23 September: My week in writing

Depending on whether you’re a person who sees the glass half full or half empty, this week has been either wonderful or a bit disappointing. I’m choosing the first option. I was supposed to be on holiday this week, but a couple of things needed doing and I decided to just do them. I’m not sure if that was the right thing, but in my mind, I haven’t yet had the full holiday I promised myself so I can still schedule that in at a later date.

Teams of writers

I’ve been writing a few different things this week. The first was some revisions to a scope and sequence document. This didn’t take long and it’s a good job done because now the document is with the publisher and when it gets approval, we can all kick off with the writing. I say ‘all’ because, as with most projects these days, there are a team of us writing each book. This team is quite small. I’m the lead author. That sounds a bit grand but it’s actually the role or title I’ve been designated. I’m writing the vocabulary and grammar spreads, the stories and the songs. Then other authors are writing CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) sections, Phonics sections, Project sections and Culture sections. On other projects I’ve written these sections too but this particular publisher likes to share out the work between different authors so that everything gets done much quicker. This is a gripe of mine, not so much the sharing of the work but the crazy schedules we now have to adhere to. Years ago we had much more time and sometimes a course might take four years or more from start to finish.

Blog posts

The second thing I’ve been writing is a series of blog posts for NGL’s In focus blog. I was originally commissioned to write a series of three for this particular series, but I had an idea for a fourth post that would link nicely to the others, so I ran it by the publisher and luckily, they agreed. I don’t usually have a strict schedule for blog posts which is great. But I do like to get them done sooner rather than later so that I can send in my invoice and get paid!

The third thing I’ve been working on this week are scripts for ELT Songs. This level is finished now. Steve, my co-author and husband, writes the songs and I write the scripts. It’s a joy working with Jake Carter and his team. The company has been nominated, and has won, a number of industry awards over the past few months and while I don’t claim to have anything to do with their vision and their incredible animations, I do feel that in a small way I am part of a winning team.

Presentation slides

The fourth thing I’ve been working on are some presentation slides. I have five presentations coming up, and as my dad might have said, they aren’t going to write themselves. Luckily three of the five are joint presentations with Ceri Jones. We work so well together that we often read each other’s minds and send each other almost identical messages simultaneously. It’s creepy but in a good way. We’ve even got a joint ‘To do’ list which works well as it has that added ‘accountability’ angle.

The joint presentations are for:

Innovate ELT 2021 on 1st and 2nd October 2021

The World Teachers’ Day conference on 5th to 8th October 2021

TESOL Italy convention on 19th and 20th November 2021

We’ll be talking about eco-literacy and how to be greener as a profession.

Writing samples

The other thing I’ve been working on is a sample. Sometimes freelance writers are asked to write a sample, especially for a new publisher who we haven’t worked for before. I’ve been asked to write two samples recently and this week I’ve been focusing on one of them: reading through the brief, making notes, and thinking. Thinking is a big part of my daily routine when I’m working, especially with a new project. Sometimes it takes time to get my head around things, work out how different components of a course fit together, the best order to do things in and a whole load of other things. I used to feel guilty about spending time thinking. Anyone observing me would have assumed I was just lying around gazing into space. Is it only British people who have that ‘Someone’s coming. Quick! look busy!’ attitude?

I decided not to write the second sample. I sent an email, explaining some changes in my schedule and asking if they’d like me to recommend another writer. It felt quite good because a few years ago I used to just say yes to most offers of work, often regretting doing so shortly afterwards. When you start working as a full time freelancer, you always worry that there will be no more work after your project finishes. But if you do a good job, and maintain a good working relationship with editors and teams, they get in touch again … and again. Because new course books, digital materials and and resources are getting published all the time.