Tag Archives: BBC radio 5 live

Diary of a hopeful author: Why I write with a TV series playing in the background

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

Cor blimey moses, things are busy. The good news on the past few weeks is that the outline of my novel (book 1) has now been revised (all 50 odd pages of it), plus the full synopsis’ for books 2 and 3 in the series have been fully written and approved.

So, all that’s left over now is to do a pretty much final draft of the manuscript of book 1 and hey presto! It will be ready for publishers to read. So, you know, not a lot to do. To be honest, it is great. Now that the outline has been picked part by editors then put back together, the difference it is making when it comes to writing the actual manuscript is amazing.

If you are writing a novel my advice is this: do your outline first. Preferably, write it chapter by chapter, scene by scene. What this means is that when it comes to writing, you can just write because all the planning is already done. Sure, you may have to tweak along the way, stare blankly at that winking cursor on the screen, but seriously, it makes all the difference. And it will get you to the finish line faster, and that’s something we all love.

So, while I was writing, I thought of a post I did several months ago. See, my mind is odd. I cannot work in silence. If I do, my thoughts wander and, bizarrely, I get nothing done. At the moment, my background noise of choice is TV series The West Wing on my iPad. A few months ago, it was the TV programme, 24.  Writing & TV – not a bad working environment combo. Here’s the post…

How I write to episodes of 24 (March 2013)

How do you work? Or more’s the point – how do you write? It’s a subject of reasonably fevered discussion here and I’ll tell you why. Nine times out of ten, I can’t write in silence. It’s like time has stood still and my brain has frozen over. The reason I say all this is that the past week has seen me swimming in editing and writing. Sometimes it works out well, other, mah, not so much. But imagine my surprise when I realise that my best bouts of productivity come when I have 24 playing on my iPad in the background! It’s like having your cake and eating it. My friend thinks I’m nuts (don’t say it…) ‘Christ,’ she says, ‘how can you work with all that going on? If anyone so much as sneezes when I’m working at my desk, my mind implodes.’ Best not tell her then about the gun-shooting chase scenes in 24 then…

There is research out there that says that when a brain is multi-tasking, you know, lots of noise, activity, it can lock down on the task its owner needs to do.  Owner. It makes my brain sound like it’s a little puppy. Actually, that’s not a bad analogy…Anyway, of course, even though I am a woman, multi-tasking doesn’t always work out. I do find myself catching a scene of 24, for example, gauping at it then returning to my work and wondering what the hell I was writing about. And then it…Sorry, where was I?

It doesn’t just have to be episodes of 24 for me. In the past few months of writing and editing various projects I have got through: The entire series of My So Called Life (I learnt so much!); Series 1-4 of Prison Break (tattoos as maps – who knew?); over 10 films; 5 BBC documentaries; and one episode of Dennis the Menace (my daughter was off ill…). I’m like the hungry catapillar of box sets. Sometimes, when on the rare occasions TV and film on loop doesn’t boost my brain, I switch to music. We’re talking a bit of classical, jazz mainly. Sometimes only talking will do, so I go to BBC radio 5 or 4. If I’m feeling really with it, I’ll go to radio 1, but, as I am not below 25, this has literally only happened once.

As I shuffle through the rest of this week, I shall be watching 24 on loop. In fact, as I write this at, let’s see, 5.40 a.m., Episode 16 of Season 3 is playing on my iPad. It does make me feel quite sneaky, watching programmes when a) I am working and b) everyone else is still asleep. It’s like sneaking out of class at school without permission and going down the shops. Whether I’ll get a load of work done this week is still to be seen. But hey, at least I’ll know what’s happening to Jack Bauer and his team. Him and Denice the Menace.

So, how do you work or write? Which camp are you on: Is it total silence or a little bit of noise?

Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog…**

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Diary of a hopeful author: How I write to episodes of 24…

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

How do you work? Or more’s the point – how do you write? It’s a subject of reasonably fevered discussion here and I’ll tell you why. Nine times out of ten, I can’t write in silence. It’s like time has stood still and my brain has frozen over. The reason I say all this is that the past week has seen me swimming in editing and writing. Sometimes it works out well, other, mah, not so much. But imagine my surprise when I realise that my best bouts of productivity come when I have 24 playing on my iPad in the background! It’s like having your cake and eating it. My friend thinks I’m nuts (don’t say it…) ‘Christ,’ she says, ‘how can you work with all that going on? If anyone so much as sneezes when I’m working at my desk, my mind implodes.’ Best not tell her then about the gun-shooting chase scenes in 24 then…

There is research out there that says that when a brain is multi-tasking, you know, lots of noise, activity, it can lock down on the task its owner needs to do.  Owner. It makes my brain sound like it’s a little puppy. Actually, that’s not a bad analogy…Anyway, of course, even though I am a woman, multi-tasking doesn’t always work out. I do find myself catching a scene of 24, for example, gauping at it then returning to my work and wondering what the hell I was writing about. And then it…Sorry, where was I?

It doesn’t just have to be episodes of 24 for me. In the past few months of writing and editing various projects I have got through: The entire series of My So Called Life (I learnt so much!); Series 1-4 of Prison Break (tattoos as maps – who knew?); over 10 films; 5 BBC documentaries; and one episode of Dennis the Menace (my daughter was off ill…). I’m like the hungry catapillar of box sets. Sometimes, when on the rare occasions TV and film on loop doesn’t boost my brain, I switch to music. We’re talking a bit of classical, jazz mainly. Sometimes only talking will do, so I go to BBC radio 5 or 4. If I’m feeling really with it, I’ll go to radio 1, but, as I am not below 25, this has literally only happened once.

As I shuffle through the rest of this week, I shall be watching 24 on loop. In fact, as I write this at, let’s see, 5.40 a.m., Episode 16 of Season 3 is playing on my iPad. It does make me feel quite sneaky, watching programmes when a) I am working and b) everyone else is still asleep. It’s like sneaking out of class at school without permission and going down the shops. Whether I’ll get a load of work done this week is still to be seen. But hey, at least I’ll know what’s happening to Jack Bauer and his team. Him and Denice the Menace.

So, how do you work or write? Which camp are you on: Is it total silence or a little bit of noise?

 Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. This week it’s all about speed cameras…**

The day starts with a pasty and ends some tears…

It’s 5 o’clock in the morning and all I can think of are pasties. Not because I work at Greggs, but because the BBC Radio 5 presenter is updating all us early risers on the latest British Government VAT disaster that is “Pastygate”.  I sip my coffee (strong) and try and focus. This week has been manic. It’s the Easter school break from Monday, and while we’re off away on holiday then, the run up means getting everything sorted so we can go away without me or my husband waking up with a start in the middle of the night realising we haven’t sent an important email. It’s the work equivalent of going away and leaving the cooker on.

A bit like a cooker, I feel like I am running out of steam. I’m getting tired and I think it may be affecting my hearing. ‘Mum,’ says my eldest whilst I am furiously checking emails at the kitchen table. I look up and I see her mouth moving, but nothing else. Smiling at her by way of an answer, I hope it will do the job. It doesn’t, and she simply rolls her eyes, pats my back and says, ‘Mum, you need to get to bed earlier,’ and with that she’s off upstairs to read her book.  I slump into the chair and realise she’s right. That night, though, instead of going to bed I stay up to work on my blog. I read something about Search Engine Optimisation and blogs the other day, and so I spend most of the evening linking by blog URL to search sites so it has some sort of fighting chance of people finding it (I used www.addme.com – it’s easy & free). I sigh and rub my head.  People actually finding my blog on the internet feels like the cyberspace equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack. ‘Hey, when are we going to do your You Tube video?’ asks my husband, who is sat encased in the sofa and a blanket. I shrug because my brain seems to have ceased functioning – I have lost the will to speak. Right then, my laptop dies. Normally, I take this is my cue to go to bed, but tonight I am not a happy bunny – there are a few choice words directed its way.  ‘Hey,’ says my husband, ‘what’s up?’  Tears spring to my eyes and I begin to warble on about something to do with slow book sales, getting novel number two finished and other such nonsense. Giving me a hug, he smiles and says, ‘Hey, should we look at some funny videos on the t’interweb?’ I wipe my cheeks.  ‘Yes,’ I choke. I sit up and stare at his iPad and start to feel better. ‘Thanks,’ I tell him, and with that, we’re watching You Tube till late in the night, laughing and feeling a whole heap better. We even figure out when we’re going to do my own You Tube promotion video for my book, which is when I tell my husband that earlier that day I hit the half-way point on writing novel number two. ‘Just in time for a holiday,’ he says. ‘And while we’re away, maybe we can do you a plan, you know, to get things done.’ I sit up. ‘Yes! There are some short story competitions to enter, and some articles I can write for magazines and get paid for!’  I let out a breath. I need my bed.

The next morning, we rise to frantic news stories of a potential petrol crisis, with MPs suggesting we buy extra petrol and put it in Jerry cans; stamp prices are going up by a third (a third!); and there are more details on how you now have to pay VAT on your pasty if it’s hot. ‘The country is running out of petrol,’ announces the radio. My husband shuffles out of bed. ‘I know how it feels,’ he mutters. While the girls get ready for school, I am perched at my laptop, quickly uploading my book to send it off to be reviewed at website www.enovelreviews.com. I hit send and cross my fingers that they will review the thing – it could make a big difference to sales vs. no sales, sort of. Logging on to my email account, I delete some messages, tidy things up and making a quick list of what I have to do that day ready for holidays. From our bedroom, I hear the sound of my husband laughing. ‘Nikki!’ he shouts, coming into the study. ‘Listen to this, it’s sooo funny!’ I put my pen down. ‘It’s from The Poke,’ he trills, holding his iPad. The Poke (www.thepoke.co.uk) is a website we both now follow on Twitter which gives a funny take on current news affairs, and posts some internet comedy gold. My husband loves it. ‘Listen to this tweet,’ he whoops. ‘It says: Where am I going to put all this petrol? The bath’s already full of stamps and pasties.’ We both fall about laughing, tears and everything. Even the girls come in and ask what’s going on. We try and explain, but I don’t think we do a very good job.

After we’ve composed ourselves, I shoo the girls so they can finish getting ready. In our bedroom, my husband asks how the work is going. I tell him about the review site, the emails and the like, to which he sighs. I frown. ‘You okay?’ I ask. Suddenly he says, ‘Do you think we should buy stamps at Costco before they go up? They’re cheaper there anyway.’ I shake my head. ‘Daft government. Pick up some pasties while you’re at it, will you?’ The mention of a pasty sends the girls running in. ‘Are there pasties? Where are the pasties?’ ‘Ooo,’ says the youngest, ‘I like a Steak Slice.’ The eldest joins in. ‘I love cheese pasties!’ My husband laughs out loud. ‘What?’ I ask. But I don’t think he hears me. He’s looking at tweets on The Poke again.  I go and turn off my laptop. We need a holiday.