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Thursday, 29 January 2015

Writing Friends Are Electric!

Image Credit - Ed Yourdon

Ever felt alone or inadequate when it comes to your writing?  Wanted to chuck it in?  Perhaps you can't devote the time you'd like to give to writing, or maybe you aren't getting your work out into the world, or you are and its not hitting the mark? Is no one visiting your blog anymore? Or you can't finish  that novel?

These things make us feel insecure, and its at times like these that  you need your friends. Your writing buddies. The people who can relate to what you're going through, interact with you, and chivvy you along when things get tough.

Writing buddies help each other to get past the obstacles in our way.  They understand when you're stuck in a plot hole, when you can't dig yourself out and get back on track. Chances are they've experienced the things that are causing you grief.

When everything feels lost  get in touch with a likeminded friend. Send them an email, call them up, meet up and have a coffee, or a beer, or whatever it takes to get yourself out of the situation. Writing friends will help you find your way back, they'll help you recharge, and a sympathetic ear will do wonders for your mood, and you'll soon be tapping those keys again.

If you haven't got a circle of friends around you, then maybe consider joining a writing group. Sharing thoughts and worries is good for your soul, friends will listen and can give you valuable feedback, and possible solutions. Of course its up to you if you take the advice offered, but at least you've shared your concerns.

Maybe you already know another writer who is willing to meet up every once in a while to discuss how things are going? Meetings like this are good because things that are niggling can be aired before they become big issues. Perhaps, you just need a friendly ear, you know exactly what you want to do in the middle of your story, but you want to run it by someone else who understands viewpoint and pace. This sort of meeting is productive and can settle things in your mind.

Are there people you know online? Twitter or Facebook friends? Why not ask a question? Most writers are only too willing to help each other. Social networking has opened many doors, there are forums and groups around for every genre.

If you've visited conferences you'll have spoken to people, perhaps taken down their email addresses and maybe even offered them some advice. Why not look them up, they may be able to help you with a query.

Don't sit there feeling blue, reach out. Friends really are electric.

Have you got any writing buddies? Twitter pals, or people you contact when the going gets tough? Do you find it helpful running things past another writer?


Sunday, 25 January 2015

Goal List - Week Commencing 25th January 2015

Image Credit - Denise Krebbs
The image above is very apt for the week I've had...

Health wise, I didn't achieve my goal, I still can't sit up, its been frustrating, but I am now an expert at balancing my laptop on bent knees whilst lying on my back!

Writing and reading wise, I've almost finished the audio book, I would have finished it if I hadn't of immersed myself in Beta reading a novel. All done now, its been a good experience for me, and I hope I've been able to help the writer with my feedback.

Did I write 500 new words? In honesty I've felt too unwell to concentrate on my rewrite, but I did a short piece of writing instead which I enjoyed writing. And what about finding two outlets for my work? Nope, that didn't happen either. I feel bad about that because I did spend quite a lot of time looking through Writing Magazine, and on the web.

Truthfully, nothing caught my eye, and I'm getting disillusioned by the amount of competitions that are not following their own rules! And its not just the smaller ones either.

So many of them are shifting the goal posts, is it just me, or are you finding organisers are changing their closing dates? Pushing them further back at the last minute. Its so annoying, they don't give a reason, but I suspect its because they haven't had many entries. Well I'm sorry, but this is very unfair to the writer who has adhered to the rules, and got their entry in before the closing date, not to mention that they have sent the entry fee. It shouldn't happen, in my mind if they only get three entries, its tough! They should pick their winner from the three entries that have abided by their rules. And, they should not be running competitions if they haven't got the prize money before they start.

All said, I know there are many 'good' competitions out there, with organisers who are passionate about the craft, and other writers, but there are definitely some bad boys and girls stalking the web too. I think they want naming and shaming, so that they don't dupe other unsuspecting writers.

My way of dealing with the 'date changers' is to never enter their competition again. Right, I'll jump off my soap box now, and let you know what I'm going to do this week.

Writing wise, I'm going to do another short piece because it suits me, I can cope with it, and have a bit of fun. I'm also going to finish reading Writing Magazine, and I will finish the audio book this week.

Health wise, I'm working on sitting up.

How was your week?

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Goal List - Week Commencing 18th January 2015

Photo Credit

Good news - I'm on the road to recovery at last!

The last seven days have been hideously painful, there have been times when I thought I'd like to chop off my head, and there has been fear, and tears. After my visit to the osteopath the previous week, my situation deteriorated rapidly, and I've been incapacitated. I've had no choice but to lie flat on my back all week.

The whole episode has been truly frightening, incredibly painful, and I thought I'd done the wrong thing going to see the osteopath.  However, after five days, I started to make progress and I'm able to stand, and hobble a few steps. Reluctantly, I returned to the 'back cracker' on Thursday, feeling vulnerable and desperate, He felt my fear, was professional, and caring, and I survived! Initially, I felt sore, but the next day, amazingly, I managed to stand and walk further for a little bit longer. Hurrah! Although, I still can't sit down at all...

Regarding my goals, I achieved little, and its better I say what I did, rather than what I didn't. And honestly, I'm letting myself off the hook this week, I feel blessed to have come out the other side, and feel happy with what I've done.

I made the list of menus for the week, and we stuck to it except for one evening, although I did zero cooking myself. Sounds terrible, but I barked out instructions from the floor to hubby, bless him, who just got on with it! We even tried a couple of new recipes. He can now make a very nice Cod and Prawn Gratin. so that was a win.

Managed more of the novel I'm beta reading, and I listened to the audio book I'm reading too.

The week ahead will look like this...

Health

Progress to a sitting position, its much easier to type, than lying on my back balancing a laptop on bent knees is...

Writing and Reading

Decide on two writing competitions to enter, or find a couple of suitable markets for my writing.

Finish the audio book

Finish beta reading

Write 500 new words

How did you get on? Did your week go to plan? Or did life get in the way of your plans?

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Goal List - Week Commencing 11th January 2015

Image Credit

Does anything go to plan? This last week has been difficult, and I'll try and choose my words carefully to sum it up because worrying and complaining changes nothing. I did not return to work last week, the sciatica has worsened considerably, and on doctors orders I must take time out, and continue with the painkiller cocktail, which is mostly ineffective, and wait until its my turn to see a physiotherapist. I hobbled out of his office, clutching a 'fit note' saying I wasn't fit to work, a prescription, and a A4 sheet of back exercises to do in the meantime. Happy days.

In desperation, and not being able to find a witch doctor (believe me, if I could of found one, I'd of tried one), I had my first introduction to an osteopath on Friday afternoon. after a quick assessment of my spine, he advised he thinks he can help, but there is of course no guarantee and there will be discomfort and pain. I signed up immediately, and the torture commenced. Two days on, I feel rough.

What is it they say: 'Every little struggle is a step forward.' So no more complaining...

How did I do with my goal list then.


I didn't do any walking round the block, but someone gave me a lift to the pool, and although I was under orders not to swim, I managed to walk up and down in the water, and it was nice to have a change of scenery too. Afterwards, I had tea with a lady I'd met there previously, and we chatted until my lift arrived. Catherine and I get on well, and it reminded me that one of my goals this year is to spend more time with friends.

Writing wise, I did the 200 word challenge for the group session on Saturday, but unfortunately I was unable to go. I missed my writing buddies. I also wrote this blog post, and I have been beta reading a novel for a fellow writer I have never met in the flesh but we are friends through a writing forum.

I started listening to the audio book, LISTEN to the Moon by Micheal Morpurgo, and I'm very much enjoying it.

Oddly without trying, I am losing weight.

The week ahead then,

So I've lost stability and comfort for a while with my goals, but I'm determined to keep a good attitude. This week I'll strive to achieve the following:

Health

I'll be delighted if I can walk to the bottom of the road and back, and get to the pool at least once. I'm mindful of trying to eat healthily, and will make a list of meals for the week, and try hard to stick to the list!

Writing and Reading

When I hear what the writers group challenge is, I shall attempt it. I'll also read Writing Magazine for inspiration and details of up and coming competitions. And I'll continue to beta read my friends novel, and listen to my audio book too.

I shall not let the shadows of the past, darken my future folks, last week is over, so heres to a productive week. Did you achieve your goals last week, or have you too been derailed?

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Goal List - Week Commencing 4th January 2015

Woman At Work - Image Credit              

We're only a few days into the new year, so not too much to report, as I've been trying to make the most of the last few days of my holiday. The country fires up tomorrow and most of us will be back at the grindstone. However, I want to start as I mean to go on. Sunday is when I'll post my goal list for the week ahead, and I'll give you a review of the previous week too. So here we go, my mini review since January 1st...

Health

The best laid plans etc - unfortunately, my sciatica is very painful at the moment, I'm struggling to walk, BUT, I refuse to allow it to beat me! So, under doctors orders, I regret I'm having to pop very strong pain killers, and take it easy. I say regret, because I do not like taking medication, preferring to take a more holistic approach. Shiatsu has been good when I have had previous bouts before, but I haven't been able to get to see my practitioner over the Christmas break, I'll be rectifying that as soon as possible.

Drinking more water is something I want to get into again, as I always feel a lot more alert, I've started and can already feel the benefits, I'm less hungry too, but that might be because I'm moving less.

Home

This afternoon, I sat with a big tray of paperwork that was long overdue for a sort out. Most went into shredder and then the recycle bin. I'm not good at filing stuff, shuffling paperwork is a weakness I seem to struggle with most of the time. I can't believe how much stuff comes through the door, and I do try and recycle it straight into the bin, but you know how it is, there is always something you think, I'll hang onto that, just in case...

I have a writing space! Yes, at last I have my own study, and its lovely. Decorated a few months ago  I've finally got a new desk and chair, and although there is still a wee bit of stuff in there that doesn't belong, its looking good. Its my space, and I'm enjoying putting my mark on it. I've already loaded one bookcase, and have another to go into the room, but I'll be clearing out a lot too. All going to good causes, via a friend who does a lot of charity work, and will be grateful to have them.

Writing

Saturday heralded the first Phoenix Writers meeting of the new year, and that was really good. Mingling with lots of positive folk who love writing is food for the soul. Our Chair set us a mini challenge of 150 words, and we had fun reading out our efforts. Then we went straight into manuscript critiques. All very different and interesting, and everyone got lots of useful feedback to take away and ponder too. I did the challenge, on the hoof, with about forty minutes to spare, but hadn't got anything ready to read this time. I was pleased to go along, although I spent most of the two hours standing due to back pain.

Reading

Starting a new book tomorrow, LISTEN to the MOON, by Michael Morpurgo, I haven't read any of his before so I'm really looking forward to it. A lot of you will know, he wrote WarHorse, Private Peaceful, as well as many other children's books.


The week ahead then...

Gently does it, will be the theme I think...

A walk round the block, and possibly a trip to the swimming pool for a bit of water therapy. Walking up and down, no swimming though, they have a very nice jacuzzi which will be wonderful.

Writing wise, there is a new group challenge that needs to be ready on Saturday morning, and I want to write another 500 words of my novel. Small steps, hopefully in the right direction. I'll also define my writing goals a little bit more.

Heres hoping you all have a productive week - do let me know how your writing is going, or anything else for that matter. Its good to stay in touch...I look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

New Year, New Start

Image Credit

Time to start over, to make new plans. Here are my goals for the year ahead. Writing them on my blog makes me accountable.

Health
Lose weight - a stone  by December 31st 2015
Visit the gym twice a week - In place by 28th February 2015
Get back into the habit of walking - A walk a week by the end of January 2015
Book a holistic treatment every other month
Hydrate regularly throughout the day
Relax - Find new ways to de-stress

Home Life
De-clutter  - Get rid of something every week during 2015

Work
Establish myself in my new role - Ongoing throughout the year.

Writing
Produce a goal list weekly
Finish my novel - The next draft by June 2015
Take part in a podcast -
Blog regularly, at least once a week
Enter competitions - one a month minimum
Set up a novel support group - by February 2015
Attend writerly events - One every three months
Master Scrivener - by December 31st 2015

Reading 
Listen to fifteen audio books by December 31st 2015

Photography
Capture life through the lens - Use pictures on my blog weekly

Adventures
Do whatever makes me happy - life is not a rehearsal!

Friends
Always make time for friends - Plan to meet up regularly.


Thats a big list, its a starting point, I know what I'm working towards, and its written down. Next, I'll break things down into manageable steps. Watch this space.

The first day of 2015, has been low key here, I've spent it mainly clearing up and catching up with overdue household tasks.

My next post will be my weekly Goal List on Sunday.

Happy New Year!