Thursday, 29 August 2013

Thought For Thursday - Do Something New

Thursday's Cake - Maria A Smith

Go on, let yourself go - be you! How about stepping outside of your comfort zone this Autumn, and doing something completely different?

September is traditionally the month when clubs and societies gain members, or people enrol on evening classes to learn something new and completely different. Or perhaps you just want to have fun! As the nights draw in, peoples thoughts turn to battening down the hatches, and building fires in the log burner. And theres nothing wrong with that idea, but its good to also entertain ourselves over the winter months. Summer activities might be curtailed, tennis whites back in the wardrobe, but your mind or perhaps body, needs something to do!

Did you have a flash of inspiration as you read the words above? Maybe saw yourself knitting a scarf, baking a cake, taking pictures of the winter landscape, or learning to play badminton? Perhaps you want to learn how to make fresh pasta, or grow your own vegetables in containers? Whatever it is, do something positive about making it happen today.

Get in touch with whoever runs the local evening classes, or Saturday Workshops, the leisure centre, or search online in your area. There is lots going on, and many clubs and organisations welcome new members. Maybe even join the local writing group.

Go on, let yourself go - be you!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Goal List Week Commencing 25th August 2013

Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire - Maria A Smith

Anyone else flabbergasted we've reached the August Bank holiday weekend? I don't want summer to end, I'm not ready! I've had some great days out this year. Lovely walks, took loads of pictures, written lots, socialised with friends and family and just thouroughly enjoyed the whole season. September looms, and the schools around here resume in a matter of days. Its going to be Autumn before we know it!

Time is precious people.

In the last week, I've been swamped with real life stuff, but also managed time for walking, writing and socialising too! Admittedly, the writing was my last blog post, and a 200 word flash fiction piece, had hoped for more on the novel, but I'm happy. Still a bit behind schedule, but intend to catch up this week. It seems a shame not to make the most of the weekend weather.

The week ahead, I'll be...

  • Going to the cinema to see a selection of short films
  • Walking around the streets where I live
  • Editing the novel with my red pen
  • Writing a blog post on ?
  • Creating some flash fiction based on a song title
  • Entering a writing competition, coz its time I pulled my finger out!
  • Doing my best to be nice to people
No advances on that list are planned except perhaps,
  • Eating cake
  • Listening to some music to set my soul on fire!

So tell me, what have you been up to? What plans are afoot?

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Thought For Wednesday - How Flexible Is Your Writing Schedule?

Photo Credit - Martin Nikolaj Christensen - Flicker Creative Commons

Do you set out your stall out to write at certain times on a particular day? Feel annoyed, and irritated if it doesn't happen? Don't  - you'll save yourself a lot heartache and stress. Its best not to feel guilty about missing a writing session if it was out of your control.

Be flexible, re plan, or if that isn't possible, relax, and focus on the next session you have planned. Sometimes  as writers, we need to stop and think about what we've achieved so far. Don't wreck your motivation, because you've missed one session. It won't help you get that book finished.

Don't overwork yourself, it really is counter productive, instead be gentle with yourself, if you're tired you won't write well, once your brain starts to feel fuzzy, or you feel your eyelids closing, its time to quit. Get some rest and recharge. If you don't, your motivation for working the next day will be poor, and you'll end up getting less done. Its much better to be flexible.

Do you have a set writing schedule? What do you do if you miss it?

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Goal List Week Commencing 18th August 2013

I'm A Writer - Maria A Smith

I'm behind schedule. Am I concerned? Yes, but not enough to think I can't pull it back. I've been steadily editing the novel each day, although sometimes only managing twenty minutes at a time, which I've accepted, due to a heavy workload at the day job. Its meant I've slipped behind, and haven't done any re-writing.

I'm on top of my blog posts, and also wrote something to take along to my writers group session on Saturday, although I didn't get to read it out as it was a very busy session. We had another prospective member, who is writing a crime novel, and I enjoyed what I heard, so I'm hoping he'll come back again. 

I walked loads last week, used the MapMyWalk app on my phone I mentioned last week, and listened to music whilst pounding the pavements. I really enjoyed it, and got to thinking about how wonderful the weather has been this summer, and how I really don't want it to end. Realistically, it won't be long until the evenings pull in and its dark again, I just hope I can keep the momentum up, and manage to get out on my walks, which I really enjoy after a long day at work.

In other news, I've finally got one of those lovely teapots with a strainer inside. I've been after one for ages, leaf tea tastes so much better don't you think?

The Week Ahead

More edits

More blog posts

More walking

More tea!

Some reading

Submit some writing somewhere

Have a good week, and do share with me what you're up to, and what goals you have on your list.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The Write Medicine

Picture Credit

Is writing the new medicine? Could it replace pills and potions to heal both mind and body? Soothe the soul, and help you get back on the road  to recovery and happiness? I think so, and so do a lot of other people. Studies have been going on for years to prove as much. Writing is a great way to express yourself, getting your deepest innermost thoughts out on the page can do wonders if you have experienced a stressful or traumatic event. Perhaps written disclosure reduces psychological stress?

Expressive writing done on a regular basis can really help, even if you only pick up the pen every other  day, if you can, and write for 15 minutes without stopping, you’ll be doing yourself a power of good, and nobody need see your words. I’d encourage you to keep a journal, sit somewhere quiet where you can be alone, and just let your thoughts flow through the pen, or if you prefer, type straight onto your chosen device, be it laptop, I pad, or your mobile phone!  You’ll be amazed how much you can write in just a few minutes.

Writing like this, is a way of starting an internal dialogue with yourself, it allows you the opportunity to face sensitive issues you might not be able to discuss with anyone in person. It helps to work things through your mind, and of course expressive writing is not only good for the mind, studies have also shown that people with asthma, developed better lung function. Many other medical conditions can benefit too. Further reading can be found here. And if you're already the writerly type, check out the list of benefits and see if you can identify with them. You might just be surprised at what you read.

Why not try a work of fiction? Make something up, give someone a problem, make it difficult for them, introduce something totally unexpected, then get them out of it. You don’t have to even begin at the beginning. Start at the end, kill someone off, or have two people kiss and make up.Whatever comes to mind, write it down today. Doesn't matter how off the wall it is, just get it written.

Tomorrow, after your sub conscious has had time to think about what you've written, go back to it and write the middle, or the beginning! It really doesn't matter how you get your words down. Your mind is powerful, and it will work it out. Whether you’re new to writing, or you've been doing it for years, the benefit of expressing yourself really is the best medicine.

I'm looking forward to hearing about your experiences.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Goal List Week Commencing 11th August 2013

Red Pen Editing - Maria A Smith

This week has been about editing - every spare minute I've had, which has mostly been late at night, or early in the morning, I've got stuck into the task. I had lots of constructive feedback last week at the critique group, and I'm making some changes. Printing each chapter onto paper, then going through it by hand with my red pen. Afterwards, I make corrections on the screen. This way seems to work better than trying to do it all on the screen.

The walking programme is going well, I'm up to five sessions a week now, I'm chuffed  I've got this far, and hope I can keep it up, as I'm really beginning to feel the benefits now. Although I thought it would help with my insomnia, and I'm somewhat surprised that it hasn't made any difference. Its been a bad week for sleep. I really must improve that situation.

Who have I met this week? - A writer who came to our Saturday session. I loved the first chapter of her novel. I hope I'll see her again.

What made me feel happy? - Getting out, and really looking around at the world outside my window.  Trees, shrubs, beautiful flowers, blue skies, happy smiling people!

What have I read? - Woman's Weekly, and Women's Walking Magazine.

What have I bought? - Buildings and Contents Insurance, ugh! Trawling around for the best deal is a necessary task I perform every year,  it wasn't too bad this time. I did it via the web, and backed it up by calling the company I chose to go with, to confirm everything. The young gentleman in the call centre was very good, and polite.

This week my goals will are,


  • Rewrite the edited chapter, and print out another chapter to work on this week.
  • Keep this blog up to date. 
  • A 200 word flash fiction piece to take to the Saturday group


Walking - I've got one of those apps on my phone to motivate me, it records distance, and pace etc, as well as storing the route, in case I want to do it again.

Cinema - Its been a while since I saw something on the big screen, and I'm looking forward to it.

How did you get on? And what have you got planned for the week ahead?

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Lets Stick Together

Lilies - Maria A Smith

Writers are a funny breed don't you think? We keep the strangest hours, often going to bed very late, or rising early to scribble down words conjured up from our imaginations We live inside our own heads working out scenes, often conversing with characters we've created on the page.  We look at people oddly, perhaps weighing them up for a part in our stories, and we walk around mumbling to ourselves while we work out scenes and plot.

Never mind if you have the most supportive spouse, or partner, there is no one quite like another writer to understand your frustrations when things aren't going right, when you want to chuck it all in, or to share your jubilation when success strikes. Having a fellow scribe for support, to bounce ideas off, and also to help when you find yourself stuck between chapters is priceless.

These days you have more chance of finding and hitting it off with someone thanks to the web, the internet has given us all opportunities to find like minded people passionate about the craft.  Twitter, Facebook and blogging are all ways of finding interesting people who understand what its like to be a writer.

I've been very lucky, and have gained much from the writers I've shared tweets with on Twitter, and have found them very supportive when I've asked questions on genre, plot, editing and much more besides.

I've been to, and organised 'tweet ups' which are specially arranged meetings for writers who use Twitter, on each occasion they have been valuable sessions and great fun too!  Networking is good, its not always what you know, but who you know that counts in this game. Many a writer has gained the name of a good editor, or an address of where to send their work through networking.

I'm not good on Facebook, I really must get my own page, but first I shall have to seek some writerly advice myself. Lots of people link all their social networking platforms together, that is something else I'll have to learn how to do, but for now, I'm happy with they way I communicate.

I love to hook up with other writers for coffee, or at a workshop, or conference, happy chatter over tea and cake is always a pleasure with writing news thrown in for good measure.

I feel privileged to be part of a critique group that meets weekly, not only does it keep me writing regularly, it allows me to get valuable feedback on my writing too. Everyone is very generous with their time and advice.

Of course I couldn't finish up without mentioning blogging now could I? Personally, I love to blog, I decided from the beginning I would humanise my blog, so I posted a picture of myself, wrote some words and launched it, with the hope, someone would read it, and hopefully interact with me by leaving a comment now and again. What can I say, its been journey, I've tried to infuse my writing, with personality, and voice. Those who know the 'real' me, say the blog 'voice' mirrors my own.

Visiting blogs, and having my own has brought me much closer to other writers, I'm part of a huge writing community, which spans the globe, and it feels good. If I can help anyone it feels good, I am passing on the baton, having been handed it myself by other writers who have freely offered advice and information. Its rare you meet anyone here who is precious, dig deep enough and you'll find an answer to your question, someone out there, has either done it, or knows someone who can help.

How do you interact with other writers? How has it helped you, and where did it lead?

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Goal List Week Commencing 4th August 2013

Caribbean Carnival, Leicester - Maria A Smith 

I can't believe we are in August already, can you? Time waits for no man or woman, so if you want to do stuff, you have to get on with it!

Last week, I got out and about, did loads of walking, and really pushed myself the extra mile. Literally! Some days, I didn't feel much like it, BUT, I forced myself out the door, and once I got going, it wasn't too bad. Its hard after a days work, and early evening chores around the house, but well worth the effort. I always feel better afterwards.

On the writing front, I've started my new plan, and as I expected it to, its gone a little bit awry already. Fortunately, I've managed to pull it back on course.

Where I've been - The Caribbean Carnival in Leicester, it was great to see people happy and smiling, throughly enjoying themselves out in the gorgeous sunshine. 

Who I've met - An elderly couple from Florida USA, who needed some help sorting out their IPad.  They were great, embracing technology in their early nineties!

What I've bought - Lots of fruit. Apples, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, grapes, and bananas! 

What I've been listening to - David Bowie Greatest Hits

Over the next week, I'll be moving forward with my novel. What have you been up to? And what plans have you made for the week?

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...