On January 8th 2017, I published the first blog post on my website where I outlined my intention to make 2017 the year when I would begin to take my writing from a pastime to a profession. Now, as the year ends, I am reflecting on my progress so far.
It started in January when I decided to decorate and empty my spare room to turn it into my writing room. I needed a space to be creative and where I could write without distractions. It proved to be a greater task than I had anticipated and it was time-consuming work sorting everything out but after four weekends, I finally had a modern room where I can now just close the door and focus on my writing.
In February, I finished the first draft of my stage script, ‘A Breath of Fresh Air’. I spent a few weeks editing and rewriting before it was sent to the Director/Producer of the local drama group. This was the beginning of an enjoyable journey taking my script from the page to the stage.
The first script read-through took place in March and then it was handed over to the cast to bring it to life. I watched the rehearsals on a few occasions and the process became more exciting as it got closer to show night.
In March, April and May, I had to learn more about website design and I produced regular updates for my blog. This is where I showcase my writing style for potential agents, publishers and customers. It is essentially my ‘shop window’ to advertise what I can offer in terms of writing.
There are now three categories of blog posts (Writing, Outdoors and Volunteering). Regular readers will know that I am also a volunteer for St. John Cymru Wales and I have been working on some PR for my division. I have been given permission to write blog posts about some of the vital work that this charity does in the community. I wrote a recruitment article which was published in a local magazine in June and I am in the process of writing another article for a different magazine to be published in early 2018.
Halfway through the year, I joined a writing group that runs drop-in sessions once a month. I am still a member of my original writing group but attending the drop-in sessions has enabled me to meet more local writers, share my work and receive feedback.
My freelance writing business idea began to take shape in June. I was invited to attend a local business networking group to investigate if there would be any demand for the services I can offer to small businesses. This was an excellent opportunity where I was able to chat directly to my potential customers and establish some new contacts. By the end of the meeting, I was pleased that there was some interest and I felt encouraged and more confident about taking the idea forward.
It is a cruel fact that the writing profession is as much about rejection as success and this is something that every writer must get used to. There are hundreds of statistics out there about how many times even the most successful novels were rejected before they were eventually accepted by a publisher.
In March, a publisher contacted me to say they liked the first fifty pages of my novel and they requested the full manuscript to read. The letter stated that, ‘I do believe you have the potential to become a published writer!’ This was very exciting. There then followed several tense weeks of waiting for a reply. Eventually, in June the outcome was that it was not quite right at that particular time but the feedback was very positive, especially about my use of dialogue. I have reflected on the advice and suggestions, rewritten several sections and I will be sending it out again in the near future.
The dialogue comment particularly prompted me to think more about pursuing scriptwriting. I signed up for a scriptwriting course to learn about the industry. It is an extremely competitive field so it is important to maximise the chances by understanding how to write a script to professional standards. I sent my first assignment to the tutor about how I would like to turn my novel into a screenplay and again, the feedback was very positive. This is going to be one of my significant projects for 2018.
In July, I was selected to be a book reviewer for ‘Mslexia Max’. ‘Mslexia’ is a magazine for women who write. It has readers from all over the world. ‘Mslexia Max’ is the subscribers’ website that accompanies the magazine. I have since posted two reviews on the forum (‘Not Thomas’ by Sara Gethin and ‘Oh! What a Pavlova’ by Isabella May). This has been a fantastic opportunity because, not only does it get my writing out there, it has given me the chance to read books that I would not usually consider. This will broaden my reading and help me to explore what else is currently being published.
In August, I went to another business networking meeting, launched my brand and advertised my services to the other businesses in attendance.
Later that month, I went on a course provided by ‘Business Wales’ for people considering starting a business. The course, entitled ‘Starting A Business: Taking The Plunge’, was extremely informative and I was able to learn about how to develop my ideas. As a result, I now have a ‘Business Wales’ contact who is helping me with the next stage. There are numerous things that needed to be put in place and this has taken a few months to sort out but I am now in a position to move forward.
The next milestone in my writing career came in October when the script I wrote for the local drama group was performed. ‘A Breath of Fresh Air’ is a comedy drama based on a drama group participating in an outdoor challenge to raise funds for the local village hall. I was extremely pleased with the reaction. The cast did a brilliant job and the audience laughed in all the right places. I am now looking forward to beginning the process again and writing a script for the next show.
As the end of the year approached, an opportunity came up to write a regular feature for ‘Bwrdd’, the newsletter for British Mensa members in Wales. I am pleased that my idea was accepted and in 2018, I will be writing about walking in Wales (specifically in the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains). I regularly write blog posts about walking so this is a natural next step.
Throughout the year, I have been lucky enough to meet several writers including Peter Robinson, author of the DCI Banks novels; Fergus Collins, editor of ‘Countryfile Magazine’; and Martina Cole, Sunday Times Bestselling author who gave me the advice to ‘write from the heart and go for it!’ I have also discovered a good network of local writers who live and work in my area.
In reflection, 2017 has been a successful year. I have achieved all my writing goals and I have set new targets for the forthcoming year. The aspect that has surprised me the most is how collaborative the writing business is. Writing is generally considered to be a lonely profession but this is not the case at all. My social life is now busier than it has ever been with all the groups, functions and networking events I attend.
I would like to say thank you to everyone who has supported me this year and for the advice, contacts and encouragement as I continue to attempt to take my writing from a pastime to a profession.
The future is exciting and 2018 is already looking busy with several new projects lined up. I cannot wait to get started!