Thursday, 16 December 2010

In the Airport

After 8 years of not going abroad I am soon to be making my second plane trip of the year. I am traveling to Amsterdam for the weekend to visit my sister before Christmas. The only unfortunate thing about this is that in order to get the best deal on flights we are flying from Manchester at 06:55am.

It would not be too bad but because my husband and i get so paranoid about not being late for things / getting stuck in traffic and missing our flight we arrived at the airport at 03:35. I am now finally sat in the airport lounge waiting to find out what gate we're at.

Through all the boredom and exhaustion however there is something, besides a break abroad, to be gained from all this is... waiting. Provided you remain conscious it allows you a moment of reflection. I know that sounds cliche but how can you ever expect to be a good writer if you never take a moment to step back and just ponder.

The other great thing it allows is people watching. People watching is the great essential to the writing fodder of material. Most of this usually comes from cafes and restaurants but to be able to people watch in airport gives endless possibilities for a persons destinations and purpose. The family off to Lapland or the single woman travelling to London.

With today's instant updates and technology based culture we seem to have grew in impatience but writers can't afford to be so. A little bit of waiting is essential and if you are a writer it puts you in good practice for writing that epic novel.
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Thursday, 18 November 2010

The Convenience of Technology

It has been over a decade now since the beginnings of the Internet and technology is a world away from where we could ever have imagined it.

I am currently writing this blog from my newly purchased smart phone. Yes I still think writing on the laptop is easier but to be able to actually send a blog post out into the world from my mobile is something I do find quite amazing. This sort of technology has of course now been around some time but as someone quite new to it I'm ecstatic!

As a writer all I keep thinking about is the possibilities this technology opens up and how it has already drastically changed the nature of journalism. The question also raised is the demands thid sort of techology now creates.

Technology is becoming faster and our lives are becoming more revolved around it with Twitter updates and Facebook friends but although technology can vastly help in improving our lives we don't want to let it rule them either. That's why after I've finished playing with my new mobile and discovering all it's cool tricks I'm going to turn it off for a while.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

The Writing Exercise Challenge

Due to recent events (i.e. being in hospital) my writing has somewhat teetered into oblivion. With me it seems to be a recurring theme that my writing, on occasion will reduce or disappear, and once that happens it develops into almost a fear to go and sit back down at the desk.

It is a vicious circle- because I am not getting any writing done I feel guilty and not whole but then, because I feel bad about it, I avoid thinking about it and thus avoid doing any writing! The biggest obstacle for most writers is themselves, whether that is the tendency to procrastinate or self-doubt and that is certainly the case for me.

The theory is that once I get back in the habit of sitting at my desk and writing an hour a day I will be back to normal! Not as easy as it sounds. The thought of sitting there and pouring myself onto paper at the moment in disjointed paragraphs and meaningless garble is just... terrifying. It is easy to forget all former success and all previous pieces of writing I did do well with and was proud of when I am so preoccupied by a notion of inferiority because I now feel out of practice.

Thankfully, after weeks of living baron of writing I think I have came up with a possible solution and one that seems so damn obvious that I'm kicking myself for not having done anything sooner. Writing Exercises. That is the solution. I have a book of writing exercises and for the next three weeks I intend to do one writing exercise for an hour a day 5/6 days a week. It seems so obvious and eliminates that fear of not knowing what to write.

The idea of the challenge is that it is realistic and achievable and three weeks should be long enough for sitting down to write for an hour a day to become almost a habit. After three weeks I am hoping. without getting carried away, that my enthusiasm and confidence in writing should be reignited and my productivity be back to a level I am happy with. Either way, I'll have at least 15 pieces of writing from these exercises and some of those are bound to have something I can work on or use.

Wish me luck xx

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

What Writing Magazines Have to Offer

Today I have been mostly reading October's issue of Writers' Forum and, for my birthday, I have a good idea that I'll be getting a subscription to Mslexia. But how useful are writing magazines?

There are three main writing magazines that may be of interest to budding and experiences writers:

Writing Magazine
This is probably the bestselling magazine for writers and is available for subscription with Writers' News. Subscribers I have spoken to appear to learn a lot from the magazine but it has less to offer the experienced writer, many do however find Writers' News invaluable for information on the current writing market.

Writers' Forum
Many writers I have spoken to now feel that Writers' Forum has the edge over Writing Magazine. It provides a wide range of features, regular columns and writing exercises that is in keeping with the current market.

A quarterly magazine for women who write, Mslexia will not be for everyone. The articles are usually longer than those featured in its competitors and could be described as more self exploratory, it also includes an extensive list of upcoming competitions, festivals and courses.

The problem I usually find is that there will be articles in an issue I don't find particularly useful because they are about a genre I do not write in. If you are a magazine addict or just want a broad insight into the writing world this is something you probably won't mind, otherwise check the magazine content before you buy an issue. Writers' Forum and Writing Magazine can be picked up in many newsagents and Mslexia can be purchased from their website as an individual issue.

A writing magazine does not have to be an annual investment. If you find you are buying a magazine every month and enjoying it perhaps then consider subscribing.

Besides features, author profiles and exercises I find one of the most valuable aspects a writing magazine has to offer is the inspiration it can conjure. Sometimes reading about an author's success or what an agent is looking for is just what you need to encourage you to stop reading and start writing! Ultimately writing magazines are great tools but you must always remember: they are not writing.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

The End of August

Summer is depressingly nearing an end and I very nearly went a whole month without a blog post! At least I have the excuse of having been ill rather than just lazy.

In summary, I spent a few weeks in hospital and I only got home last Wednesday. I'm still recovering and I'm not yet back at work so at the moment I'm taking it easy and keeping myself distracted.

As you can expect, with all this going on my writing has been non-existent, which I hate, even though I know I have valid reason. Even my concentration is rubbish at the moment and I miss reading.

But, outside my own personal world, everything else continues as normal. I've been scouring the news pages to try to catch up on the world and it's at times like this I'm hit with the realisation that very little changes. The news is regularly filled with a scandal of some kind and it just seems to be on some sort of cycle. It may sound disrespectful but I so often get bored with it, which is probably why I have a tendency to quickly divert to the culture section.

And in the culture news... film review of 'The Girl Who Played With Fire', which The Guardian has given three stars.

While in hospital I did manage to read 'The Girl Who Played With Fire', a fantastic follow up to 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'. So the film may have only been awarded an average three star rating but I cannot wait to see it. There is something very therapeutic about reading and the book was the perfect distraction for a couple of days. Hopefully I'll have my nose back in a book again very soon.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Unthank Books are Seeking Submissions

The newly established Unthank Books, who released their first publication 'Touching the Starfish' earlier this year are currently seeking new work and new writers.

We are looking for shorter form prose for our annual 'Unthology', a collection to be published by Unthank Book alongside our list of novels. The Unthology hopes to showcase the work of new and established writers and will include short stories (up to 8,000 words long), reportage, essays and novel extracts. The Unthology is concerned with stories about how we live now, with the vivid, the cult and the strange, and is not concerned with mainstream genre fiction or poetry.

To find out more about Unthank Books and how to submit please visit their website.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Mid-Month Update

Horray! I am nearly finished a short story I have been working on. Just a few bits to add in a good bit of editing too do. There is some level of pressure on it, I want to have it done Friday, so I'll have to get my finger out!

Like 'Sleeping Dogs' it has been one of a strange process. I started with a scenario (a woman on a train) and gradually worked my way from there. Hopefully it seems to work, but it does mean additional editing I find!

The other half is watching The Fairy Jobmother. Majorly distracting me from this blog!

I'm going to have a quick look over the short before bed and then I have the next two days to fine tune it. I am still unsure of my characters motivation, that is the most difficult bit, is what she is doing warranted? I'll just have to get it finished and then I guess I will know.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Finding Focus

Last night I got no writing done, zilch! Normally this is because I am putting it off because I know the task will be difficult, but last night it was not even something as logical as that. I was actually looking forward to writing.

So why did I fail to write even one word as intended? Usually there is one big word that sums up the cause of my distraction and failure to complete anything constructive and I know that it is the cause of many people failing to do what they should in many aspects of their life- 'Internet'.

I had my pen drive in my laptop and had even planned a time when I would disappear up to the study and get some writing done. Instead I spent the time I should have spent writing doing some Internet shopping. That's not the worst bit, I didn't even buy anything. In the end it was getting late and I decided I would need more time to think on it.

This sort of pointless and vastly time-consuming activity is the prime culprit at eating into my writing time. There is no need for me to do this, and the logical answer would be to do the writing first and then go on the Internet.

Somehow 'surfing the net' always eats up time and with very little results. Even when it is something relevant, like looking up competitions, it seems to take a long time and you very quickly get distracted by something not so relevant, like that free delivery offer on New Look.


I think it can be worse if you set a time for writing and do some searching on the Internet before hand. Soon enough your writing time is put back five minutes, then another five until very little if anything is done.

I have a new plan, that I am going to stick to following my wasted night. WRITE FIRST!

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Get Ready For the Launch

Tomorrow night is the launch of This Road We're On, the latest Flax anthology, in which will appear my short story 'Sleeping Dogs' and I am very excited.

The launch is starts at 7.45pm at The Auditorium, The Storey Creative Industries Centre, at Lancaster and is open to the public. I will be reading 'Sleeping Dogs' as well as two of my poems.

Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Playing the Interviewee

Following my recent small success in having a short story accepted by Flax, which will appear in their anthology at the end of this month, and the regular book reviews and articles I have written for them, Essential Writers will be publishing an interview with me on their website.

Last night I had the pleasant task of reading over the various questions and rambling detailed answers about my inspiration, favourite writers and how I find the time for writing. It was a great experience to be able to do that sort of self-exploration with actual purpose rather than vanity.

I think it helped having to write my answers by email too as it gave me more time to think them through. I have recently discovered that in a face-to-face meeting I am terrible at forgetting names so, when asked about my favourite writers for example, I can maybe only think of two and then all memory of every other book I have read deserts me.

The strange thing is, prior to this, I thought I would feel uncomfortable talking about myself in an interview but in fact I have really enjoyed it. But then, I am not really talking about myself, I am talking about something that I am incredibly passionate about- writing.

The second bit of news is that I have now had sight of the photos from last week's meeting at Lancaster and I am very pleased with their professional appearance. Of course I still grimaced at my goofiness caught on camera! A couple of the photos will form part of my web profile on Litfest which will be going live later this month with the launch of the anthology.

Watch this space for news on the interview. In the mean time I plan to get some actual writing done!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

A Trip to Lancaster

So I am sat at the laptop feeling elated and exhausted!

Today I had my meeting with Sarah Hymas of Flax to discuss the final edit of Sleeping Dogs and have the photo shoot for the website profile. Besides this being the first exciting step in my writing life, this was also my first drive on the motorway.

I have been driving for over two years and, until today, I have never driven on the motorway. To be honest I have never had the need to until today. I live an hour from the M6 and whenever I do take a shopping trip to the Trafford Centre it is with the other half who is the regular driver and a poor passenger.

The Storey Creative Industries Centre is a stone's throw away from Waterstones and home to Litfest and it's regular events. Organised, as ever, I found my way without a problem and I enjoyed the meeting. I got to talk about myself alot, stood about for some photos, which, after all the photography of the wedding, was relatively painless, and did a small recording of a reading of the short story.

The recording was the only bit I didn't like. I hate the sound of my own voice but I think that's one of the normal self-criticisms people have. Still, I'll be doing a reading at the launch on the 30th June.

Now, I am considering an early night. You can tell I'm not used to anything other than the commute to work. Two hours to Lancaster and two hours back and I'm shattered!

Thursday, 3 June 2010

My Name in the Litfest Newsletter

Receiving the Litfest newsletter today I had a lovely smiley moment when I saw my own name:

"Launch of This Road We're On, Flax021 with Emma Bragg, Annie Clarkson, Naomi Kruger, Amy Prodromou and Chris Witter - a quiet but tense journey through the workings of how we love. Weds 30th June at 7.45pm."

Find out more about the launch here

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Another Sad Day for Cumbria

I only got back home at around sixish yesterday morning and I could never have anticipated today's events.

It is more than likely you will have by now heard the shocking news of today's events in Cumbria where a gunman went on a rampage in Whitehaven and across West Cumbria. I live in Whitehaven and was in the town centre shortly after the first shooting.

As I crossed the road near the scene of the first shooting I had no idea the severity of the events seeing the mass of police. My first thought was that it was a road incident. It was only in the bank where I heard that it was a shooting.

The bank was advised to lock the doors and for everyone to move upstairs and stay away from windows. My husband and I were the only customers in branch at the time.

We remained in the bank for ninety minutes until finally it was deamed safe for us to leave as the gunman was confirmed as no longer being in our immediate area.

The latest news is that there are 30 different crime scenes, 12 people have been killed as well as the gunman who took his own life. There are also 25 people injured.

What can I possibly say to express my shock? My wishes go out to all those effected by today's horrific events.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Greetings from Morocco

Well the wedding is now over after I became a Mrs on 14th May and today I will be flying back from honeymoon. It is sad to have all this excitement in my personal life coming to an end but on the positive side I am looking forward to refocusing my energies on my writing!

The wedding seems to have been the prime cause of distraction, who would have anticipated that a wedding could involve so much work! Nevertheless I have enjoyed it, I felt like JLo in The Wedding Planner and have had lists and itineraries coming out my ears.

In amongst all this glee and panic I have had some exciting news- I have had a short story accepted by Flax which will be included in their latest anthology. I could not stop grinning when I got the news as this is my first fiction success. The anthology launch is on 30th June and I will be posting more details shortly.

I will say goodbye from Morocco for now and will post again soon xx

Monday, 12 April 2010

Momaya Press 2010 Short Story Comp

Momaya Press's Short Story Competition is open to writers of any nationality writing in English, and also offers the opportunity for winners to be published, in the Momaya Annual Review 2010.

Maximum word count: 3,000 words

Theme: (optional) Family

Closing Date: 30.04.2010

Every short story must be accompanied by an entry fee of $12 (£8). Cheques in British Pounds may be sent via mail by clicking the UK otherwise, payment must be made online via credit card.

First Prize: $200 (£110) and one copy of the Annual Review
Second Prize: $100 (£55) and one copy of the Annual Review
Third Prize: $50 (£30) and one copy of the Annual Review

In addition, 7 honourable mentions will be chosen for publication, as well as any stories which placed in our top 30 and fit our chosen theme for the year (Family)

All winners will be published in the Momaya Annual Review 2010, which will be available to purchase online in December.

For full competition details including how to enter and the competition rules click here.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Three Months Down

We are now 25% of the way through 2010 already which is scary stuff! Where has it gone, it feels like it was February last week and now we are into April?!

April Pictures, Images and Photos

I began the year with the determination that 2010 would be my year. So far, I have been making slow and steady progress in producing work and have made several submission but unfortunately no luck so far.

On the positive I do feel I am producing better work than I have ever done in the past and March was one of the best month's I have had for productivity and actual submission. I just need to keep up the hardwork.

It would be so easy for me to look at the work I have done so far this year and the lack of any sort of acceptance for it and decide 'why do I bother' but this is all part of what I know I have to do in order to get anywhere. Over the last few years I have made efforts with my writing, received rejections and kept fighting but this year is the first year I feel that I am working to a much higher level, both in terms of quantity and quality of the work being produced.

That all sounds like that it turned to 2010 and all of a sudden I started taking it seriously or just suddenly became a writer but I think it has all being a massive learning experience. You need to get so many of those rejections slips and listen to so many writers, read so many books and produce so many pages of junk before you can have a bit of humility about yourself and start treating writing like a job instead of a self-indulgence.

Looking at the process like that does make it sound somewhat depressing but I feel it is the most constructive attitude for me to have that will help in securing me some success. I have in the past maybe tried to look at it like this but it is easy to get carried away in the airy fairy world of a wannabe writer, fantasising about the bookseller lists and movie rights instead of getting the writing done.

The only way I will ever get anywhere is to put my fantasies aside and to treat writing like a job. If you want to succeed at anything you need to be disciplined instead of just going along with the hope that you are an amazing writer and one day someone is bound to discover you, it just doesn't happen like that.

I'm still waiting on that acceptance letter in the post, I did not win the Iota poetry competition and Mslexia did not want to use my book review but we are only part way through April and, as every writer knows, it's a hard slog.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Does Doing Less Produce More?

writer Pictures, Images and Photos

It is a proud moment when I can sit back on the 29th of the month and be proud of what I have achieved. By sit back I mean 'review', I still have a bit more to do over the next three days of course.

This weekend I have done little more than a short blog post on my For Better Mental Health blog and a bit of reading for personal enjoyment. I did have an excuse as it was my other half's 30th birthday which meant meals out and socialising, which obviously does not work with writing.

Despite this latest weekend of little fruition I can look back and see that I have produced five blog posts, completed AND submitted five poems, written a small 200 word piece for the Talkback One Word Challenge, and completed and submitted a short story to a local organisation. All that does not include the work I still have in progress.


I do not think I have ever done so much in a month and yet I do not feel I have put pressure on myself or been overwhelmed. My aims have been small, in an early post I said I would be focusing on poetry and I overall I have done this. I have managed my time being doing a small amount nearly daily and as a result I have barely noticed the commitment of it.

This month has taught me a lot about how to be more productive in future. Set small realistic goals and do a little bit every day. This sounds so obvious, but as writers and being naturally self-critical as we are, I think we sometimes aim too high and get less done as a result.

One of the most important things I would recommend is keep a record of everything you have done over the month, even blogs. At the end of the month you can see how productive you have been, have you spent too much time blogging? have you been overwhelmed with one project?

What I cannot say enough is that you are a writer so you must write. Do not sit back and wait for the muse to make an appearance.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Bristol Short Story Prize 2010

For any budding short story writers there is still time to enter the Bristol Short Story Prize 2010.

The Bristol Short Story Prize is an annual international writing competition that publishes an anthology as well as presenting cash prizes. It is open to all (entrants must be over 16 however) and stories can be on any theme and are welcome in any style but must be unpublished or broadcast.

Maximum word count: 3,000 words (there is no minimum)

Closing Date: 31.03.2010

Entry Fee: £7 per story

Prizes: 1st- £500 plus £150 Waterstones' gift card. 2nd- £300 plus £100 Waterstones' gift card. 3rd- £200 plus £100 Waterstons' gift card. Runners-up (17)- £50.

For full competition details including how to enter and the competition rules click here.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The Poetry Project

With my time still strained between work and the wedding I have decided to focus my writing upon one format and that is poetry. I feel almost strange having made this decision, which was probably inspired by attending Words by the Water, and at the same time it seems like such an obvious solution.

Until now I have always had several projects ongoing at once including novel research, short stories and poetry. This is all very good and productive but I have found myself recently overwhelmed with tasks and getting very little complete.

In order for me to try to get the most out of my writing for the past week I have focused on poetry. The advantage of this of course is that it is less time consuming which is my biggest problem right now. Also it allows me to focus on an idea in a small number of words which I may later decide to develop into a short story.

Over the past week I have been able to build up a small collection of poems and this in itself is a boost to the ego. I do always find poetry a bit like a slippery fish and I sometimes think I'm falling wide of the line but in the same manner I have had some positive feedback so reason tells me I can't be getting it that wrong.

I think if I am just be a bit less me and a bit less scattered trying to do so many things at once, what I produce at the end of the day will be of much better quality and I will actually have completed something instead of half completing several things. That's the theory anyway.

poeta Pictures, Images and Photos

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Writing vs. Wedding

When I came to write this post I noticed it was over a month since my last blog post. The good thing is I know exactly why.

Over the last month (probably a little longer) I have done very little writing and what I have done has been articles rather than creative writing. Instead I have been focusing on my life stress, mainly my upcoming wedding.

Of course this is all good news, what could be a better distraction from writing, if I am not going to do any writing let it at least be for a positive reason like my wedding! Focusing on the wedding rather than writing has meant I have been able to complete several overdue tasks that I had been ignoring, such as booking the make up, having the hair trial and finding some wedding shoes.

The unfortunate side of this is that I have spent much of the time feeling guilty and that I should be writing. Trust me to try and overdo things and have a 'guilt complex'. No matter how many times I have told myself, and my fiance has told me, that it is ok to have a break from writing and that I cannot do everything, I cannot help feeling bad.

What has been worse is that when I have had some spare time and could get some writing done I have felt uninspired and lacking motivation. Has not writing for a while had such a negative effect that I cannot rekindle it? Then because I worry about this so much and I think what I write will not be good enough I avoid it.

More than anything else these thoughts probably show me as someone with some deep emotional problems including avoidance, anxiety and dependence and this is probably not far from the truth. I know that what I have been getting worked up about is purely based on my own flawed reasoning but it does not make it any less real.

It has recently came to the point where the wedding is nearly organised and I want to get some writing done and it just is not happening. I know most writers have a break in creativity but I am still trying to get published, I cannot waste time leisurely taking time off! I needed something to ignite a spark in me and I think I have now found it.

This weekend I attended Words by the Water at Keswick and loved it. I left feeling inspired and ready to get back into some serious writing. I now have to be productive and use that feeling. As shown in this post and previous blog posts I do spend too much of my time feeling guilty that I am not writing enough and it is counter-productive.

My writing will be less over the coming couple of months, I don't intend on spending my honeymoon with a pen glued to my hand, but hopefully some writing will dispel some of the stress. And, with two months now passed, I am still hoping that 2010 will be my year.

Happy Writing


Thursday, 4 February 2010

Music to Write by: The Fight Scene

Fight scenes can be difficult to write because they are often fast paced, confusing and involve a lot of moving around with descriptions of who is doing what. If you don’t do this well you will either leave the reader confused as to who is doing what or over-direct and lose the pace needed for the scene, in which case the reader will be bored.

The best way to learn how to write a good fight scene is to look at other writers who do them well. Kelley Armstrong and Stephen King both write fantastic fight scenes effectively building up the tension and pace before a physical fight even begins.

More so than love scenes and death scenes, the fight scene can take many different forms. The most common are probably:

The Dual
This is usually a one-on-one fight that may or may not have spectators. Should it be more than one-on-one I would still put it in this category unless it is more appropriately placed in as a ‘battle’ or a ‘brawl’ (see below).

The Battle
This generally involves two sides consisting of several numbers fighting against one another and this would normally be over a period of time. This would most commonly be associated with historical fiction but remember this could also be applied to other situations: the office v the factory staff, the boys v the girls in the playground etc.

The Brawl
This involves several characters all fighting against one another with no defined sides. Think pub fights.

Remember the above purely relates to numbers and the format of ‘sides’ and this is only how I categorise them. Also, don’t just assume a fight is physical; it can be verbal or psychological too.

Generally you need to make sure you have some build up before the penultimate fight scene, much in a similar way to a love scene. You need to develop the background and plot in order to demonstrate how your characters come to the scene itself. Also, you probably want your readers to be rooting for one of the fight participants (either the individual or side) and this needs to be progressed over time. Like the death scene, if your reader has not developed a care for the characters the outcome will not be of importance to them.

With the basics covered here are my recommendations for music that should help you get in the right frame of mind for writing that fight scene.

Ceasar by I Blame Coco is an inspirational song that could easily get you in the right mood. Elevation by U2 was on the soundtrack to Tomb Raider and is upbeat. Of course I could not have this blog without the mention of the classic soundtracks of Kill Bill and The Matrix .

Other suggestions:

Rock & Roll Queen by The Subways
Lord of the Rings- Two Towers Soundtrack
The Fight Song by Marilyn Manson
Breathe by The Prodigy

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Music to Write by: The Emotional Death Scene

Welcome to the second installment of suggestions for music to writer by. This week the focus is on writing the death scene.

Death scenes can be overdone, think of those old western films with the hero dying in the arms of his friend and managing the words 'tell Mamma I love her'. Obviously this is the type of thing you want to avoid, unless you are aiming for something comical.

What you need to be aiming for is to rouse the emotion in your reader but not to make it cheesey. Remember this scene, in a similar way to a love scene, will either bring an end to ongoing events or could cause further events as a consequence.

Before you write the death scene itself you must develop the right kind of relationship between the reader and your characters. It is this that will have the most influence on how the reader reacts to the death scene. Remember if your reader does not care for a character they will not find their death emotional.

Once you are confident you have built your characters enough you can aim to get the right note for your death scene. Try to put delve into your emotions, and instill this into your writing.

On to the music suggestions, my first suggestion is Imagine by John Lennon. It may be an obvious choice but listening to this song and the words should hopefully stir within you the appropriate emotions. The Scientist by Coldplay also has some strong lyrics and a soft melody. Personally I have always found White Flag by Dido an emotional song and I would imagine this would be appropriate listening to get you in the mood.

Other suggestions for you to try are:

Mad World by Gary Jules
Everybody Hurts by REM
My Immortal by Evanescence
Take me Somewhere Nice by Mogwai
These Are The Days of Our Lives by Queen
Streets of Philadelphia by Bruce Springsteen

Friday, 22 January 2010

Music to Write by: The Passionate Love Scene

The passionate love scene is a classic and usually key to the story and development of the characters. Often it is the climax, excuse the pun, to a building of emotions and scene setting. Despite its importance it is often and easily done badly.

There are various reasons why as scene can be done badly. Sometimes the very importance of a scene can make it difficult to write because we put pressure on ourselves to get it right. What makes a love scene more difficult is the inhibition needed for such writing.

As people we naturally find sex, nudity and passion somewhat embarrassing and as long as we feel that way we will let our own embarrassment hinder how we write.

The whole idea of this time of scene is the freedom the characters have, how they give into their desires and open themselves up. As a writer, in order to do this successfully you have to be able to put yourself in the same mood and forget embarrassment. Hopefully the right type of music to get you in the appropriate frame of mind is a good start.

'Your Hands Are Cold' from the movie Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightly is a good start and should get your heart pumping.
'Bad Things' by Jace Everett and made famous by the True Blood series has catchy erotic lyrics. 'Wicked Game' by Chris Isaak is a haunting classic.
'With or Without You' by U2 is another classic powerful song.

For more of a romantic love scene try 'Colourblind' by Counting Crows or
The Fray's 'Look After You' .

The key thing is to be in the right mindset in order to right the scene and not to sensor it or tone it down either. That can be done later in editing. Feel passionate about the scene and put it all down in the first draft.

Happy Writing


Thursday, 14 January 2010

Music to Write by

Welcome to the second blog of the week, which means I'm doing well and keeping with my January 'new start' spirit.

I feel as a writer it is important to make use of the tools around us and one tool that can be found throughout our lives is music. Not only is music enjoyable and condenses various emotions, statements and beliefs into a couple of minute but it can also stir feelings and passions within it's listeners.

Music can be used in two fantastic ways in writing. Firstly it can be a quick and easy way to encourage you to actually get some writing done. Everyone from time to time needs a bit of a kick up the rear to get some work done and I find the best method is in having a feeling of determination and drive and music can be a quick and easy way to generate this.

Listening to something such as Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody' or U2's 'Beautiful Day' can get you motivated and in the right frame of mind to do something productive and it can be any song that works for you, it doesn't have to be upbeat. If you love Classical music try 'Nessun Dorma', it can be anything that makes you WANT to write.

Even if you are struggling to progress in a current piece and your issue is not doing the writing but knowing what to write you may still find this useful. Hopefully inspiring yourself with a feeling of motivation should help you work through any issues.

Music can also be used in the creative process itself. The amazing thing about music is its ability to express emotion and there is no reason this can not be tapped into for the creative process.

If you are writing a particularly emotional scene about the death of a character listening to music that portrays this will allow you to get in the appropriate mindset. You probably won't be able listen to the song while writing the scene without distraction but taking a few minutes to listen to an appropriate song beforehand could be helpful to the creative process and it allows you to fantasise about the soundtrack for when your book is turned into a film.

The only problem all this is of course is its potential to be a hindrance rather than a help. If you spend half your writing time scouring the Internet for appropriate songs for an argument scene then it is defeating the object. Always remember: do not get distracted by your tools, they are there merely for you to get the job done! But, to make life easier and procrastination less likely over the next few weeks I will be posting songs appropriate for various scenes or emotions.

Do not neglect the numerous tools we have available to us to inspire us as writers. Iain Banks stated in an interview with Jools Holland several years ago that he listens to music when writing. It is about whatever works, but remember, whether it's music, books or films that inspire you it should only ever be that, inspiration is good, copyright breach, which can be done unintentionally, is very bad. So always be careful that you are not 'overly inspired'.

Happy Writing



Monday, 11 January 2010

Writing Aims for 2010

Now eleven days into the New Year most of us will, by now, have broken our overly optimistic New Year resolutions. With that out of your system, now is therefore a good time to be making serious writing commitments and aims. Not just an ill-thought ambition on the whim of it being the 1st of January, but an actual plan as to what you want to achieve this year.

To evaluate what you want to be aiming for you first must establish what it is you have already achieved, reasonable enough when you think about it. Think back to this time last year and what you were hoping to achieve in 2009, try not to let knowledge about what you did do influence this. It may be that in January 2009 you never actually put any aims in place but chances are you had a round about idea regarding what you wanted to achieve in the year.

Secondly, make a list of what it was you did achieve in 2009. Have a think through all publications you have had, stories/poems/articles you have completed, new groups you have become a part of and improvements to your writing itself. Spend a good amount of time on this, there are often achievements that we easily forget like keeping a regular blog.

Once you have made your list compare it to what you had hoped to achieve. Did you achieve more or less or about the same? Think about why this is. If you have not achieved everything you had hoped were your goals too high or did you not commit to them enough? If you have achieved more than you aimed congratulate yourself, did you work hard to achieve this?

At this point you will be ready to put in place some firm writing aims for 2010. Think about what you did well in and how you could do better, do you need to better schedule your writing sessions? Be realistic about what you can achieve but push yourself too. If you got two articles published in 2009 then aim for four this year.

Finally, make sure you write down your 2010 writing aims and at the start of each month glance through it, if you do this you will be more likely to achieve them. It also means you can keep updating your list throughout the year, if for example you are completing your aims quicker than expected you will be able to add more so you always have something to work towards.

Do keep a copy of your original list and then, with any luck, you can go over it this time next year and be able to say you achieved them all.

Happy Writing