Where’s the Oddest place you’ve done it?

Write I mean!

On trains and buses, boats and rooftops, beaches, balconies and the bottom of the sea, we writers will do it anywhere (get your minds out of the gutter please!) I’m sure you know what it’s like to have the Muse (or just the need to flex those writing muscles) strike at an unexpected moment.

Personally, the oddest place I’ve done it was a department store. Working 9-5, you can only re-arrange the cushions and lights and mirrors so many times before you start to feel a bit zombified. In the long periods between customers (because no-one buys lights on a Wednesday afternoon), I used scraps of paper we kept for customer notes to scribble out a ghost story set in, yes, a department store.

So, where’s the oddest place you’ve done your writing?

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4 Roadblocks to your Writing – And 4 ways to Steamroll them!

Image of steamroller


For every writing problem you have, there is an answer.

Not necessarily an easy answer that involves lamps and Genies but an answer nevertheless.

Here are four common roadblocks that stop you from writing – and four ways to steamroll them flat.

1) I don’t have time to write

When I was younger, there was a TV show about a boy with a watch who could stop time. I think everyone would kill for one of those, writer or not.

You’re allowed to have a busy life, a job, a family, kids, pets and all sorts of other commitments. You’re allowed to have days when you don’t write. Don’t feel bad about them.

But –

the fact remains that your book/short story/poem/screenplay isn’t going to write itself. So you’re going to have to make time. That might mean making a few little sacrifices; you wake up a bit earlier, you write in your lunch break or skip an evening TV show for a couple of hours of writing instead. If you don’t drive on your commute, you could fit in a few words then. Or even keep a notepad in the toilet – multi-tasking to the extreme!

2) I’m just not inspired

You can’t write without inspiration right? Well…actually, you can. People who write for a living don’t have a choice. It may sound mercenary but if you have to, you’ll find something to write about.

If you’re stuck on a scene, skip it and move on. Try editing something you’ve already written. Or go and write something completely different to keep your mind active until you’re ready to go back to your WiP. Blog posts are good!

Physical activity can also get the creative juices flowing. A simple walk can work wonders for the old noggin. A trip to the Library is even better. Grab a book to find your inspiration.

3) I’m not sure my writing is any good

Join the club, we’ve got jackets.

Every writer ever, in the history of writing, has doubted their work or their writing abilities. And not just once either. It’s completely natural. And it may be that what you’re writing on isn’t going to work out.

Step back. Let your work breathe. When you return to it, give it a the once over and, if you decide to scrap it, don’t chuck it entirely. Keep a copy so that if nothing else you can cannibalise it for ‘parts’.

You also need to remind yourself why you writeWhy do these characters dance through your through your head and onto paper? Because they need to. Because you need to. You may not be the next Charles Dickens (I know I’m not), but you will always have to write. 

4) I keep getting distrac-oh a butterfly!

The internet is a wonderful and terrible place. So are Netflix and Instagram  and all the other distractions of the digital age. When you turn on your computer to write, you open up world of procrastination right at your fingertips. I know this. I’ve already been distracted six times in the last paragraph.

Hmm…what was I saying?

You can try swapping your laptop for a pen and paper. But if you’re anything like me, you type faster than you can write anyway. Then you’ll need to get serious and unplug the internet. You can do this literally or by using handy apps from Chrome or Microsoft. Use them to block the Internet on your computer for as long as you need to get things done.
Or try a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, with or without music, to help you focus.

And hide the TV.

What are your top tips to get past major writing difficulties?

 

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An Explanation of the Continuous Necessity

string-lights-692348_1280
You write
so that when you fall,
your descent will be arrested,
by a silver net of words
tied in knots
onto the walls.

And you ask,
are they strong enough,
tough enough, tall enough,
what if they just break
so that you crash into
the floor?

So you write
and on you tie them
knots with bows
and knots with snarls,
knots with no one else around them,
knots fixed
into your soul.

For you know
the way you speak
in those tight,
serrated thoughts,
fingers stained with psychic ink,
so permanence
is taught.

And it never
ceases moving,
the story rolls forever,
blind and bullish,
never ending,
minds working
without a hold.

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Raised in the fantasy way

R2-D2 toy

I grew up surrounded by fantasy and sci-fi. Maybe that’s why it’s what I love to write now.  Bedtime stories were The Hobbit, Wind in the Willows, Roald Dahl. Daytime video viewing was Star Wars, Willow, Labyrinth and all the Disney films. It’s still seen as odd if you’re into fantasy and happen to be female. People assume you aren’t into it for the ‘right’ reasons, whatever they are. Sexist bollocks of course!

Anyway, all this leads to the fact I went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens last week. I went with my boyfriend, who’s decently into fantasy but didn’t grow up with Star Wars like I did. We had the toys, the books, the games, you name it. I was the one at the screening with the Star Wars T-shirt! They’ll be no spoilers, but suffice to say both I and the boyfriend loved it. It brought back the feeling of watching the original films, with the added bonus of being on a very big (IMAX) screen that practicaly swallowed me into the story.

What did you think of the film?  And are you a fantasy fanatic?

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New Year Musings

New Years Eve fireworks

It’s all over. Both the year and my book.

Completing the book has been my biggest achievement and one I didn’t expect to happen. When I looked back at my New Years postfrom January 2015, I was surprised to find I’d gone beyond what I thought I could do.

I completed the 2nd edit on my book and started and completed the third. I never thought I would do that. I also continued with this blog and gathered 350 or so followers from the fellow bloggers (and a hello and thanks to all of you). It’s nice to have somewhere to share my work and my ramblings about books and places. And it’s great to follow other writers and gain all the insights I can.

Back to the book, this year begins with the question ‘What now?’ I think the best idea is to have someone read it, someone who will give honest, constructive feedback that hopefully doesn’t just consist of ‘don’t give up your day job.’
Any advice about how to go about this will be gratefully received!

I hope you all had a good year and have a good one in 2016.

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Today

Woman looking out to sea

Today

I felt a moment

of sadness

flicked in from nothing

a moment given

for the mourning

of those who have no

other

I wondered

whose loss I had been assigned

who they had been

before the trap closed

whether they were always

anonymous

born and died with the

light touch

flying with dragging feet

Or were violently electric

bursting and

sputtering to the end

like a cardboard firework

I saluted

took the dip

waited it out

for the good of

life.

A Visit to Lord Tennysons House, Isle of Wight, UK

If you’re wandering around the Isle of Wight, you could end up stumbling upon Farringford, the home of Lord Tennyson.

Farringford, home of Alfred Lord Tennyson

Lord Tennyson was a prolific writer and Poet Laureate of Great Britain during most of Queen Victoria’s reign. His famous works include ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ and ‘The Lady of Shallot’. He lived at Farringford from 1853 till 1869, when he moved to escape being pestered by tourists!

The Isle and the sea around the house definitely inspired the great writer and he was often seen strolling across the clifftops on what is now called Tennyson Down. A monument to him was erected there after his death.

I can definitely understand the attraction of the down. In the sunshine the landscape was glorious but I can imagine them being pretty spectacular in fog, snow or rain.

Tennyson Down, Isle of Wight

Farringford itself has a Victorian Gothic style and now sits surrounded by holiday cottages, a golf course and tennis courts.

Farringford, home of Alfred Lord Tennyson

It’s a pity that you can’t visit it like the homes of other famous writers but on the other hand it’s better to have it preserved in some state than being left to rot.

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Agatha Christie’s Grave, Cholsey, UK

St Mary's Church, Cholsey

I’ve never read any of Christie’s books but I’m very aware of her contribution to literature. Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot are legendary characters. I’m especially familiar with the latter thanks to David Suchet’s portrayal of him in the TV series my mother loved to watch.

St Mary's Church, Cholsey
St Mary’s Church, Cholsey

Despite her huge success, Agatha Christie is buried in the small village of Cholsey near Wallingford, UK. St Mary’s church is surrounded by fields and on a warm afternoon we visited only the sounds of playing school children and tractors were all that could be heard. The churchyard is quite large for a rural location dotted with memorials and trees.

St Mary's Church, Cholsey
The churchyard

Christie ‘s grave lies near to the back. A helpful information board on your way in lets you know where to go if you wish to find it.

St Mary's Churchyard
Helpful information board in St Mary’s Churchyard

It’s not prominently located but the headstone is a rather lavish one, engraved in a lovely, delicate script.

Agatha Christie's grave
Agatha Christie’s gravestone

Christie is buried under her married name of Mallowan. Her pen name and title of ‘author and playwright’ is noted underneath. Her second husband Max Mallowan, a famous archaeologist, is interred in the same grave.

Agatha Christie's grave
Close-up of the gravestone

It was a very peaceful and pleasant place to visit. Christie’s house can be found in the village but unfortunately, we didn’t have time to find it. If you’re in the vicinity, it’s worth taking a look.

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It’s Finished! Sort of.

After many machinations, alterations, deletions, frustrations and other things ending with -tion I have finally finished The Book. I have bits of this book on my computer that date back to 2011 – yikes!

All 29 chapters now stand before me, hovering somewhere between novella and novel (I haven’t done a word count yet as I save individual chapters as files).

Of course there is  a catch.  Whilst I’ve finally filed in all the gaps and have a real, coherent story, the book still needs more editing. A second edit in some places and a third edit all over. I’ve followed my own advice and put it to the side for a while. I’m going to write some blog posts and finish work on a poem to keep my brain occupied during this lull. But I can’t wait as long as I’d like because the deadline looms. I don’t think I’ll hit it but it will certainly give me a push!

How did you feel when you finished (first or final draft)? What did you do when the moment came?

About that New Year’s Resolution…

Pinkie swear

At the beginning of last year I posted about resolutions and how it was best to keep things simple.  I made a promise to finish my second edit and that was it.  So have I done it? Er…

…yes and no.

Yes I managed to edit all the chapters of my original work and in doing so now have seven more chapters. No, I didn’t manage to finish it.

To be fair to me (sometimes you have to give yourself a break), the text wasn’t finished to begin with, although a distance end was somewhere in place there was a gap in my final third.  I let the book take it’s course and have been led to two new characters (and maybe more) I hadn’t met before. The book is heading somewhere new and I’m back in the realm of white screens waiting to be filled.  It’s both daunting and uplifting.  Whilst I have’t yet reached my goal, I’m now closer to achieving it. And I’m proud of that.

I’ve also been very invested in this blog in recent months, moving forward in a more professional way with some heartening results and I’m proud of that too.

So – will I make another resolution?  Yes, in fact I’ll make two.  First to finish this second edit and begin the third which I know I can do if I knuckle down (and shut off the internet heh). Second to keep building this blog, following more people and posting in an interesting and innovative way.

Anyone else achieve a resolution they made last year? Or made any new ones this year? Share them below!

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