Daily Archives: October 27, 2013

INKSPILL – Surprise Bonus

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SUNDAY 27th October – DAY 3


My greatest fear when creating this retreat weekend was;
Not having enough events/ articles to post for 3 days.
Due to late starts on Friday, we have plenty of material left to extend over Monday 28th October.
If you are back to work check them out on your lunchbreak or when you get home.

Enjoy your bonus day!

INKSPILL – Judging – Techniques and Ideas

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SUNDAY 27th October – DAY 3

AWF Privacy Judging yourself – Techniques and ideas.

This post is not necessarily about writing as a deeper searching activity. The whole idea of INKSPELL came from a wonder women weekend event that I cannot afford to attend.

You may find this an interesting activity – you could even apply it to characters in your writing – it will open your ideas up.


Make a list of some of the judgments you have about yourself, life, and other people.

Pick ones that you really believe.

Now read through your list several times and notice the sense you have of yourself as you do this.

Does holding these judgments give you a sense of yourself as someone in particular, someone who has a very definite perspective on life?

Do you feel more connected with others and with the world, or do you feel more separate and apart from the world?

Even if that separate sense of self feels superior because it has the right judgments, how big or open and relaxed is your sense of self when you have these judgments?

A list of questions from ‘Living from the Heart’

Living from the Heart

Copyright © 2008 by Daniel Erway (aka Nirmala)



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INKSPILL – Getting Organised

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SUNDAY 27th October – DAY 3


awf suitcaseGetting Organised

It isn’t just the writing schedule that needs to be organised, nor the writing day, it is true what they say about clutter, a messy workspace clutters the mind. Now I would argue that the artistic creative natures we have been blessed with lead to a certain amount of clutter and colour and that most of us would be driven completely insane with a clear desk or workspace. However, for full productivity the potential for balance is something that could have positive results.

So be brave and read on.

motivation start

1) Create the Space

Now I know we all dream of a writing room, an office or study of our own and some are lucky enough to have a designated space even. Some of you will read that sentence in shame and think of how the laptop perches on the breakfast bar, or of yourselves typing away in bed (I have already admitted to this) and I am not alone, I have read interviews with several published/ professional/ famous writers who swear by a good mattress as their foundation for creativity.

Maybe you are happy hot-desking around your house from bed to sofa to garden, or kitchen stool. I am for now, as I know we have a lot of work to do on the house before I can even enter the room where my designated writing space is planned.

If you are a hot-desk percher you could still benefit from reading this session, so be shameless and guilt free.

motivate work

The Search for Space

Have you got some un-used space? Under the stairs, or a large hallway or landing with wasted space, the far end of the dining room table… or even a corner of the shed (as long as it’s water-tight and you don’t mind spiders!)?

It is quite important to have a space you go to write (the ritual will help train your mind) one of the good things about a designated area is you can keep all your writing paraphernalia together in one place. (My four drawer unit yet to be built with have a drawer for research materials, including writing articles and current literature I may be using, a draw for my notebooks and own handwritten work – also housing the stationary and memory stick, another drawer will have all my writing related books and the final drawer will house the files of publishers/ editors and AOB that finds itself part of my writing life.)

motivation doing

There is Nowhere

If you have nowhere at all buy a small plastic box with a lid or a briefcase, bag or satchel and fill it with ALL your writing materials. You will then have everything you need organised and in one place in a container or carrier you can easily move around your living space. This will create more time to write because you won’t be wandering around trying to find all your bits and pieces first.

2) You will have heard this before … Remove ALL Distractions

One of the most common complaints from freelance worker’s is there is no respect for the fact that you are actually ‘at work’. If we could I am sure we would all unplug the phone and the internet, take the battery out of the doorbell, unscrew the letter box and the knocker and hang a large banner saying something like;

It’s not the dog you need to beware of if you interrupt me. Come back Saturday, Writer at WORK!

Or perhaps a more succinct message!


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So here are more realistic tips;

1) Work offline

We have wifi but I am lucky enough to have a laptop that doesn’t recognise the network, so I have an OFFLINE machine. If you can try to work offline – it just takes a flick of a switch or the perseverance not to minimise the screen and hit the e icon. Come on YOU CAN DO IT!


2) Keep the TV switched off

– cover it with a tablecloth if you have to (gone are the days when a tea towel was big enough).

Do not be distracted by the TV – now we live in a wonderful age because now many of us have TV’s that record and we can reschedule our viewing rather than our lives.

In addition you will find many digital channels repeat there programming and you can often just look this up on the planner.

It is important to have down time and some television can inspire us, after all it has all been written but the phrase ‘time and place’ springs to mind.

How many other jobs have you had where you can just shirk off and watch TV?


3) Hide your book

If you are mid-way through reading a novel, place it somewhere away from your writing. Too often you will kid yourself by thinking, all good writers read, we know this, I am being good, I am reading.

You are supposed to be W R I T I N G!

I place my book on the mantle piece in the morning, there is a mirror so if I am tempted I will be confronted with the guilty look on my face (and hopefully decide against it), if I am lost in a particularly amazing book I schedule break times alongside 20 or 30 minutes reading. It can work as a good technique to get you writing quicker.

Set an alarm though and BE disciplined. Stop at the end of the sentence. Not the paragraph, page or chapter.


4) Keep out of the kitchen!

The peril of the hungry, caffine starved writer. Two ways around this, well three.

1) make sure you schedule in actual break times, set an alarm and depending on where you are with the writing set a 10 minute reminder so you can leave it at a good point to get back into it, leave yourself a prompt note for how to start writing again after your break and MOVE OUT of the writing area (god forbid you spill on the laptop/ipad/ word processor)! It is more than that it is an important signal to your brain about switching activity.

2) If you are a hungry picker kind of person have a snack tray near your writing area. I tend to buy those healthy (low cal) packs of 2 or 3 biscuits and easy, non-dripping fruit like grapes, blueberries (although wary of stains), bananas. I usually don’t write for longer than an hour or an hour and a half without a break away from the screen and to be honest in day jobs we often go for hours between feeds. I don’t always pile food temptations in front of me but it is better than getting up and wasting time in the kitchen. Just keep a banana handy and a bottle of water (with the lid on) and you will be fine.

3) Caffine however is something I cannot write without. I invested in a polar cup so that is about half a litre of coffee and I needn’t drink it all in one sitting as the lid keeps the temperature hot enough – this is my equivalent to a coffee house serving, as the nearest ones are in town and away from my writing area it is a good compromise.

Some writers may even buy a screen to keep them focused on their screen.

So let us know, how do you organise your writing space and what do you do to remove distractions? Share your tips in the comments box.


INKSPILL – Freewrite

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SUNDAY 27th October – DAY 3

AWF free write Free write activity prompt



Write about a birthday (party)


Post your writing here or link to your site from the comments box

INKSPILL – Editing and Writing

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SUNDAY 27th October – DAY 3


AWF Edit Time to work on your own writing projects.



Edit Spend any writing time on your own projects – let us know how you get on.

INKSPILL – A Matter of Design – Creating a Writing Space

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SUNDAY 27th October – DAY 3

– A Matter of Design – Creating a Writing Space


A Matter of Design

Clearing space and getting Organised to allow Creative Flow.


You may have heard of the old saying – a tidy house, a tidy mind… your writing area is no different.

Personally I have a very small desk on which sits a very old PC, and it is all in the wrong room.

I have a set of 4 drawers to house all current writing projects – still flat packed in their box, they have being waiting in Mr G’s old flat for building for at least a year now.

I have a laptop and memory stick and a bed or a sofa and these are what I use. I dream of sorting out the house and my WRITING SPACE and I know one day this will be done, but for now I can still get creative in my special writing space – the bed – spread out with all my notebooks and resources or on the sofa with access to the internet. (The signal is stronger down there.)

You may be luckier, you may have a better space.


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My Writing Space

I have two writing stances, the upright and horizontal.

The upright tends to happen downstairs. Sitting in my armchair or on the sofa, typing away. Usually with access to the internet and plenty of distractions, like the kettle and the TV (both are usually switched off!)

The horizontal is upstairs, sprawled out across the bed with all my notebooks and ideas, close to my phone but not connected to the internet. Lots of pillows give me the option of sitting upright and stretch my legs out. It is always comfortable and warm and therefore a favourite come the winter. I work on my lap.

No distractions. I just have to be wary of slipping down completely horizontally and falling asleep.

Neither the bedroom nor the lounge have yet been decorated so they are both good spaces in as far as they may as well be an office or belong to someone else. My trinkets and possessions are not yet displayed in a difficult to concentrate manner!

If these rooms were mine, I would describe them, but they are not so it won’t reveal anything about me.

Both rooms have good natural light.

When the house is done, I will have my writing space, computer desk and four drawer unit in the 2nd bedroom office /guest room. It has even better light and creative atmosphere.


Write a blog post describing your writing space and share a link with us below.


INKSPILL – INKWELL Session 2 – Show Don’t Tell

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SUNDAY 27th October – DAY 3

AWF circle Inkwell 2 – Show Don’t Tell – your questions answered. Research, polls and questions posted on the blog in the summer.

Welcome to the second INKWELL session.

inkspill crit.

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The 2nd of our sessions is about that old adage SHOW DON’T TELL…

Let’s break it apart.

Showing allows the reader to follow the author into the moment, to see and feel and experience what the author has experienced. Using the proper balance of showing and telling will make your writing more interesting and effective.

You may understand, but be at a loss at HOW to do it.

These tips are from Erin at ‘Daily Writing Tips’ I have edited them slightly as she teaches college students and makes reference to this.

1. Use dialogue

Dialogue allows the reader to experience a scene as if they were there. Instead of telling the reader your mom was angry, they can hear it for themselves:

“Justin Michael,” mom bellowed, “Get in here this instant!”

Dialogue can give your reader a great deal about character, emotion and mood.

2. Use sensory language

In order for readers to fully experience what you’re writing about, they need to be able to see, hear, taste, smell and touch the world around them. Try to use language that incorporates several senses, not just sight.

3. Be descriptive

I’m sure everyone remembers learning to use adjectives and adverbs in school. When we’re told to be more descriptive, it’s easy to go back to those things that we were taught. But being descriptive is more than just inserting a string of descriptive words. It’s carefully choosing the right words and using them sparingly to convey your meaning.

The following example is from a short story I wrote.


: He sits on the couch holding his guitar.

There’s nothing wrong with that sentence. It gives the reader some basic information, but it doesn’t create an image. Compare that sentence with this:


: His eyes are closed, and he’s cradling the guitar in his arms like a lover. It’s as if he’s trying to hold on to something that wants to let go.

The second example takes that basic information and paints a picture with it. It also uses figurative language—in this case, the simile “cradling the guitar in his arms like a lover”—to help create an image.

When using description, it’s important not to overdo it. Otherwise, you can end up with what I call “police blotter” description. For example:

He was tall, with brown hair and blue eyes. He wore a red shirt and jeans, and a brown leather jacket.

4. Be specific, not vague

Don’t use vague, fuzzy language. “I had never felt anything like it before in my entire life,” take the time to try and describe what that feeling was, and then decide how best to convey that feeling to the reader. Your readers will thank you for it.


AWF circle

Many articles I have read over the past year of my writing journey warn against over-using adverbs and keeping descriptions tight. It amuses me because it is the opposite of how we teach writing to children. But too many wordy, thesaurus filled, adverb heavy paragraphs will highlight amateur writer and will be slush piled by editors.

Additional links and articles-



INKSPILL – Are You A Writer? Quiz

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SUNDAY 27th October – DAY 3

Every good retreat has an element of fun – here is ours.

Whilst researching historical fiction and research for the INKWELL session yesterday, INKWELL

I discovered Caro Clarke. On the website there are many writing resources, including this quiz.


Thank you Caro for permission to use this quiz as part of the INKSPILL retreat.




Are you a writer? Take the quiz

Most famous writers claim that they always knew they would be a writer when they grew up. Despite set-backs and struggle, they had confidence in their own innate talent and creative instincts.

But not all writers have that rock-solid confidence (or, as it’s known in the writing business, ‘arrogance’). How do you know if you’re truly cut out for the life of a novelist or if you’re actually some sad wannabe who’s pitied by friends and family?

Just take the Clarke Patented “Am I Really a Writer?” multiple-choice test below and find out once and for all if you’ve got what it takes!


(Asking your writing group, tutor, or best friend to help you fill out this test is cheating. So is asking a writer to do it for you, such as Margaret Atwood.)

A. I think I’m a writer because:

1. I enjoy writing

2. I enjoy reading

3. I enjoy typing

4. I enjoy knowing that I am a creative being


B. I tend to get my ideas from:

1. the world around me

2. the fantasies within me

3. the TV in front of me

4. the concept of “idea” is so, you know, anal retentive


C. I try to write:

1. one sustained period a day

2. one sustained period whenever inspiration strikes me

3. you mean I actually have to write something all the time?

4. only when it won’t violate my imaginative flow


D. I believe that adjectives and adverbs:

1. should be used sparingly

2. should be used vigorously, fulsomely, and without stint

3. are what, exactly?

4. are pathetic attempts to limit my creative energy


E. I structure my novel-in-progress by:

1. writing to a prepared plot outline or a driving story arc

2. writing whatever comes into my head from moment to moment

3. writing that cool idea I came across somewhere else today

4. how mundane actually to have a “novel-in-progress”; I have a concept


F. I achieve the self-discipline to write by:

1. forcing myself to work whether I’m in the mood or not

2. letting guilt finally force me to do something, anything

3. jotting down half a page now and again and rewarding myself with ice cream

4. self-discipline is the enemy of creativity


G. I deal with difficult, blocked or ‘dry’ periods by:

1. working on something else to retain good writing habits

2. panicking and bingeing

3. wondering if I shouldn’t take up decoy carving instead

4. only real writers are really blocked


H. I strive to make my work:

1. as good as it can be by rewriting and polishing

2. as good as that first true inspiration will allow it to be

3. as unembarrassing as I can before going to my writing group – they’re  really mean

4. as unintrusive in my creative life as possible


I. I approach the task of finding an agent or publisher by:

1. researching the market thoroughly and learning how to make a professional submission

2. sending my manuscript and a very nice letter to my writing tutor’s publisher

3. sending my manuscript to the publishers of the latest best-seller

4. they’ll be knocking on my door begging me for my manuscript


J. I accept rejection slips:

1. with a pang, then move to the next submission

2. with a little sigh: I secretly knew it was no good

3. with a howl of unbelieving rage: ignorant jackasses, don’t they know true talent when they see it…

4. I’m too sensitive to put myself through such a negative experience


K. I see myself in the future:

1. finding satisfaction in writing novels my readers enjoy

2. becoming a rich and famous best-seller and appearing on TV

3. winning the Pulitzer, the Booker, and the Nobel Prize for Literature

4. being the most famous person on the planet. Hey, in the universe!


L. I want to write because:

1. I have characters and stories bursting to come to life

2. I like the idea of having a book published

3. I like the idea of being a writer

4. I didn’t say I wanted to write, just that I know I’m a writer,  and this is a dumb test, anyway


inkspill questions

How to score this test:

Count up the numbers of the answers you have selected.

If you have a total of:

12-16: You seem to have what it takes. I’ll see you in print one day.

17-25: Time to get serious. Take one giant step towards a professional attitude.

26-35: What a dweeb. Quit dreaming and get a life.

36-48: Jerk extraordinaire! Out of my sight, thou posturing ninny!


Having taken the Clarke’s Patented “Am I Really a Writer?” Test, you now know if you are a real writer or not. If you are, congratulations! If you aren’t, contact me for some useful websites on needlework, photography or windsurfing.

But seriously, folks: the basic test of whether someone is a real writer or not is if they really write. There’s no magic to it. Either you write or you don’t. It’s that simple.

Copyright Caro Clarke – http://www.caroclarke.com

It pains me to have to say this, but this article is meant to be funny (although it’s a real test and will tell you the truth). I have had indignant responses from those who took it deadly seriously. I fear for those people in this harsh world. I mean, geez.


INKSPILL – Writing Everyday – Early Morning Freewrite

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SUNDAY 27th October – DAY 3


ticket1Ideas for writing everyday. (Participation for the 3 mornings of INKSPILL)

Hopefully this morning you have already completed a free write of 5, 10 or 15 minutes, if you haven’t taken part in Inkspill yet, follow the link.

Writing Everyday


Ideas for Writing Everyday

This is something I want you to do everyday before you log into Inkspill.

You may find it beneficial to continue this practise after the retreat, maybe for a week, or a fortnight, month or more. Early morning journaling is not a new idea and some of you may already do this.

This writing is JUST FOR YOU. You needn’t share any writing from journaling activities unless you want to. If you cant manage to do it first thing, do it in the first available moments you can snatch in the morning before you log onto the day’s programme.


The morning free write is all about finding the beginning of your voice.

Remember don’t aim for brilliance… aim for free – it is amazing what writes out of your mind.

A link that explain more about this technique.



INKSPILL – Good Morning and Welcome to Day 3

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SUNDAY 27th October – DAY 3


Good morning and welcome to the final day* of INKSPILL. It may look like we have had very few participants, the site stats tell me otherwise. BIG thank you to all participants, especially the active ones ‘LIKING’ and posting and linking their own thoughts, words and questions.

inkspill coffee

Today we have lots of events, the programme has changed a little which is why I am planning to *post an extra morning of INKSPILL this Monday.

Grab a coffee and ENJOY!