“Hello, I'm Katie. I work with words.”
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Hello, I’m Katie. I work with words. The Basics… I’m a word lover who enjoys freelancing, blogging, writing and reading above all else. I currently live in Manchester with my new husband, Mr M. My other interests (I do...
Got a wordy project in mind? Well, look no further; my fingers are poised over my typewriter keys. (Disclaimer: I don’t really write on a typewriter). Words are my passion, and I’ve been writing professionally for the web for three...
I write fiction, too. At heart, I’m a fiction writer. I’m currently working on my first novel, which, if you’re interested, is about a failing pianist. I blog a great deal about my progress and the things that I’m...
Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the freedoms that come with being freelance versus those that come with being employed. There’s definitely a perception that being freelance involves being completely free (it is in the title after all) but in reality this isn’t the case.
I’ve put together a guest post for The Freelance Lifestyle Blog that covers this very issue. The post went live this morning, so why not hop on over there and read it?
While you’re there, make sure you take a look at what else The Freelance Lifestyle Blog has to offer. Blogger Emma Cossey shares regular advice for freelancers, and it’s always a valuable read. (I thought her recent tips on getting paid faster were particularly helpful).
Happy Friday!Read More
It seems to me that it’s so much easier to notice when we’re not happy than when we are.
When we’re bored or dissatisfied or sad or hungry it’s usually painfully obvious to us. But when we’re challenged or fulfilled or creative or productive or just plain happy… it isn’t always. This might be because we expect the second lot of emotions to be our normal, but that still doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t show appreciation for them.
I think Kurt Vonnegut got it right when he penned this particular suggestion. Teaching ourselves to notice and appreciate when things are good sounds like a very valuable lesson.
Take today, for example. I’m spending the day working on my novel-in-progress, sitting across from a friend who’s doing the same thing. We’re encouraging each other to keep pushing on, and having regular breaks to keep up morale. And if this isn’t nice I don’t know what is.Read More
I don’t know about you, but I find there is a permanently growing to-read pile on my bedside table. Just recently, I’ve been making an effort to read some of the books that have been languishing there for a long time. I’ve got through two of them so far, and it feels good to remove them from the pile and put them away on the bookshelf!
Here’s what I’ve been reading over the past month;
The Spell Alan Hollinghurst
This book had been sat in the aforementioned ‘to-read’ pile for over a year! I took a deep breath and got started with it, and initially I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. Hollinghurst’s prose is gorgeous, and I really liked that aspect of the book. As the story went on, however, I thought it became overly stereotypical, which put me off a bit.
Life After Life Kate Atkinson
Sometimes, a book is so good that you find yourself sneaking away from work in order to read it. This is one of those books. I loved both the concept of it and the execution: it was really fun to read what is essentially a wartime novel with a touch of time travel/magic realism thrown in. Out of the 22 books I’ve read so far this year, I’d say that this was a very high contender for my absolute favourite.
Ignorance Milan Kundera
This is the second book that I removed from my ‘to-read’ pile after a very long stint. It was a very quick read… and I’m not sure I have anything much better to say about it than that. I really liked the idea behind the novel, but for me it just didn’t work. Perhaps it’s a case of something being lost in translation?
Daughters-in-Law Joanna Trollope
I’ve never read a Joanna Trollope novel before, so when I saw this one as part of a three-for-two deal in a charity shop, I thought I’d give it a go. I actually really enjoyed it. It was an easy, engrossing family saga of a story, with some great pointers for me as a writer on switching perspective.
The Thirteenth Tale Diane Setterfield
When we went to visit my parents over the Bank Holiday weekend, I forgot to take a book. (I know. How?) To make up for it, I borrowed this from their book shelf. Again, this was an engrossing and enjoyable read. It involved a big house, a mysterious author and a spooky story. What’s not to like?
Now I look at this last month’s reading, it all seems a bit eclectic. The fact that I’ve just started Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse probably doesn’t help matters, either!
What have you been reading recently?Read More
If you’ve been keeping up with my novel progress update posts, you’ll know that I finished a full draft of my novel-in-progress a couple of months ago. Since then, I’ve been working hard editing a hard copy of the whole manuscript. Or, as I prefer to call the process, scribbling all over it.
The novel is structured in five parts, and I’ve been working through them consecutively. The first part lulled me into a false sense of security; it was going to be much easier than I thought! The first part had already been edited thoroughly, as it was what I submitted for my MA dissertation. The changes that came up this time around were mainly related to details that had been changed later on in the story.
Parts two and three were not as well edited, but they were still better than I thought they were going to be. Most of the changes here were related to character motivations and little details. The general outline of what happened made sense, and I didn’t feel as if any major structural changes needed to be made – I just needed to work with what was already there to make it better.
And then I got to part four. And then came the roadblock. Because, you see, it needs a lot of work.
Not only are there character motivations that need work and details that need to be polished… there are also whole chapters and minor characters that need to be cut. Almost every chapter needs big structural changes – and though I think I do know how to fix the problems, it’s going to take a lot more time than the work on parts one-three will.
And I haven’t even got to part five yet!
There is a moral here, of course. I have a well documented tendency to be wildly over-ambitious, and novel-writing is something that I have a well documented tendency to be wildly over-ambitious about. (I even suggested in this post that I might be able to finish another draft before our move in June. Ha!) Because the first part of this editing process went so smoothly, I’d convinced myself that I was much closer to the finishing line than I actually am.
The truth is that writing a novel is a very big commitment that takes a very long time. It will all be worth it in the end, and I need to keep positive and keep going… and stop imagining that I’m some sort of writing superhero who could get it all polished off in record time.Read More
One of my goals for April was to take a daily walk with Mr M. We live near a pretty canal towpath (seen in the photo above!), and the lighter evenings have meant that we’ve had much more opportunity to get out on it. This particular goal was thoroughly successful, and I’ve even carried it through to May. This is one of those goals that I hope will build into a regular habit.
These daily walks have been brilliant for so many reasons. The boost of fresh air and exercise has been great, as has the screen-free conversation time with Mr M. The twenty minutes or so we spend walking each afternoon has quickly become the most valuable communication time we have all day – and it’s where we’ve been making most of our plans for our upcoming move.
However, the absolute key reason why these daily walks have been so valuable to me is because they get me out of the flat. As a freelancer, it’s so easy to stay in. I don’t have to go out to work, which means that on days when I don’t have any evening plans I don’t have to go out at all. This is a bit of an embarrassing thing to admit on the internet(!) but over the winter I’d say that there were usually two or three weekdays each week that I just didn’t bother leaving the flat.
My daily walks have boosted my energy levels, and given me a bit of perspective and variety. (And reminded me what the outside world looks like). The main result of this is that when I get home from a walk, I feel inspired to do something productive. I’ve spent much more time working on personal projects in the evenings, such as my novel-in-progress, and much less time sitting comatose on the sofa.
To summarise, talking a short walk after work each evening has boosted my energy levels, given me some quality chatting time with my husband, encouraged me to do more fun and productive things with my evenings and drastically reduced the amount of time I spend watching TV.
If that’s not enough inspiration for a Wednesday, I’m not sure what is!Read More
If you’ve been reading my blog over the last few months, you’ll know that I’ve been making a regular effort to set work goals. After four months of these goals, I’ve started to see very clearly what is working for me about these goals, and what isn’t.
Here we go;
It’s great for reflecting time.
I think it’s really beneficial to have a bit of time set aside at the beginning of each month to reflect on the past month’s goals and set some for the month ahead. For me, this has been the perfect time to reflect on how my work is going generally, as well as to think about what are the most important things to me over the coming month. I feel that this practice is making me much more aware of what my aims are, and is helping me to keep my priorities clear in my mind.
Keeping it simple is good.
It would be really easy for me to set ten goals a month, but I don’t think that would be a good idea! At the moment, I set three goals, and I think that’s ideal for me. I also have a tendency to be very over-ambitious – so keeping it simple helps me to manage this.
Sometimes work goals and life goals overlap.
Some of the goals that I’ve set over the last couple of months have overlapped between work and life. For some people this might be a problem, but I’ve decided that it isn’t for me. As a freelancer working from home, a lot of stuff that would traditionally be separated into work and life overlaps.
It’s best to keep it varied.
I started the year with the intention to set three very similar goals each month. The idea was that I would set three ‘big’ overarching goals for the year, and that each month I would set myself three small goal that would help me work towards the three big ones. Well, that lasted about three months before I got bored with them. The three ‘big’ goals are still my main work priorities for the year, but sometimes there are more immediate things that take up my attention. Keeping goals varied means I can react to changes as they come up, and also that I can stay interested and engaged in the whole process.
Do you set yourself regular goals too? I’d love to hear about how it works for you!
(If you want to see my previous goal related posts, they’re all here).Read More
Creative thought is a big part of my life. The freelance writing work I do involves a lot of it, as does my ongoing work on my novel-in-progress. I love both of these creative outlets, but they do have a lot in common.
A) They both involve words.
B) They both take place primarily in front of a screen.
Over the last couple of months, I’ve been making an effort to explore other creative outlets. Instead of spending evenings in sat on the sofa with something on Netflix, I’ve been making things.
The main thing I’ve been working on is a crochet blanket (pictured above!). This is my very first crochet project, and I’ve been really enjoying how easily it keeps getting bigger. I’m working with small squares of bright, solid colour. So far I have around forty of them, and I’m aiming for a hundred.
Seeing something that I’m working on come together in such a ‘real’ way is a bit of a novelty for me. My writing work is obviously just as real but because it exists mainly behind a computer screen, it sometimes feels less tangible. In other words, adding a paragraph or a chapter to my novel doesn’t always feel as satisfying as adding a finished crochet square to the pile.
Making things has had a lot of benefits;
It’s encouraged me to be creative with my hands, not just my mind.
It’s enabled me to spend my free time more productively (and you know how much I love feeling productive).
It’s got me thinking more creatively in general, which has helped me to push ahead with my novel-in-progress.
And, perhaps most importantly of all, it’s been really fun.
Have you been working on any creative projects outside of work recently? I’d love to hear what they are if so!Read More