Showing posts from November, 2015

Take the time to share a story

On Sunday night, my children, my husband and I sat down at the dining table to play a game of Cluedo. We try to make a point of having a family board game most weekends. Sometimes it might be Scrabble, other times Monopoly. It doesn't really matter what we play. The main value of the experience is in coming together, away from gadgets and TV, to concentrate on spending time with each other. Most of the conversation will be centred around the game but we'll also swap stories about the week that has just passed and discuss what might be coming up in the days ahead.

As a child, board games, card games, and family gatherings were a regular event. Sometimes it would just be me and my parents (I'm an only child). On other occasions, the neighbours would come in, or for a special night like New Year's Eve, there'd be a party of friends and family filling the house with laughter and chat.

Whether there were few of us or many, the gathering would always lead to the telling …

7 ways to stay motivated (or get motivated in the first place)

Are you a self-motivator or do you need a nudge or a carrot to keep going? I'm a bit of both depending on the task at hand but over the years, I've come up with a number of ways to motivate myself.

1. Treat Yourself
This is the 'carrot' I mentioned above. Promise yourself that when (not if) you complete the task, you'll treat yourself to something. What that 'thing' is depends of course on you. You might choose simply to have a cup of tea and sit down to read a book. You might decide to go out somewhere. You might even take yourself shopping for a new bag, book or other item. You know what kind of treat will keep you going (plus what you can afford in the case of a shopping trip) but make it something that really delights you and raises a smile.
2. Visualise the end result
This is not to be confused with day dreaming. That way, only procrastination lies. You can visualise the end result in your mind, have an image on your computer screen or go the whole hog …

The die are cast

This morning I did something that I've been longing to do for years. I submitted my novel to a literary agent. Actually, I submitted it to three.

I'm lucky to write my plays for a living but to be a novelist has always been my number one dream. I've written and honed, and rearranged, and edited my manuscript for the past few years. I've sought professional advice and assessments on my writing. I've turned to my favourite writers for advice and inspiration. I've even put together a cast list of actors for my characters. I've taken my novel as far as I can.

Submitting my manuscript today made it all feel very real, and quite terrifying. I read each agent's submission requirements, located the correct person to submit to at each agency and nervously emailed off my novel.

I'm hoping for a good response from at least one of them. I know that I may not hear anything until the new year. Let's be honest. If they're not interested, I may not hear an…

Something Useful for 2015 - Exercise No. 16

Around this time every year, I compile a set of family photographs, one for each month, to create a calendar for the following year. December is a shot from the previous year. It's always a pleasure to look back over the last twelve months and remember.

Looking back over my photographs for this year, along with the family shots are images that I took that don't show my family. They're shots of the garden or landscapes or other things that took my fancy. They tell a story in themselves.

Choose twelve photos, one for each month of the year (November and December can be from past years if that's easier). Now, looking at the photos as a group, weave them together into a story.

Here are mine.

Choice Words for November

There is so much advice and opinion out there about how to write a novel (or how to write anything, for that matter) that after a while it can all turn into a blah shade of grey, the same thoughts, techniques and scenarios repeated over and over again. For me, the most informative advice is the kind that comes from a writer's personal experience, illustrated with their own 'story'.

Nathan Filer's TEDx talk, How to write an award winning bestselling first novel, is just such a lesson. If you can spare fifteen minutes, then it's well worth watching.

Nathan Filer

Photo Inspiration for November

I like unusual buildings and entrances, in fact any kind of threshold that is a little out of the ordinary. I took this photograph back in March on a family trip.
What do you think of this? Is it inviting or just a little bit intimidating? Would you like to drop in? What would you find if you ventured through that door? Who might live here?
What does this inspire you to write?

What I'm Doing This Month - November

November is here, harbinger of winter and bringer of light in the form of Bonfire Night (a very British celebration). The darkness arrives noticeably earlier each afternoon and the central heating is on. I've taken to snuggling up in my shawl when I write, hot drink to hand.

After the house move in September, visiting Chester Festival and planning Hallowe'en costumes for my children in October, November feels like an altogether more quiet month.

On a personal note, I'm about to start learning Italian (enough to pass as a tourist at least) for a birthday trip/delayed honeymoon to Venice in the new year. I'll let you know how both of those go.

I'm also suffering from a shoulder injury which means I can only spend short amounts of time at a keyboard without my shoulder and arm clamping up. Bedtimes are a series of contortionist feats to sleep without pain. As the doctor said when I went to see her about this, "Perhaps ice skating at your age wasn't such a go…