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Sunday, 29 January 2017

Looking Ahead



I've been hibernating this week. Its been a cold, so I've stayed close to home, looking ahead at writerly things that are happening around the UK in the coming months.

Getting out and about meeting other writers is good for the soul, it's a way of making friends with like minded individuals and hearing about what's going on in the writing world. Courses and workshops are a great ways to learn something new, but care must be taken when choosing.

Definitely do your research, find out as much as you can before making a booking. Look the tutor up, and send them a few questions. Ask what the focus is on? What materials will they be using? Powerpoint or white board? Will there be handouts to take away? Are there any one to one opportunities? How many will be in the workshop? Good tutors don't mind you asking questions, and they'll be ready with answers. Seek others opinions of the course or workshop, ask around in your circle of writing buddies.

Here's a few I found...

Malaga Workshops  UK weekend residential courses are all run by published award winning authors, there's a diverse list of topics and locations. A quick check reveals tutors such as Simon Whaley, check his website out here, who is doing a 'Write a Short Story' workshop this in Cirencester.

Kate Walker, author of over 65 Romance books will be teaching a 'Romantic Fiction Repair' weekend, check out her website here, or maybe you fancy 'Turn Your Local & Family History Into Stories' with Stephen Wade.

Writers Holiday  offers a whole week away in Wales in July 2017 with lots lined up for writers.

Alison May runs workshops and courses in novel and short story writing, starting in February 2017  - I did her Developing Your Novel workshop last year and found it very informative.

And for something different there is Mindfulness & the Art of Writing a weekend course in Brighton.

There are lots of workshops and courses for writers out there  - Do share any events or workshops in your area. Or any that you've been on and can recommend.

In other news...

January's been an odd month, I've had an ear infection since late December, and it's only in the last week I'm beginning to hear properly, and feel more like myself. Staying motivated and on track with my writing goals has been very difficult.

It's been a good month for reading and listening to podcasts. I'm hopeful February will energise me, and I'll begin to power up with many more of my 15 minute writing sessions again.

Things I've enjoyed in January in no particular order

#Listening to the album Love in Portofino by Andrea Bocelli

#Watching Andre Rieu's concerts on TV, and Blindspot. And YouTube videos of David Bowie performing many of his songs.

#Reading Your Complete Mindfulness Handbook, Woman & Home Magazine, A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, and The Successful Author Mindset by Joanna Penn.

#Nordic Pole Walking

#Pilates

# Tea and cake (you didn't doubt that would be on my list did you?)

# Podcasts from The Worried Writer & The Joined Up Writing Podcast & The Creative Penn Podcast

# Chicken & Chorizo Risotto

What I've given up this month...

# Buying Take A Break Fiction Feast

# Watching and listening to the news every day.


Sunday, 22 January 2017

Shedding Words

Frosty Morning 

How do you shed the fat? Those unnecessary words that add nothing to your story. I thought I'd share my top 5 tips with you.
  1. Passive Voice - Should be avoided, try making sentences stronger by going through your work and removing it was, there was, was, is, it and ing words wherever you can.  
  2. Big Words - Don't use two or three when one word will do. And don't use complicated words. It only annoys the reader. Wasn't it Oscar Wilde that said - Don't use big words. They mean so little. 
  3. Speech Tags  - Said and asked are really all you need once the reader knows who the characters speaking are, no need to add names every time. Get rid of verbs like explained, answered and quizzed. You don't need them. 
  4. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat - Don't do it! Unless of course you're adding new material, and not rehashing what you've already said. I'm terrible for this one. Reading your work aloud helps identify repetitive words. Or better still, record yourself reading a scene, then play it back. You might cringe a few times, but you'll pick up where you've repeated. 
  5. Back Story - Do you really need it? If you can avoid chunks of lengthy narrative, your story will be all the better for it. Perhaps a character can convey what's happened in a few lines of dialogue? If you really need the information, boil it down. Only keep in what you really need to get the information across. 
Please do share your own methods of tightening your writing here in the comments.      

A very quick update this week, haven't got lots done as I've been taking it easy, relaxing and recovering. Reading and listening to podcasts has been high on my agenda, although I still managed just over three hours of writing this week too. 

Have a good week my friends.               

Sunday, 15 January 2017

The 15 Minute Writer



I've become a fifteen minute writer. How did that happen?

I needed a daily writing habit. Something that would fit into my busy life, something that didn't make me feel overwhelmed at the thought of starting. I'd heard mutterings about writers that wrote for fifteen minutes at a time, but I'd dismissed the idea as silly, and what was I going to achieve in just fifteen minutes anyway?

Actually, you'd be amazed at what is possible.

In fifteen minutes I can write a fully formed 150 word piece of flash fiction, okay it will need a an edit, but, it can be done in another couple of fifteen minute slots at most. I can start a blog post, and sort out an image to go with it. I can probably come up with a decent title for it too.

I can rewrite a couple of novel paragraphs, sometimes a whole page. I can start a character profile, draw a mind map of my next chapter, or make a list of things I need to include in the next scene.

I'd like to encourage you to try it if you're struggling with procrastination, or if you genuinely think you're too busy to write your novel, or a short story, or enter a writing competition. If you have a goal, dream or desire to write, this is a good way to do it. What's more it can be slotted into daily life.

The best news is that it doesn't just apply to writing, try decluttering a room for fifteen minutes. Or tackling the household chores. it really makes a difference and after a few sessions you begin to see the benefits, and how you can be effective.

What can you do in fifteen minutes?

How Did My Writing Week Go? 

Not so well, my ear infection crept back, and made me feel really poorly, so I've been taking it easy.
I did some writing, a blog post, and also listened to podcasts on writing from The Creative Penn to keep me inspired and motivated.

Other Stuff I Did

Meditation Class
Re-invented myself with a new hairstyle.
New Lippy to go with the new look.
Booked a break in Wales for later in the year.
Ate too much chocolate.

Plans For The Week Ahead 

To rest and recover.

How was your week, and what are your plans?

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Hit The Ground Running - And Keep Going!



Last week I wrote my writing goals down for the year ahead, finish my novel, blog regularly, enter competitions and write some articles. If I say it quickly, my list doesn’t sound daunting does it? Truth is, a lot of work needs to be done, I’ll  have to project manage everything to keep on track.

I’ve written each goal down and worked out the steps needed to achieve them. In the last week I’ve spent time taking action. I’ve got myself a week to view diary, and written down what I need to do each day for the next two weeks. Being honest it’ll take me a while to get into the habit of fitting things in, shuffling stuff around, and generally getting back to normality.

We’re all full of good intentions, and change is hard, however, I believe we’re all capable of doing it, but it requires discipline and effort. And then of course stuff happens that we have no control over, so that has to be allowed for too.

Little and often works for me, I’ve broken everything down into manageable chunks.  My novel is being written in short bursts, in fact fifteen minutes a day is my target. Yes, really. This works better than doing a few hours and then not touching it again for a week. Why? Because the story remains fresh in my head if I connect with it every day.                                       

Most of us have dreams we want to realise, things we want to change in our lives, therefore we should never underestimate the power of intention. I’m only a week in, it’s early days, but if it doesn’t work out this way, I’ll change course and find another route. 

How Did My Writing Week Go? 

3 hours 20 minutes spent rewriting the novel
150 word Flash Fiction challenge done
Took part in #writingchat on Wednesday
Attended Phoenix Writers on Saturday
Wrote a blog post (400 words)
Wrote a book review on Amazon 

Other Stuff I Did 

Went back to work.
Lost 1lb Pound in weight!
Did two gentle exercise classes, Relax and Unwind and Stretching for Health
Had tea with friends
Won a £50 M & S voucher
Lost my new hat, and found it again.

Plans For The Week Ahead

More of the same on the writing front. I’ll also be trying out a beginners meditation class and deciding where to go this year with the caravan.

Have a great week - Let me know how the first week went for you? 

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Happy New Year - Fresh Start


Hello friends, I wish you all a very Happy & Healthy New Year!
It's a great feeling to have a blank canvas isn't it?  Have you made plans and set some goals for yourself? Mine are simple this year, I want to be healthy and happy, and do lots of writing.  Okay, it's not quite as simple as that, because I'll have to put some real effort into all of them. It helps to know what your desired outcome is though, and that will help you to stay on track when you start to focus on the details.

 Here's My Plan

Health - All the usual things I do already, like losing weight and exercising. Although, I'll have a delayed start with exercise as I've got an ear and chest infection, and sinusitis.

Happiness - The deeper you dig into this subject, the more you realise, it isn't always what you think that makes you happy. Personally, I love to feel the wind in my hair, whilst walking through beautiful countryside, or sharing tea and gossip with friends, or curling up in a comfy chair with a good book. or writing. I like to surround myself with positive people who make me feel upbeat, and I love to motivate others and see them shine. So I'll be trying hard to do more of all of those, and I'll be finding other ways to feel happy.

Writing -  More of the same, and something new. I'll be continuing my novel, anyone who has written a novel will know how difficult rewriting is, and how long it can take. I'll be continuing to get it as good as I can make it.

My blog will update every Sunday, and hopefully, you'll find it interesting enough to stick with me. I really do value and appreciate your comments.

This year I'm going to sub at least twelve pieces of writing, which may not seem a lot to some of you, but a lot of my time is committed elsewhere.

Lastly, I'm keen to have a go at writing articles.

If you've set goals, I'd love to hear about them, and how you intend reaching them.
That's it from me for now, enjoy the first day of the new year, and I'll be back next week to let you know how I'm getting on.