Sunday, 30 December 2012

What will you write on your blank page?

2013 is almost here, bringing with it the chance to start something new. How do you feel about that? Excited? Worried? Brimming over with ideas? Or are you simply carrying on as before? A lot of people will and there's nothing wrong with that. I'll still be making the weekly trips to school with my children, cooking, cleaning, paying bills and writing (of course). Some things never change.

And yet, to take this opportunity of a new year as an inspiration to start at least some things afresh seems to me to be a gift that we should prize. Call it new year resolutions or turning a page, but the act of re-creating something, anything can be just what we need in the middle of the winter.

The Words on my Blank Page

1. On 1st January, I start a new diary, literally a new blank page to be filled with the multitude of words in my head.

2. Once my husband has returned to work and the children to school, I'll start work on the third draft of my novel. I've spent the festive break tearing and sewing my story into an improved form all ready to return to writing it.

3. I will be taking part in the Mindful Writing Challenge throughout January, creating a small stone each day of that month.

There are many more personal blank pages to begin in my life too, all of which I look forward to with both excitement and a level of trepidation. Change can be transformational but at the same time, stepping through into 'other' can be frightening too.

So what will you create? What flame of inspiration will you breathe into flickering life in the darkness of January? What will you write on your blank page?

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas

No Tuesday Choice Words for you today. Instead I have a wonderful quote from the film, The Christmas Nutcracker, that I think sums up the life of a writer perfectly.

"My work is merely showbusiness.
You supply all the magic."

Have a wonderful festive season.

Friday, 21 December 2012

The Story of You

Years ago (decades actually), I attended a writing class run by a local poet, Pat Borthwick. I was the youngest attendant by far. Pat's classes centred around using our life experience and memories as a subject and basis for our writing. Homework would often require us to tap into our life - one Sunday morning, a poem using symbols to describe a loved one, a holiday memory. The others in the class, including Pat herself, had a wealth of experiences to call on and I quickly came to realise how describing what some might consider to be a mundane act could often lead to a fascinating read. By comparison, my own life experience seemed, if not boring, then limited and pale. I felt I had few memories to offer up that would make for an entertaining tale.

Move on around ten years and I started to write murder mystery plays for the am dram group I was part of. Based around a known cast and a familiar stage, what started as a way to fund a hobby quickly turned into a business I loved (and still do). The more plays I wrote, the more I pieced in characters I had met, situations I had come across or lived through, and the humour of my home town.

When my parents died in 2002 and 2007, I began to tell my children about them, and the stories they had told to me. With each rich memory, I wove a tapestry of warm colour and cosy texture to wrap us all in.

Writing my novel, I pull in my own experiences of motherhood and loss, and the colourful characters I have met throughout my life who held a magic of their own.

No experience is ever wasted and no life is grey. We all have a story to tell and whether we use the details, the memories, or the characters in our writing, our lives are a rich resource.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Tuesday Choice Words

Altering the Quality of Time in Your Novel from Live Write Thrive talks about the use of time in your writing.

Why Stories Should Never Begin At The Beginning from Terrible Minds discusses where to start your story.

Too Much of a Good Thing: Over Plotting Your Novel from The Other Side of the Story talks about striking a balance when plotting your novel.

The Not-So-Long Goodbye from Live Write Thrive discusses how to write the ending of your novel.

Writing Rewards from diy MFA is just what we need at this time of year.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Write It Proud

When I studied business studies at college (seemed like a good idea at the time), my least favourite subject was economics. I got it. I understood the theory. That wasn't the problem. It bored me. I appreciated the relevance of the subject on my course and the importance of economics in the running of the world. It just wasn't my kind of thing.

Our lecturer was a serious, young woman who was obviously very knowledgeable on her subject. She and I never really hit it off. During one class, she asked us to write down what our three favourite television programmes were. I think she hoped that we would exhibit our maturity by making choices such as the news or Question  Time (political discussion), or other such, sensible and serious viewing options.My list included Robin of Sherwood (hence the image above), the cartoon He-Man and some other fantastical programme that I can't recall at this time. She read through our choices and upon reaching mine uttered the words that I'll never forget, "She can't be serious, surely?". If I had any standing in her opinion, it completely dissipated at that moment.

As writers, we can often come up against a similar reaction, perhaps from our friends, often from strangers and occasionally from our loved ones. It's as if writers are a lofty, superior class and we, as lowly normal folk, could never make the leap to such accomplishment. This reaction is rarely meant unkindly. It just seems too extreme a stretch of reality for the commentor to refresh their view of us.

If only they could see the world with our eyes. If only they could become as familiar with our characters as we are. If they could accomplish either of those things, they would understand that we have an added layer to the person they think they see in us. We have magic and wonder and, on occasion, a devilishly devious mind. It's not their fault that they don't know this side to us because most of us keep it well-hidden, afraid to stand out or bare our literary souls to criticism.

You are a writer. Like me, you may not produce the obvious literary product (novels). I write plays for a living. Perhaps you write articles for magazines or you blog profusely. It doesn't matter because you know that attached to your heart is a tiny tag that reads 'Writer'. You're not a writer in waiting or an aspiring author. You are, right now, a writer. Be proud of it. Tell the world, or don't, but do not let people dismiss this incredibly important aspect of who you are. Be brave because yes, you are serious about being a writer and a creator and a teller of tales only you can tell.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Tuesday Choice Words

Worldbuilding Revisited, part 1  and part 2 are the latest posts in David B Coe's On Writing and Creativity series on the Magical Words site.

How to Write a Killer Logline from diy MFA explains how to dig down to the core of your story.

Write the book you would want to read, not the one you believe you should write is a post on Galleycat by Mona Zhang.

#Hashtags GALORE! from Stacy Green discusses the use of hashtags on Twitter and some useful, related services.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Tuesday Choice Words

Prolificness and why we should never say should is the latest podcast from Iain Broome in discussion with novelist, Emma Newman.

Letting Creative Ideas Percolate by Geoff Hoff, the Creativity Expert, outlines a creative method that I use all the time.

The Opposite of Eavesdropping from diy MFA is a writing prompt that suits me fine as a people watcher.

The Info-Dump Scene from Magical Words discusses how to reveal information in a way that doesn't drown the text of your novel.

How to Escalate Conflict in Your Novel by guest author C J Redwine on The Other Side of the Story discusses the different factors of and approaches to conflict in your writing.