A Prompt A Day…..


A couple of months back I had the chance to see Ros Barber talk about her new book, The Marlowe Papers and hear her read some of her poetry. Wow! :o)

Ros runs a website with fellow writer Kate Marillat called Be The Writer You Dream Of Being and together they run writing courses and do talks. I can highly recommend it πŸ™‚

So when Kate requested that readers submit articles, I jumped at the chance (you know me, I do like to waffle on about writing stuff lol).

Head on over to Ros & Kate’s website to read my article, A Prompt A Day Keeps Writers Block Away where I talk about my experience of using writing prompts.

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Please leave a comment. Oh, and let me know what you thought of the article? πŸ™‚

The Secret to Generating New Ideas is Streetcombing


An e mail recently from Daring to Live Fully had me jumping up and down! Ok, not literally but you get the gist πŸ˜‰

The post talks about “Streetcombing” a system created/developed by Richard Stomp which is based on beach combing. Remember beach combing? You must have done that when you were a kid, hell, I still do it now! πŸ˜‰

Anyway, it’s aimed at the business world, but in my opinion, it works very well for us writers. But I’m afraid you will need to actually go out. That’s right, leave your desk! Yeah, I see ya, looking out of the window and shivering (well, thats you and me both here in the UK!). I wish I’d stumbled across this in the summer, sorry about that, but, if I’m game, I hope you are πŸ™‚

So once you’ve put your jumper on, got your brolley, get your camera and we’ll begin πŸ™‚

1. Go for a walk. Find an interesting street, preferably one with shops on.

2. Watch for anything that catches your eye. Have the mind of a child, be curious in everything.

3. Take photos of things you find interesting. Take lots of photos. Don’t ask yourself why you’re attracted to taking the photo of that old milk crate, not yet.

4. Go home, have a nice warm drink and upload your photos to your PC.

5. Look through the photos and ask yourself the following questions of each one:
What is the concept behind this photo?
Why did I take it?
What makes it interesting?

6. Take the concept you found and use it to start generating ideas, orrrrr for us writers, use the photo itself to generate a story/character idea.

If you’re not too sure what Mr Stomp means about concept, watch this video. It’s only 7 minutes long. I found the sound to be very quiet so you might have to max your volume.

Mr Stomp suggests you do this once a week, but I’m thinking once a month would be better for me πŸ™‚

Right at the end Mr Stomp says that the idea could be adapted into “Museumcombing” or “Supermarketcombing” etc. I’m just loving those ideas, the possibilities are endless!

So I will be Streetcombing at some stage when this rain stops (and after Nano lol) How about you? Fancy it?

The Long & The Short Of It – How Learning My Craft Has Changed My Life


Today, I’m guesting over at Sue Howe’s blog The Long and The Short Of It πŸ™‚

Sue asked me if I could do an article about writing workshops, classes and residential schools. I’m trying to convince her to come along to Swanwick you see πŸ˜‰

So here’s the start of the article…..to read more you’ll have to nip over to Sue’s gaff πŸ™‚

A huge thank you to Sue for inviting me onto her Blog today….I don’t think she realised that when I’m enthusiastic about something, I can ramble for hours!

So Sue’s asked me to convince her of the merits of creative writing courses, classes and workshops. I’m hoping that by the time she reads this she’ll be enrolling on everything she comes across!

My first experience of “creative writing” was a baptism of fire. I decided (through madness or stupidity, I still don’t know which) to accompany a friend to a course at our local Adult Education centre. I hadn’t written any fiction since leaving school (many, ahem, years ago) although I had been journal writing for several years. That was exactly 2 years ago this month, and it was one of the best decisions of my life! I’ll be honest; the course itself was a little boring. I found myself nodding off in several sessions! But somehow, through all the yawning something clicked. Something happened to me during that short course, and it’s been driving me on ever since.

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Please pop over to Sues blog to read the rest of the article, and leave a comment. Tell her Sue, you have to go to Swanwick next year! πŸ˜‰ Actually, thinking about it, you all have to come! πŸ˜‰

My Writers Block – I Love It!


I’ve found it, I’ve found it!

Ok, I guess I better explain πŸ˜‰

Do any of you remember my post back in May about Writers Block ? Well, the interesting thing about that post was where Laurie commented about her “writers block” πŸ™‚

I fell in love with this idea, and ever since I’ve had an eye out for something similar.

On my recent trip to Hay on Wye, I walked into a shop and there it was! A large piece of Welsh slate engraved with letters of the alphabet. The artist is Caitriona Cartwright who is a trained stone mason.

So I am now the proud owner of a “writers block” my “writers block” and it now sits with pride of place on my desk πŸ™‚

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I chose this particular design because I liked the way the letters looked like they were about to fall off the cube. It reminds me of how my mind feels sometimes lol. I have been picking it up and turning it over and over every time I need to think. It’s already become one of my favourite things πŸ™‚

Is there anything you like to have around you when you write?

Writers Block…..My Top Tips


*shudders*

It’s a pain isn’t it?

The nightmare situation for most writers….a blank page (or computer screen) and your mind, desperately searching for the words that just won’t come *gulp* 😦

The lovely Andy Szpuk wrote this poem which, to me, sums it up very nicely πŸ™‚

You sit there looking at the page
The page stares blankly back at you
You’re locked in a wordless cage
You sit there looking at the page
So glad you’re not up on stage
With your heart and soul all askew
You sit there looking at the page
The page stares blankly back at you

“Locked in a wordless cage” is the line that really made me think, the connection between being blocked and being inspired, is freedom. Ok, now bear with me on this lol.

Inspiration isn’t going to fall into your lap, it doesn’t just magically show up the minute you sit down to write (ok, perhaps it does for some people lol). Most of the time, you have to find it…..and that’s why I’m a big believer in always carrying a notebook πŸ˜‰

As writers, most of us don’t bother to nourish our muses with experience. So, for me, when the words just won’t come, I try to come up with things that will excite my muse πŸ˜‰ we need to give him/her the freedom to experience new things, great things, small things πŸ™‚

Here are my top 10 things to do to free my muse from that cage:

1. Go to a cafe or park and people watch. Take your notebook, write down snippets of conversations and free write.

2. Go to an art gallery (most of them here in the UK are free). Immerse yourself in visual stimulation.

3. Sit on a beach and stare out to sea (one of my favourites….I love beaches πŸ™‚

4. Make soup! Lol…..can’t cook? Yes you can, don’t tell porkies πŸ˜‰ Making soup is so therapeutic, all that chopping lol

5. Listen to music, read, or watch a film, depending on your preference. All can be really inspiring, and relaxing, coz lets face it, being blocked is stressful 😦

6. Go for a walk. I must confess, I’m not a huge fan of exercise, but, I love walking down a street and looking at people’s houses, imagining who lives behind each door and what their lives are like.

7. Do something arty. Paint, draw, do some colouring, or make something out of modelling clay.

8. Go notebook shopping. Always fun IMO and a great purpose to boot!

9. Do some gardening. Ok, so you haven’t got a garden….but I bet you have a windowsill that could do with a few pot plants or herbs?

10. Tidy your desk/work area….ORGANISE even if that means you have to invest in a couple of pretty folders or brightly coloured plastic wallets (ooooo, another excuse to visit a stationery shop! Lol).

And my top top tip …….wherever you go, and what ever you do….take a camera!!!!! (or mobile phone lol). Any photos you can take can be used as prompts πŸ™‚

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What do you do to excite and stimulate your muse?

Because We All Need Ideas


I’ve been a huge fan of Linda Lewis since I met her and attended a workshop she ran at Swanwick last year. She’s a talented writer of fiction, writes a column for Writers Forum magazine, is entertaining as a tutor and on top of all that, she’s a lovely lady πŸ™‚

So I was thrilled to discover she was publishing another writing guide.

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I love this book. It’s the type of writing guide you will return to again and again and again. You will never have an excuse for having writers block with this one on your desk πŸ˜‰

But don’t just take my word for it…..there’s an excellent interview with Linda here, at Female First and even more recommendations over at the Womag Blog.

The blurb on the back says:
This book aims to answer the BIG question. Where do writers get their ideas? Ideas are tricky things. They’re ephemeral. You can’t see them, or take hold of them. They’re also invisible, but like radio waves, they’re everywhere.

The truth is that ideas rain down on us, mostly when we aren’t expecting them. The problem that most people face is that they have very big umbrellas. Ideas simply bounce off them, without being noticed. So if you need to capture them, then this book is for you. It’s an insight into the ways and means, some simple, some straightforward, and others, downright devious, that writers use to generate ideas.

So if you often find yourself stuck for ideas I highly recommend you get this one….trust me, you won’t be disappointed πŸ™‚

Have you got a favourite writing book/guide? One you find yourself always going back to? Would love to hear your recommendations….not sure my husband would agree, because I have a nasty feeling my Amazon Wishlist will be affected lol

Insecure Writers Day, Or Help, Somebody Kick Me


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Today is Insecure Writers day (see the tab at the top for more info). A day where members spill their guts on their writing fears, concerns, worries, and hopefully receive sympathy from the other members.

So how am I feeling about my writing at the moment? Pretty shit to be honest lol. I’m really struggling with motivation and I don’t know why lol. I need a boost πŸ˜‰

My out there’s have dropped considerably (down to about 10 now) and although I was Long Listed in the Flash500 Competition (my entry was titled “Ashes”) it wasn’t really enough to give me that kick up the arse I seem to need right now. So what will it take?

I need to be more organised, I know that, and I’m fed up writing at my dining room table. The room is so cluttered now, I can’t get to my books, can’t easily access my notebooks and have to keep moving my piles when we have dinner *deep sigh* I know, logically, there’s nothing I can do about it, but I feel pretty sulky and low about the whole situation *pouts*

I’m not suffering from writers block, far from it! I have ideas coming out of my ears, what I don’t have is the motivation to sit down and write….I potter, tidy up, sort the washing, shop for food, cook (occasionally lol), blog, check e mails and FaceBook and then watch a film lol.

I know I am so lucky to have the time to write, that I don’t really have any commitments, and that my husband is very supportive, so what’s my problem right?

Am I in a writing slump? anyone have any suggestions on how to fire me up? πŸ˜‰

Image Prompts


Being the visually inspired person that I am, I like to take photos, especially ones that can inspire me to write. The great thing about taking pictures to use in your writing is that, like the idea day, you can have a photo day.

I’ve been taking pictures for years (have over 6,000 on Flickr) and now, what with the iPhone365 project, I’m taking at least 1 photo a day. It wasn’t until I read Leslie Thomson’s A Kind Of Vanishing, where she talks about using photography (in the back of the book) in her stories, that I suddenly made the connection.

So here are a few photo’s that I think could inspire stories……

20120323-082556.jpg This is a pic of my grandparents back in the 1920’s.

20120323-082646.jpg Yes, that really is my foot lol.

20120323-082721.jpg My daughters two friends a few years ago.

20120323-082754.jpgGreenwich Maritime Museum.

20120323-082833.jpg The Orient Express (hubby’s 40th birthday treat).

Ooooo, the ideas are flowing lol. Now do you see why I never suffer from writers block? Lmao!!! And you’ll probably understand why I suffer from insomnia πŸ˜‰

do you ever use photos/pictures to prompt stories? Successfully?

I managed Thursdays prompt about midnight, which turned into a story about a guy who leaves his wife and kids (mid life crisis) only to end up the envy of all his middle aged friends, but desperately miserable. Yesterdays prompt was swimming against the tide which I also turned into a mid life crisis story. This time, a 45 year old Dr who falls for a sickly 19 year old pregnant girl. Hmmmm, not sure where that’s going lol. Today’s prompt is write about an ending. Oh gawd, it’s all doom and gloom at the moment πŸ˜‰

Fishing…For Ideas


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You can’t force an idea can you. William Stafford once said that the creative process is like fishing. You cast a line and then sit patiently, waiting for a nibble. You have to be still and quiet because if you make too much noise the fish won’t bite. With time and experience, you learn the right moment to land that baby.

That kinda goes against what we want as writers. We want results and now. We want proof we are making progress and being productive. We want finished pieces and strive for each one to be better than the last.

So what if, we took one day…..Just one day a month as an Ideas Day? To go fishing, metaphorically rather than actual in my case πŸ˜‰ No actual writing, but you’re allowed to write ideas in a note book.

If you could have one day a month as an ideas day, what would you do?

Me? I’d spend the day at an art gallery or sit on the sofa watching old black and white films all day πŸ™‚

Ahhhhh….. Peter Jones would be so proud of me!

I don’t often suffer from writers block, I have too much whizzing round in my head, what with the daily prompts πŸ˜‰

But…..if you ever find yourself staring at a blank page, try the 7 Minute Story technique by the Limebird Writers Blog. Brilliant πŸ™‚

I spent most of yesterday editing 2 stories. I want to send one off to a competition and the other to a magazine. I also spent an hour or so on Title Ideas (post on that tomorrow).

Yesterday’s prompt was about being lonely, so I came up with a story about a woman who has everything apart from one thing…..love…..sounds like that Beatles song lol. Today’s prompt is write about sinking. Gawd, this is all very depressing isn’t it lol.

The Writers Notebook


When I attended the first lesson of a local Creative Writing Class (run by Philip Kane) he told us to create a Writers Notebook. Looking back, it was the best piece of advice I’ve had over the course of the last 15 months. Since then I have managed to fill 8 notepads…..the medium Moleskin size.

When I started the OCA course, they advised the same, but also suggested I have a “commonplace” book. A book to contain all the visual material that catches your eye. Hmmmm, now call me a rebel, but I decided to ignore that and just use the one book for everything, which is what I do πŸ™‚

My notebook and I are inseparable πŸ˜‰ It’s the equivalent of an artists sketchbook, a place to store ideas, observations, practice skills, jot down information, review books and films, and keep cuttings that interest me. I also have a folder for larger cuttings that won’t fit in the book. I use it to make notes on my course, words and ideas that I need to research, examples of writing that I love (inc poetry and inspirational quotes) and writing prompts should writers block ever strike, which, I have to say, it never has lol…..sorry, but it hasn’t, and I put that down to my notebooks. Not a day goes by that I don’t write something in it πŸ™‚

As I said before, I’m a visual person as well as a word person, so I was thrilled when I read Lesley Thomson’s A Kind Of Vanishing, to see that in the back of the book was a whole section where Lesley explained her inspiration and the connection between her writing and her photography. I take a lot of pictures and it suddenly dawned on me that I could use my own pictures to inspire stories and characters. So now, I do that too πŸ™‚

I use art to inspire title ideas and have at least 2 lists of character names in each notepad. Even when I’m watching TV I’m taking notes….. The Jeremy Kyle Show has suddenly become very interesting πŸ˜‰