Ok, I know, I shouldn’t be here right? But I just had to get involved in Rebecca’s Meme, because I’ve been feeling a bit down (what? On a lovely relaxing break?) which I think has been induced by the looming birthday next week. It’s not that I’m scared of age, just that birthdays are bittersweet nowadays and the whole stressy writing business has taken its toll.
I’d been thinking about this recently, after a session at Happy Club with Peter Jones (if you’ve not read How To Do Everything and Be Happy I highly recommend it!!!!) where we were making lists of things that made us happy and trying to find ways to incorporate those moments into our lives.
I went straight home, opened a brand new journal and wrote this on the first page.
I now have a journal dedicated to living the best life i can. So far I’ve written about 20 pages!
So thank you Rebecca, this is exactly what I needed right now.
Vikki’s How To Be Happy in 5 Easy Steps
1. Eat cake! Things are always better after cake 😉
2. Have hobbies and interests! Do things you enjoy – make the most of every moment!
3. Make sure there is ALWAYS someone who is pleased to see you! Friends and family are important.
4. Buy a new pair of shoes! Gorgeous new shoes always make us girlies happy 😉
5. Own a pet! Unconditional love, from a furry friend is just the best!!!!!!
Just writing those down has made me smile 🙂
So those are my 5 top tips on how to be happy, or what makes me happy. Now it’s your turn. Give me your 5 in the comments box…make me smile 🙂 And if you want to post this on your own blog, please link back to Rebecca’s and feel free to tag.
Continuing with our editing theme (i hope you’re finding these posts helpful) today, you’re in for a treat, because i have a very special guest…the lovelyPeter Jones 🙂 I have been a huge fan of Peter (shhhh, don’t tell him, he’ll get big headed!) since I first met him at Swanwick in 2011 and read his book How To Do Everything and Be Happy which I’ve talked about before on this blog. I’ve attended workshops that Peter has run and I’m looking forward to the publication of the new book he has co-written with Della Galton and then of course, there’s this one in the pipeline.
I just finished writing the first draft of How To Survive Online Dating.
Some explanation is needed.
When I say ‘first draft’, I mean the version of the manuscript that came into being, whilst I sat here, bashing away at the keyboard, with one eye on my outline. I can tell you now that it’s the very best thing I’ve ever written, and that there’s probably only a couple of minor things that need fixing – perhaps the odd smelling mistake, or formatting error – and then it’ll be ready to be released to the world. Part of me wonders whether I should skip my usual editing process and upload it directly to amazon, once I’ve cobbled together some sort of cover.
Another part of me knows that what I actually have is a nothing more than a collection of loosely associated words. And by words I mean a letters arranged into groups, because many of these so-called words won’t actually appear in any dictionary known to man. Where a genuine word does appear there’s a very good chance that it’s not the one I actually meant to type, or that it appears several times in the same paragraph, or it’s part of a phrase that I’ve used over and over and over again. There will be punctuation and grammar mistakes everywhere. Jokes that don’t work. Formatting errors galore. In short – it’ll be a train wreck. A disaster. And I realise yet again that ‘finished’ isn’t a word that should ever share a sentence with the phrase ‘first draft’.
My mate Vikki Thompson is in a similar position. Having taken part in NaNoWrMo this year she’s looking at a 50,000+ word ‘novel’ and wondering what to do next. And whilst there’s a whole host of writing advice out there, here’s what I do to take my manuscript from first to final draft.
Let it rest – This is a luxury that I can’t always afford, but the truth is getting a little distance between you and your WIP (‘work in progress’ – I hate that expression) helps you to lose the rose-coloured spectacles you were wearing when you found yourself thinking, “hey, this is pretty good stuff.” And by you, I mean of course, me.
Print it. Read it. Mark changes – for reasons that I’ve never been able to fathom errors are easier to spot on the printed page. Once you’ve invested paper and ink into something those stupid swelling mistaks will leap out at you and blow raspberries. But more than that, it’s easier to navigate through a printed document. I take a red pen and start ringing words, striking through whole sentences (and paragraphs), and putting wiggly lines in the margins (which is short hand for ‘meh – probably needs a re-write’).
I make changes.
Print it. Read it (aloud this time). Mark changes – Oddly, reading something aloud is the only way I know to find out if the ‘rythmn’ of the piece is right, whether my sentences are too long, and whether it’s clear who’s speaking. Sometimes I’ll even take a chapter to my local writing group and get someone else to read it whilst I follow along on another copy and mark where things don’t sound right.
I make changes.
Give it to Jules – my assistant Jules is usually the first person (after me) to read anything I’ve written. Having worked together now for many years I know I’ll get a brutally honest opinion. Gone are the days when she’d write a long diplomatic note about how she got a little lost, or “perhaps it could be better still”. Now she’s more likely to strike through an entire page and scribble “bit poncy” in the margin. Often Jules won’t be able to tell me what’s wrong with a particular piece, only that it doesn’t work for her. And that’s fine.
I make changes.
Give it to first readers – I’ll print a couple more copies and send it to people I’ve identified as my trusted ‘first readers’, a crack team of operatives who will give me their honest opinions on anything and everything. For this book that’ll be Wendy Steele and Della Galton. Together they’ll pick up on anything that Jules missed; jokes that still don’t work or can be misinterpreted, bits that ramble on too long, are hard to follow, or simply don’t make sense. Like Jules both ladies know better than to spare my feelings. I’m not looking for encouragement – I’m looking for things to fix!
I make changes.
Send it to my agent – finally, my lovely agent Becky will cast her beady eye over the book. If I’ve done my job well she’ll complain that she couldn’t speed-read the manuscript because she kept slowing down to read it properly. She’ll then send me her changes which are usually more structural in nature, moving elements she feels a publisher would particularly like to the front of the book, and generally making the book more commercial.
I make the final changes.
This entire process will usually takes me longer than it took to write that initial draft, but what I’m left with is usually something I can feel mildly proud of. And for the first time I can finally say, it’s ‘finished’.
Peter Jones is the author of two and a half fabulously popular self-help books on the subjects of happiness, dieting and online dating. If you’re over-weight, lonely, or unhappy – he’s your guy. Find out more at peterjonesauthor.com
Thank you so much Peter, some great advice! It’s so nice to hear the professionals say that their first draft is a train wreck….makes you feel so much better doesn’t it? 😉
Boxing Day was traditionally the day that people gave their servants a Christmas Box, a small gift to recognise their loyalty and service.
As a child, I thought it literally meant that they had boxing matches on this day 😉 Most of my childhood was spent knowing that Boxing Day meant a large spread of buffet style food and a visit from family. A chance to all get together for a party!
As an adult, I’ve still kept the tradition of having a spread, but, as we don’t have family to invite round (all say awwwww lol) it’s turned into a relaxing day, almost a pyjama day! Lol.