Update on the summer writing course

Thanks to all the people who signed up to write a (bad!) novel draft in six weeks. We’re concentrating on on quantity, not quality – giving ourselves permission to write badly, getting the words down on paper in the sure and certain hope that we’ll fix any problems in the next draft.

There’s still time to join in, but we’re having some problems with catching new joiners up with the emails that have already gone out (it’s strictly a “one email a day” course). If you sign up now, you’ll get a regular email every day, but the batch of emails that went out before you joined will come all at once, and I’ll stop doing that altogether at the weekend.  You can still jump in at any point, but you won’t get the back story.

So – sign up now, if you were still wondering!

Write a novel this summer

You’re a Sunday Writer, right?  Maybe you’re also a teacher or a student, with a six-week change of pace coming up.  Maybe you’re just too hot to sleep and wondering what to do between six and seven when you can’t sleep?

Here we go then: let’s write a novel!

Think about it. Write without brakes and you can write two thousand words in an hour.  They won’t be good words, they certainly won’t be perfect words, but we aren’t going to worry about that.  This is Draft Zero, the Bad Draft that you write to get the pace, the structure, the ideas right.  Then you go back and write Draft One and fix it, make the draft you’ll show to your writing partners before you send it off out into the world.

Here’s the deal.  Sign up to my mailing list and I’ll (metaphorically) hold your hand through six weeks of writing Draft Zero.  Every day I’ll send you an email with your task for the day.  Devote an hour a day to carrying out the writing tasks I give you, and in six weeks you’ll have an eighty thousand word draft.  It won’t be good.  It won’t be perfect.  But it’ll be finished – that’s the point.

If you want to play, go the the sidebar and subscribe to the Draft Zero mailing list. It’s a six-week only list: apart from a welcome email so you know you’ve signed up, you’ll get an email once a day from 23 July to 2 September (and of course you can unsubscribe any time) Write on!

Sign up here

Plot noodling

Mostly at Sunday Writer we concentrate on getting the words down on paper (it doesn’t have to be good, yet: it just has to exist).

How do you do that?  Well first of all you have to have some idea of where you are going – “I am writing a taxpunk novel about a heroic group of people fighting to defend the change from capitalism to a new financial system”, or “I am writing a PhD thesis about the interplay of better regulation and tax simplification” (to take two examples entirely at random *wink*).  What is your book about?  You don’t need to know everything that is going to happen, you just have to know the basics – is it fiction or non-fiction?  Science fiction?  Romance?

Then you need to know what happens next.  (If you haven’t started writing yet, call that what happens first)  You know.  New people are moving into the stately home next door.  There’s a dead body on the bridge.  I woke up one morning and I’d turned into a bug.  That kind of thing.  What we will do on Sunday at the workshop is to start from that scene and head out towards that ending.

You could think of it like a career plan or a life goal.  I want to be a pilot.  I want to grow some peonies.  You know vaguely where you want to go.  Ok, so what’s the first thing you need to do to get there?  I need to find out what qualifications I need.  I need to find out how to grow peonies.

At Sunday Writer you will work on getting from The First Thing towards The End Point, by way of capturing a lot of words that are heading in the right direction, without stopping to do all that research that will suck you into days of clicking around the internet.  You’ll tell yourself it doesn’t matter if your paragraphs are littered with [insert research here] and [the character we met in chapter three, whose name I’ll go back and look up later, honest]. You’ll separate out the researching from the writing.  You’ll spend the day writing: the other stuff you can fix later.

So what is plot noodling and why am I telling you about it now?

Plot noodling is sitting staring vaguely into space with your headphones on, letting your mind wander.  You know your book starts with (say) the eligible rich guy moving in next door, and you know it’s a romance so it most likely ends with the hero and the heroine getting married.  Let your mind wander around what happens along the way.  You know where you start and where you finish: what happens after that?  How winding is that road?  Is there an interesting place to stop and visit?

Plot noodling is thinking time.  Plot noodling is travelling that long and winding road from the beginning to the end, so that, when your fingers are flying over the keyboard on Sunday, they have some interesting places to go.

If you are coming to Sunday Writer this weekend, you’ll need to bring your laptop and your favourite pen (and, if you’re dropping in rather than buying a ticket in advance, your lunch!)  But it will help you a lot if you have let your mind wander around the landscape of your book in advance.  Go on, make a cuppa and sit and think for a while.

What happens at Sunday Writer…

stays at Sunday Writer!  I’ve had a couple of questions about what happens at the workshop so here is a quick summary.

First of all, it’s nothing like school!  You won’t be asked to read out what you’ve written or to let anyone else read it.  What happens at Sunday Writer stays at Sunday Writer!  There will be friendly people there and you’ll have time to chat over a coffee if you like, but really the emphasis of the day is on writing – on getting words down on paper.

So it is an ideal environment if you already have a project on the go: you will go home at the end of the day with a chunk of words added to your project.  If you have an idea for a project but haven’t yet made a start, you will make that start and, again, go home with some word count under your metaphorical belt.  And if you just have a vague idea you want to write but you haven’t yet made a start… come along and start!

There are writing exercises, approximately once an hour.  The idea is to try different techniques that will help you get Draft Zero down on paper – our motto is, the words don’t have to be good yet (that’s what Draft One is for) but they DO have to be written.  And then we will have a break when you can just write.

There will be coffee and tea available all day, as well as biscuits.  But I have had some feedback that people find the day rather expensive if lunch is included and would prefer to make their own arrangements.  So I’m pleased to say I’ve made some tickets available on Eventbrite here for only £30 (plus booking fee) if you are happy to make your own arrangements for lunch.  Come along!

Sunday workshops this summer

I know it’s not exactly “summer” or even spring just yet, but bear with me: when the weather gets better your thoughts will turn to writing, I guarantee it. Take advantage by booking for a Sunday Writer workshop.  They will run every second Sunday in the month between 13th May and 14th October.  You can buy advance tickets (including a special offer of six tickets for the price of five) at Eventbrite here