Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.
I’m Madeleine D’Este and in this show, I’m interviewing writers of all different types and asking “what’s the one thing that took your writing to the next level?”
So, come and join me and learn all the proven tips, tricks and techniques to take your writing right through the roof.
Episode 0 – the Prologue – Show notes
- Why I am doing this?
- Who am I?
- What are the three things that have elevated my writing
- No#1 – Writing challenges
- No#2 – The Story Grid
- No#3 – the decision to take my writing seriously
- My experiment for the week
- 5am writer’s club
Episode 0 – Prologue – Transcript
This is episode zero of Write Through The Roof, I’m thinking of it as a prologue. The story before the story begins. So, let’s set the scene. So, why am I doing this podcast? Now, I don´t have a masters in fine arts or a degree in creative writing, but I’ve got a lifetime of story loving behind me.
But some days, when I’m putting words on the page, I bang my brow against the keyboard and things don´t quite fit how I like. I want to learn how to do this writing thing better. And where better to learn than from other writers who are way ahead of me in the game, because no matter where we’re at, we’ve always got tips and advice to share with people. There are always people ahead and behind us. So, I’m here to learn how to improve my craft and I’m sharing it with you.
Who am I?
I’m a speculative fiction writer with the occasional non-fiction scribblings. I’ve self-published a series of steampunk novellas called ´The Antics of Evangeline’, set in 1882 Melbourne up on Amazon. I’m working on a few novels at the moment as well as balancing a day job. Now, I’ve always wanted to write and I always loved books. I dabbled here and there with writing for years but now I’ve come to take my writing seriously. A bit later in life, I’m in the over 40s club. And I’m keen to learn more, and that´s really what inspired me to start this podcast.
How is the podcast going to be structured?
Well, each week I’m going to be interviewing a different writer to ask what´s the one thing that elevated their writing. Plus, also a little bit more of what they´re up to. I’ll also talk about any tip or technique that I´m trying out that week and how I’m going with it. I´m aiming to talk to a lot of different types of writers from fiction to non-fiction, scriptwriters, people that write screenplays, content marketing, memoirs, poetry, you name it. Because we have got something to learn from all different types of writers.
Let´s kick off this episode zero with me.
To be fair, I should really put myself under the microscope to answer the questions I’m going to subject others to. But I´m going to cheat, because it´s my podcast and I can. So, rather than one thing, I’ve narrowed it down to three.
What do I think are the three things that elevated my writing to date?
Number one is writing challenges.
NaNoWrimo or the national novel writing month is a challenge which runs every November to write fifty thousand words of a novel in a month or thirty days in November. I´ve been doing Nanowrimo here and there for about ten years, over ten years I think. And this was my first challenge which really showed me that I could write a novel. Now, there were years when I failed, when the story petered out and my ideas run dry but over the years I learnt how to plot and push through to the end when I was winning every year.
Another writing challenge which has been really helpful for me is the monthly writing challenge. The NaNoWrimo pace of 1660 words per day is really not sustainable for me on the long term, but then I found the Monthly Writing Challenge on Twitter with a more sensible five hundred words per day or an hour of editing. Now, there is a sign-up sheet where you record your daily scores and a wonderful community of other encouraging writers on twitter. And this really embedded a daily practice for me, plus hooking me up with an amazing bunch of people. Some you´ll hear me interviewing in later episodes. So, writing challenges really gave me the confidence and built my writing habit.
Number two is the Story Grid.
Now this tip is more on a technical side of writing. Shawn Coyne is an editor with decades of experience and with the Story Grid he outlines a method to analyse writing to find the problems and how to fix them. When I use the story grid technique, I take off my writing hat and put on my editing hat. I analyse scene by scene for emotional transitions, how I moved the story forward or not and general continuity as well as in the context of the overarching tree structure. The story grid also provides guidance on genre and their obligatory scenes, themes, controlling ideas and initial story planning. Now, I’m a planner and an analytical person by nature, and the story grid may not be for everyone, it’s very helpful for me, in my own self-editing process.
Number three was a decision.
So, that decision was to take my writing seriously, to stop dawdling and give this a proper go. Steven Pressfield from ‘The War of Art’ and ‘The Legend of Bagger Vance’ calls this ‘Turning Pro’. Once I made the commitment to take my writing seriously and fully commit myself, writing became my number one goal.
So, writing challenges, editing books and turning pro are the things that really helped me to take my writing to the next level. And, over the next how many episodes or so, I don’t know how long this is going to last, we’re going to hear from a whole bunch of other people, what things have taken them to the next level.
So, now let’s talk about what I’ve been trying this week or this month. What technique am I trying right now?
What I’m trying is the 5AM writers club. Some of you may shudder at that.
I’m already a morning person but now I’m getting up at the crack of dawn, here in Melbourne at the moment is dark, to get my writing and editing done before the day job and before the rest of the world wakes up. It’s such a nice day to start my day, arriving at work already with my words done and having started the day doing my favourite thing, It’s also nice and quiet at that time without any distractions of noise, people and even dogs. Only the dawn bird chorus and perhaps the odd out garbage truck.
I find the 5am writing sessions to be fantastic, if I had a good night sleep, which is not all the time, but if I have a little bit of insomnia, it can be really rough. And I also found that, personally, five days a week and 5am writers club really wears me out, I’m a zombie by Friday. So, I’m balancing the 5am writing with the rest of my schedule, so I’m only doing three days a week at the most. So, I’m going to stick to the 5AM sessions for now, just not every day.
So, this is the prologue episode to Write Through The Roof. Over the coming weeks I’ll do interviews with other people so you won’t just be hearing me speak but thanks for listening to Write Through The Roof.
If you enjoy the show, please spread the word and write a review on your listening platform of choice, or if you’d like to get in contact with me please go do www.madeleinedeste.com or @Madeleine_deste on Twitter, no apostrophes.