“Hello, I'm Katie. I work with words.”
Writer. Blogger. Consultant.
No bookcase photo this month because my bookcases currently look like this!
As usual, I’ve had an eclectic month of reading. This month, I’ve read about vampires, manor houses and kidnapped babies (though unfortunately not all in one book).
To the Lighthouse Virginia Wolf
I’ve been meaning to read this book for a long time. I ‘borrowed’ it from my parents’ house soon after I read Mrs Dalloway in 2011, and it’s been sitting in my to-read pile ever since. I know this is a classic, but I was really disappointed with it. There were moments in the book I really enjoyed, but overall I found getting through it a bit of a chore. I feel like I need to apologise for saying that. Sorry.
The Radleys Matt Haig
I chose this book because I’ve really been enjoying Matt Haig’s blog posts for Booktrust, and I was interested to give one of his novels a go. Because of this, I didn’t read the blurb very carefully and it was a bit of a surprise when it turned out to be about vampires. Happily, it was a really fun surprise, and I thoroughly enjoyed Haig’s unusual take on the vampire genre. I’d definitely recommend this, even if you don’t usually read books with a fantastical element.
Ashenden Elizabeth Wilhide
If you’ve read any of my book round up posts before, you’ll probably have picked up that I have a bit of a thing about novels set in manor houses. Because of this, Ashenden was a real treat. The interesting thing about this book is that it tells the story of the house itself, from the 1770s until (almost) the present day. It’s split into interlocking stories about people involved with the house, through the process of it being built, to it being left to near dereliction, through various renovations and two world wars.
Little Face Sophie Hannah
Little Face was chosen as one of this year’s World Book Night books, and a friend of mine was handing out free copies. It’s not a genre of book I usually read (it’s part psychological thriller, part detective story) but once I picked it up I found it very difficult to put it down again! For me, this book was a great reminder that it’s fun to read outside of your ‘usual genres’, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for more of Hannah’s novels.
What have you been reading recently?Read More
This month, progress with my novel is coming on steadily. I’m currently working my way through edits and redrafting. It feels like a bit of an uneven process because some of the chapters I’m working on have been heavily edited before and only need a few sentences and paragraphs tweaking at this stage, whereas other chapters are much newer and essentially need to be rewritten completely.
Because of this, my overall goal for this draft is to get the whole novel to a more equal footing in terms of quality. So far, I’ve completed part one and around half of part two (which is probably around twenty five thousand words). This is great, but of course there’s a lot more work to be done!
The biggest factor in my progress this month has been my self-imposed challenge to work on my novel every week day. June is a big month for us, and I knew that if I didn’t take steps to make work on my novel a priority, nothing would happen at all.
In the past, I’ve tended to write in bursts. When I’m feeling positive about the project I’m working on, I rush ahead with it, working on it regularly and thoroughly enjoying the whole thing. When I’m feeling negative about it, or I have a lot of other things taking up my time, I step away from it completely, often for weeks or months at a time. Though my Creative Writing MA definitely helped with this (I’d perhaps only step away from the novel completely for a week or two weeks at most), I still want to take steps to make my work more consistent.
At the moment, I’m trying to build this into a habit. Each evening I’ve been doing a little bit of work on my novel. My thinking is that even if I only manage fifteen minutes or half an hour each day, I’m entrenching the habit and making sure that I’m moving forward.
I know that over the coming months I’m going to need to adapt a lot of my habits and routines to suit a new home and a new city (not to mention Mr M’s new job). Hopefully during this time those 15/30 daily minutes will become an hour and I’ll start to see some major progress.
When you work in a solitary setting, I think it’s important to find virtual colleagues to surround yourself with. Twitter and Facebook are great for this, as they allow you to test out ideas, share links and indulge in a bit of tea break chat. I also like to pack my Feedly full of other freelance bloggers who inspire me.
I’ve shared some of my current favourites, in the hope that they might offer you a bit of inspiration too!
The Freelance Lifestyle blog, run by UK based freelancer Emma Cossey, is always a great read. I’m a particular fan of the weekly Tea Break videos, as they’re filled with sensible and practical advice.
I’m always inspired by how Silly Grrl blogger Sarah presents herself as part blogger, part web designer, and part circus performer. Sound like a fun blog? It is.
I have a bit of a soft spot for the blogs of graphic designers, and this one is my current favourite. Think gorgeous mood boards and client designs mixed with musings on what it means to be freelance.
If you like a blog that talks about running a business while still making time for the good things in life, you’ll like this one. Need I say more?
Another UK based blog (hurrah!) Hip Hop Side Project is actually nothing about hip hop. Instead, it’s a great blog about living and working creatively – with some great freelancing advice thrown in.
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Do you have a favourite freelance blogger? Or are you one yourself? Either way, I’m always looking for great blogs to add to my daily reads. Pop your suggestions in the comments!
PS, I don’t want to bang on about this too much, but if you read Monday’s post you’ll know that I’m doing a bit of market research before launching some new consultancy services. If you had a couple of minutes to answer my short survey, it would be very much appreciated!Read More
Last year, I made the decision to move from offering social media consultancy services to a more specialised offering of freelance writing and blogging. This was definitely the right business decision for me, and I’ve been lucky enough to work with some wonderful clients on interesting and engaging projects since then.
There is, however, one thing that I miss from my social media consultancy days; and that’s the training and consultancy sessions I used to run. I loved getting out, meeting new people, and helping them to move forward with their digital presence.
It’s because of this that I’ve been thinking about how I could make those training and consultancy sessions work for the more specialised services I’m now offering. It occurred to me that a lot of other freelancers and small business owners might be interested in writing and blogging consultancy, and I’ve been playing around with ideas as to what exactly these sessions might look like.
Now, this is where you come in. I’ve put together a short survey, and it would be so helpful if you could take a couple of minutes to answer it for me. Your answers will help me to begin to put together consultancy sessions that will really be of value. To sweeten the deal, I’ve added a little incentive for you too!
To find out more, and to really help me out, head on over to the survey and tell me what you think!Read More
In my experience, the time immediately before a big life change is always a bit strange, and that’s exactly what this last week has felt like. We’re in a calm zone at the moment, but I know that there’s a lot of excitement (and a lot of things to do) coming up very shortly. I’ve been using this time to get ahead with work plans, catch up with friends and enjoy the last of our time in this home.
First up, I’ve been enjoying the sunshine
The weather for the past week has been gorgeous, and I’ve been enjoying it both inside (our current flat is very bright) and outside. I know a lot of people find it difficult to get work done when it’s lovely outside, but I’ve been finding the opposite. The sunshine has been making me feel wonderfully positive, and this has made for a enthusiastic and productive week.
More specifically, I enjoyed the particular sunshine in which I snapped the above photo in York, just before we found (what we hope) will be our new home. [Insert slightly superstitious caveat about crossing fingers and touching wood to encourage everything to run smoothly].
Secondly, I’ve been enjoying the little things
Part of my reasons for choosing ‘enjoy’ as a wordy resolution for this year was to encourage myself to be a little more aware of all the good and fun things that are around me. These past few weeks I’ve been really seeing the benefit of that, and it’s been nice to notice all the small moments where we are now before we move on to the next thing.
Today in particular I’m happy to see that my Calla Lily has perked up a bit. It’s been a little droopy for a while now, but a stint in the sunshine seems to be helping out.
Thirdly, I’ve been enjoying being creative
A couple of months ago I blogged about trying out a few new creative outlets, including making a crochet blanket. I’ve been really enjoying seeing the blanket coming together (and organising my neatly balled wool and finished squares into colour co-ordinated piles, but probably the less said about that the better).
I’m also one week into my self-imposed June challenge to work on my novel every week day. It’s been a success so far, and I can feel myself getting into a rhythm with it – which was exactly what I wanted to gain from the challenge. Only 15 more week days to go!
Fourthly, I’ve been enjoying planning for our new place
I’d be fibbing if I didn’t admit how much thought and energy I’ve been putting into planning how things will be in our next place. I am a big fan of planning ahead, and I’ve been searching the web for new pieces of furniture, scanning Pinterest for ideas and measuring up our current space to see how it compares to the new.
I was particularly pleased to pick up this wooden ampersand for my new office space. I haven’t been able to bring myself to pack it yet… but it’s only a matter of time!Read More
Print by The Motivated Type
Starting things is hard.
Thinking about starting them and planning to start them is quite easy, but actually sitting down and beginning is not.
I’m a person with a lot of ideas. Almost daily I think of a project that I’d like to do, and usually I get as far as noting down ideas and suggestions for what it will entail. But for me, and I suspect for most of us, these ideas don’t often result in the decision to actually begin.
The first real step in any project is usually pretty small. It could be emailing a pitch. It could be writing the first sentence of a book. It could be typing up a first blog post. It’s not these tasks themselves that we’re avoiding, it’s the bigger projects they represent. Starting something usually suggests a commitment that we’ll finish them, too!
The bottom line here is that if we don’t start, nothing can go wrong. And so sometimes the space between thinking about starting and taking the first step can seem like the most comfortable place to be.
I currently have two projects in this pre-start stage. This week, I’m taking inspiration from the thought that every accomplishment stars with the decision to begin, and I’m going to do just that: decide to begin.
So here goes.
I took this photo in York at the weekend. This is what I hope June looks like.
At the beginning of each month, I set myself three goals. I’ve been doing this since the start of 2013, and I’ve loved the process. (Though, as is well documented, I do have a habit of being over ambitious with them…)
June is going to be a big month for me. We’re counting down to a house move, and this is going to involve a lot of organising, a lot of packing, and a lot of time spent mentally planning where everything is going to go in our new house. However, there’s also a lot of work to be done, and this month I’ve set myself three goals that will help me keep on track with that!
Two of my goals this month relate to working towards a new project I’m planning to launch over the summer. I used to do a lot of training and consultancy before I moved to Manchester and did my MA. I’m currently exploring a few ideas for getting back into this – so expect to hear more about it soon!
My third goal relates to fiction. I think monthly goals can be hugely helpful when it comes to building positive daily habits (just like my daily walks goal) and I’m hoping to use this theory to build better fiction habits. My goal this month is to work on my novel every weekday – preferably before I leave my desk at around 4/5pm.
This is one of those goals that I hope it will be really helpful to make a public declaration about, so I’ll be aiming to share updates throughout the month here and on Twitter.
Have you set any goals for June? I’m always keen to hear them if so!