The Parental Dilema – Is this the right career for me?

Isolation, social distancing and lockdown, I think it’s safe to say we’re all a little restricted at present, but life doesn’t have to become boring does it? As I discussed in my previous post, The 12 Week Plan, if we set our days out correctly and stick to a routine, they’ll flow without feeling so restricted. However, even with a day crammed full of activities and exciting things to do, we’re still left with a lot of time to think, and my thoughts recently have turned towards my job. For some of you this may bring back happy memories, you might be one of those lucky individuals who truly loves their job and can’t wait to get back, for others the current isolation period might feel like a last minute holiday. In all honesty, I probably fall somewhere in-between those two categories, I don’t dislike my job, in fact I actually quite enjoy it, but being home so much recently has opened my eyes a little to just what could be possible. Throughout this post I’m going to discuss what new ideas I’ve had, how being a parent has greatly affected those ideas and what I’d like my future to look like once coronavirus is a thing of the past.

As we get older certain things within our life begin to change, we might find ourselves trying new food and really enjoying it, even though we might’ve hated that particular food as a child. Our opinions will probably change as well, when we’re younger we feel invincible, like whatever people say to us doesn’t matter because we’re strong and capable, but then when we hit a certain age we take a look back and think, ‘wow that actually makes a lot of sense’. At school we have no real idea of what direction in life to take, if you’re anything like me you took subjects because you had to, not with any real idea of where they might lead you. Now I look back and think of all the wasted opportunities I squandered, having Ezra has really made me think about what I’m doing in terms of my career and whether that career is sustainable. Two weeks of isolation has shown me what having a different career could look like, I’ve spent so much time around Ezra and Chantelle, it’s been amazing. Of course, It would be great to have a career that allowed this kind of life all the time wouldn’t it? I do however hear some of you saying that it’s not realistic to think we can, but my question to you is why can’t we? It won’t happen overnight, that’s true, we will have to go back to our regular jobs when coronavirus has passed, but why can’t we be working towards this new career, this new way of life?

If I could go back to school and take different subjects, I would, I’ve got a much greater understanding of what I would like to do with my life now, It’s taken me a long time to figure out, but I got there in the end. Having my own little family has also changed my opinion of what I’d like to do, I want to be around more, I would like to be able to spend time with Ezra and Chantelle without worry. This leads me to think that carving a career that allows me to work from home is perhaps more suitable that the current 9-5 working pattern I find myself in. I’ve got all the free time in the world at the moment, structuring my days correctly has shown me that with a little discipline, I could easily work from home. This is why I’m going to go back and study, further enhance myself so that in the future I’ll have this work life balance I’m looking for, I’ll be able to work under the hours I set, I’ll be able to work freelance from home. Personally, I feel having this kind of goal will also keep me motivated for when we do all go back to our regular jobs, with hard work and dedication we can all get to where we want to be.

There are many reasons for why you could be convinced to stay with your current jobs however, and I completely understand why you’d think like this, because these are the reasons I’ve never retrained and chased another career as well. Security has to be at the top of our list of reasons to stick with the job we currently do, it’s a no brainer really, chasing a new career, especially one in which we work for ourselves is risky. We only have to look at the affect the coronavirus has had on the self-employed to realise there’s less security within this sector. This has been the main reason for me staying still, I’ve now got a family to support and I simply cannot afford to be out of work, a regular salary every month is always going to be very tempting. I also feel that one of the reasons we stay with our current jobs is because it’s comfortable, we’re good at the job, we get on with it and then we come home. Repeat on a daily basis and that’s what our life becomes, there’s no risk involved, we’re secure and have nothing to really worry about. The last reason I’m going to discuss is not necessarily something I agree with, it’s something I’ve been told numerous times over the years, and that reason is that working 9-5 is how things are, it’s just life and I should get on with it. You’ve got to ask yourself though, even with all these reasons for staying with your comfortable job, are you getting the most out of yourself? Or is there more you want from a career? Deciding to commit to the idea of a new career is scary, having a family to support makes that choice harder still, but you’re doing this for them as well as yourself right? Sometimes in life we have to take risks to get the rewards we’re looking for, if we retrain and go after a new career, we take that risk for sure, but the rewards could be incredible. In my case I’d have more time with my family if I was to freelance and work from home, I’d be around more to help out and I also feel like every day would be a challenge, I’d be constantly learning, constantly evolving.

The worrying thing for me is that the retirement age is increasing rapidly, it’s a frightening thought to think we might still be working when we hit 80 years old, but that’s the reality. Hopefully I’ll be well and truly retired by that ripe old age, but if I’m not I would like to be working on my terms. I’d also like to discuss briefly our mental state when we go to work, I’m lucky that I don’t wake up dreading going into work, we all get days where we’d rather not go to work, that’s natural, but I wouldn’t say it impacts my mental state. Although, in the past I have had jobs that’ve made me feel this way, when you have responsibilities like a family to support, sometimes these feelings get pushed to the back of your mind, and you do exactly what we stated earlier, you get on with your 9-5. Ask yourself is your current job what you really want to be doing? If the answer is no then ask yourself what it is that you would like to be doing? Then when you’ve answered that, finally ask yourself what’s stopping you from achieving this dream job of yours? The likelihood is that we may face a few challenges in getting there, but it’s not impossible. I’m going to have to retrain, to be taken seriously in what I’d like to go on and do I have to be able to show people that I’m qualified. I understand this will take time and the 9-5 is something I will continue to do until I no longer have to, the end result will be worth it however. As a new parent I’ll be able to work around my family life and create a work-life balance that’s more suitable for me and my family. I’ll be challenged everyday as I begin to make the important decisions and become my own boss. Nothing will be handed to me and it’ll take hard work to get there, but with perseverance I’ll arrive at the end destination, and so can you, just don’t be afraid to take the risk.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read my post everyone, it means a lot. Please feel free to like and leave a comment, I look forward to hearing from you. See you all real soon.
Adam

Covid-19 – A Dads Perspective

Welcome back everyone, sorry it’s been a week since my last post, the worlds suddenly turned rather crazy recently. Me, Ezra and Chantelle are all currently in self isolation and have been for the last four days, within this post I’m going to discuss what it’s been like for us as new parents during this time, paying particular attention to our thoughts and worries within this ensuing pandemic.

Where to start eh? It really has been a whirlwind week in which everything seems to be changing on an hourly basis, I think we should probably start with what it’s like being cooped up with a 6 ½ month old baby whilst unable to leave the house. Now, I’m all for extended holidays and if you’d asked me a few weeks ago about self-isolation, I’d have probably said it sounds like a reasonable idea. Of course, I like many others have come to realise that coronavirus is something to be taken seriously, poor Ezra hasn’t the slightest idea why everything seems to have stalled. He’s like all of us, bored of the same thing day in day out. This is perhaps the biggest struggle we’ve faced so far as parents within this isolation period, we have an incredibly energetic baby, a baby that’s learning so quickly we can’t keep up. Oh, and to add to all the new things Ezra’s learning, he’s also teething, typical right? Going out was one of the highlights of his day, even if it was only to be walked round the town in his pushchair, he’s an outdoor baby that loves fresh air. All of his play dates are currently cancelled so he’s not been able to interact with the other babies from baby steps. These were also a good reason for all the new parents to get together and just chat, catch up and talk about their children, I know this is definitely a part of the week Chantelle has missed. You’ve all of a sudden lost that face to face contact with other people that’re going through exactly what you are, which can be a difficult thing to lose. Ezra’s sleep has taken a hit as well, we’re trying hard to keep him entertained but he’s got a seemingly endless supply of energy to burn, meaning his night time routine has become frequented with disturbances. He’s getting better as the week draws to a close, it’s true that some of this disturbance could be down to growth spurts and teething, but I’m convinced this isolation and uncertainty is playing a part. With each passing day however, I’m hit by the fact that this is probably not something that’s going to change anytime soon, so we better get on with things the best way we can. Look towards the future with positivity, keeping one eye firmly on the present, we cannot ignore what’s unfolding around us, but we can focus on all the good things life will bring us once this has passed. I’ve heard a lot of negativity from all different age groups, people saying things like ‘well we’ve all got to die at some point’. That statement is 100% true, we do all have to die at some point, but don’t be so utterly ridiculous by thinking that it has to be now, we all have so much to look forward to. Coronavirus is not the end, but it could be if you give in and choose to let it get you down, enjoy your life, limited as things are at the moment.

One thing that’s been niggling at me, both as a parent and as an adult, is how this pandemic will impact us financially, I’m not being negative when I say this, just realistic. As a dad with a family to support it’s getting very hard to ignore what kind of ramifications coronavirus will have on both short and long term. In the present, currently on SSP due to being off work in isolation, the question of keeping a roof over our heads falls into place. Nobody can live on SSP, I feel lucky to be getting that, there are many people within this country who’ve lost their jobs, they have families to support as well. The weekly food shop gets tighter and tighter, not just financially but also because of all this crazy stock piling that’s gripped the nation, I think in the immediate future it’ll be a case of prioritising which bills we can pay and which we can’t. There is of course going to be plenty of long-term plans that might be affected as well, marriage, learning to drive, studying and Ezra’s university/ house deposit fund are just a few of ours that are already being put on hold. I’m not saying these things are completely scrapped but we have to, for the moment at least, be realistic with where our money is used. The government intervention will be a huge help to all of us, of that there’s no doubt, I do think this will take time to initiate though, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

It’s important in times like these to make the most of what we have, as a parent I’m going to be concentrating on building strong bonds with Ezra, like I’ve said, he’s developing really quickly, learning new things every day and I’m glad I’m here to see him evolve. If there is to be a prolonged period of isolation or as some press have stated, complete lockdown, I will try and start an English course that I’ve been looking into for a little while which should keep me occupied. (This will be money dependant) As well as spending good, quality family time with Ezra and Chantelle I’ll also use this time to set new goals, I think when this pandemic has passed it’ll be important to know what we want to do and how we’re going to do it. Whether that’s simply finding steady income, settling back into your current job or going out and trying something completely different, if you set out plans now, they’ll become so much easier to attain when the time comes.

I’m going to finish this post like I usually do, by stating the obvious. Getting through coronavirus is going to be hard. I’ve already seen the impact its had on my life, motivation and general wellbeing, I hate to think what it might be like If I were to have/contract this horrible disease. As always though, staying positive about things and concentrating on what we can do is vital, I’m lucky that Ezra is so young and probably won’t remember much of this but I’m still going to be an example for him. I won’t let him see me get frustrated or down, when he’s bored and annoyed I won’t let that stop me trying to keep him entertained, it wont stop me trying to make his day the best it can be. Coronavirus, like isolation is only going to be temporary, the sooner we come to realise this and concentrate on fighting this disease, and also by listening to Boris, things will become easier.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read my post everyone, it means a lot. Please feel free to like and leave a comment, I look forward to hearing from you. See you all real soon.
Adam

Warm Wishes Everyone!

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.

Ps. Just look at all these books!! 

Reading – Pure Escapism

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.

Adam

Writing – So what does it take?

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.
Adam

A Difficult Day

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

Characters – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.

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

Time Away

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.

Adam

Rainy Days – My Current Writing Projects

Hello everyone!! I know it’s been a while, but things have been a little manic since my last post. So, as I sit here with a free five minutes going spare, I thought why not discuss something fun? Now, if you live like I do, within the southern half of England then recently you’ve probably experienced hot days, cold days, unbearably muggy days and of course, rainy days. It never ceases to amaze me that we’ll have all this conflicting weather in such close proximity, but that of course is your typical British day. I often find that on those days filled with rain I’m at my most productive, and with productivity as the key theme for my post today I’d like to discuss what I’m currently working on.

AOKTKC
Why have I placed six random letters above? I’m sure some of you are thinking that very question right now but let me enlighten you. The letters AOKTKC are what I’m currently calling my main writing project at the moment, it doesn’t have a completed name yet, AOKTKC is just the working title. I have so much I want to tell you all already, the plot, main characters and setting are things with which I’m super passionate about and want to share. But alas I’ve become rather secretive over AOKTKC, it’s been a companion for the last 13 months and I’m not quite ready to send it out into the world. There are perhaps a few tiny shreds of detail I can give away however, it’s a children’s story centred around the countryside. Throughout AOKTKC you’ll find many different creatures with contrasting views and morals, as highlighted in my previous post Your Writing Voice much is set around a lake within this countryside. Over the next 4-6 months I hope to share more with you all, but for now it’s definitely a work in progress kept under lock and key. I’m not a very fast writer and tend to spend a lot of time in planning, so as a result have set no hard deadline for finishing this first draft. Some of you ambitious individuals out there might wonder what publishing route I’ll be taking once finished, traditional or self-published. I’ll be honest with you while we’re on the subject, I really don’t know which way to go yet, I’ve thought about both but found thinking that far ahead only a distraction. I promise when the time comes I’ll write a post discussing the pro’s and con’s for both, and also why I’ve chosen the route I have.

A Typical Writing Week
As I touched on earlier, I’m not a particularly fast writer, there are many reasons for this but rather than explain them all I thought it’d be easier to discuss my typical writing week. I like to or at least try to spend anywhere between 4-10 hours writing per week, this can include working on a chapter in AOKTKC or creating and writing a blog post for A.P Writing. Depending on how much you write this may sound like not much at all, about right or quite a lot of time to be spending on writing. Working long days doesn’t always help and I won’t lie, there are times I come in completely shattered with nothing on my mind but eating dinner and crawling into bed. It’s important in these times that I still continue on, most typical writing sessions for me last between 1-2 hours three to four times a week after work. I’ll then spend more time on certain projects while on my days off as I’ve got more time to play with. When I get tired, I tell myself that if I constantly give in and don’t work on things how will I ever reach my end goals? It’s about remaining positive and not letting things get the better of you, believe me I’m hitting a busy period of my life right now. I’m about to become a dad, me and my partner are also moving into a more suitable house and work is nothing but stress, but I still carry on because I believe I can achieve my goals, giving into daily struggles is simply not an option. During the week I’ll try mixing up what I’m working on, purely to stop things becoming monotonous. A good 1-2 hour’s writing could produce anywhere between 300-600 words for me and I’m happy with that, I don’t set thousand-word limits because I find those kinds of daily wordcounts unattainable. They may work for some writers and if they do then carry on, I wish I could write that fast but don’t be in any rush, take the time to make your work special.

So What Else?

Lastly, I’d just like to touch on a few other things in the pipeline. When time allows and I’ve finished AOKTKC I plan to write a series of short stories and make them into a book. I’ve got the first initial sparks buzzing around my brain and with those come many ideas that’ve now been noted and stored, ready for a time when they’ll be written. A.P Writing of course remains a priority, I have to admit however that running a blog is much more difficult than I thought it would be, but I’m learning.

Thanks as always for taking the time to read my post everyone, feel free to leave a comment. I look forward to hearing from you.

Adam

Your Writing Voice

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