, be it daily or weekly, and stick to it. Maybe you only write for a few hours on the weekend? You might feel the flow just before bed and spend some time before calling it a day?

It’s all about commitment and perseverance because writing a novel is a big, long-term project. There’s writing the thing, re-writing the thing, editing the thing, maybe doing all those things several times over, and getting the thing published. So creating a regular habit around your writing can only assist you tremendously in your journey.

Get to it fellow scribes.

 

Do you have any writing rituals that help keep you on track and motivated? I’d love to hear what tricks and tips you use.

UPPERCASE lowercase 2020 by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Jan – Mar 2020 Quarterly Goals

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I’m attempting the quarterly goals thing again this year, (inspired by Jenna Moreci – check out her YouTube video here  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67VbahiISDo) it helped increase my productivity in 2019 – even if I was a bit lazy in posting my updates… well, posting in general. I think after doing too much of the same thing for five years now, it was feeling stale. So, I’m trying to mix it up a bit, do a slight facelift and hopefully breathe some enthusiasm back into my online activity.

Quarterly Goals 2020 Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleBook worm:

I was surprised once I posted my Goodreads challenge earlier that there were no autobiographies, memoirs, or non-fiction titles; so I plan on getting back to including some of these in 2020. Again variety is the spice of life – no wonder my reading felt somewhat lacklustre.

I shall also be including some text books and reference material: mainly for professional development and feeding a curious mind.

I am also hoping to increase the number of diversity reads and novels written by Australian authors. Mainly because they are the type of books I enjoy the most, and help support my local economy,

And lastly I made little to no progress in finishing series I started years ago – got to get that TBR down.

Plus I’m still bargaining with myself that I can only buy less than half of the number of books that I read. It was torture doing this in 2019, but if forced me to actually read some of the books on my shelves. Consequently my wish list has grown exponentially, but my bank balance is greatful.

Quarterly Goals 2020 Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleScribe and scribble:

2019 has been one of the better years for writing in a long time, and I plan to continue this trend in 2020. I want to at the very least get another four chapters written on my WIP. (My goal is to complete the first draft this quarter, but 4 chapters is more realistic.)

 

PrintLevelling Up:

I’m looking to add a few more feathers in my cap this year. I’m part way through a digital marketing course and want to finish it by the end of March. I also want to start something new and I’m eye off SkillShare… has anyone taken any courses from this platform? Has it provided you with practical skills that have translated in furthering your professional career?

 

Quarterly Goals 2020 Pic 05 by Casey CarlisleSocial Butterfly:

Being a writer, and living in a remote location I sometimes feel like a hermit. So this quarter I want to attend at least one writer event, and one social event. I know I haven’t set the bar very high, but I’m starting slow. Plus its a guaranteed success… right?

 

Quarterly Goals 2020 Pic 06 by Casey CarlisleGet creative:

I was very lazy last year and have several unfinished projects… so I want to finish something. Sew a garment, restore some furniture, renovate a room. Just one thing other than writing.

 

Fist Full of MoneyCash grab:

There is so much stuff stored around this house that is never used or no longer needed. And a good percentage of it is brand new. So I’m challenging myself to start listing items for sale. Probably on eBay. Reduce the clutter and provide a little extra pocket money.

Quarterly Goals 2020 Pic 08 by Casey CarlisleWork that body:

I started a new fitness regimen halfway through last year and had a small amount of success, so I’m taking it up a notch this quarter and want to start seeing some bigger results. I like how healthier eating and fitness has kept my mind alert… now I want my waistline to shrink!

Quarterly Goals 2020 Pic 09 by Casey CarlisleSo professional:

I also want to start expanding my digital platform. I’ve had ideas for years now but still to implement any… this quarter I plan to cease the day!

 

If I can achieve at least half I deem it a success and do a happy dance, if not I’ll have the shame of announcing it publicly and everyone will know what a lazy human being I’ve become. See you in three months for a recap and a new list of goals.

Wish me luck!! I’m also sending out creative vibes and motivation to help you reach your 2020 goals.

UPPERCASE lowercase 2020 by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Ageism and Fear in the Jobscape and why writing saved my life

Ageism and Fear in the Jobscapr Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

It’s been a minute since I’ve written anything about writerly advice because I’ve been taking time to, well, write. But I thought I’d share how I created my own job, and the circumstances that led me to it. Maybe you can create your dream job too.

Having difficulty gaining employment once you reach a certain age isn’t a new story. I never really had to face this issue until I moved from the city to a small regional centre. This combined with the reality that my work experience and qualifications typically exceed that of the employers I’m interviewing with… and well, for whatever reason, I did not land a new position. But it is a little my fault because instead of applying for high stress, high responsibility vacancies, I choose to wind down and enjoy the coastal lifestyle – so targeting a less demanding position was key.

I was cited many reasons for the lack of success at the interview stage. I was too over-qualified, they were afraid I would get bored, or I was met with silent wide-eyed blinking when they perused my resume at job interviews. And typically, the jobs going to a more suitable applicant usually meant someone in their early 20’s with little education and experience. I know this because I followed up on every job I applied for out of professionalism and courtesy.

Stock Traders Conducting Interview

There is no sour grapes here. Just a little dumbfounded. I never had any complications gaining employment in metropolitan areas, but country regions have proven fruitless. It’s a smaller market and much less resources. And I hesitate to mention that there was on average 100-150 applicants for each vacancy.

I even went as far as explaining that I knew exactly what the positions I was applying for entailed. The kinds of positions that suited my lifestyle. I have a lot going on outside of a job (like writing, volunteering for marine conservation efforts, and exploring the area). And though I will dedicate 110% of my effort and commitment, when the day ends I like to leave work at the office, and enjoy my personal time with other endeavors. I’m not out to climb corporate ladders or build an empire. I want work satisfaction in a great environment and an income help me earn enough money for holidays, living, and retirement. I’ve already done the hard yards. I own my home and cars. My experience and qualifications should not be seen as intimidating or being over-qualified; but as a value add. An in-house all-rounder at your disposal whenever you need it.

So I was flummoxed to say the least.

My only alternative was an hour and a half commute to the city, to start my own business… or turn a passionate hobby into a new career. Determination and perseverance, and a little outside the box thinking has taken me to a place where I can breathe a sigh of relief. Otherwise it would have been selling up and moving back to the city (along with a substantial financial loss). But I have an emotional attachment to where I am currently located, so moving was a last resort.

I had already been writing in my free time. And when the idea to chase this pastime on a full-time basis struck, I thought – easy! I’ll just finish writing novels faster and send them out to publishers. Raking in the dough.

What a deluded creature I was.

Ageism and Fear in the Jobscapr Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Turning writing into a fulltime career meant diversifying the types of writing I was doing; and diversifying my skills.

Online marketing, website building, photography, and a foray into post-production of images, formatting, mastering algorithms, networking, professional development… and the list goes on! It turns out I’m not writing much more than I was when working full time, it’s just the remainder of my working week is taken up by all the bits and pieces involved in submitting and applying for work, and the industry as a whole.

So inadvertently, the jobscape in a small regional town has actually pushed me into creating my dream job through necessity. I don’t think I’ve ever had this amount of job satisfaction either. It’s interesting and diverse. I can pretty much choose my own hours, work remotely and travel if I wish.

Ageism and Fear in the Jobscapr Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

I will say it was challenging to get started. There is no roadmap for this kind of thing. It’s all about building a portfolio, making industry contacts, and bidding for jobs. There are so many niches within the corporate, marketing, and technical sectors as well. You really need to research and investigate where there is a need for your services. My dreams of putting my feet up with a coffee and churning out the next best YA hit of the season is still there, but I’ve padded it out with screenwriting, speech writing, technical writing, ghost writing, proof reading and editing, and providing content for customers maintaining a website or social media platform. Heck I’ve even had work published for local news outlets.

I think exploring these other modalities has enriched my interest and skills as a writer. I love it.

Casey Carlisle at work 02My success feels like a bit of a ‘up yours’ to those employers who labelled me as too old, or felt intimidated to employ because of my qualifications and experience. They failed to see the passionate person in front of them. But those judgements say nothing about me and everything about them… so I just adapt. Innovate. Overcome.

Write on fellow wordsmiths!

 

 

 

What obstacles have you had to overcome to realise your career as a writer? I’d love to hear your stories… even if you’re only just starting on the journey.

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© Casey Carlisle 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

Active voice – in health and writing

Active Voice Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

A short life update from a writer, taking a break from other book related content.

From the start of the year I challenged myself to start making writing a priority again. I mean I was always writing, but over 2017-18 my habits had strayed from my goals. Distracted by creating online content, bidding for copywriting jobs, and last Christmas when I took stock of my progress, it depressed me a little. So 2019 is all about prioritising and finishing projects. Also about my health. Since taking on this penmanship dominated career, my weight had dramatically increased, and my stamina for any type of physical activity dropped.

Active Voice Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleSo that’s the reason my activity on this blog has decreased a bit. I’m out there living life. Going to the gym, concentrating on writing, and finishing a number of projects I’ve been half-way through for years.

It’s working! I’ve had success with my body mass index shrinking, my strength increasing – and a lovely side effect is I feel energized and clear headed for writing. A creative career has a lot to do with stimulation – if you’re not feeding your imagination (and keeping your brain at optimal health) it will start to stagnate.

So I’m enjoying my new push of productivity. Though I have to admit, I feel a little guilty that I’m not reading as much, and consequently not posting reviews as often. I also loved researching writing topics for posts; and again, I have little to no time for that right now.

This is pretty much a mid-year(ish) check in. Not quite where I want to be with writing achievements, but it’s better than it has been in years. I feel healthier. I’m socialising more. Even today, after three solid days of non-stop rain, I’m out on the balcony writing and feeling positive, happy, and productive. Music by Andrea Kirwan in the background supplying the perfect atmosphere for the flow of words.

To all my fellow writers – keep up the struggle, find that balance, and push those book babies out into the world.

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© Casey Carlisle 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Ghostwriting and earning money from writing under a pseudonym

Ghost writing Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

I aspire to write novels under my own name… but at the moment, the majority of my income comes from writing for other people.

Ghostwriting, or writing for other people so they can attach their name to your work as the author is more prevalent than you might think. More so in Non-Fiction genres, but it’s pretty much everywhere.

When you take a step back and view writing as a whole – and not just novel writing – there are plenty of opportunities to earn a living. For me, I’ve diversified. I get a little bit here, a little bit there, and it all adds up enough to support myself as I chase my dream. That suits me. If I focused on a certain specialization, I find I get stagnant with creative flow, as well as being pigeon-holed as only being able to produce that kind of material. I like to mix it up and keep things fresh.

Ghost writing Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

The majority of my income is derived from Manuals, Text books, Academic Support Material, and Speech Writing. It’s also easier to do because it’s more about conveying facts than embellishment and world building. Plus I love research, so I find it fun. It’s the type of work where there is a team involved – you work to a spec, fact check, submit for feedback and re-write. You get a stamp of approval and it’s off to someone else to worry about the editing, formatting, publishing, and marketing.

It’s much the same as Article Writing for media, except in media you need to include marketing terms and hot topic phrases (*cough* click bait *cough*) which is usually for an established columnist who is on a break or overworked. You will get a sample of their writing style to match before submitting. If you do a good enough job it can mean a fairly regular source of work.

I used to do a lot of Copywriting, but am scaling back on that, as the Marketing environment has grown exponentially in the last five years, and with so much new talent and a technology/social media focus, I’m not wanting to take a year or so off to update my skills in order to compete. It’s time I’d much rather spend writing my own content.

Screenwriting is something I fell into, and I’m finding the more work I do, the more offers I get. It was a case of who you know to get this score. Always a part of a writing team, deadlines that must be met no matter what, and I’ve gotten to work for some big movie productions down to a scripted YouTube piece.

71a83a70-33b2-4e9c-89be-b9a98cf8220eAll of that is fun and full of variety, but I’m also branching out into releasing work under a pseudonym. Only because in the world of publishing and marketing, everything is genre based. You can’t become established as a Mystery writer and then drop a cookbook on your dedicated fan base. So it’s recommended by your publishing team to ‘brand’ yourself. And thus alter ego’s are born. Plus the different genres/forms of publishing differ greatly for each pseudonym. They have their own marketing plans and budgets, different demographics and markets. Although I’m only small fry, it makes me feel like some big corporation at times with all this diversification with my writing.

All that I’ve mentioned is well and good for an established writer. I’ve got degrees, industry contacts, and thirty years of experience. For those of you starting out, do the research. Each of these endeavors were the result of weeks of toiling through information to form an action plan. Know your stuff. The internet has provided you with perfect tool to get the advice you need right in front of you for free. It just takes some time and perseverance to pull it all together. Plus, you need to get out there and network. Attend industry conferences in the field you are interested in writing for, publishing workshops, writers groups – the more resources you have, the better equipped you’ll be. Make sure you have samples of your writing handy at all times, whether it’s something you can email, or examples listed on a website, these will be crucial for attracting paid work. Don’t be afraid to put in a submission for work. Call places or send them an email query. It is an investment of time in trying to set up and get prepared for an income other than that from your novel… but it will mean you are a full-time writer.

Ghost writing Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

These different forms of writing income have given me freedom to follow my passion, and although I’m not getting credit for my work in the form of notoriety – because it’s being published under someone else’s name. It does provide the financial freedom I need to work from wherever I carry my laptop. Plus releasing work under a pseudonym not only gives me a chance to brand work best suited to marketing activity to reach its target demographic, but also gives you the opportunity to try out different tactics in promoting. Whether traditionally published, or self-publishing, it will always be beneficial to learn how to sell your own work.

Keep at it author friends – find a way to follow your dreams!

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© Casey Carlisle 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Rediscovering my passion for writing through loss…

Rediscovering my passion for writing through loss Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

… and setting up a cracker of a year!

Holy Hanna! I can’t believe it is already March and this is the first blog post I’ve written for 2019… where did the beginning of the year go?

For the last two months I’ve done nothing bookish or indulged in writing. Sad face emoji. Over the holiday period it was my intention to get some much needed spring cleaning done and finally go through everything boxed up from my mother’s estate. I’ve put off the unboxing for far too long. Mum passed just over five years ago and there were always distraction and other things that took priority. But there were no excuses over the holidays and the job is well overdue. Yay for me being proactive and ticking some of the less desirable items from my to-do list. I’m patting myself on the back for this one!

Rediscovering my passion for writing through loss Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Here’s me thinking a few weeks was all that was needed. Erm… I didn’t take into account the emotional connection to objects and photos. Each day was a rollercoaster between the joys of unwrapping something I desired – like my birthday; and something triggering the loss and grief all over again. Two weeks stretched over an exhausting six weeks. My over-ambition hobbles me again *shakes fist at the sky* However the experience has left me feeling lighter, cleansed, and motivated. If not more connected to my mum.

It’s reminded me of all the things I started writing for in the first place. Flashbacks to mum’s words of encouragement. It has re-invigorated my drive. Last year was feeling like it was difficult to make any progress – even though I had been. It simply came down to nothing being finished. (That’s what you get for running too many projects at once.) But it has left this year as one where I can start crossing items off my goals list.

Rediscovering my passion for writing through loss Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

It’s left me wondering if I should work less on the blog and concentrate on the professional landscape I’ve been building; or knuckle down and attempt to do both. I’m just a little concerned of burnout or overextending myself. (Like I always tend to do.) I don’t want to spend all my time at a keyboard, I value getting out and exploring the coast and Hinterland, connecting with family and friends. Guess I’ll give it a go and see how things work out. Both aspects of novel writing and blogging are fun – it’s just one is building a career, and the other is sharing the love of reading… choices.

Rediscovering my passion for writing through loss Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

So now I’m back in the swing of things, and we’ll see where this journey takes me. What opportunities I can create… and hopefully the regular schedule of blog posts won’t suffer.

In the meantime, happy reading and lots of positive and creative vibes to those on their own writing journey.

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© Casey Carlisle 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Connecting With Professional Writers – Growing Your Network

Connecting with Professional Writers Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpg

Writing in and of itself is a solitary journey, especially in the beginning stages. But when we embark on that publishing and marketing stage it can be extremely difficult and a somewhat insurmountable task. That’s where we need to reach out. Find resources, use editing services, tap into education… but how do you actually grow a network of like-minded professionals short of cold-calling?

I’ve managed to meet published authors and other professionals in the publishing industry through a number of means. But it all comes down to getting involved. Introducing yourself and becoming a part of a conversation. And it doesn’t have to be about writing. Just break the ice, once that is done you can get to more important and exciting matters. Share your experiences.

I’ve attended a number of workshops and seminars and ended up trading emails with people I met there. We keep in contact through social media and arrange the occasional coffee for a chat. I find this helps with staying motivated and meeting others going through the same process reminds me that I’m not alone. Not even in my own neighbourhood.

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I’ve also joined a few facebook writers groups. These are great. We swap tips, critique each other’s works, and pass on great contacts that have been vetted. Heck even if I don’t post much there, just reading everyone else’s chats is invaluable. Additional to that, I’ve garnered great contacts through LinkdIn, and registered State literature sites. Not only do they post up-to-date information on writing competitions, postings for paid work, but also regularly release news on gatherings, seminars and workshops in my area. More and more I’m finding that writing does not have to be such a solitary endeavour.

I’ve also connected with published authors through other social media platforms and emails. Whether it be over the love of their writing, a shared review, or a heads-up on something a bit hokey going on with their book. I can’t tell you how many pirated copies of books I’ve been spruiked. I always notify the author so they can take action… We don’t want our industry leeching money when it is already so hard to make a worthwhile living from.

The concept of business, technology, the Internet and the network. A young entrepreneur working on a virtual screen of the future and sees the inscription: Social media

Growing this kind of network can provide you with great Critical Partners, references for editing services, tips and tricks for marketing your novel, and even contacts to get your foot into the door with traditional publishing houses. It also helps get the word out about your novel. Once you have released your book it can mean having the difference of a ‘Street Team’ spreading the word, and having to do it all yourself (or pay big bucks for advertising.)

If you’re reading this blog post – you already have a valuable source at your fingertips. There are authors-a-plenty with blogs of their own. Post a comment or send a direct message – generally the online community is supportive and will help you on your journey.

So don’t be afraid to reach out. Go to a workshop, attend a seminar, visit a book launch, scout out a writer’s group either in your local area or online, register with writing organisations. We all have to start somewhere, and the more friends and resources you have at your back the better chance you’ll have at success.

Stay Calm and Keep Writing!

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Quarterly Goals / Resolution check-in

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2018 is one check in away – looks like there is going to be a mad dash towards Christmas to kick those goals!

This past quarter was awesome! I trail-blazed through the months writing like I was possessed. Got out to visit amazing places and caught up with lots of family and friends for some parties full of love and laughter. In my down time I read sooo many books and managed to get some house renovations done to magazine-quality aesthetics… pity it all happened in my head. Reality was a little different.

A few issues due to health and a holiday stole a chunk of time in meeting my goals for the July-September quarter. I was trying to force myself to finish a few projects… but with the creative process, wrestling to man-handle out the inspiration can have the reverse effect. So I stalled on the two WIP’s which would have been easily wrapped up if I hadn’t stressed myself out. Not writer’s block, but a creative slump. When you’re getting to the pointy end of a novel, the conclusion needs to zing. But I was zingless. 😦

Quarterly Goals Jul-Sept 2018 Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

Though, here’s how I performed overall:

This quarter has shown the highest word count than in the past three years, however, I was working on scattered projects and not on the ones I wanted to complete. It was hard taming the muse. At least I have my groove back and am making progress – now I’m on the home stretch, as the year ends, so will many of the projects. *rubbing a rabbits foot, kissing a four-leaved clover, and tossing salt over a shoulder* It feels great to edit all the text that has been flowing from me lately.

I wanted to get some more of the renovations and furniture restorations done, but alas, while the words were flowing after a sparse previous quarter, I didn’t want to jinx it, so the manual labour I use for breaks was pushed aside. As too were any professional development studies, though, I did get a lot of research done around the publishing landscape and some marketing ideas.

Quarterly Goals Jul-Sept 2018 Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

This quarter was more about getting back on the (writing) horse than anything else. I stopped blogging. Back to concentrating on the basics. Why I love writing, and what I was doing it all for. It seems to have worked, I feel like a weight has been lifted and am back to the regularly scheduled programme. So expect to see this blog coming back to life after just over a month away.

I’d say there was only a 20% progress for yearly goals overall – pitiful really, but I’m just glad to be writing again. Can’t express how terrified I was that my excitement over writing was gone. But there is only one direction left to go. Onward and upward!

Quarterly Goals Jul-Sept 2018 Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Next check in will be at the end of the year, and hopefully with some news of a publishing date in 2019!

Stay calm and carry on writing!

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

How reading sub-standard and low quality novels has bettered my writing…

…and things to look out for when I publish my own book.

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I see it all the time on Goodreads, readers DNFing a novel, and a review of a sentence or two saying how horrible the writing was. And that’s it.

Good for them. I’m not knocking anyone’s opinion. I’ve tried to give up on completing a novel, but my brain won’t allow me. I at least have to skim through so I can find out what happens and reassure myself that what wasn’t working continued throughout the book.

The biggest aspect of my OCD with reading is that I now turn even the worst reading experience into an educational endeavour. There are always good points and bad points in each story. What worked, what didn’t. I like to list how I would improve the novel as if I were an editor and about to publish the book under my own label – what changes would I want to make in order for me to sign my name to the title?

It’s helped develop a critical eye, and use these tools on my own writing.

So I welcome low rated novels in my reading habits. (But not on purpose.) It helps to hone my skills, pick up on things I hadn’t previously thought to identify in my own writing, editing, and publishing processes. Things like complex characters and character development, spelling and sentence structure, pace and tension are a given. But I have found elements in context, and writing style that I hadn’t noticed before. Issues with cover art, formatting, font size and style, information for the end pages, the quality of the physical book are starting to jump out more and more. Especially for self-published titles.

It has re-iterated how important it is not to rush the publishing process. Steps to take to vet and proof your work. And skills in marketing and market research you need to acquire to help make your writing a success.

I am slowly compiling a checklist for the whole writing to publishing process to put my own work through. Granted it is going to grow and evolve over my career as I gain more experience and insight.

Reading Substandard Novels has Improved my Writing Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleI’ve heard some of my friends say that it is a useless endeavour to read low rated books – that I should be focusing on top quality literature as something to aspire to. What’s wrong with doing both? I find glaringly obvious issues with my low rated book reading that I would have otherwise overlooked in top rated books. It’s like brushing up on the basics. High rated books give me examples of nuance.

It also helps stretch that editing muscle – a must for your own writing process. And helps to create not only a critical eye, but gets you in a frame of mind to distance yourself from your own writing. So heavy cuts and rearranging aren’t so gut wrenching. It helps you identify what is lacking so you can get that second draft even more polished.

It’s not about tearing down other authors writing, or striving for perfection in your own. It’s more about exercising the essential tools you need to improve the creative process. Creative flow is one thing – having it make sense and relate to a reader is an entirely different thing. That’s why we have rules in language, spelling and grammar; to help set a standard that everyone can build from.

So when I read something that makes me cringe for all the wrong reasons, I’m glad for the opportunity to identify what is not working for me and go about fixing it. Then I can mirror that exercise on my own content. It will help me grow – and hopefully keep the professional editing fees lower 😉

What is your opinion on completing novels that feel like a dog’s breakfast? Are you one to scrap it in and not waste your time, or do you at least have to see what happens at the end?

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Plotting out a series

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How to keep pace and interest in a multi-book series and avoid the middle book slump syndrome.

The key to this is planning. And plotting. (…well for the way I work anyway…)

The goal is to have each book in your collection have a clear start, middle, and end. Have the hero/protagonist state a goal and achieve it (or not, depending on the tone of your story,) have their character grow and evolve from the experiences. The climax must be poignant and get resolved enough to satisfy a reader.

You can end on a cliff-hanger, or have some plot points unresolved to continue in the next book/series.

In the sequel/s you follow the same format where you also introduce new characters, new plot points, more twists and turns. You really want to up the anty and difficulties the hero/protagonist faces.

I like to plan out most of the basic plot points for the books before I start writing anything so I know where I can start to add in character arcs, plot twists, turning points, in a linear fashion. That way you can identify organically where part of the story breaks… and these breaks can constitute each novel in your collection.

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Even though this is an example of a single book in the Hunger Games series, the themes run across all three books – try continuing the graph for  the remaining books and you will start to get a feel for how to plot over a series.

 

A hero’s quest is always a great example for a series – in each book the protagonist faces a major obstacle/s on their journey for completion of their desire.

Maybe each novel reveals something that has our protagonist re-assessing the situation and going in a different direction, or towards another goal.

It could also be more of a contemporary tale with each novel dealing with a milestone in the protagonist’s life.

The important thing is that each novel is a complete tale in its own right, and the subsequent sequels build on the world and tension that was established in its predecessors.

Also it is important to keep the consistency in the writing style. If you change perspective, writing for a different characters POV, and the debut was in first-person narrative, continue with that for the sequels. Comparatively you need to continue with the same tense, active/passive voice. If you switch things up too much, the ground work you’ve established in the prequel/s becomes redundant. Readers are going to expect consistency, and breaking from that pattern is only going to disappoint – and end with bad reviews.

Having these basic ideas plotted out at the beginning keeps your narrative on track and allows you to chart the pacing of your novel. It also gives readers a subconscious hint of what is to come and will keep them engaged in your story.

Of course you don’t need to plot out an entire series before starting to write. It could be when wrapping up your novel you get ideas for a sequel because there is more you want to explore in the universe of your story… there is no set way to do this sort of thing. It’s basically finding something that works for you and sticking to it. But I personally like to have a guide. That way if I want to have fun developing my characters, building my world and adding in some engaging side plots or character arcs, there is room to play without turning my manuscript into an epic Stephen King length novel.

Again creating a series is only restricted by your imagination. We see series coming out set in the same universe, but with new characters – like novels set in the same town. Series taking on different perspectives of a core cast. Series of a protagonist overcoming a number of obstacles on their way to a single goal (think Harry Potter.) Generational series, following a family tree, each novel dealing with a protagonist from each generation. Maybe it’s simply following a character and each novel is a romance with a different love interest… Allow your writing to become a piece of art and don’t be afraid to experiment.

Hope these tips help in inspiring your writing and organising methods to keep you creating great novels to read. Let me know what helps you in plotting out a series. I love tips and would be forever greatful.

Happy writing everyone 😀

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.