Counting Tomatoes

September – gosh, what a year. It is only now that I’m feeling better that I realise just how ill I have been. I haven’t blogged or vlogged for a very long time!
Scary.
Somehow, and despite all advice I received at the start of the year, I carried on juggling paid work and did my best to fulfill commitments. Result? I got fatigued. But now months down the line, I’ve ended up with a diagnosis, and I’ve sort of come to terms with the fact I need to make significant changes in my lifestyle.
So, now it is the not so simple task and putting said changes into action.

1. Remembering and consistently taking my medication.
2. Adopting a ‘spoon’ lifestyle – more about that another day.
3. Initially, checking in with my better half when accepting work to stop becoming over committed.
4. And not beat myself up about my editing/writing goals – but carry on using what I call, my tomato technique.

It’s actually called the Pomodoro Technique, and it’s a time management technique developed by Francesco Cirillo and was super big in the 90’s, when I sort of stopped using this method when an evil ex broke my egg timer. So I was trying to recover, and feeling guilty and frustrated about the lack of work I was doing when fellow SCBWI member and picture book author Chitra Sounar challenged people to doing tomatoes on Facebook. It was just the gentle nudge I needed.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?
The pomodoro technique is a proven and popular time management life hack.
The main premise behind the technique is to work in blocks of time, typically 25 minutes long (called pomodoro sessions), followed by a 5 minute break. Each pomodoro session should demand your full attention on one task, every break requires you to step away from your work to rest.
The result is greatly improved productivity during focused work sessions that can be maintained through effectively managing distractions and taking regular breaks.

Cheap as chips, you don’t even have to buy a timer, you can use your phone or the many free apps on line.
Like everything there are good and bad points. Do really successful people need a timer ticking away? It’s all or nothing, you have to do your twenty five minutes to get your tick in the box.

But – this tried and tested method had meant that over the summer I have done something. No I am not at the point I wanted to be at. And some days I only managed one tomato. But I have been able to chip away at a mammoth task.
So, the glorious six weeks of the summer with my girls has helped me put things into perspective. We have had some amazing days out, squeezed into my oldest daughter work heavy schedule. I have had a massive Spring? Summer? Nearly Autumn clean. Sorted out the car and the garden. And best of all got back to looking forward.

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Matt Wingett’s Five Top Writing Tips

I first met Matt Wingett in 2012 on a ReAuthoring Event. Since then I’ve had the pleasure to be involved in creative projects where Matt’s been on the team. I was so pleased when he came and gave The Writers at Lovedean a talk about his time as a scriptwriter for the BBC.
On today’s vlog Matt shares his top five writing tips.

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When the first draft of your novel sinks.

Writing a novel, it’s like falling in love. You get this great idea. If you are like me, the not strong and silent time, you tell your friends about it. You go off on research trips, pour over the words, and make notes on all your characters. And then after months of pain, you finish your first draft.
So what do you do when you reread it and find out it is rubbish? Now I know that all first drafts need lots of rewriting. The question I’m asking is what do you do when you reread it and know deep down that this is complete junk. You kissed the frog and ended up with a frog. Not all first drafts are diamonds in the rough; some are destined to stay hiding under the bed.
But fear not, it may not be a waste. I tried my hand at writing a sci-fi novel; it was terrible. However, a year later I did see a writing competition, and I used one of the themes of my novel. I knew my sci-fi world so well that writing the short story was enjoyable. I won first prize, a pleasing sum of £150 pounds!
Then there was an opportunity to write a story for an anthology, once again I dug out some ideas from my discarded novel.
The moral of the story is that a 70,000 plus novel under the bed isn’t always the failure you may think it is!
If you do decide to drop by my Youtube channel, please forgive the noise in the background.

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Damon L Wakes:
Writers – Why you should blow up a dog


 

Today, I was lucky enough to get an incredibly talented young writer to come and give a writing session at The Writers at Lovedean. Damon L Wakes novella is looking for pledges on the Unbound scheme. Not sure what that is? Well, Unbound is a crowd funding project, where writers have the opportunity to get published by Penguin. Damon came to the group to explain how the scheme works and to ask for pledges for his novella, Ten Little Astronauts, an Agatha Christie-inspired murder mystery novella set on board an interstellar spacecraft. He also explained why it is a good idea to blow up dogs in his five great writing tips!

I do hope you will check out his page on the Unbound and think about pledging!.

unbound.com/authors/damon-l-wakes

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