Monday, 29 July 2013

One Of Those Weeks!

Last week was what I call ‘one of those weeks’. Those of you who’ve read my book The Positively Productive Writer will know that I’m one of these people who plans out what my targets are for the week ahead. Well, last week was supposed to be a ‘quiet’ week where I spent most of my time cracking on with a big project I’m working on. That didn’t happen.

On Monday I was delighted to get an email from the editor of The Simple Things magazine accepting an article I’d submitted on spec several months ago. I don’t do much on spec work, because you’re always taking a risk that you could be wasting your time. But I’d done my market research, and I had an idea that I thought might fit, so I decided to give it go - and as with all risks, whilst there’s a chance they might not work, there’s also a chance that they might - and this one did.

What took up so much time on Monday was dealing with the paperwork. The magazine is published by a company who haven’t published me before [what took them so long? ;-)] so the editor had to send me the contributor contract (which I had to read carefully to understand - and actually, it wasn’t bad!), and then the accounts department needed to set me up on their systems, so I had more forms to read, complete, sign, scan and return digitally, and then once that was all done, the editor was finally able to send me the commission form, accepting my article and giving me the all important purchase order reference for me to quote on my invoice.

On Tuesday, I received an email advising me that my article entry into the Writers’ Digest Annual Writing Competition had been placed fifth, and I’d won some prize money! Being USA-based they’d emailed the relevant form that I needed to fill in, scan, and return by email, enabling them to pay my prize money (complicated slightly because I’m UK-based and not USA-based, so it’s an international payment being made).

Understandably, I was on a bit of a high after that news, when an editor then got in contact asking if I could help out with a 1250-word article that needed researching, writing and photographs sorting. When did he need it by? This Friday. Ah. Time to re-arrange my schedules again. I suggested an approach for the article to the editor, who decided he didn’t like that, but told me what he was looking for. Fine. It’s good to get these things sorted out at the start.

By Wednesday afternoon I’d got the first draft of that article sorted when the editor got in contact again. Having just chatted with the page layout designer, he wanted to change the way I dealt with the article I was doing for him. The new approach bore an uncanny resemblance to the approach I’d first suggested to the editor, early yesterday morning. Anyway, the customer is always right, so it was time to start rewriting!

On Thursday I realised I needed a few more photos for this piece, which meant nipping out to get them, whilst avoiding the huge black clouds that kept passing over. Whilst the forecasters have been threatening heavy downpours, here on the Welsh Borders we appear to have dodged them. My problem was I needed blue-sly photos, not big-black-cloud photos. Still, mission accomplished, the feature was all emailed off by Thursday evening, ahead of deadline. Phew!

Friday, I was all set to get cracking on what I planned to start doing on Monday, when the postman delivered a surprise. My latest book, The Bluffer’s Guide to Dogs, has just been published, and this was my own personal copy! After admiring it (as you do), the administrative process kicks in again - time to start registering it for PLR (public lending right) and filling in forms on ALCS (Authors Licensing & Collecting Society) to register it for foreign public lending rights too.

By Friday afternoon, I was finally free to get on with what I planned to start doing on Monday morning! On the one hand it was an infuriating week because I didn’t get done anywhere near what I’d planned to get done. Yet it was also a fab week of achievements! I should point out that weeks like this are rare (for me), but I do think it demonstrates that as long as you get into the habit of sending work out there, good things can happen. And Murphy's Law says they'll all happen at once!

Good luck.


  1. All in all, a rather boring week then, Simon! Yep - good old Murphy's Law - who'd have thought writing and buses would have that much in common.

  2. Great stuff well done Simon. An inspiration to us all.........

  3. Plenty to focus your goals on here. Nothing like a looming deadline. Had a similar experience last week when an editor suddenly got back in touch about an idea submitted in the winter. Fortunately his end of the month deadline meant August.
    Sympathise with the paperwork issue. I find choosing the images time consuming, too.

  4. Well done for surviving the week. I hate it when my to-do-list is completely messed up by external happenings. Congratulations on the US award, and a terrific achievement for a UK writer to do so well in a US competition!

  5. I'd like to have your problems

  6. Well done, Simon. Great to read a good news writing blog!

  7. 'One of those weeks' sounds like 'one of those good weeks' - well done (unless of course you now have to run yourself into the ground to complete the big project on time!).
    Yes, the whole feast or famine thing is definitely a downside to being a freelance writer, as I'm finding out. Trying to train myself into getting on with writing fiction when I'm not contracted to work on non-fiction, but I get twitchy when there's nothing with guaranteed earnings to work on; the 'say I never get paid to write again!' fear has a negative effect on my creativity! :/

  8. Thanks for this encouraging post. I wish I got such responses from editors.

  9. Thanks for everyone's comments. I've just got back from the Writers' Holiday at Caerleon, so I'm hoping for a quieter week next week!

  10. I'd love a week like that - rather than the one I've just had, lol! Anyway - I'm back on track now and as you have demonstrated, Simon, you've got to be in it to win it. Julie xx