Writer for hire: using the new term feeling

image of old portable typewriter with a cup of coffee and a notebook

All the signifiers that prompt a new term feeling are happening right now. There’s a need for cardigans again. School uniform has been bought. Guidance has been read and reread. I’m using that new term feeling to sharpen my metaphorical pencils and get back into normal writing habits.

Back in March, it seemed hard to move for people planning some locked down writing. And then reality bit. Hard. Various outlets furloughed staff, or closed whole magazines. People who planned to use time to write found all the mental energy going into fixing up finances, finding food delivery slots or just plain fretting.

My writing ambitions suffered:

  • A writing course had to stop with two classes left.
  • My 40 minutes creativity on the train commute disappeared as I instead worked from home.
  • My contract work increased so I didn’t restart non-fiction pitching.

Fiction writing

I’d set myself the goal at the start of the year to submit 12 short stories. That’s one a month. By the end of August I’d submitted three. Wonderfully, one of these was shortlisted for the Exeter Prize in May! I’m thrilled for the eventual winners.

The amazing people at Literature SW came up with a way to run the remainder of the course with Virginia Baily online. We used Slack, and it was interesting to see how that changed the dynamic of the group. As a result of the course I’ve got quite the collection of half-formed short stories to keep working on for the rest of the year. I’ve worked on two this morning alone…

I also did the Couch to 5K Words from Writers HQ. Again, it’s giving me ideas as well as more tools and parts of stories to work on.

Non-fiction writing

My plan was to start pitching non-fiction in unrelated areas to my contract come April, and to open up writing slots for businesses. That didn’t happen, for good reasons, and I’m now rethinking when to start that stream of work. Partially for my own productivity and partially because I know there are many great writers suddenly on the market. I’ll see what happens with the schools in September, and go from there!

So my normal quarterly round up looks like this:

Starting autumn term

With the first chill mornings of autumn, I’ve found ideas filling my notebooks and I’m working on stories again. I’m also thinking about how to start pitching non-fiction again, in the hope that the schools stay open and I can write on non-contract days (you can contact me if you want to commission something!).

I always treat September as the ‘little new year’. The chance to review and say “what can I do with the last four months of the year that supports what I’d wanted to do this year?”. This year, that moment of reflection and restarting seems more important than ever.

Main image courtesy of Karolina at Kaboompics, one of my favourite new sources of images.


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