Sunday, 30 April 2017

A Very Quick Hello

Another rushed blog. I do have one in first draft, but it needs more editing. This post will come to you in first draft format!

It is Bank Holiday Weekend here in the UK. I don't have much planned though, but the weather looks like it might be nice for a change.

I had a meeting with my mentor Friday night. We discussed planning and I am working towards having regular meetings with myself to plan the way forward.

She described it as being on the business, and being in the business. When I am writing, I am in the business and I have to forget the planning and whys and wherefores and just write. But I need to make time to plan where I want to go, and whether what I am doing is going to help or hinder those goals.

So, my first meeting has been held tonight. I have a vague idea of how to proceed. I have to focus on decluttering primarily, as I am having some help to clean the house in the next couple of weeks. And you can't clean clutter. But if my recent productivity is to go by, my writing won't be affected too much.

I have also changed my days of leaving the house to work to a Monday and a Wednesday, because the library is open longer on these days.

I've probably rambled a bit. But like I said, this is a first draft and a quick one at that.

Hopefully I can organise myself well enough over the coming weeks so I can write better topics in a more coherent way. And if there are any things that you would like me to discuss in future, please drop me a comment, or get in touch on my contacts page. I hope to hear from you soon!

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Slow Moving

It is very nearly the end of April - month 4 of a 12 month calendar. More than a quarter of the way through 2017. Why am I telling you this? So you can be annoyed too, at the fact that I have achieved nothing.

Okay, I have kept to my resolution of one blog post a week. It is hard to come up with ideas each week, but I manage it, somehow.

I have booked myself in to hear Debbie Horsefield at the Stoke-on-Trent Hot Air Literary Festival.

I have written one and a half short stories. One is complete and first draft, the other is an idea.

Not a total failure, but nowhere near where I wanted to be at this point in the year. Which is why I got myself a mentor. And it is the best thing I have done.

I am not unfocussed any more. If I don't do what we agree on, I need a good reason to give to her. And I need to really get organised.

The kids return to school next week, and they have been part of the issue with me not getting much work done. But I can look forward to some time next week. I just need to make it work! I need to say NO to commitments in my writing time.

So my focus now is to finish my Writer's Bureau course by July 2019 and to be a Crime Writer's Association member by April 2020.

Talking of which, I am struggling to find blogs by writers of crime fiction. So if you know of any, please point me in their direction.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Happy Easter

I am keeping this post short and sweet.

I have several ideas for the future of this blog, which is great as I am planning harder, and working smarter. Why and how? I have a new mentor. I am following her advice on planning the quarters, so I have goals. I am really going to work hard at writing. I don't think I have enough to do, but as I am a mother as well, I think I should try not to over burden at the start. I can slowly build up my work load.

So after Easter, my blog is going to take a slightly different direction. It will be more writing centric. I was thinking how I struggle week on week to decide what to write about. So I thought I will focus more on the actual writing life. It will cover things that I find as I develop, and what advice I find works and so on. I will post more about problems and how I plan to overcome them (demanding toddler anyone?) and whether I succeed. I will impart my wisdom. I say that with my tongue in cheek, as I am far from wise. I am just picking it up as I go along.

But one thing I have found on my journey is that writers all face similar struggles. The advice out there is often regurgitated. There is often too much advice and one rarely knows which path to follow. So with the help of my mentor I hope to dig my own path, and put what I choose on top of it. And I hope you will follow me, and maybe pick up some tips along the way.

My blog is organic. It is infantile. I hope I can keep the readers I have as I explore new avenues.

In the meantime, don't make yourself sick on chocolate! I can't as I am on a diet. Because I am mad like that.

Happy Easter

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Take Note Part 2

The last time I talked about using a notebook, I set myself a challenge of noticing -and writing down- 3 things a day. I failed. Which is a shame, as I need that sort of richness in my stories. Perhaps I will try again.

But another reason for having a notebook, and you will have heard this before, is to capture ideas.

I struggle with this. I think it is the identification of ideas. I can be walking along, and my mind would be something like this:

Oh look. That would make a great story. Maybe she gets robbed? Then after she meets her future husband. A paramedic? Would she be that hurt and injured? Is it robbery? Must check the facts. How old is she? She must be young. So why was she robbed? At a cash point? How about if she is the police, and is on the case. What if she learns that the robber is someone she knows. Or how about no one gets robbed at all. Let's make it nicer. Must re-read the problem page. That third problem had something in it that would make an excellent short story. Let's just feel the sun. Try and describe it. How could I describe it differently?........

As you can see, my mind runs away. It takes twists and turns. And although I use the word 'story' which is a big giveaway, I don't identify it as an idea. Or maybe, it is because I know it will take many different turns before I settle on a good idea.

Then I heard of the '10 ideas a day' challenge. The premise is to capture 10 ideas a day. Depsite how good they are, they need to be written down. This isn't restricted to story ideas, though I hope that with practice, I can get 10 story ideas a day.

I need to practice using my notebook. I wanted to fill the new one I had for Christmas by the end of January, but I didn't succeed. I don't use it when I should, and I do when I shouldn't (is there actually a time when you shouldn't use a notebook though?).

To find out more about the 10 ideas a day, head on over here, to someone who puts it more eloquently.

And remember, use your notebook. That is what it is for.

Do you use your notebook? How and when? Feel free to share tips and encouragement in the comments.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Take Note

Note taking. Something I am pretty useless at. Something that, even when I do actually do it, when I re-read at a later time, I forget what it was I was doing or thinking.

Writers are always encouraged to keep a notebook, and not only that, but use it.

I am going to go to grass roots. I want to take note. I want to note 3 things a day for a week.

I did an exercise in a Teach Yourself book recently. The exercise asked me to describe a classroom from my childhood, the best that I could. I dutifully did so, describing the classroom that I was in when my mother pulled me out after my dad went missing. My description was based on things I saw. There were no sounds, no smells, no touch. I didn't describe the teacher, or the carpet. I described where the table was in relation to the blackboard, the teachers desk and the reading corner. I described how the desk that I occupied was right next to the door and there was a window behind me. I described the colour of the bookcase, and if I really thought, I could count the number of desks in the room. Now, I wouldn't be able to tell you how big the room was, because as we all know, everything is so much bigger when you are young. But it wasn't a cramped room.

What this taught me is that I am visual. This doesn't surprise me, and it highlighted where things are going wrong in my writing. The book explained that each of us prefer to perceive the world in one way above all others. For you, you might describe the sounds of the classroom, or how you felt. Feel free, describe a classroom from your childhood, see what it says about you!

Anyway, this means I need to work on the other senses. I need to hear more, smell more, taste more. What does the sun on my face really feel like? How do I really feel when I smell soup (Sick! Long story for another time)? And what do I really hear when standing in the middle of the tracks?

My goal is to write down 3 things I notice each and every day. And to push myself further, I want to add to the experience in the notebook. I want to capture it in such a way that when I read through my notes, I am transported back to the moment that I noticed it.

It might be a tall order for me. But I want to enrich my writing, and my life. To take note of things around me, I have to slow down. I have to literally stop, and maybe smell the roses. I have to take a moment to feel how I am moved inside, what emotion is bubbling away. And when I can create that, I can catalogue enough to draw upon when my stories are feeling flat.

Do you take note? Have I highlighted an issue you want to rectify? Or are you great at note-taking, and have some wisdom to pass on? I would love to hear from you in the comments.