Monday, 28 May 2012

6 Things A Writer Should Do Now

In another month we'll be half way through 2012. Its time to take an honest look at what you've achieved so far, and what you can improve upon as we move into the final half of this year.

1. Assess the last six months  - Writing down your goals every week can help you to create a unique record of everything you write. Can you recall what you've done so far? Make a list, it may be much more than you think.

2. Celebrate Achievements - I'm not good at blowing my own trumpet, or celebrating my achievements, its something I don't think about very much. It's time to re-think my attitude. Celebrating success boosts confidence, and spurs you forward to do more, who knows it could even lead onto more writing opportunities. So be proud of yourself, and enjoy the fact you are making progress.

3. Identify Strengths  - I've realised it makes more sense to write about things I know about, or things I'm really passionate about right now.  Doesn't matter if you write fiction, or non-fiction, make a list of potential things. Include anything linked with your occupation, hobbies or interests. If short stories are your thing, incorporate your interests - make your character an engineer, a baker, a florist or a librarian, or set your story in a place you know well.  Somewhere you visit often, or your home town. If non fiction is more your thing, find magazines to pitch to in areas you are interested.

4. Identify Weakness - The whole idea of a review is to identify what we could do better, so identifying writing weaknesses is essential. I know mine, I struggle with time. Therefore, I need a different plan, and a more productive way of working. I need to identify more daily slots for writing, and I may have to set a word limit to keep me on the straight and narrow too.

5. Set Yourself a New Goal - I'm suggesting you set yourself an achievable goal that you can reach before the end of 2012. Perhaps publication if you are new to writing? Or finishing a novel draft? Or you could write three new short stories, or self publish a novella? Whatever you can do that is achievable and of value to you.

Challenge Yourself - This is so important - its invigorating to keep taking your writing in a new direction. I have learnt this through doing NaNoWriMo, and other challenges. Doing something outside your comfort zone is good for the soul. The sense of fulfilment when you complete a tough project is amazing.

Make plans today, and you never know what you'll be celebrating at the end of 2012?

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Goal List - Week Commencing 27th May 2012

Last week passed by in a flash, yet I seem to have slowed down and become more settled. I don't feel quite as stressed.

The weather changed quite suddenly midweek, and we were blessed with glorious sunshine, I'm left wondering if this might be the reason. It certainly lifted my mood, as well as those around me, and made everything from getting the washing dry to going out for a walk a lot easier.

Last week went like this.

Novel - I reworked another chapter.

200 Word Challenge - I did it, and read it out at the group yesterday.

Yoga - My class started late as the instructor got held up in traffic, therefore we didn't get the full session which was a let-down. I practised some of the poses throughout the week. The sciatica seemed to ease off midweek.

Walk - I got out a fair bit, had a t least three decent walks. Like everything else in my life, I have to plan to walk, and then actually get out and do it!

Blog - Spent a lot of time on various areas, I,ve worked out how to comment to people individually, as well as looked into changing the style, and I've decided against mass alteration for now. I've also prepared a  couple of drafts of future posts, which I'll finish this week.

Photography - I took a few snaps, and also experimented with shooting a very short video, as I want to try a video post on the blog sometime in the future.

The week ahead.

Novel - Another chapter.

Walk - I'm looking forward to getting out and about a bit more this week.

Cake - Yes, I'm looking forward to eating more cake! There's a holiday weekend coming up, and its a great excuse to indulge.

Read - I need to lose myself in a good book.

Blog - Publish two posts

De-Clutter - I'm sinking under a mountain of junk! I can't stand staring at mess, and I swear clutter saps your energy, therefore its my intention to clear as much as I can over the next few months. I'm going to learn to be discerning and go through the house, room by room. Have you any tips to share with me?

What plans have you made for the week ahead?

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Happy Saturday - Whitney Houston - I Will Always Love You

Hands up if you remember The Bodyguard, from 1992 - yes, it really was, way back then. And I can recall people flocking to the pictures to see and hear Whitney perform. They got a bonus, as the movie was a great treat in escapism, and time out from everyday life.

Kevin Costner gave a good performance as Frank, the bodyguard hired to protect Rachel, (Whitney Houston) when she receives a number of threats made against her life.

Although the film received mixed reviews, it grossed 16.6 million dollars at the box office in its first weekend alone. The album of the soundtrack, went on to be the biggest selling of all time, with more than 42 million copies sold world wide!

Enjoy the song - enjoy your Saturday.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Goal List - Week Commencing 20th May 2012

This last week - it's been crazy busy! In a good way. I had lots to occupy me writing wise, and I feel I got loads of things done.

My sciatica has been pretty grim for no good reason , slowing me down for a couple of days.

Here's how things went...

Novel - I managed to get a long difficult scene written.

Reading - Very much enjoyed flipping through my creative writing books, and catching up with Writing Magazine.

Workshop - Fun! You can read all about it here

Cake - I've overdosed on tea and cake, it began with a home baked scone with cream, and jam, then a delicious slice of Victoria sandwich, followed by moist Carrot cake, and ended with a Hazelnut tart on Friday. It was all very D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S. My jeans feel very tight! Never mind.

Sleep - I had good and bad nights. My sciatica flared up midweek, giving me a couple of very sleepless nights and much pain. Fortunately, I'd booked a shiatsu session on Friday afternoon which has calmed it down a lot. Lastly, I revisited ways to relax, including yoga class, reading, listening to music and generally learning how to slow down. The latter part of the week was certainly better.

All in all, the last week went to plan. I achieved my goals, and ended the week on a high.

Moving forward, these are the things I'd like to achieve over the next seven days.

Novel - Goes without saying I will be pushing forward.

200 Word Challenge - Another writing task has been set by the Chair at Phoenix Writers - Will require some thinking outside the box. We've been given a colour, mine is purple, the task is to write a piece which involves a big event, and I must use the emotion that my colour conjures up in my mind. This is going to be fun!

Yoga - I do a class every week as it is, but I want to spend some time on the poses at home. It helps with the sciatica.

Walk - I must, I must, I must. It helps strengthen my back, and I always feel better after some fresh air.

Blog - I intend to review the blog - I'll be deciding what I want to do for the next six months.

Photography - Hopefully, there will be one or two opportunities.

What did you get done last week? And what's on your list for the one ahead?

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Phoenix Writers - A Day of Writing

I spent yesterday at a workshop for writers. Let me explain - it was a whole day devoted to writing - yes folks - a whole day actually writing! A  luxury for me. Organised and run by member's of Phoenix Writers, the Saturday group I regularly attend in Leicester.

We arrived just after 10am, queued up for coffee and tea, and ordered our lunches for later, then it was full steam ahead. Little did I realise at the time, how hard we would all be working.

The only brief the attendees had been given beforehand was that the workshop would be centred around 'The Village Fete' where something had happened to prevent the event going ahead.

We started with an excellent session hosted by Keith, he put us through our paces with characterisation. Allowing us each to choose a picture of the person we would become for rest of the day, and providing a list of questions to answer quickly, without too much thought. We settled down to write about our chosen character, breathing life into them, we learnt what they did, what motivated them, as well as their physical and emotional attributes. Even down to which 'red top' they read! It was good fun, and led us towards break. A welcome cup of tea in my case!

After a brief interlude we were back to business, the next session was led by Maya, and myself. We worked together to provide ideas for the writers to find the jumping off point into their stories. Armed with their characters they embraced the task we had set for them.

Each writer was asked to scribble down a secret on a slip of paper, they were then shuffled and handed back out  with an object, and instructions. We wrote for twenty-five minutes, then read all the pieces aloud to each other. The time went very quickly, the story starts were hugely entertaining and everyone managed to come up with scenarios, giving their characters serious problems to overcome.

Maya and I survived! We ploughed through until lunch, with little time to spare at the end of our session. Oddly, we were worried about finishing too early.

Lunch was relaxed, time to have a natter about all things writerly (there's that made-up word again) as well as things outside the magic realm of writing.

Before we knew it the time had whizzed by, and once more we were back in the 'board room' to continue our afternoon. This time fellow writer Amy, took the challenge, and gave us an entertaining hour on how to produce good dialogue.

Split into groups of three or four, we became our characters, locked outside the village hall, all with our own motivation for getting into the building, and overcoming our problem. There was rather a lot of hilarity in my group. The men had cast themselves as women, one a nun, need I say more, other than, how we got in the hall was a hoot involving a crochet hook! Each group read their effort out as a script, this worked really well, and reminded us how to produce sharp dialogue.

The last session  was led by our Chair, Daniel, who had kept us in check all day. He informed us, this was our chance to edit our stories ready for a read out, and a vote for 'best' story of the day. I found myself in a group with Maya, and Mark, and between us we edited, and slightly changed - who am I kidding - we ripped apart Maya's story and came up with a final first draft. Maya was a real sport, not at all precious about her 'baby' and it paid off because she came first jointly with Keith.

Everyone applauded, our day had come to an end. Time had whizzed by very fast, we'd been challenged and pushed, and some of us had worked outside our comfort zone - which is never a bad thing.

The day was organised by Krys, who worked behind the scenes to ensure things went ahead. The workshop leaders were Keith, Maya and myself, Amy, and Daniel, who was also our Chair for the day.  Good work people!

The attendees were members of The Phoenix Writers Group and we meet weekly at Phoenix Square where the guys and girls did us proud on Saturday. Thank you!

The day was a fun event, and more importantly, it was a coming together of writers, and we did it ourselves. Its our third one to date. If you run a group, why not have a go yourselves? Or perhaps you already have, and can give me some tips and ideas for the next one?

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Happy Saturday - Nina Simone

Feeling Good by Nina Simone

There were so many tunes I could of picked from this great lady. I hope you enjoy this one.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Goal List - Week Commencing 13th May 2012

The past week has been difficult, I don't seem to have had a lot of energy, and I've been feeling guilty about not getting very much done. Then I looked at my list - what I'd said I'd do, and what I actually did get done, and I don't feel half as bad.

Blog - Two posts done.

100 Words - I wrote my contribution to the on-going story, The Phobia, here on the Phoenix Writers blog, my own effort is here Its a bit of fun, and interesting to see how all the writers involved are taking it forward. Very organic!

Novel - No progress this week.

Reading - Not really, swamped with 'real life' work.

Balance - I tried. I managed two walks, one brisk after work one, which blew away the cobwebs of a stressful day. The other a more leisurely stroll taking time to look at my surroundings. I took some pictures, and it felt good to be outside in the sunshine! Yes, the sun shone brightly. I think all the rain we are having is getting everyone down - hopefully its on the way out.

Sleep was a priority, and I did get a few earlier nights, I changed my routine around a bit, and believe if I hadn't of had such a horrendous work week I might have fared better. As it was, I achieved a few more hours - its a step in the right direction.

Extra Stuff - I think its important to add, I also met up with a fellow writer, and together, in very limited time, over a lunch-time drink, we roughed out a plan for our part in running a workshop this coming Saturday. I finalised it, and wrote it up last night, and felt a sense of achievement bringing it together.

This coming week, I'll be scaling it back. I've decided to give myself a break. This is me trying to keep the list simple then.

Novel - Just do it!

Reading - Anything.

Workshop - On Saturday, I'm jointly presenting/running a session which is part of a whole day of writing. Looking forward to a lot of laughs, and having fun!

Cake - There is little to beat tea and cake. It shall be done.

Sleep - Continue to keep my sleep diary, and find ways to relax, and rest, and even sleep! So that I feel more energised.

That is the plan. So, how did you do? What have you in mind for the next week? Is there one thing you want to focus on? Let me know in the comments box, its good to make the journey together.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Happy Saturday

Three of the best for Saturday.     


A day off for many of us, and a chance to spend time doing things we enjoy. I'm taking it easy today, and thought I'd remind myself of some of the great films I've watched over the years.


In all three films, there is great chemistry between the actors. 

Watch and enjoy!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Reflecting on April

The A to Z challenge is over, and first let me say I'm relieved!
Don't get me wrong, it was a great experience, a roller coaster ride, and a great discipline. I really enjoyed the writing, it was fun. I believe I managed to reply to all of the interesting comments left on the blog.

What I didn't enjoy, was the feeling of failure I had for not getting around and visiting all of the blogs taking part. In truth, there were just too many. Hopefully, this might be altered next year by  grouping the blogs by interest, or something similar.

I'm still visiting A to Z Challenge blogs, and will continue to do so for a good while yet. Of those I did get around during April, I found interesting content and lots of variety in the posts. There are some awesome blogger's out there.

I had a few problems along the way, and lots of late nights, but in the main I managed to get every one of my posts up on the blog on time.

The advice I'd give to anyone thinking of taking part next year, is that its definitely worth planning what you are going to write about well in advance, says she, the original 'fly by the seat of your pants' girl!
I'd even go as far to say, write a couple in advance and schedule them. Real life has its ups and downs, and if you're having a crazy day, or need a break, a couple of posts done in advance could just save the day.

Would I do it again? Probably. Never say never.

I've made new friends, gained followers and generally had a fabulous month blogging! A big thank you  goes out to the organisers, and everyone behind the scenes for working tirelessly to give us all the opportunity to take part. You are awesome!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Goal List - Week Commencing 6th May 2012

Thank goodness I've seen the back of the last week! Gruelling at work, combined with a lack of quality sleep, I found it tough going, although managed to work my way through most of my list.

A to Z Challenge - Completed! A real roller coaster ride, which I really enjoyed.

Blog - As well as the final challenge post, I wrote one for Phoenix Writers Group as well as one other yesterday, on the simple pleasures in life.

Rest and Recover - Yes, I tried. Bit of a battle but there were some nice restful moments. Tea and cake yesterday, as well as catching up with friends over a bottle of wine mid-week.

100 Words Flash Fiction - The brief was 'a place visited, and the impression left' a good one for any writers groups looking for a fun exercise. Great fun listening to them at the group yesterday, and lots of variation.

I've also had a look around the internet in the last week for writing competitions, as I'd like to start subbing stuff again. I feel I did a million other things too, but last week is now history, so lets move on.

The week ahead. All change!

Blog - There will be blogging, undecided on topic, still working it out in my head. Also may do the A to Z Reflections post.

100 Words - A new challenge my writing group has come up with for us. We are jointly writing a short story, and will be posting our efforts here

Novel - Onwards! Got to move faster, intend to motivate myself to that end.

Reading - Latest issues of both Writing Magazine, and Writers' Forum to read.

Balance - Equal amounts of relaxation and writing are required to make me more productive, I know this, so I intend to get out walking, and breathe in some fresh air, along with at least two early nights!

Now to work out how I'll fit it all in...have a good week yourselves, and do let me know what you're going to do? Remember, anything is achievable!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Happy Saturday - Simple Things - Paolo Nutini

I love this song from Paolo Nutini, its so upbeat, and conveys a fabulous message. Very much how I feel about life.

'It's the simple things that mean the most to me.'

Its the on-going small gestures which can mean so much, simple pleasures on a regular basis can lift the spirits, and make life more joyful and satisfying.

Here's a few little things that make me smile, and gladden my heart.

Soaking in a hot jacuzzi tub - I love relaxing in the warm water.

Being creative - Writing down words, creating characters, breathing life into them, and accompanying them on a journey.

Reading - Spending time with a good book.

Holding hands - There's something very special , intimate and meaningful about touch. That feeling when someone takes your hand in theirs.

Cake - Delicious and yummy, what more do I need to say.

Music - Listening to music will lift your mood, make you more optimistic, joyful, and relaxed.

Kindness - Performing a small random act of kindness will make you feel uplifted and give you good vibes about the world around you.

What small pleasures make you happy?

Making Things Happen

Bluebells in the grounds of Chatsworth, Derbyshire - Maria A Smith Nearly two months ago I made this list of goals - See how I've g...