Category Archives: creative writing

The NaPoWriMo Hump

Standard

You are more than halfway there but you’re feeling the burn. This post is for you.

This weekend rather than gather the ever growing NaPo statistics, I thought I’d go for motivation.

Whether this is the first time you have attempted 30 poems in 30 days or if it’s old hat you reach a point where you want to down tools and run away. This is natural. Work through the burn and carry on. If that’s too much, distract yourself for a bit until you are ready to face another challenge. Skip a day or two if you have to. You may find time another day to tackle more than one prompt to catch up or decide to let them go. I have done all of the above since I started the challenge back in 2014.

Writing IS a challenging process and anyone who has attempted to write a novel (or even a novella) will tell you that motivation can be a challenge. As is complete loss of confidence. If it was easy, everyone would do it. Not everyone is a pianist – but walk up to a piano, hit a key and you made a note.

Whatever you do – know that it’s right for you and forgive yourself. If you want to forge ahead but you feel you’re flailing try these tips:

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels.com
  • See the BIG picture
  • Are you writing a collection and hoping to create some extra poems through NaPoWriMo?
  • Are you just doing the challenge to have fun?
  • What do you need/want/hope to get out of it?
  • Perhaps you don’t have a big picture – create one now.

Photo by Cup of Couple on Pexels.com
  • Divide and Conquer

If you following Maureen’s site the prompts always come with rich resources and poems. I always approach each day in chunks, I do it chronologically but sometimes mix it up.

  • Divide into three sections (Featured poem(s)/ Featured Journal/ Prompt)
  • Spend a chunk of time on each throughout the day.

Photo by Holafabiola on Pexels.com
  • Think about your BEST TIME

As writers some of us are more creative in the morning, others late at night. There will be days you are time poor and busy, be flexible, adjust. If this means writing on your phone or a post-it note, or recording an audio note – then do it.

  • Choose the best time of day for you to write.
  • Change it up when you can – you will be surprised how different free writing becomes.

Photo by Jonathan Cooper on Pexels.com
  • Situate
  • Try writing in different environments. This could be inside your house or out in public.
  • Find somewhere you would never write. Write.

Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile on Pexels.com
  • Read, Read, Read


Remember NaPoWriMo is not about being perfect, it isn’t about editing. You will create a bundle of poems which would not otherwise exist, you will know of more poets and journals by the end of April and you will have some material ready to edit as we head towards June!

And most of all HAVE FUN!

NaPoWriMo Weekend Pit Stop: Take Stock (Wk1)

Standard

You have managed over a week, over a quarter of the NaPoWriMo challenge. At this point you will fall somewhere between exhausted and rejuvenated. This weekend post should help you reach some balance because if you’re already attempting 30 poems in 30 daysYOU ARE AWESOME!

Mission: One Week of Awesomeness by Katie Swanson
is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0

WEEK 1:

READING POETRY

This week you’ve read at least 30 poems (or 31 if you did the Early Bird) and probably more, as who can visit a magazine and only read a couple of poems? Plus you would have read your own work back to yourself. So the actual number is probably way over 40!

40 poems in a week… for those of us who read collections that may not be unusual, but it’s certainly good practice to read widely and I can guarantee this week’s reading will have lodged sprinkles of muse inside your minds for later! By reading a few extra poems in the journals and including my own work I have read 56 poems.

Of course, you may have fallen behind and feel intimidated by these numbers. Don’t be. At the very least you started and who’s counting anyway! Just keep going. You will have read more than if you weren’t attempting NaPoWriMo at all!

© Hayley Parson

WRITING POETRY

You will have written at least 9 poems. If you’re taking part in Nina’s NaPo Challenge there will be 18 new poems in your stack.

In addition you may be using the PAD challenge or others – go careful if you’re working through multiple prompts, in previous years I have saved some lists for May/June… there was that year I wrote 99! But I wouldn’t recommend such pressure.

Whatever you do and however many poems you managed to write – KEEP IT FUN!

I have written 10, as I did the Early Bird prompt.


WONDERFUL RESOURCES FROM NAPO

9 Participating websites will now be on your radar/reading lists.

9 Journals/ Magazines.

3 poets associated with the prompts.

1 list of poetry prompts.

1 Twitter account + several other resources.


WONDERFUL RESOURCES FROM AWF

In addition to this if you have been following my posts you will also have links and information for:

Poem(s) by: Emily Dickinson, Andrea Gibson

Articles: Writing Forward on Prose Poetry & Numerologist.com

RESOURCES: Mythical Creature generator, Inciting Incident generator, Diana Pressey’s website & Button Poetry You Tube Channel/video.

And of course the additional challenge for Ekphrastic poetry.

But NaPo is much more than a numbers game. You will feel all sorts of positive emotions from being part of NaPoWriMo 2022! You may have found community, new followers, a new poet or poem to love, an answer to a question, a joy for writing and/or a release.

Let us know how it has been for you in the comments and don’t forget to find some time to relax too!

Photo by Mateusz Dach on Pexels.com
Photo by Yaroslava Borz on Pexels.com

NaPoWriMo is COMING ~ Warm Up Here

Standard

NaPoWriMo certainly gets to the heart of things. I enjoy April every year for the gifts of words and focus on poetry. I give myself permission to write a lot of rubbish, but every year there are a handful of poems created with a glow, many of these go on to be published in magazines, anthologies and my own collections.

(2016)

Buy a copy here.

(2019)

Buy a copy here or from my website here.


I have collated this post to link to previous NaPo posts on the blog. So you won’t have to wait until tomorrow to warm up!

Last year’s warm up post – including some of the history of NaPoWriMo (rebranded GloPoWriMo – as it is now (and has been for a while) a Global phenomenon. I just can’t switch to calling it GloPo).

NaPoWriMo Warming Up

There will be some 2022 Early Bird posts arriving at the NaPo site over the next couple of days. I know they start live posting on the 15th March. Here’s a link to the 2020 Early Bird writing prompts.

NaPoWriMo Early Birds 2020

No Napping from 2019 NaPoWriMo (please note not all video links work).

Preparing for the Event of NaPoWriMo from 2018.

You can always search for more – my NaPoWriMo posts go back to 2014 and include a daily thread for every year.

I wish you well with your writing and look forward to the 15th, when the REAL magic starts!

Enjoy x

Writer’s Block (that old chestnut)!

Standard
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

At the end of January I caught Covid, which kyboshed my plans to clear the inbox and share gems with you all here. I have finally (after 10 days) had my first NEGATIVE test result and am all good to return to work tomorrow. Apart from the financial damage, I am okay. Grateful and fortunate for that!

So I thought I would share another piece of treasure with you whilst I still had a little time at the desk.

Now, there are several schools of thought on Writer’s Block from it doesn’t exist to chronic suffering. I tend to feel I am somewhere near the not existing end of the spectrum, simply because I believe you block the flow if you tell yourself you are blocked. I do believe (and have experienced) slumps in writing after large projects or book publications, ill health and periods where there has been no writing at all*, I take these to be normal passages of being a writer.

*It is said (widely) that even if you don’t commit words to paper/screen your mind is still creating, gathering and writing for you.

I also know if you are ever suffering medically (as I was in 2019) your brain will not be working in the way you’re used to. Your whole system starts survival mode. Personally, there were 6 months where I didn’t write at all. I actually reached the point of acceptance;

‘Well those years were fun whilst they lasted, what’s next?’

Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

Here for your reading is a Writer’s Digest article from the archives of 2019, it’s a Guest column written by Hope Bolinger.

9 Weird Ways to Beat Writer’s Block

Bolinger starts by looking at typical responses (some of which I’ve stated):

“You just have to write every day.”

“You gotta push past those esoteric obstacles and believe in yourself and your writing.”

And, of course, everyone’s favorite: “Writer’s block doesn’t exist.”

before moving on to tackling nine atypical solutions.

My favourite solutions include:

3) Treat / Rewards

…we will psychologically program ourselves to equate rewards with writing. Done in moderation, our brains will work harder to achieve these benchmark prizes. So set the bar. Once you reach an attainable goal (500 words, a completed article, etc.), don’t be afraid to gift yourself when you hit it.

7) Get anti-social

I love writing, but I also love Pinterest. Take a wild guess at which one sucks me in for hours.

Although social media has allowed writers to connect with readers from across the world and share fantastic tips in various writing communities across all social media platforms, it takes us away from the thing we post about all the time: writing.

Various apps such as FocusON and Anti-Social allow for authors to turn off social media and focus on the writing. Don’t worry. Once you finish those last fifty words, you can turn social back on and beam at all the Instagram notifications to your heart’s content.

© Writer’s Digest

Photo by Cristian Dina on Pexels.com

When I first started writing and hadn’t built up discipline, I used to use the other laptop, the one which refused to acknowledge the fact we had the internet. I was more productive! We all know that time slip when you just pop on for one post or the rabbit holes of research (wondrous though they are). If you only have 30 minutes, use it ALL for writing!

For more atypical solutions read the full article here.

Song of Ice and Footprints

Standard

The latest anthology of nature writing is live on the London Wildlife Trust website – with thanks to Amanda Tuke/ Goldcrest Projects.

A great collection of thumbnail nature from a workshop Amanda co-led on 18 December 2021 with Rebecca Gibson, wildlife writer and photographer. These workshops fill me with joy and are precious spaces of calm in this distressed world of ours.

Go take a breath!

https://www.wildlondon.org.uk/blog/amanda-tuke/song-ice-and-footprints-anthology-nature-writing

Read It Wild ~ with Amanda Tuke

Standard

Read It Wild – readings and conversations with nature writers

Join nature writers Amanda Tuke, Electra Rhodes, Vanessa Wright and Jane V Adams for an event to celebrate nature writing.

About this event

Sit back and relax while a range of new and established nature writers spin words for you which bring the wild inside. From a frantic spring and light-filled summer, to autumn scents and winter footprints, join us for a celebration of diverse nature writing. And you’ll hear what nature writing offers for published writers, with the opportunity to ask them questions.

This free event is made possible through National Lottery Funding via Arts Council England.

Join us for FREE
Register for tickets here on Eventbrite.

HURRY SALES END SOON!

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/read-it-wild-readings-and-conversations-with-nature-writers-tickets-242656721787

About the event’s hosts

Amanda Tuke is a nature writer, botanist and birder based in suburban south London and she is currently Great North Wood nature-writer-in-residence. She contributes regularly to Bird Watching Magazine , the London Wildlife Trust Blog and has written for BBC Countryfile and Resurgence & Ecologist Magazines. Amanda blogs about nature and her freelance nature-writing journey and loves leading nature-writing workshops.

El Rhodes is an archaeologist who lives in Wales and Wiltshire. Her prose and poetry has been widely published in a range of anthologies and journals, and she writes a regular column on rural issues for Spelt Magazine. Her book, ‘My Family & Other Folklore’, was recently longlisted for the Nan Shepherd Prize and is now out on submission. And her coastal South Wales set novella, ‘Sextet’, recently won the Louise Walters Books P.100 competition.

Vanessa Wright is a nature writer who lives in Hertfordshire and loves the Hebrides. She left corporate life last year to pursue her passion for wildlife and study for a Masters in Nature and Travel Writing at Bath Spa University. She has contributed to Bird Watching Magazine and The Pilgrim, written on behalf of the Hertfordshire & Middlesex Wildlife Trust, and was recently longlisted for the Yeovil Literary Fiction Prize.

Jane V Adams is a naturalist, photographer and travel and nature writer based in Dorset. She has written for The Telegraph, BBC Countryfile and BBC Wildlife Magazines, and writes a regular nature column for The Blackmore Vale Magazine. Recently longlisted for the 2022 New Travel Writer of the Year Competition, Jane is currently writing a book about nature’s amazing moments, due for publication in 2023.

Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Pexels.com

El Rhodes first reached my radar during Lockdown/ 2020 and I enjoyed her workshops and the writing that brought me. Last year, I was lucky enough to find some more nature writing workshops and as a result, met Amanda Tuke and started the joy that is writing Thumbnails.

I have successfully had both my workshop pieces published on the London Wildlife Website, thanks to Amanda. You can read them here, along with many others:

https://www.wildlondon.org.uk/blog/amanda-tuke/common-or-garden-magic-anthology-nature-writing

https://www.wildlondon.org.uk/blog/amanda-tuke/song-ice-and-footprints-anthology-nature-writing

At the last workshop in 2021, Amanda told us about a planned reading and how we may be able to get involved. In 2022 we were invited to write some seasonal thumbnails, sketching a whole year of nature. After much research, drafting and editing I was excited to press SEND on my first submission of 2022 – and even more excited to hear my pieces had made it into the reading this weekend.

I am delighted to have my nature year included in this event and look forward to hearing the other pieces and the main readers.

I hope you can join us too!

RELATED LINKS:

https://suburbanwild.wordpress.com/

https://www.wildlondon.org.uk/

WLFF Competitions 2022

Standard

Full T&Cs for the 2022 Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe competitions are now available:

Happy New (halfway through the 1st month) Year!

Standard
Happy New year!

We made it to 2022, in this exhausting world where everyday we’re grateful to be alive! I hope your start to 2022 has been a quality one.

Since my health issues at the end of 2018, I haven’t really been an active creative. During my treatment I couldn’t write at all. After 6 months I stopped needing morphine, I gradually worked on editing the book which was delayed due to my medical needs. The editing process takes months and by the end of that I had little energy to invest. At this time I was still on over 20 pills a day. 


I struggled with myself, feelings of failing and frustrations of inability all through 2019. It took a further year after I was free from the stick walking and consultants to tackle this. By this point we were tackling the pandemic.


Many creatives suffered. I read an article which explained the area of the brain we use to process/ manage the emotional fallout of a pandemic is where the creativity comes from, so it was no surprise we all suddenly felt empty. I had been staring at my wall/garden in isolation for a year already so I didn’t have to tackle that feeling of having nothing to write about, but survival mode doesn’t lend itself to play and I lost any potential of artistic bliss. 


I desperately needed to escape into words and place focus away from what was happening globally and at home. Thanks to many generous poets I was able to stay creatively buoyant throughout Lockdown, despite a gauntlet of life’s challenges. And I was finally able to write about my annus horribilis

By 2021 my m/s was ready but I’ve sat on it for so long that it has become changed. Which was its destiny, but I know it needs to become a priority if it is ever to be completed. 


That’s what I am working on as well as taking on almost full time real life work by way of compensating the devastation to the bottom line over the past three years! I am grateful to have work in these times and to be able to do it. 


I was diagnosed with a chronic disease at the end of 2019 and another chronic condition in the summer of 2020, obviously the NHS was already in crisis before the pandemic, so people with other issues (1/5th of the population, I believe) are waiting for appointments connected to other conditions. The backlog is not something which can be worked through.

I was lucky to see the consultant for all allocated appointments last year. But news like this also takes some adjusting. So in addition to working offline on the manuscript, I am also giving myself time to focus on health and future. 

I am involved in projects which take place over the next two weekends and WLFF (Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe) are planning the 2022 Festival.


I am still here and I am delighted that you are too. I wish you every success and happiness in 2022. Fingers crossed! 

https://vpresspoetry.blogspot.com/p/patience.html

2020 Writing from Inlandia Book Launch

Standard

During the 1st UK Lockdown, (which for me lasted 6 months before I was back to face to face work), I signed up to many workshops and writing classes. It was not just a way of navigating the pandemic, coping with mental health or a way to travel when grounded, it helped me find community.

The pandemic came after 15 months of ill health, in which I barely worked or lived and was, aside from hospital appointments and the occasional tea out with friends, pretty much locked down. I had been back at work for a few weeks and was trying to find my writing mojo again. I managed to edit my collection on morphine (not recommended) and through the kindness of friends was able to attend Stanza meetings and the join the Worcester Poetry Film Collective, I even made one event at the Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe in 2019. But I struggled to be at the desk and it was a long journey back to creating. The realisation of the global pandemic hit and … those of us lucky to have story, have story.

Poets in Motion was a great class with US/NZ/UK participants, a real international mix and a range of lives and stories. CelenaDiana Bumpus was a joy, there is no other word to describe her. Sadly, Celena passed away in 2020, before she had chance to make many of her plans realities. She is missed dearly and I am so grateful that we were able to write a class poem in her honour, which appears in the anthology too.

The day I received my book in the post I was so excited, I knew Inlandia Institute had planned a LIVE USA launch event and I never dreamed I would have the opportunity to read, then they announced an online launch event.

I am a panelist this evening AND so are some of my much loved and missed class members. It will be a great event, it is a splendid Anthology and I am blessed to have some words on the pages.

It’s free to come and watch – 9PM GMT.

Register HERE

Join Inlandia Institute for a special online reading of selected works from 2020 Writing from Inlandia! This yearly anthology has been published since 2011 and is an Inlandia tradition, with contributors from sixteen of Inlandia’s creative writing workshops in the 2020 edition. Packed with over 300 pages of stories, poems, and essays, 2020 Writing from Inlandia explores the experience of being alive through memoir, food writing, reflections on the COVID pandemic, and more. Participants will read their work aloud in reflection of the myriad challenges – and rewards – of being human. Don’t miss it!

In memory of Candace Shields, Morris Mendoza, and CelenaDiana Bumpus.

ORDER your copy here.

The Writing from Inlandia series was created to celebrate the participants in our creative writing workshops program and to serve as a record of who we are at the present moment. May these writings pay tribute to a year unlike any other.

© 2021 Inlandia Institute

National Poetry Day 7th Oct 2021

Standard
I love NPD, or as I like to call it – Christmas for poets!

HAPPY BELATED NATIONAL POETRY DAY!

Over my morning coffee, I took great pleasure reading social media feeds and seeing all the poems people were sharing. I was lucky enough to be busy on NPD (and working from home, which is rare these days). I had hoped to post here, especially as there have been several blank months – but like most things in 2021 it was delayed.

You will recall I dived into a year of online poetry/learning in 2020 during the 1st Lockdown, there were a multitude of reasons, including my mental health. I was back face to face work in November (after 3 months of zero income, our Furlough set for only 4 months and for me was 80% of nothing as I had been off sick for a year)! So work was a battle, navigating my way through the 10 day self isolation rules and the possibility of Covid. After 9 months I was exhausted and spent most of the summer offline and away from the desk. This term work has picked up (thank goodness) after several non-existent/fallow years!

I had decided to cut back the amount of online activity but it naturally happened when the laptop was out of reach. I also tried a LIVE event and discovered I have a huge amount of anxiety about any indoor gathering other than family and work (which makes no sense but is one of those things we have little control over). Work IS the biggest risk of all, but is one I have to take/make.

So I paced down the events… however, this was NPD… so I was back to full throttle.

My day started with a workshop. I have been fortunate enough to facilitate Poetry Workshops 2020/21 to a group of Higher Ed students. As it was NPD we invited other departments to join us on Thursday and had a very active, fun workshop. Choice was such a great theme to work with. This group is creative and they generate amazing work. Plans are in motion for publishing it soon.

I loved catching up online with everything poets were doing to mark NPD and catching up with friends and not having to wear work trousers!

Just like Christmas (NPD for me/poets) a special meal is created… for me it was my mentoring session – when I booked it I had no idea it was NPD. A very brilliant way to spend an hour!

Prose poetry is something I write infrequently (I think I have managed 3 or 4), there is only one I am proud of. I do love Jennifer Wong, both her poetry and workshops. It was a last minute spot and a gift from Pen to Print! I absolutely loved spending time with Jenny and an international group (as most are) of writers & poets and I ended up with some decent material to work with!

Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Ade Couper was on FB Live for NPD, I managed to catch the video after the Livestream. There are always multiple events happening and NPD that ramps up!

Malika’s Kitchen were celebrating NPD with a special online event featuring Malika’s Poetry Kitchen contributors to the recently published Too Young, Too Loud, Too Different anthology. The event was hosted by the Director of the MPK writers’ collective, Jill Abram, and featured poets Dean Atta, Be Manzini, Soul Patel and Joolz Sparkes. And Nine Arches /celebrated in partnership with Birmingham Literature Festival with a Planetary Poetics event featuring Gregory Leadbetter, Khairani Barokka, Caleb Parkin and Cynthia Miller.  I managed to catch all streams at leisure a little later on. Nine Arches had an enlightening Q&A and I loved Dean Atta talking age… he’s still YOUNG! Both events were a joy and I glad I managed to get to them, all be it in a different time-zone!

Hoping I wouldn’t have work the next day (I DID)! I stayed up late to attend a workshop in US for Ohio Poetry Day with the Riffe Gallery. A Creative Writing Workshop with Kari Gunter-Seymour (SHIFT). Another fantastic workshop, but after the first hour (bedtime) the brain fog started to get to me. I wrote some of the prompts down to try another day.

I don’t know how Santa manages to get to all those houses, it’s impossible to get to every poet or do all your social media posting on the day! CHOICEs had to be made… but I had a FEAST of a day. Huge gratitude to everyone involved.