Tuesday, 3 January 2012

We're Moving

The New Year is as good a time as any for a change and here's mine-

This Blog is Moving
This will be last post on Blogger with all future posts being at my much more snazzy and funky Wordpress site here
The next blog will be on Writers' Groups- when they're good, when they're bad and how to get the most out of them.
I hope to see you there.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Let's All Have a Short Day

It is a little know fact that this Thursday may possibly be my most looked forward to day of the year. Like many, I do not do well in the winter months, it's cold and miserable and more often than not so am I, which is why I anticipate so highly the shortest day of the year, knowing it just gets better from here on in.

And it turns out my rather random seasonal logic is not the only reason to celebrate Winter Solstice (drum roll please)-

Thursday 22nd December is also National Short Story Day- a UK-wide celebration of prose’s short-yet-perfectly-crafted form.

Short stories often lack the recognition they deserve so what better time to give them your attention. A collection I highly recommend is Brace published by Comma Press.
To find out more about National Short Story Day, the short story format and to listen to some great short story example visit the website here.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Out of the Wilderness

Should I even mention that this is my first in four months or is it better that I somehow swiftly detour past that minor fact??
And the reasons? Many many reasons- emotional crisis, life crisis, creative crisis, other random crisis...
The point is I have somehow today, in the month before it can be claimed to be a doomed new year's resolution, put my fingers to the act of typing a blog, a long overdue blog it may be but let's just put that down to the occasional creative wilderness we all sufferer. If you do not have this problem then I envy you and ask you to please share with me your secret.
There is a large part of me that wants to dismiss the idea of writers block and I have heard it said by other obviously admirable, hardworking and somewhat superhuman writers that having writers block is just not an option. If you want to write you write, sitting and waiting for the muse really should not be an option- and on a good day I nod enthusiastically at those words, on a bad day I am more likely to scurry away and hide.
I find myself a regular visitor to the creative barren but I do have a few methods to somehow pull me out of it and one of the most successful to me and the one that has brought on this blog is my Writers' Group. I urge every writer to join a writers' group (unless the only writers' group in your area happens to be a bad one, in that case it's better to go without maybe).
My group, Words Out West, meet on the last Wednesday of the month and no matter how my writing has been in the month previous- productive, nil or dire- I always leave with new ideas and more often than not it pulls me out of a 'writing hole'.
So when was the last time you found yourself in the creative wilderness and how did you find your way out of it?

Sunday, 7 August 2011

The Seven Big Fears: Being Too Old

The sixth of the seven big writing fears is of being too old to write and, I will be honest from the start, this is not a fear I personally suffer from but I can understand where it stems from.

Like most of the other fears it has its basis in the realms of self-doubt and it is always the fear that is debilitating rather than the actual circumstances. Unfortunately there is a culture in this society that once you are of a certain age you lose your capabilities and, although that may be how some of society views things, that by no means should be how you view it.

Ironically to counter the thought that you may be too old to writer there are many reasons why being older actually makes you more suited to writing:

  • You have a much more experience you are able to draw on for inspiration
  • If you have been writing for some time then it is likely that you will have been able to improve your writing skill
  • If you are now retired you will no longer have the time constraints work will have involved
  • Finally, it is a sad truth, no matter how lovely they are children are one of the biggest hindrance to finding time to write and by this point children will be all grown up

Think about it logically, no one would ever say that you are too old to paint and it is no different with writing. If it is the opinions of other that you are worried about then just remember your age as a published writer can be good marketing point.

Monday, 1 August 2011

The Seven Big Fears: Having Only One Book In You

Many readers, and myself also, are too far off getting the first book done to even contemplate this particular writing fear but the fear that you only have the one book in you is actually a common writing fear and it can stop your progress before you have even completed that first book!
This in some ways is similar to the fear of success. It is fearing a situation that is not necessarily inevitable, you have to get that first book written for it to have any substance, but then if this is a strong imposing fear than that is perhaps exactly the reason that first book is not getting written. As long as the first book remains unwritten it is not a fear you will have to face and herein lies the problem.
As with many fears it is beneficial to localise the situation and address what it is you actually fear. It is highly likely your fear is as a result of a low-opinion of your work and you have perhaps surprised yourself with your first piece- great- but now you have to follow it up. It is helpful to remember that writing is a learning process and you are always growing so why would your future work be of any poorer quality?
A good comparison is to musicians. Many artists that have a great debut are under immense pressure to produce a follow up that is not just as good but better. Unfortunately it is a fact of life that this is just not always possible and it is not necessarily a measure of the artist (or writer), it can be a result of market changes, new competition or the artist has taken a different direction that is not as well-liked.
As I have said it is important to remember why you write in the first place and if you focus on the writing itself everything else should fall into place.
On a final note many writers, JD Salinger for example, have only ever had one book published and still been immensely successful.

Monday, 25 July 2011

The Seven Big Fears: Revealing Too Much

We are naturally private as humans, liking to create a comfortable level of knowledge around us and only ever revealing certain aspects of our life and experiences to selected members of friends and family. Writing however creates a fundamental problem in how much we expose ourselves within our work.

Even in writing non-fiction you quite possibly will be revealing some of yourself within the work either by opinion of by recalling of your own experience within the field. It is inevitable then that one of the big writing fears is that of revealing too much.

There are positives and negatives to revealing yourself in your writing. As a disadvantage it does make any criticism feel more personal but the big positive is that it can allow you to better engage with your readers. If the reader is able to access a sort of genuine emotion in a piece they can relate to it makes your work all the more enjoyable to read.

When dealing with this fear remember that, unless you intend to write strictly neutral non-fiction, it is a necessary part of writing and that without it your work is in danger of sounding dull and artificial. When it comes to the question of too much do look at the consequences of what you are writing, who it may upset and if it can perhaps be amended to make it more suitable.

Whether you reveal yourself in your work or not you will always be vulnerable to criticism and as a writer that is unavoidable. The key I think when putting yourself into your work is to reveal as much as you are comfortable with provided it adds to the work and does not put you at risk of a libel suit.

If you are unsure about libel law you can find some useful information on writers services.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The Seven Big Fears: Success

Of all the seven big writing fears, the fear of success is the one that I have found most difficult to reflect on.

Like the majority of writers I dream of success and become fixated on visualising what success could bring- book signings, letters from readers and a three book deal! I wish I could say in total honesty I write because I want to write and for the love of writing but it is more than that. I want to be successful at it.

So how can success become the object of fear for a writer and is it something that you fear? This fear is often more about the consequences that success might bring such as the effects on relationships and demands on lifestyle.

Although focusing on the future consequences of writing can be encouraging and motivating, as with the fear of failure, it can also cause unnecessary and negative pressure even when looking at it from the perspective of success.
The one piece of advise I would give is to focus on the now. Remember why you love writing in the first place. Besides anything else it may help your word count!