Category Archives: creative writing

Sculpture Trail Poetry Workshop at the Jinney Ring

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It is time for the Annual Sculpture Trail at the Jinney Ring Craft Centre in Hanbury. This is the 13th Trail and my 2nd year of offering a writing workshop linked to the sculptures.

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One of my first jobs when I got back from Australia was to arrange a meeting, having secured the repeat workshop back in April.

It was also my first chance to visit this year’s trail and I spent a good hour taking photos and scribbling notes. There is always a preview of the Trail and I would have liked to have been available to attend but I was some 40,000 feet in the clouds at the time.

This year they have an added area, The Secret Garden and the work in there will take your breath away!

As with every year a range of Local and National Sculptors are exhibiting on the trail and the work is for sale. There are several pieces which would look great in our garden!

So come and join us and get creative.

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There will be cake!

Last year was great fun and we had an exhibition in the Restaurant for 3 months which was read by a LOT of people.

The writing activities/workshop content is different from last year – as are the sculptures, so if this was something you enjoyed last year I would encourage you to come again. The workshop is suitable for writers of all abilities.

There will be no pressure to read your work during the workshop and you will have a while to edit and redraft poems before they are displayed. The exhibiting of the work this year will be at no cost to the poets (it wasn’t last year either) and it is a chance for people to access and read your work who may otherwise not do so.

As with last year, a reading of our Sculpture Trail poems will be organised in the Spring.

Contact me for details ninalewisnal[at]gmailDOTcom

Here are some photos from the Sculpture Trail Poetry Workshop 2017.

Enjoying the Guided Tour of the Trail with some time to write whilst outside with the sculptures.

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Getting creative, responding to activities in the workshop.  WP_20180427_001

Our Poetry Exhibition in the Jinney Ring Restaurant.

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Our Bank Holiday Reading in 2018 at the Church in Hanbury.

Hit a Writing Dip? Stay Motivated

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We all find ourselves in the dreaded dip from time to time, unsurprisingly the pressure of a new year and new goals is enough to send the most sturdy writer over the edge… so I have put together this motivational post just for you.

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Remember pursuing a writing career is a guarantee you will face rejection, find projects stall and possibly feel no confidence in your ability. But remember this is what you want to do, this is what you live for, this is enjoying work on those good days in a way you never could before. For those times when your world is rocking, it is all worth it and all part of this path you have chosen.

The best way to deal with it is to learn the tricks, keep the dream alive and know even the greatest feel this way from time to time.

 

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Rejection is not personal

Sometimes maybe the writing wasn’t up to scratch but more often than not it doesn’t fit alongside accepted work, may not be the taste of a particular editor, may be too similar to work which has already been published/accepted.

The main thing is – rejection – means you are submitting your work, which is an achievement in itself. If the writing is good it will find a place eventually and sometimes that place is a better match than the place you initially sought acceptance from.

It won’t make it hurt any less, but it is normal. Normal to be rejected and normal to feel a bit dejected by it.

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I do not reward myself when I get writing accepted, unless you count mentally doing the happy dance, but I do commiserate myself when I read a rejection.

Do something that refocuses or lifts you for a while. Go for a walk, read a chapter of a book (if you can still bear to hold one in your hands), try a few relaxation exercises, watch a comedy show, or even eat cake. Do something that makes you feel better. Just something between 10-30 minutes just to get your mindset shifted.

The best thing is to send something else out there (as long as your writing is ready) a flight of new hope, then move on.

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Create Deadlines

Of course you know the actual submission deadline. We all miss them from time to time (learn to forgive yourself and let go). In Life Coaching* we always break goals down into smaller steps. Each chunk needs a deadline. These skills can be transferred to how you work as a writer.

*I qualified as a Life Coach in 2007.

 

Commitment

Allocate enough writing time to achieve your goals. Yes! I am well aware there is never enough writing time and few of us are lucky enough to fulfil a full-time writing career, but every dream needs commitment otherwise it is just a wish/ wishy washy.

So take yourself seriously and allow it.

Give priority to your writing time.

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Speaking of time…

Time 

Discover when the best time for your writing is. I tend to be best early in the morning both at the beginning of the day before lunchtime and now at 1 AM in the morning.

I organise my writing day so I am actually producing at my optimum times and fit the admin tasks and chores and everything else into the time that my writing brain isn’t in prime working mode.

We are all different. It takes a while to find out what is the best time for you, but it is worth bearing it in mind.

Note: A few hours before deadline is really not the best time for quality writing/editing.

Once you know when to write you can learn how to write. Allowing yourself 1 hour can be more productive than allocating an entire afternoon. Some people work in blocks of 25 minutes ‘The Pomodoro technique’, I tend to find that I need longer to write but I do take my breaks to do other things in blocks of 20 minutes.

 

Lists

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Mr G. used to laugh at my TO DO LISTS as they would always have wash hair, breakfast etc. on them. He knew these were not things I would forget to do. I explained they enabled me to tick something off before 10 AM.

My lists have come a long way since then, I rarely put shower/hair on them anymore. They will include a little box of chores that need attention to make sure I do not get too lost in the admin and the writing and there is an important point. It no longer amazes me, but for years it did – the amount of admin a writer has. You could easily fill whole days without actually getting any writing done and so when you are scheduling your time allow yourself the discipline of actually writing. I used to work on a laptop that didn’t recognise we have Internet.

Nowadays I am better on focusing on one job at a time and avoiding social media/internet distractions (don’t judge me, but I never needed the LOLCats).

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What alchemy is this? The magic of lists. I simply write 2 or 3 things at a time that need to be completed and keep adding. If you write a long list of everything your brain will freak out at the sight of it and this is not good for creativity and free flowing thoughts.

 

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Plan your time and reward yourself. 

 

RELATED LINKS: 

From INKSPILL (Our online Annual Writing Retreat) 2014

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inkspill-making-time-to-write-guest-writer-williamgallagher/

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INKSPILL SHARE BUTTON

From INKSPILL (Our online Annual Writing Retreat) 2017

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From INKSPILL (Our online Annual Writing Retreat) 2016

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motivation ave

whats-the-point-keeping-motivation-alive/

the-ups-and-downs-of-creatives/

the-emotional-spectrum-of-writing/

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INKSPILL Spooktastic – Writing Exercise #4

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It doesn’t seem right having this weekend retreat so close to Halloween and not include an opportunity for some Horror writing.

Writing Exercise #4 – Mysterious/Scary

A murder has taken place in a cabin in the middle of a snowy field.  Your character finds three sets of footsteps entering the cabin, but none leaving.  Apart from the victim, no one else seems to be there.  What is going on?

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INKSPILL Writing Exercise 2 – The Letter

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It is important that you don’t censor yourself in this writing activity. It is just for you (unless you want to share it in the comments). Try to write freely, do not filter your thoughts, just get them all down. You can always redraft later.

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Write a Letter to your Younger Self.

Write a letter to yourself at a younger age, it could be your child-self or the person you were just a few years or decades ago.

You can offer compassion, forgiveness, advice, whatever you feel comes through.

It helps if you try to imagine the younger self you are writing to as a different person.

 

In the comments below maybe you would like to share the core message of your letter.

 

INKSPILL Taster or Teaser

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INKSPILL SHARE BUTTON

The full programme including this year’s Guest Writers will be revealed on the 27th. We have a new feature for 2017 – The INKSPILL Library where you will have instant access to selected archives from 2013 -2016 Writing Retreats.

INKSPILL Library

The Library will be open on Saturday afternoon and again on Sunday when it features additional archived material. 

We are featuring 2 Guest Writers this year.

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They will be revealed on the 27th. 

There will be short writing tasks, exercises and workshop activities, creative tests, exclusive interviews with our Guest Writers, book promotion (the INKSPILL Bookshop will be open all weekend), monologues, Inspiring Women Writers, a look at Thomas Hardy, Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen & Siegfried Sassoon, Goal Setting, an interview with Zadie Smith, writing advice from Novelist Jill Dawson, an interview with Lee Child, editors discussing modern writing and the Launch of Contour WPL Magazine. As well as rich pickings from the archive featuring previous guests: Charlie Jordan, William Gallagher, Heather Wastie, David Calcutt, Alison May, Deanne Gist, Daniel Sluman, Gaia Harper & Roy McFarlane and more. 

 

 

5th Annual Writing Retreat INKSPILL

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INKSPILL 2017 Coming Soon Celebrate Our 5th Year

Book yourself some time off and treat yourself to a FREE online writing retreat this Autumn. Join us in real time, or wander around the posts at your leisure.
Easy links to previous years will also be available.

SPECIAL GUESTS TO BE ANNOUNCED SOON!

CREDO – Creative Synergy – Credo by Liz Johnson

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I am currently working on an exciting project. Earlier this month Liz Johnson, a composer, contacted me regarding a collaborative project taking place on the 29th September, Elmslie House, Malvern. elmslie-final-logo-large-darkblue-outlined_1_large

I felt it was meant to be as I am performing in London (at Free Verse) at the end of the month and originally travel plans meant I would not have been available on the 29th, they changed and I am.

You know how I love poetry beyond the page, I eagerly agreed and waited to discover more.


Creative Synergy – Credo

It started with Dora Williams (Artist) inviting Liz to three collaborative sessions, at the time they had no idea what the outcome would be.

Credo liz johnson co uk Liz Johnson © 2017

Liz’s award-winning Colwall Requiem for Aleppo became the central focus of the collaboration, with Dora creating new artworks inspired by Liz’s music. Now Liz has responded by composing a new work for solo viola Credo in which music from the Requiem is reworked and added to, inspired by Dora’s series of abstract paintings.

The violist Adam Römer, who performed at the premiere of the Requiem, has been working closely with Liz and Dora to create a major new work for solo viola

The performance will include discussions with Dora, Liz and Adam about the creation of the piece and the whole Creative Synergy project, and there will be opportunities for the audience to ask questions of the performer, composer and artist as part of the evening.

Source: http://www.elmsliehouse.co.uk/2017/08/31/creative-synergy-credo-by-liz-johnson/

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Elmslie House © 2017

The collaborative works of artist Dora Williams and composer Liz Johnson explore themes of migration and displacement, through art, film and music with Credo performed by Adam Römer (viola leader of CBSO) on the opening night.

The exhibition opens on Saturday 30th (10 – 4 pm) and runs until the 8th October. Details (Free admission 2.30-4.30pm). 

This piece explores what we believe, with music from ‘Colwall Requiem for Aleppo’ inspired by the art work of Dora Williams, the plight of refugees, the Grenfell Tower disaster and what we consider to be ‘Home’. Worcestershire Poet Laureate Nina Lewis will read her own poetry and Liz, Dora and Adam will also discuss the creation of ‘Credo’, which centres around ideas of seeking/finding refuge. Artist Dora Williams has created a stunning new series of abstract works on this theme, on display at the venue. 
To reserve your seat for the evening recital (29th September), please call Anna on 07789 470780

Tickets £10 on the door including a free interval drink


typewriter-801921_1280 I have spent the past week filled with excitement in anticipation of creating writing for this opening event. I have a busy schedule at the moment and was still working on a WW1 commission (which entailed a lot of research and redrafting), now completed as well as Poetry Workshops when I agreed to this new work. I knew I had to shift my brain for Credo and needed a clear mind.

I like head space, the days spent thinking about a project before you dive in – it helps gather thoughts and those which manifest the deepest will stay and become part of the work.

The themes of migration and displacement are areas I have written about before. I could use a body of existing work, but felt this was not in keeping with the spirit of the collaborative project. I promised new work and set about creating it.

The performance itself is split into three sections, three themes. I have completed writing on two of them. Time wise I have perhaps one or two more poems to write before my set is complete.

I asked Liz to send information about the background of the piece, how it has been created and then I used a mixture of audio clips (mainly Requiem music) and images, including an original abstract by Dora Williams. I also used news articles and mirrored some of the instructions given to the musician, writing for the first time improvised poetry. Although, you could argue all poetry is improvised. Intentionally improvised, let’s say. It has been a rewarding process and I am thankful that I managed to find a block of time (in the middle of the night) to complete this work.

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Liz Johnson © 2017

National Writing Day 2017

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Join in across social media and #TellYourStory.

This year’s theme is VIEW FROM THE WINDOW

There are plenty of resources from this initiative to use with young writers.  https://www.nationalwritingday.org.uk

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https://www.instagram.com/nationalwritingday/

National Writing Day is a celebration of writing creatively.

Poems, stories, letters, raps, songs, scripts and more – we want schools, libraries, writing groups and communities across the country to share in this celebration through a series of events and activities.

We want people from across the UK to put pen to paper, unleash their imagination and make their voices heard. You’re invited to join us at events across the UK; from Hull to Bristol, London to Edinburgh, Cardiff to Belfast, leading arts and culture venues will open their doors to the public with inspiring events and activities. – © NWD 2017

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Join in!

National Writing Day is a collaborative initiative between First Story and partner arts and literacy organisations across the UK. It is supported by Old Possum’s Practical Trust and Arts Council England.

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RELATED LINKS: 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-40339860

https://www.firststory.org.uk/2017/06/09/irresistible-memories-by-samirah-moumin/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/news/20-inspirational-pieces-advice-writers-national-writing-day/

https://www.nationalwritingday.org.uk/2017/05/26/getting-child-enjoy-writing/

 

Review April 2017

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As always NaPoWriMo takes over April and makes it challenging to keep other blog posts up to date. I have made an effort to keep the blog NaPo intentionally this month with a few posts breaking the thread. I have had some amazing experiences this month which deserve a dedicated blogging. I plan to pepper them in throughout May.

 

WEEK 1:

I was asked to co-ordinate an event for a Festival I am already involved with – this task took the best part of a fortnight. But I am happy that it is all now booked and in place for this summer. I spent further weeks this month planning and organising the events for an Arts Festival in July.

I went to an editing workshop. Taking with me a poem from 2014 that has never fully worked. I can safely say it has the treatment now and just in time because it formed part of the set I performed at The Poetry Ballroom.

Poetry Ballroom

I experienced the Poetry Ballroom. Suz Winspear (this year’s Worcestershire Poet Laureate) organised this event in partnership with DanceFest. It was an amazing night. I will be blogging a full write up in May, I was honoured to be an invited performer at the event and had great fun writing some dance poems especially for it. The evening was a sound success and the dancers appreciated the theme of our poetry – not realising that we would focus on dance. As an ex-dancer, it was a pleasure.

I was asked to endorse a book (my 2nd one). The first book I endorsed is due to launch in May, more on that next month too. I am currently reading this manuscript and am delighted that the publishers thought of me.

I was asked to read at a Book Launch next month. I have spent some time this month penning new poems for this occasion. To be honest the poems were also part of NaPoWriMo, but why not make your projects work hard for you. Lots of prompts leant themselves to current project pies I have my thumbs in, so given half a chance…napo2017button1

I went to a reading at The Hive with Sarah Leavesley & Melissa Lee-Houghton. I was really excited by this. Ruth Stacey had arranged it for her students at university and just gave a bit of a quiet shout out. thehiveworcsorg

Being part of an audience of students, listening to their woes made me glad this wasn’t my life anymore. It is all to easy to glamorize the undergraduate/post grad life… but really… as much pressure as the real world.

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I loved hearing Sarah read from Magnetic Diaries again after all this time and it was a real treat to hear Melissa Lee-Houghton, as she sadly couldn’t make Verve festival in the end. It was a great evening and I am glad I managed the post work rush to get there. Had to drive a hire car too – as my window decided to malfunction and I spent over an hour finding a garage willing to help me so late on in the day. The window was stuck in the down position. My lesson: using air con is cheaper in the long run!

I spent time writing the brief for a 2nd poetry festival event, involving the other two poets. It is amazing how many days it can take 3 poets to come up with less than 3 lines!

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Back in February (my month of applications), I applied for Room 204 Writer Development Programme run by WWM. They had over 130 applicants this year for 15 places. I am delighted to announce the embargo has lifted and I can share this news. We had our first cohort meeting – what a great year to be in, so much talent. We had a photo shoot (one I wanted a haircut and weight-loss for) – neither happened in the days beforehand, but Paul Stringer is a talented photographer. It was a fun morning, we were all so excited to be part of the 2017/18 cohort and already good things have happened as a result. There is a whole year of mentoring and career development ahead, over £1000 worth. Priceless if you ask me.

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I am extremely excited to be part of Room 204, I discovered it back in 2013 and have been biding my time and developing my writing to the point I thought I was able to qualify for a place on the scheme. I am grateful my application was successful. That my writing stood up to the scrutiny and competition. Here’s the rest of this year’s cohort

https://www.writingwestmidlands.org/room-204-participants-201718/

I also reconnected with a good friend of mine afterwards and we plan to exchange books and do lunch next time I am back in the area. I used to spend more time in Birmingham than I do at the moment. I am spending less time on the road this year and more time at the desk, the natural pattern of a writer. It was good catching up.

WEEK 2

Went to an incredibly exciting meeting at the Custard Factory for this year’s Room 204 programme, which we were embargoed about. The news was finally released on the 11/12th. Rm-204-logo-final-solo-600x328

Started typing NaPo poems, I decided to write longhand this year, which gave me that workshop feeling as much of my writing is straight to screen nowadays. It meant I successfully completed the challenge with 97 poems by the end of the month, however I have typed about 10 to edit so far.

Made a promotional Easter video for Fragile Houses. I was reading advice on marketing and promotion and find it hard to detail what my pamphlet with give you beyond shared experience, memory and space to work through mirrored realities. Which all seems a high promise or at the worst an abstract manifesto. Then I thought about chocolate, the calories (personally delighted this year to have so many eggs and treats). easter Had another 3 eggs after this photo was taken!

I spent half a day making the video. Poetry – less calories than chocolate. Maybe I should have offered a free egg with every book sold.

I booked onto a Room 204 event for later in the month.

Started writing a book review and went to see Kate Bush tribute Cloudbusting with Mr G. katebush

I missed License to Rhyme again as the next day I was going to Swindon. Rick Saunders aka Willis the Poet was headlining and he was happy to take me on the road trip. It was a cracking night at Oooh Beehive – a night that Clive Oseman and Nick Lovell started a while ago. Swindon is quite a way on a school night and it was the early hours by the time I was home, but it was the Easter holidays and I am glad I managed it. Lovely to see Sam Loveless and Edward, who I met at the Poetry Festival last year.

I went to HOWL and watched amazing headline sets from Charley Barnes, Tom McCann and Rhythmical Mike. It was a great night and I was happy I made an open mic spot. It was fabulous to see everyone again. HOWL

I went to SpeakEasy where Gareth Owens was headlining. That was a good night too – rare these days that I manage 3 nights on the hoof like this. I spent the day beforehand making media for an upcoming festival shoe and dealing with programme copy.

It was nice to escape for a few hours and immerse myself in poetry.

The Beltane Anthology for 2017 was published by Three Drops from a Cauldron, which has my Rag Tree poem in it. I know you should never judge a book by the cover – but with this stunning design, who wouldn’t want to see their poetry inside!

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Featuring poetry and flash fiction by Jane Burn, Rhiannon Hooson, Alison Stone, Denise Blake, Abigail Elizabeth Ottley Wyatt, Eleanor Penny, Tom Moody, Bee Smith, Rebecca Buchanan, Rebecca Gethin, Nina Lewis, Wendy Mannis Scher, Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon, Sarah Hart, Raquel Vasquez Gilliland, Kitty Coles, Donald Illich, Dennis Trujillo, Lesley Burt, Cynthia June Long, Vivien Jones, Moyra Donaldson, Maggie Mackay, Bethany Rivers, Lewis Buxton, Carmina Masoliver, Nico Solheim-Davidson, R.M. Francis, Linda Goulden, Ilse Pedler, and Joanna Swan.

Edited by Kate Garrett, with the Three Drops from a Cauldron editorial team: Becca Goodin, Loma Jones, Amy Kinsman, Holly Magill, Penny Sharman, Grant Tarbard, and Claire Walker.

http://www.lulu.com/shop/kate-garrett/three-drops-from-a-cauldron-beltane-2017/paperback/product-23143262.html

It is now also available in digital copy.

https://threedropspoetry.co.uk/2017/04/14/three-drops-from-a-cauldron-beltane-2017/

Week 3

I had a free writing webinar with The Writers Academy & Penguin Random House, it was an interesting few hours, although I wrote copious notes not realising they were sending follow up information via email.

I had my first Room 204 1 to 1 session, we get 3 over the course of the year. It was useful and I have already started working on decisions.Rm-204-logo-WITH-WORDS

I spent an entire day co-ordinating and planning for festival events.

Holly Daffurn has started a new venture – at Bottles Wine Bar, ‘Uncorked’ an evening of Spoken Word, there were over 50 tickets sold and the night was divided into 3 parts with 5 headliners and open mic. Ambitious scheduling, beautiful venue and a stellar line up made for a perfect evening. uncorked

I performed on the open mic. Brilliant Headliners: Jasmine Gardosi, Casey Bailey, Holly Daffurn, Leon Priestnall & Joe Cooke

The Spring edition of Birmingham Literature Festival happened and despite a fantastic programme (all well received), I was unable to make it across to the city for any events. I even missed Cynthia Miller’s Primers Launch.

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I had my WWM group which meant I couldn’t attend some of the events/workshops on Saturday. The group went really well, we made our own magazines. I have since planned the final two session, so feel ahead of the game.

Week 4

I booked tickets to go and see Carol Ann Duffy in May, continued to organise festival events. The Stourbridge Literature Festival started. I went to see Emma Purshouse headline at Spoken Trend, saw Carla Rickets headline too. It was a great night, I even went home with 3 daffodils, now that is a good night.

I took a Napowrimo poem to Stanza and it was approved. I have written 97 in total this month as I have followed 2 main prompts, the main site napwrimo.net and joined Carrie Etter’s group where she provided us with 30 optional prompts. Beyond the poems, I have researched and stumbled into new project territory which is most exciting. Carrie’s group was amazing for comradery and support. Jo Bell spent the entire month posting poems for us to read as it is as important as writing and a sure way to learn/ learn about poetry. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the poems and discussions on her blog and will miss this daily ritual and ponder more than I will miss the onslaught of daily poetry writing.

imgID54935282.jpg.gallery I went to the first talk organised by Room 204 and now have a notebook full of information and ideas.

And the month finished with a flurry of PR for VOICES FROM THE MIDDLE at Stourbridge Literature Festival.

The first of 3 events I have been organising. A combined reading with: vpress sb I will blog about the festival/event over the coming days. Within 24 hours I will be promoting Cheltenham Poetry Festival and over the next 5 days working towards 30-40-60 the collaborative performance booked into this year’s Worcester Literature Festival.

I will not have time to be sad about the end of NaPoWriMo, but I hope to have time to type edit some of the work produced during April.

This was a GREAT month!

 

 

INKSPILL Guest Writer Deeanne Gist Two Minute Tips

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Deeanne Gist

When we contacted Deeanne she gave us the following advice;

As for words of advice, I think the best advice I can give is:
1) Learn your craft. (And you’re off to a good start if you’re attending this retreat!)
2) Finish the book. (Truly. You wouldn’t believe how many people never finish their book. You can always go back and edit, but that book needs to be finished before you can proceed to the next step … publishing!)
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© Artfix Daily

We are sharing some of Deeanne’s tips with you this evening from this wonderful sequence of videos she has produced on the craft of writing.

 

 

The introduction to Deeanne’s video blog. Write the book you are excited about.

 

What to Leave Out

Deeanne talks about judging contests, editing, writing and advises us on what to leave out and why in this Two Minute Tip video.

 

 

 

 

In our second video Deeanne explores how to write conflict and drive your book forward. This video includes great advice from this International Best Selling Author.

How to Write Conflict

 

Our final tip for aspiring writers is about character. This is a really interesting way of working and beats my index card system. Advice on how to give your protagonists depth.

 

How to Give Your Character Depth

 

We hope to bring you more from Deeanne Gist next year.