Category Archives: Organisation

A Writing Life – Researching, Planning & Editing

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When you are a writer research, planning and editing are the cornerstones of the process and all go hand in hand. When you are a poet they may not even be connected to the same project! I find myself spinning 13 current projects, all made from something sturdier than porcelain, thank goodness.

Since the beginning of February I have been collating 2 issues of Contour Poetry Magazine, researching several subjects for my own poetry and for workshop preparation. I have been planning a school workshop for the past month (booked in November for March) and recently (a few days ago) decided to organise and promote a workshop to mark the centenary of the Suffragettes based on an exhibition Suffragettes, Voters and Worcester Woman currently on at The Hive.

I also started preparing and promoting my next WMRN Reader in Residence Workshop, which takes place today in Rugby Library.

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https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/writing-a-book-review-workshop-at-rugby-library-tickets-41275431928

It is a good job I have given myself the week off from events and performing! I am currently working the final edits for Contour Poetry Magazine Issue 2 – Love. Love Promo 2

 

 

The ATOTC (A Tale of Two Cities) Special Edition of Contour is due out in April. The 47 poets involved in this project are now at the final editing stages and submitting their response poems. The Call poems are all set ready for proof stages and I have until the end of the month to organise the other half of this publication.

There are more plans in action for the next stage of this project, more on this soon.

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I have taken more bookings, one for a festival in October and another for an event in April, more on these soon too.

I am reading a manuscript that I have been asked to endorse, very happily. It is my 2nd reading of it and I have already committed to some words, but need to finish the edit this week and get the wheels rolling on that one.

WPD SUBMISSION

I have started to organise World Poetry Day (21st March), part of my official Poet Laureate remit for Worcester LitFest.

I am currently on the look out for Little Poems (10 lines or less), they can be previously published as long as you retain the copyright and cite where they were first published.

I started work organising the Droitwich Arts Festival (poetry element) again this year. More on this soon, the festival takes place in June/July this year.

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When you dream of being a writer, you dream of writing. This is part of the dream – a very necessary part… but when you obtain that dream, even before then, you quickly realise the reality is layered with the addition of hard work. Being inundated with a plethora of tasks every day just to set the writing right. It is a good job that my career before this was perfect training, an In Tray that always got filled with more IN and was never empty, multi-tasking every minute of the day and having to trudge through a lot of tasks that made you dream of having a PA! Just like in my previous career, they still all need to be done.

Some days the writing is just the time you reward yourself at the end of the day after all your hard work!

If it wasn’t hard work it wouldn’t be worth it though, isn’t that what they say?

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Writing & Productivity

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I have noticed that some of the most read posts on AWF are those that help others. Advice, encouragement and motivation are all things writers seek. I am a trained Life Coach and a Writer, so I’m in a pretty good position to help.

As it is January and we are all thinking about new beginnings, let’s crack on and see what we can do for you.

This is the first in a new series of posts about WRITING & PRODUCTIVITY.

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Invest some time in this, I promise it will be worth it!


The Plan – Getting the most out of your To DO Lists

  1. First, look at your lifestyle and needs. Many of us have family, jobs and a plethora of chores and tasks that stand in the way of our writing time. If you are living as I do with lots of fingers in lots of pies the writing chances will change daily. The ideal may be that you manage a dedicated writing day, or you may still only have evenings free.

It has taken me 4 years, but I now have a 3 day working week (sometimes more) and 4 days, 2 of which can usually be used for writing. The other learning curves are the time submissions take, even when the writing is ready and the amount of time admin and background tasks (necessary) take. This needs to be factored in.

My most productive advice is:

a) use the days your brain won’t play to get ahead on all these tasks.

b) Try your best to stay on top of everything. I write a daily list. Doing a little often is far easier than sifting through mountains of paperwork and entries trying to find the information afterwards.

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2. Accept that what you can do is all you can do, we may dream of having more time, but work with what you have and try to avoid the wishing, pondering time can be important but not when it involves trying to obtain the impossible.

3. Once you have established when you have time to write think about how you feel. Most of us are aware than our energy levels change throughout the course of the day but we forget that we have can use this to our advantage. Bear this in mind when you look at your list, (I missed a step) – make a list. All the writing tasks that need to be completed today.

So now you have a list of today’s tasks. Most people treat a list like a gauntlet and just battle through it, this method is fine if it is a list of chores or something. This is your passion, you are writing because you are or want to be a writer, productivity shouldn’t hurt.

Step back, think about which are the most important tasks and number them. Next tap into your energy and tackle the biggest or most challenging tasks when your energy is high. Anything with a deadline needs to be prioritised.

I am better first thing in the morning, tea-time and late at night. So I would tackle the hardest or longest tasks before 11am or around 6pm or after 9pm.

Now re-order those numbers to fit around you and your energy levels.

4. Forgive yourself if you do not complete the list. Especially if other factors have prevented it – family crisis etc. Do try to carve time for your writing and let others know it is your time.

I turn the mobile phone to silent and check it when I take a break in case of some emergency, likewise there are people who do not answer the door, or leave the house to write elsewhere, making themselves unavailable.

Here it is visually.

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I then just rewrite a quick scribbled order underneath so I can just follow a simple list down the page. I have written this example for an ‘evening of writing’. It may look fairly unrealistic and I would advise that you start with a shorter task list, maybe 4 or 5 items.

Just to clarify ‘check emails’ doesn’t mean the 500 unread ones or forwards of cats being funny, it refers to specifically targeted emails that I need to keep an eye on and may only take a minute if no further response is necessary.

It is just an example to show this method. We all know blog posts take an incredible amount of time to write. But here’s the secret… it is Sunday evening and I am scheduling this post for tomorrow (here you are reading it on Monday). Monday is a much busier for traffic on the blog AND if I don’t get it finished there are more hours tomorrow. Point 4 is important. FORGIVE YOURSELF.

Good writing targets are all about false deadlines and safety nets.

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Writing Places – My Kingdom for a Desk

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I love to read about other people’s  space and I often imagine my own dream space… but the truth is, I don’t even have a writing desk. For a poet I think they are less essential equipment than for the novelist, but it is good to have an organised surface. I am under no illusion that whilst I make do the rest of the world has gold cast desks in ivory towers to sit down behind. Like I said, a fascinating topic.

I mainly use laptops and notebooks (old school, the ones with paper and bindings, usually ribbon markers and well designed, appealing covers) – so I can manage with a lap tray, curled up legs, my own knees, a coffee table, side table, TV dinner table… someone else’s back… the list goes on.

In the past (before Mr G and I moved), I have had desks and since we have been living together I have often caught sight of a dream desk. Sometimes in stores I would have to go back into full-time employment to afford, other times the furniture is just too big for the dimension of the rooms bound for a desk one day.

I fell in love with an old fashioned, green leather covered desk, you know the sort. It was in a charity shop (now closed down) and I even think I know who donated it. But it was BIG and I know I am not ready.

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Stock image AntiqueAtlas.com

Not being ready isn’t a case of denying myself until a standard of life is obtained, it is simply a question of space needs to come first and guess who is STILL unpacking boxes this summer?

Sometime last year or the beginning of this one, Mr G and I bought a miniature dining table (a copy of the one I grew up with) with the intention of varnishing and using it outside to replace one which was severely warped (although that made it interesting enough to appear in a poem).

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Did the table make it outside? Did it get varnished? Of course not, it got placed in the middle of the room and had stuff dumped all over it – until Christmas when we used it as a dining table for a very small family gathering. This means it was 2015 we bought it! After this I decided that if it was going to spend the winter/spring inside – I may as well use it.

pc The ‘desk bed’ 2014

Use it I did. A tablecloth to hide the imperfections yet to be tackled, a bar to rest my foot against as I sit in quite possibly the worst cross-legged position at the laptop. Month on month the post and magazines, diaries, notes, receipts, books etc. grew at a magical rate. In amongst this writing stew – car keys, hairbrushes, money, cards, hair bobbles, pens would all go astray.

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The first task of my summer holiday was to strip it all back (a design term for tidy up) to make me feel I was being creative and using my time purposefully! Most of it was binned, re-shelved, stacked elsewhere neatly in piles. Then I went and rescued an oilcloth basket I bought last summer on my London expedition (which was still in the bag with receipt of purchase) and tidied everything I needed into that. The scrap paper notes pad, diaries, pencil case, pens etc.

I have spent the past 4 nights tidying up after myself. Everyday I have used this space well. Although a clearer mind implies less ideas, it is a more comfortable place to write now. Or edit, which has been my main task this month.

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What about the space you write in?

Stay Motivated – Tie Up January ~ Prepare for Creativity in February

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For many years I worked weekends, I am under no illusion that we all have the day off – but for those of us fortunate not to be working, take some time today to gather up the month and get ready for the next one!

Today I am writing poems and clearing more boxes with Mr G, my main deadlines have past but I may squeeze in another submission if I create enough time.

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This month my writing life has been packed full, I have met many new performers and poets, created new work, attended workshops, performed, headlined, spent hours researching (specifically the Iron Age, horse’s harness fittings, the terrorist attacks in Paris,  Charlie Hebdo , the Earth, measuring planets and religion), worked to tight deadlines, submitted poetry, worked in my writing and mentoring role & read/ bought new poetry books. I have also nearly filled my A4 notebook – which was started in the summer – soon I shall be using my 3rd writing notebook of this new fangled life. I have also (thanks to a visit to the Corinium Museum) nearly filled my 2nd observational-notes-take-it-everywhere-with-you notebook. Exciting stationery times!

I have just spent 2 hours with my writing diary reviewing everything – making sure everything is ticked off for January and scribbling well into the pages of February and March – as far as August and then to December. Being organised is the key to a freelance life. I have at least reached the stage where my bank of work enables me to find suitable poems rather than continually producing new work to theme.

I also spent sometime this month looking back over the blog and want to share a list of links back to January 2013 and 2014. Dip in, particularly if you have become unstuck with resolutions or lost those hopeful vibes that January the 1st brings.

ENJOY

January 2013

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2013/01/05/putting-the-stones-in-first/

A Wise Article I once Read…credit for the metaphor needs to go to Joanne Borrill.

Some lessons I learned on the 10th January (still relevant today)

8 LESSONS

1) You can’t outwit a SMART phone

2) Reading material you are ‘into’ takes half the time

3) You can create your own sense of joy and well-being

4) Following your dreams reawakens you at soul level

5) Seek and you will find – The Bible

6) You have got to be in to win it – National Lotto

7) ALWAYS test the heat of the coffee BEFORE you twist the lid on

8) Those warm-up-writing-ideas- are less necessary when you have a blog

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/how-to-create-more-time-effortlessly/

Gold dust ^ you won’t need a time machine or anything!

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/146/

A reminder that loss resurfaced – a poem mantra

January 2014

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/start-the-new-you-now-ultimate-webinar-positive-affirmations/

Positive affirmations to keep you going from a great online webinar I did last year.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/01/19/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/letting-go-finding-the-balance-between-work-and-dreams/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/taking-a-stroll-down-rejection-avenue/

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