A New Writing Year


I remember a few years ago sitting in the living room telling a friend of mine that “next year is the year I’m really going to do something with my writing” and of course, said year came and went without me making any significant inroads in my writing career at all. This has been the case for the past four or five years now and I have said it again about 2018, but something feels different about it this time. Perhaps for the first time, the sentence has meaning behind it and, more importantly, passion.

A few months ago I found myself wanting to give up on writing and just try and get on with having an ordinary career and forget about the dizzy heights of publication and Hollywood. I could finally throw away that Oscars acceptance speech which had been in my drawer since I finished the first draft of my first ever screenplay.

As I sit here at the beginning of 2018 though, I am hesitant to call the feeling I have right now optimism. My girlfriend bought me a few writing books for Christmas which has helped to ignite the dormant spark inside. In my new writing diary I have made a list of competitions that I intend to enter throughout the year. I have selected six focusing on short stories and flash fiction (I feel like the length of flash fiction will challenge my writing styles so I want to give it more of a try) but I am also aiming to enter all twelve of the monthly flash fiction competitions ran by Writer’s Forum, my favourite magazine about writing.

Whilst I am not expecting to win any of the competitions I enter I am looking forward to having deadlines for my writing and embracing the challenging limited word counts. This will also force me to come up with new ideas which I could then even expand and build up to become something more.

All the time I’m working on submissions for competitions I intend to have a larger project going on in the background: projects I have had in mind for some time. There are four main tasks I want to complete for what I deem to be “bigger projects”. The first is completing the first draft of a novel I have been working on since November and should really have finished by now. This will be followed by a screenplay for a television pilot influenced by the works of Tony Jordan (Hustle, By Any Means). Waiting for me for over a year has been the first draft of a fantasy novel that I need to revise and polish into a more coherent and better developed second draft. And the fourth project on my list is a screenplay for a children’s television pilot that pays homage to the likes of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers and W.I.T.C.H (an animated series from the mid-noughties based on the Italian comics of the same name).

I must admit, writing this it appears to me that I have a lot that I want to do. And that is just my writing, I’ve not even mentioned that I’m looking to also get a board game idea developed into the prototype stage by the end of the year. It looks as though I’ll have less time for LEGO, the PlayStation and watching TV this year, but here’s hoping that by the 31st December 2018, I will have achieved all of my writing aims for the year.

Happy new year folks!

A New Burst!

It’s been almost 10 days since I wrote my last post about giving up writing. Since that post, I have written every single day. What a hypocrite!

The day I decided that it was all too much for me and that I was never going to get anywhere, I had a new idea for a novel. And this little seedling of an idea has remained in my head as if it was planted there by Leonardo DiCaprio himself (Inception, come on) and is slowly taking over my mind.

I find myself back in my comfort zone, writing a fantasy novel set in an imagined world with rules to be decided at my own volition. In short, the story revolves around an Evil King and his search for magic after the dwarves disappeared centuries ago, the exiled loner who is breaking into the Kingdom and freeing children from the mines they are forced to work in, and the assassin ordered by the king to kill said man.

While still in the very early stages of planning that’s a very brief and simple outline of a much larger story. I wasn’t aware of the scale of work I’d taken on with this idea, especially as I want to be able to tell the story from all three characters’ points of view. While all of the characters do cross paths with one another at certain stages, I am effectively writing three separate novels and tying them all together in one. Obviously this is not a new thing, but for someone who so rarely finishes what he starts when it comes to writing, it’s quite a task.

Like I mentioned, however, this story is now always in my head and I’m coming up with ideas every single day, adding them to my story planner (made of strings, post it notes and craft pegs on the wall of the spare bedroom) and am slowly seeing things take shape.

So far, the story is one that I really like, which is always a good start when you’re going to be spending a lot of time on something; the characters feel real, effective and the relationships appear strong.

I’m looking forward to writing this.

Why I Give up Writing.

There’s a fine line between love and hate and depending on the day, my relationship with writing could fall either side of that line. On one hand, I really enjoy coming up with new ideas, creating good characters with interesting relationships and building a world for them to inhabit. But on the other hand, there’s the stress, pressure and self-doubt that comes into play when I sit down to type at laptop or when I pick up a pen and put it to paper.

Today, I have come up with a new novel idea. I have sat at my desk to try and write a second draft of my favourite short story that I’ve ever written. And I’ve also said that I am giving up writing, that I’m no good at it and that it is pointless for me to even continue to try and write. I’ve not had much success.

In fact, the only success I have had from writing came from being a ‘highly commended’ entry in a writing magazine competition. This might be part of the problem: when I sit down to write I don’t see any end game in sight, and I don’t see myself making any great strides or progress towards being a published author. Though, when I don’t write and I spend my time instead playing on the playstation or reading articles about films instead of writing, I feel angry with myself that I’ve not done anything to help my writing.

So I’ve got myself a schedule of where I want to be at weekly intervals with my writing after picking out a few competitions I think I can enter. This afternoon, I sat down to redraft my favourite short story and I hated it. A couple of days ago I went through the story, highlighted the good parts, pointed out the bad and decided what changes needed to be made. Rather naively, I thought that would make writing the second draft a lot easier.

I didn’t even get halfway through the second draft before I gave up. It was awful. In no way was it better than the first draft. The characters weren’t jumping off the page like they had the first time I’d written the story, the world didn’t seem as interesting after the changes I had made to the structure. It was a bad story, it was poorly written and it was incredibly inferior to the first draft.

Maybe I had sat down in the wrong frame of mind, just wanting to get it redrafted and out of the way, but this is how I feel a lot of the time. As I mentioned before, the fun part for me is having the idea and crafting it into something that can become a story, but when I try to write any of them I feel like I’m doing them an injustice. I have so many ideas in my head that I struggle to focus on any one of them for a long enough time to ever make the progress that I want to see.

Last year I finished the first draft of my novel, Queen of Hell Rising, and what have I done with that since? I’ve made an effort to read through it and evaluate the chapters, see what makes sense and what doesn’t, but I don’t have the passion or motivation to do that. The worst part is that I don’t know why I don’t want to do it because actually writing the novel was greatly enjoyable and I do think it’s a genuinely good piece of writing.

Maybe I just need to sit myself down and focus on a long term project, or maybe I should have a stern word with myself and get better at redrafting. Or maybe I just need to give up on my dream of being a writer altogether, which seems a lot easier and a lot more desirable at this point in time.

The Weight of Self Pressure


Over the last decade or so, becoming a writer has not only been a primary goal of mine, but it seems more achievable now for me than it has in the past. I can’t really explain why that is; perhaps its because there are so many ways now to get your writing out there, or perhaps it is because that everything I write teaches me something new – about either myself or the writing process. I know I’m still a long way of achieving my main aim of having a novel published or a script sold, but I feel I’m making progress, no matter how small.

One thing that I believe is stopping me is the incredible amount of pressure that I put on myself, which in turn turns into self-doubt, which then creates a negative impression of my writing that I just can’t turn off. This has increased over the past decade in tandem with the above. It is when I compare my experience of writing two feature length film scripts years apart that I can see just how much pressure I am putting on myself now. And how that is taking away the fun from a hobby that I used to enjoy a lot more. The two scripts in question were:

Navanho. Set in the fantasy kingdom of Navanho, King Gabriel’s palace is overrun by his half-brother who banishes Gabriel from the kingdom and takes his baby daughter to raise for his own, in his own image. Gabriel brings together a team of mercenaries – including old friends and new acquaintances – to take back his kingdom and rescue his daughter.

Beyond the Veil. A journalist investigating a series of kidnappings is thrust into the centre of his own story when his son becomes the latest victim. After finding out the children are being smuggled to a different dimension, our hero must visit the second world and face off with some familiar faces to find out why his son was targeted.

Oh… it wasn’t until I just wrote both of the synopses out side by side that I realised how similar the two stories are.

Navanho was the first script that I ever wrote (way back when scripped.com was a thing) and seems to have been lost in the ether now. It may have a simple story which is similar to many fantasy novels/films but it will always have a place in my heart because it was the first project I had seen through from start to finish and is exactly the kind of film that I would love to see on the big screen. I remember writing Navanho just to see if I could. To see if I had it in me to write a full length feature film. And I did. I think it’s for this reason that it will always be my favourite piece of writing I have ever done. The point is though, when I wrote Navanho I wrote it for myself, knowing that it was a project being written out of passion and was not meant for other people’s eyes. This completely sucked the pressure out of the project because if it was bad, what did it matter?

When I came up with the idea for Beyond the Veil, I genuinely thought I was onto something good. The basic premise, I believe, is a really good and really strong one. Some of the themes and characters of that script were solid. I’m not saying the final product was a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but it was good. And when I look back on it now I can be proud of it. I wrote Beyond the Veil about three years after Navanho and was writing it with the intention of trying to get some interest from production companies (of which I did get a little) so while I was passionate about it, I wasn’t writing it just for me, which is where the pressure came from.

More and more I have found myself trying to second guess my audience because I want their approval. Not all writers will admit to wanting their writings to be liked, but I do. I want to be able to share my stories and ideas with people and for them to resonate and mean something to the people who read them like they mean something to me. I feel like I’m caught in a vicious circle of wanting to put my own work out there but scared of it not getting the reaction I would like. It’s a big thing, putting your work in the hands of someone else and not knowing how they’re going to react to it.

I put so much pressure on myself because I want my writing to be the best it can be that I think sometimes my passion and writing style gets lost in the mix. I know that I need to take this pressure and turn it into something more productive, like courage, motivation to do better, determination to succeed or all of the above.

Finally I’ve seen what the biggest obstacle I face in becoming a writer is. It’s me.