Creating my Writing Space

I’m pretty sure that almost all writer folk have dreams of having a workspace that is perfectly designed to be comfortable, secluded and still so utterly gorgeous that it’s the envy of anyone who sees it. Your dream office may include three walls of bookcases crammed with reference books and particular favourites to peruse on a whim when you need some inspiration, a heavy oak desk with lots of little hidden nooks for your stationery addiction and space for your laptop and sprawling notes (or typewriter if you’re old school like that), a big squooshy, twirly office chair that supports you even when you’re hunched over the desk writing frantically; while the facing window provides a peaceful view out onto lush garden.

*zones out into daydreams*

Ahem. Getting carried away a bit there. One day maybe I could have that dream office but for now I’m having to settle for my spare room. Which isn’t going to be too bad; I have a view of my garden through the floor-to-ceiling window – not that my garden could be described as lush right now, to be honest it’s a bit of a working progress. I’m hoping that as everything stops growing so damn fast we can finally get ahead of the jungle and take back control.IMG_0743

As for my desk it’s only a cheap one from Ikea (well *cheap* by Ikea standards) that has just enough space for my laptop and maybe a cup of tea so I’m going to have to make use of other nearby surfaces or the floor for my notes. The chair is comfy enough but alas it doesn’t twirl *sad face*, tis probably for the best since I would distract myself by spinning until I’m dizzy.

I do have a bookcase in my office which is home to my relevant non-fiction books -endless language books and dictionaries, my writing books, various french novels, random biographies and a clutch of maps & guidebooks. The shelves are also littered with some miscellaneous trinkets including my rubber duck collection, my enormous green quill and a Dalek mug that can scream “Exterminate” when I care to switch it on.

IMG_0744In order to remind myself to stay focused and make sure I know what I’m meant to be doing each day I’ve put my whiteboard and corkboard around the desk so I can’t possibly forget and also to provide a place to stick up what I’m calling my “Positivity Peas” so I have some helpful motivators for those days when the evil, negative part of my brain decides that I’m nothing but a fucking idiot who should be allowed to write. I *know* I will have those days so it’s best to be prepared for when they hit.

It’s not quite done yet but it gives me something to start working in so I can be productive and get into my routine before October.

Has anyone else got a particular place they go to do their writing/studying?

Ray x


Planning out my studies

So this morning I received a parcel with my study books for my OU French Module – all *eight* of them.  IMG_0701I was a little shocked since my Level 1 Ouverture module only had two coursebooks and a writing book yet this time for Envol I have six books for each study unit plus a study guide and writing workbook. So it’s going to need a fair bit of space on my shelf. Alongside it will be my BRB (Big Red Book) which is the workbook for my Creative Writing module and *that* book is a beast that I can use to bludgeon people with if they disturb me once I get into my work zone.

Now I’ve got the books I need for my two courses (still questioning my sanity over this decision) I can make an effective plan for myself to manage what tasks I need to do for each subject every week. The study guide for the Creative Writing course is an actual godsend because it has an explicit breakdown of what activities (reading, writing, etc.) you should be doing as well as time guidelines so that will basically become my bible for the A215 course.

My Envol course is going to be a little trickier as I will have study materials and activities to do from several sources; the unit textbook, the writing book and the audio-visual materials from the OU website. So I’ll have to try my damnedest to not forget the online stuff  – I tend to prefer having study materials in book or paper form because the tactility (apparently that *is* a real word) of them makes them more real for me and it’s harder to forget I have them to do.

I’ve worked up a basic timetable so I can organise my days effectively and not procrastinate on Twitter for half a day and then get irritated with myself for not having done anything. Currently my plan involves me getting up at the same time as Le Boyf every weekday and taking the time between 7 and 8am to get up, dressed and caffeinated  so that come 8 o’clock I can retreat into what will soon become my work office (AKA the spare room) and get cracking on whatever tasks I have for the first half of my day.

I’m hoping that doing four hour blocks of work (most likely with a tea break half way through :P) will mean I can get a productive amount done without falling over the edge into boredom because that’s when I’ll start to get distracted and procrastinate. After I have a lunch break I’ll then switch to my other subject and do four more hours work on whatever tasks I have for that. By the end of an 8 hour day I should hopefully *crosses fingers* have a quantity of work that I’m actually satisfied with so I don’t feel guilty about doing other stuff after dinner.

Unlike many OU students who are probably juggling part-time or even full-time jobs as well as studying either A215 or L211 (there are probably not many folk crazy enough to try two modules on top of a job) I will have the almost luxury of being able to arrange my studies without the worry of fitting the work in around other things beyond not completely ignoring Le Boyf by staying closeted away in my office once he gets home from work. I just have to make sure I don’t squander that luxury.

Now this post has taken far longer to write than I planned, I will have to get better at quickly bashing out blog posts in my self-assigned breaks so that I don’t waste work time by blogging about studying.

Have a good night all!

Ray 🙂

Welcome to Ray May Write!

Now this post is going to seem somewhat confusing to somebody just finding this blog because how can I be doing a welcome post for a new blog when there are 24 posts going back to January 2014 already on the site? Simple – all the posts from before today were written and posted over on my other blog (which is now going to just be for Book blogging). From today any posts to do with my writing or studying are going to be posted here. For all bookish stuff from me head over to Ray Reads Books and follow that blog.

I felt I needed a new blog to document my thoughts and ramblings as I launch into a period of basically full-time studying as I will be taking on two OU modules from the beginning of October *yikes*. This blog will be a place for me to share some insights I gain and also share/practice some of the skills I learn. Since I’m doing both a Creative Writing and French course I will have some very different assignments to do over the next 9 months and I’ll need to keep myself motivated and accountable so that I don’t just drift away from doing all the work that my degree requires of me. Hopefully some of you guys will help with that.

Although my modules don’t start for another month I have a *lot* of work to do in order to be in the right frame of mind when the real hard work actually starts. I have to get myself into a routine of studying that’s balanced enough that I give both subjects equal attention and still leaves me with time to put towards other things like my current WIP which I’m still trying to finish. Time management is something I really struggle with and get very easily distracted from (which is evidenced by today because instead of making myself a timetable – I set up this blog) so I will have to keep setting myself back on task and refocusing my priorities.

In the near future I shall post more on my study plan and work schedule so that there is a record out there for people to hold me to and demand to know if I’m doing what I say I will be doing when I should. To some people this is going to seem rather odd and unnecessary but I know me and my bad habits so I need all the people reminding me to work that I can get. 

But anyway this is enough for now I think.

Speak Soon

Ray x




Writing Ray – Plot, plot, plot

Now that I’ve completely destroyed the meaning of the word “plot” for myself I should say that this post is going to have nothing useful to other writers on the subject of plotting a book or anything else like that – for actual advice and helpfulness y’all need to check out Susan Dennard’s website and her page of links to awesome blog posts For Writers because seriously she rocks and I’ve got the page bookmarked to my main toolbar.

This is more just a way for me to journal my writing process over the year so that maybe in another year or two I can look back and rofl myself into a stupor over my naive writer self and her daft assumptions about writing a book for the first time. For funsies and all.

Anywhoooo today I wanted to talk about the fact that I *think* I have the remaining scenes of my first draft plotted out – vaguely. Over the weekend while I was at my parents (and reliving my childhood by visiting Sudbury for like the 7th time) I busted out a crappy A3 pad I bought ages ago and grabbed some marker pens and mapped out about 8 scenes apiece for my two MCs for the middle section between when they meet for the first time and for the second.

It was a bit daft of me to leave the middle until last as by now it’s been nearly 9 months since I wrote the First meeting scene and at least 3 since I wrote the second meeting so my thoughts about certain things and characters may have shifted slightly in that time – not counting the fact that I can be a fucking idiot and just forget I wrote some things – so getting everything to match up is going to be a challenge. One that will probably have to be sorted in the second draft.

So I now have two A3 sheets with my middle section planned out; some of the scenes on there have already been drafted so I really only have 12 scenes to write rather than 16/17 which is a bonus I guess. How long all those are going to end up being, I have no clue as yet. My original estimate of the book being 85,000 words is starting to fall short, it’s looking like 95-100K will be more like a realistic endpoint for this book.

Setting up all the scene cards in my Scrivener project is delightfully fun and it will be even more enjoyable when I get to change the status of all those cards from “To Do” to first draft or something similar once I’ve written the actual scenes. Then once I’ve got all that done I might be able to say I’ve finished the first draft of my novel! *le gasp*

Now that will be exciting. For now I gotta keep chugging away at it and today’s wordcount of 1113 words  has been rather lovely and helpful for getting me to a current overall wordcount of around 71.5K *holy shitballs that’s a lotta words* So while the end may be in sight it won’t do to give into complacency now.

But that’s all for now folks. Carry on!
Ray x

Writing Ray – The Difference a Year Makes

So yesterday I happened to be pottering about on my Youtube channel and I saw a video I did last July entitled Why is Writing so dang hard? It was about 8 minutes of me grumbling about my difficulties with writing and how although I had several story ideas and many notebooks half-full with scribblings that none of it ever materialised into actual novel-sized pieces of writing.

In that video I showed two notebooks that had both got some notes on the first five pages or so – those are the notebooks for my current WIP that I have been working on this year. The yellow legal pad is now nearly full with plotting notes and scene snippets that I did in pencil (exclusively in that notepad I don’t know why I just preferred it that way). The other notebook is not quite as full but it still has quite a lot of pages that are crammed with snippets, thoughts on characters and story timelines.

So if you think that a year ago, all I had an idea that was bouncing round my head, some scribbled thoughts and little else. Fast forward to now when I have nearly filled a notebook and have written **Monday Edit** nearly 67,000 words on this idea… that is some pretty awesome progress. Just since the start of 2014 I have written more than twice as much as my longest previous piece of writing.

According to Scrivener my book is currently equivalent to 215 pages in a paperback so when I get to my intended word goal it will be around 285 pages. If I overshoot a bit maybe it will end up as a round 300pgs. It will be a very strange thing indeed to have to print over half a ream of paper that will have my words all over them.

That’s not to say that this year has been a cakewalk getting all this writing done. I’ve had to juggle my full-time job, my Open University studies and my home life while trying to write. My boyfriend has been amazingly supportive of me, even when he’s nagging me to actually get my OU work done when I’ve been neglecting it for too long. But I think without the push from him last year to try and write this idea I might not have got started and I’d still be that grumbling non-writer lamenting the inability to get her thoughts out onto paper/pixels.

No gushy post about my writing progress will be complete without me mentioning, once again, the Amazing Alpha Reader/Slave-driver that is my best twinnie Jess. She has been my touchstone throughout this project. Every time I’ve sent her a scene to read I’ve been sat anxiously wondering “will she like it? What bits will she not like?” and when she sends me her feedback it all gets filed in the “Do not forget” part of my brain and when it comes round to editing this book those emails are getting printed out as the starting point.

So again, THANK YOU WITH SPRINKLES ON TOP Jess for keeping me locked in my Writerly Cage and rewarding me with cashews when I done good 😛 I’m pretty sure you’re first in line for a dedication if/when this book gets itself into an actual printed format. You’re the best first reader a girl could wish for.

Twinnie Jess on the left 🙂

A year can change a whole lot, while I’m not 100% confident in my abilities as a writer (heck I don’t like to think what the real percentage might be), I have irrefutable proof that I *can* get my ideas out in a reasonably coherent manner and create a story that at least one person wants to read. Which is a pretty damn good feeling. Who knows where I’ll be next year? Charging ahead with edits on Book 1? Maybe have a first draft of Book 2? Be Plotting Book 3?? All of the above?!

I’m looking forward to finding out. I hope you guys don’t mind me dragging you with me on the adventure.
Ray x