Daily Archives: October 25, 2014

INKSPILL 2014 – Morning Activity – Pens at the ready!



awf-2014  It has been well documented that writing on waking, first thing in the morning, whilst your brain is still somewhere between sleep and the new day can produce great results and uncover words which would otherwise never have been written.


I want you to make a commitment RIGHT NOW that tomorrow morning you will start the day with your notebook and pen (it is best to go ‘old school’ and avoid more techno versions), you needn’t even get out of bed! Write for 5 minutes or 10 if you can manage – a stream of consciousness that may not even make sense (don’t worry) keep the pen moving (this is why it’s best to ditch the gadgets)! Let your mind and hand be open.



pencil paper freestock 1) Think of a dream, it can be one you have dreamt or something made up. Make a note.

2) Add a description of your dream/character into this statement;

You had that dream again. The one where ___________________________________ stares you down from your window. Except the windows open this time—and you’re awake! What happens next?

Example: You had that dream again. The one where the beast with the drooping hands and wicked fangs stares you down from your window. Except the windows open this time—and you’re awake! What happens next?

3) Free write for a while, then decide if you want to polish, edit redraft or stick with the original flow of thoughts.


Aim for about 500 words.

Finally share LINKS here to where you have posted – or copy & paste  your writing into a reply on this post.



INKSPILL – Meet Our Guest Writers


This year I am delighted to announce that I asked three writers to come on board for INKSPILL 2014 – all three agreed. The 1st lesson to learn is

ASK – you will never know until you do!

awf-2014 William Gallagher, Charlie Jordan and Heather Wastie have generously given their time to write articles for this  year’s writing retreat. All of them have exceptionally busy schedules and I am grateful that they added INKSPILL to their list of projects this Autumn.

Once again a BIG THANK YOU to all three of you – it has been fun!


I first met William Gallagher just over a year ago, at the Book to the Future Festival 2013, Birmingham University. He was giving a talk about his book ‘The Blank Screen’, all about productivity, some great writer tips including a great idea about email… (you will have to buy the book)!

I knew Charlie Jordan by name, as she was Birmingham’s Poet Laureate. I saw her a few times last year at the Birmingham Literature Festival and finally met her properly after William’s talk at the University. Charlie and I both performed poetry at Phenomenal Women an event organised by Jan Watts for Book to the Future Festival 2013.

I met Heather Wastie at the very start of  Poetry journey back in September 2013, we met at a book launch for Be[yond] by Sarah James. Heather Wastie performs poetry regularly as well as hosting the great Open Mic Night ‘Mouth & Music’ which I first went to last December. Heather and I performed at Phenomenal Women last week as part of the Book to the Future Festival 2014.


Let me introduce you!



William Gallagher is a writer, dramatist and lecturer. He writes Doctor Who audio dramas, stage plays and has an extensive British journalism experience. He’s also the author of the British Film Institute book BFI TV Classics: The Beiderbecke Affair, B7 Media’s Blake’s 7: The Ultimate Guide and co-author of Radio Times Cover Story. His work has appeared regularly in Radio Times magazine and BBC News Online plus The Independent, the Los Angeles Times and on BBC local and national radio.

William’s hit book The Blank Screen: Creative Productivity for Writers and Normal People Too has become a UK-wide workshop in literary festivals, companies, universities and colleges. It’s also now a busy news site at williamgallagher.com with half a million words in its first few months. 

He’s won awards for his stage drama and his photography has been published in international jewellery books. William is also a performer on the spoken-word cabaret circuit in Birmingham and teaches writing in schools. He’s taught in prisons and also in universities where he’s lectured to both students and professors. He once had afternoon tea on a Russian nuclear submarine and regrets calling the place a dive.

©2014 Lee Allen Photography

©2014 Lee Allen Photography

“Love this book, it is clever and witty and genuinely grapples with making an extra hour (or two) in the day. Inspiring and liberating. A real Can-Do manual. No creative should be without it.”

Blank screen William G
– Barbara Machin, creator of Waking the Dead
Paperback and Kindle now on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1dO1nue




charlie jordan

Charlie Jordan wore glasses by the age of 3, learned to read before she could speak and hasn’t stopped doing either since. Although she discovered contact lenses at 14, and boys not long afterwards, which distracted her from words for a bit….. 20 years as a radio presenter is in a way a career in spoken word!

She stumbled upon poetry and writing by accident in 2006 when replying to an email about a short writing course. Gobsmacked to become Birmingham Poet Laureate in 2007, while still a complete beginner in poetry, she has since spent time as Poet in Residence at WBA football club, written and performed a solo show ‘Buddhism & Ben and Jerrys’, gigged at The Big Chill festival, Manchester & Worcester Literary Festivals, and with Decadent Divas, rocked the Ledbury Poetry Festival in 2013 and was v. impressed with the backstage cake!


Published in anthologies Split Screen & Bugged.





Heather Wastie wordsmith, humourist, musician & actor Heather Wastie headshot

Heather is an eclectic polymath whose work does not fit easily into boxes! She is a poet, songwriter, oral historian and performer, and runs monthly spoken word and music night, Mouth and Music in Kidderminster with poet Sarah Tamar. She has been short-listed for both Birmingham and Worcestershire Poet Laureates, and in 2013 was Writer in Residence at the Museum of Carpet, turning people’s memories into poems, monologues and songs with accordion. She is co-founder, with Emma Purshouse, of Brewers’ Troupe, a performance poetry company specialising in performances in pubs.

Heather was born in the Black Country and has compiled and edited 2 books of Black Country reminiscences which grew out of projects in Tipton and West Bromwich. She has published 3 illustrated poetry collections: Until I Saw Your Foot and The Page-Turner’s Dilemma (Lapal Publications), focusing on the humorous side of her work, and Poems of the Head in Dynamic Relation to F M Alexander (self-published), centred on the Alexander Technique. She uses technology to create innovative pieces combining music, spoken word and found sound. As a facilitator, she works with people of all ages, including people with disabilities.


Website Wasties Space

Blog Weaving Yarns


© Peter Williams 2014

© Peter Williams 2014

Summary of recent & current work

• Weaving Yarns performances – songs & poems about people who worked in the carpet industry in Kidderminster

• Performances of original poems & songs

• Spake Prapper – a Black Country Talk Show with Dave Reeves & Billy Spakemon

• Comedy character performances – Black Country Pat, tragic opera singer Montserrat Carbonara

• How do wars start? Performance poetry show with Worcs Poet Laureate, Fergus McGonigal commissioned by Kidderminster Arts Festival 2014

• Idle Women & Judies – solo performance poetry piece about women who took over the working canal boats during WW2, commissioned by Canal & River Trust 2014

• National Trust – Croome Court – actor in site-specific performances; also involved in setting up new poetry group

• Alzheimer’s Society – performances & workshops at dementia cafes

• Workshops and performances in care homes

• Bostin Chats – workshops with young people with disabilities for Creative Health CIC, using performing arts as a tool for consultation

• Sound designer – recent commissions: Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton Counter Culture; Madeley Town Council – Nine Men of Madeley


Forthcoming performances

Sunday October 26th

Singing songs from 40s/50s with keyboard for launch of The Hen Race by Alan Durham



Tuesday November 4th

Guest Poet/Musician at “The Works Canteen” with Dave Reeves

Black Country Living Museum, Dudley


Thursday November 6th

Performing poetry at Fergus McGonigal’s book launch



Saturday November 8th

Idle Women & Judies by Heather Wastie

National Waterways Museum, Gloucester


Tuesday November 11th

Mouth and Music, Kidderminster


Friday 21st November

Quiet Compere – Medical Themed Poetry



Saturday November 22nd

Special Guest with Harmonie Concert Band



Friday November 28th

Worcester Victorian Christmas Fair

Clik Clik Collective street entertainment


Starting late November

Christmas site-specific show at Croome Court, Worcs


Tuesday December 9th

Mouth and Music



Thursday December 11th 7.30pm

Featured poet/musician at WorcsLitFest Speakeasy




Products for sale

The Page-Turner’s Dilemma More poetry & tales from behind the music stand £7.50

TPTD cover

Poems of the Head – with photos, after an intensive Alexander Technique course £5.50

Poems of the Head cover

Alzheimer’s Army CD – 3 songs about dementia £3.50 (£1 goes to Alzheimer’s Society)

Alzheimer's Army CDs

Bananas from the Heart CD – poems & a few songs £5

Bananas from the Heart CD sleeve

INKSPILL – Editing By Nina Lewis


AWF Edit

This year I asked what you would like INKSPILL to support, editing was the focus.


Good editing takes your writing beyond mediocre. A challenging skill to learn and as with writing, some people are better at it than others. If you have decided to self publish, a good editor can make a real difference to your manuscript. Proofreaders are skilled but editors know when the shape or feel of something is wrong or right and that equals sales for the writer.

Not everyone is working on writing projects with editors though and it’s hard to learn how to edit your work. Many of us spend more time editing than writing, it is essential to leave time in your writing schedule for the edit. Your writing, as you probably know, needs a few days (or even weeks) to rest and marinate before the edit!



1) Finish Writing First

Now you may think this is an insane piece of advice as it breaks a natural pattern for many. Many of us edit as we go, I am doing it now. What this tip really means is keep it simple, deleting a typo or changing a few words as you get to the end of the sentence. It is natural (and good practise) to re-read as you write and you may see something you want to delete completely. Finish writing first and then go back to it. I sometimes use bold, italic or font colours to remind me where to look.

It is worth noting, I am not suggesting you attempt to write an entire novel without editing – although events like NaNoWriMo (you are not too late to sign up for 2014) encourage just that. To produce half a novel with no editing at all. A write or die approach. It is actually quite liberating, although the quality of the 50,000 words can vary.


2) Let the work rest

You should schedule time for the writing to be left as it is, with shorter pieces this may only be a few hours and with poetry I tend to write and re-write several drafts before the resting process. Saving all of them to file. Then leave it a day or two before starting the editing the process. With short stories this could be a week and novels longer.

The idea is it will allow you to see work through fresh eyes and should make the first level of editing (the slash and cull – yes you are going to be BRUTAL) a lot easier. Plus you will have strength to wield that sword now, unless like most of us, whilst your manuscript rested you carried on writing something else.


3) Slash and Cull

Become the slayer…. Costume on? Ready? Of course, a different wardrobe isn’t necessary, (although you could dress up as an editor if it makes you feel better). This first edit should be the easiest, you are looking for the big monsters.

The character that doesn’t quite fit, the chapter that is 7 pages too long, the description which needs to be tighter, plot holes, loose characterisation. You will be eager and fresh and should be able to tackle the manuscript with new ideas.

You may even enjoy this edit. I would advise with larger projects you do this chapter by chapter and even though you may have written in a different order it is paramount to edit in a linear way, chapter by chapter for chronology and continuity and also the reader experience.

As great writers have advised me – save each edit as new copy so you have the other versions to refer back to. Sometimes (especially beginner writers) can over edit and having copy saved may just keep the hair on your head!


4) Paper Wins

It is often easier to edit with a printed copy, physically reading and scribbling than to edit on the screen, even with new fangled editing programmes on the market. I know some writers who never use paper copy in this way, preferring e-readers or other tech. I find that I can spot things quicker on paper, it is how my brain was trained to read.

It can be useful to read it in its published form, which is why blogging platforms and emails often have a preview function. It is a good way to spot glaring errors including how the text will look on screen.


5) Have a PLAN!

You need an editing plan, just as you had one for writing. Section the manuscript, decide what to look for first, start with structure and content. What is known as ‘big picture’ editing. Find the chapters and paragraphs that need to be cut out, slash immediately. Find what works, have you missed whole areas of importance out? Do you need to write a whole section, chapter? Are there scenes that just don’t work, feel wrong, need a re-write?

Major cuts, rewrites and additions need to happen BEFORE you start polishing and editing sentences and changing words.


6) The bottom line is 10%!

Most of us are guilty of over-writing (this article was originally 1430 words)! We use more words than we need and our writing becomes weaker.

Do a word count and try to cut back 10%

Sounds impossible?

Look for these mistakes;

Repetition- trust your reader to get it the first time.

Un-necessary phrases, usually sentence starters such as I believe that… these can be cut and the writing will be stronger.

Despite everything we were taught at school, bin the adjectives. You needn’t use a whole string of them and if you have told us a character is shouting do we need to know how loudly?


7) Never Trust The Tech

By tech I mean our dear friend, the spellchecker. It will correct your mistakes but it is not a reader and will have no idea that when you wrote ‘she picked up the blank pen….’ you actually meant black pen. A grammar check won’t see this one either, but you can, so remember to use your eyes.

Other common mistakes our spell-check may miss are;

homophones, missing words. Sometimes your tech will have its own strange ideas about words, so make sure you are using the correct language setting and don’t just click OK to every suggestion.


8) Read Slower or from a different place

By now you will have edited this draft several times, you will know it. You will read what you think you see. It is so familiar it’s hard to spot any mistakes. Reading your manuscript out of order (providing you have numbered the pages) is a good proof-reading trick.

If reading out of order isn’t possible then remember how slowly beginner readers read. Read slowly. A good trick is to enlarge the font – you won’t see as many words on the screen or be able to scan read on.


9) Know when to LET GO!

When do you stop editing?

The time to let go is when you find yourself changing the manuscript, then changing it back again.

Most of us have ghost gremlins, even after we have submitted a piece of writing we feel ourselves filled with nagging feelings. Not feeling entirely confident until the work has been accepted.

Get used to this feeling.

Our perception of perfection may be different to the editor, market, it is something fictional, unobtainable… subjective… so let – it – go!


10) Pay

someone else to do it!


AWF circle


INKSPILL: Introductions


AWF World map

Let us know if you are taking part in INKSPILL this year.


WHO are you?

WHERE  in the world are you?

What are you currently WRITING?

Intro SWA ©2014 Sarah Wilko Anderson

Grab yourself breakfast, caffeine, notebooks, pens and have a mingle. The first activity will appear in about half an hour!


Have fun!


INKSPILL – Welcome


Welcome to INKSPILL 2014 your FREE Online Writing Retreat brought to you by A Writers Fountain.

The full list of programmed events will appear this morning – for now enjoy this short motivational video and remember why you are a writer.




INKSPILL 2014 – Programme of Events




Welcome to  INKSPILL 2014, here is the programme of what’s coming up over the weekend. Remember you can follow in real time (GMT) or just dip in at your leisure.

If you are currently working on a writing project or preparing for NaNoWriMo, then gather your notes and start by giving yourself some time to write.



AM Session from 09:00

9:00 Programme of Events

9:15 Welcome  to INKSPILL – Motivational Video

9:25 Introductions – Let us know you are here – no matter when you decided to dip in!

inkspill coffee

9:50 Morning Activity – Pens at the ready

10:50 Meet Our GUEST Writers (Bio)  – William Gallagher, Charlie Jordan & Heather Wastie

11:30 An Article on EDITING

12:00 Freewrite Activity


LUNCH donuts_sweet_glaze_chocolate_nuts_45096_480x800


PM Session from 14:00

14:00 A video from a Master to get you back in the mood – Stephen King on writing – Running time 55 mins. Enjoy!

An Afternoon with William Gallagher – Guest Writer

15: 00 A Video From our Guest Writer William Gallagher

  • How to Get Rejected


  • Making Time to Write


  • Writing Doctor Who


  • What You get from Writing
 inkspill coffee
Evening Session from 20:30
20:30 SpeedWriting – How to Write an Article in under 30 minutes
21: 30 Night Write
AWF circle WE HOPE YOU ENJOYED DAY 1 – Sleep well!


AM Session from 09:00
9:00 A Video for the Morning – Write! (6 minutes – or possibly 18 – you will want to watch it over) Guaranteed to fire you up!
9: 30 A Breakfast Book Discussion
10:30 Feedback on DAY ONE
 inkspill coffee
11:00 The Journey
From 11:30 A morning with Heather Wastie
  • Guest Writer Heather Wastie shares her writing journey
  • Heather Wastie Editing a Poem
  • Heather Wastie’s Poetry: Histrionic water
  • Heather Wastie’s Poetry: Spaghetti hoops
LUNCH pancakes
PM Session from 14:00
 AWF retreat2
14:00 Motivation – a little of my story and a video
 14: 30 An Afternoon with Charlie Jordan
17:15 Preparing for NaNoWriMo – Archives
18:50 A Delve into the Archives (AWF  Online Writing Retreat 2013)
  – Including articles on Writing Short Stories, Research & Historical Fiction.
 AWF emboss
From 20:00
20:00 The Final Writing Session
21:30 Evaluation and Feedback

22:00 INKSPILL SHOP – Open 24/7 fs open

Come and buy products featured in INKSPILL or written by our 2014 Guest Writers, who have given their time and words to us all this weekend FOR FREE! Support them back if you can.