Tag Archives: research

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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INKSPILL Library

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The Library will be open throughout the weekend. I will add archived INKSPILL links for you to delve into at your leisure. Enjoy.

INKSPILL Library

INKSPILL 2013

 

HISTORICAL FICTION AND RESEARCH – Nina Lewis 

Historical Fiction and Research

Historical Fiction Part 2

 

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INKSPILL 2014

 

Guest Writer William Gallagher tells us

HOW TO GET REJECTED

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/inkspill-how-to-get-rejected-guest-writer-william-Gallagher/

 

 

MAKING TIME TO WRITE 

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/inkspill-making-time-to-write-guest-writer-williamgallagher/

 

A VIDEO ON DIALOGUE

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/inkspill-a-video-from-guest-writer-william-Gallagher/

 

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EDITING A POEM 

With Guest Writer Heather Wastie 

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/inkspill-guest-writer-heather-wastie-editing-a-poem/

 

 

WRITING & EDITING

With Guest Writer Charlie Jordan 

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/inkspill-guest-writer-charlie-jordan-thoughts-on-writing-editing-part1/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/inkspill-guest-writer-charlie-jordan-thoughts-on-writing-and-editing-part-2/

 

WRITING MOTIVATION

includes video – Nina Lewis 

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/inkspill-good-morning-come-and-watch/

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INKSPILL 2015

 

I had the great pleasure of FINALLY seeing Inua Ellams perform in Birmingham this Spring, he also did a blinding set at the Swindon Poetry Festival this Autumn. 

This is a poetry film, featured as part of 2015 INKSPILL writing retreat. 

REFUGEE STORIES 

Nigerian-born Inua Ellams, a London-based writer, created the story “Dolphins” as part of “The Refugee Tales”, works about the journeys of refugees and migrants seeking safety in Britain. Ellams worked with children who have made treacherous journeys across desert and sea, and wrote the stories based on their experiences.  © Film for Action

http://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/refugee-stories-retold-by-nigerianborn-poet-inua-ellams/

 

THE TERRIBLE

Guest Poet Interview with Daniel Sluman on his 2nd collection 

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/25/inkspill-guest-poet-interview-with-daniel-sluman/

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Come back to the Library tomorrow where we will have more links for you from INKSPILL 2015 & 2016.

NaPoWriMo Day 6 Ingredients: Actual Poems

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It is around about now (days off the end of the month) that I realise this challenge is not going to end in April for me. After 4 weeks off from my writing life, I am returning to writing for performance, performing and editing current projects. The summer is fast approaching and lots needs addressing in my life outside of poetry. My poetry life is busy preparing for festivals, events and submissions. Tag on the day job, I don’t even want to think about all the boxes I am trying to unpack my way through or the need for a DEEP Spring clean at home… the result is chaos.

I have decided not to rush the NaPoWriMo project, I want to enjoy this process and benefit from time to write – after all that’s the main point, that and to have fun.

I may dream of writing business but the nuts and bolts are art. Art needs nurturing, time, commitment, space… I am approaching it softly.

From now on I do a day a day, as it should be. Welcome to day 6.

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Our featured participant today is Kevin O’Conner, who struggled at first with our Day 5 prompt, but came up with a great poem, well-seeded with seed names.

Today’s featured poet in translation is Burma’s Ma Ei. Very little of her work is available in English, but you’ll find two poems at the link above, and two more here.

You may be interested in checking out this short film, showcasing the work of contemporary Burmese poets, including Ma Ei, as well as this interview with James Byrne, editor of a recent anthology of Burmese poetry, which includes Ma Ei’s work.

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Today’s prompt was to write about food.

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This is my friend’s microwave (7 years ago), maybe they have these models in the UK in a higher budget than the mark Mr G and I look at, I just loved the message. Usually they just ping, beep or flash. Perhaps I should have written about this microwave instead of taking half a day (and night) deliberating my food poem.

I think the writing process for Day 6 is juicier than the poem so I am sharing it first. I love food, this write should have been easy. But I remember Jo Bell’s advice; abandon your first thoughts, dig deeper. Immediately, like a naughty child, I want to write all my initial foodie thoughts.

 

Butter Fingers

I haven’t written a poem about cake.

Or biscuits.

Or fish fingers, crabsticks and spaghetti hoops.

There is no advice about what foods to avoid

on (first) dates,

or heavily veiled descriptions of tier towered

wedding cakes.

No Saturday night take-away

chicken madras, sweet and sour pork, fish

and chips,

but there is a poem about food.

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If in doubt write what you are not going to write about. Just a bit of free write fun there, in the shape of a poem. Although it does pass as a food poem. At this point I placed a title above it and moved on. It is a poem.

I started with pictures of food, trying to disguise identity in an almost riddle.

Bright circus colours

a Big Top in stream form

The mustard and ketchup on a hotdog.

Then came a mind-map. Some ideas from which I may explore in the summer when I have maximum writing time.

Films about food and drink was taken from the mind-map and became an enjoyable hour of research and created some ideas for my next writing group, in May. I have a list of 27 alternative film titles substituting food words. ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crumpet’ a particular favourite of mine. Harrison Ford, dishy – doesn’t take a writer to get to crumpet there.

I then looked at Tarantino film clips involving food (another idea to chase later). I ended up on a recipe page and then spent a futile Google search looking for US Market canned Pumpkin, previously available in Tesco & Waitrose and now seemingly not reaching our island at all. I thought of filling suitcases and then baggage allowance and security.

Then I wrote a poem about Mr G and I cooking in the kitchen together.

Tango on terracotta tiles…

cabinet perimetered dancefloor…

hands gathering busy.

From here I ended up falling asleep and I woke up (2 hrs after my alarm) with a poem spilling from my head.

 

Eggs is Eggs (A pillow head poem)

Mum poached them

Dad fried them

Paul boiled them

I scrambled

and David,

was too young to cook.

 

me hallo

 

From the Desk & Endgame for the Allotment

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I am fortunate that work hasn’t really started, I am on call but the 1st few weeks can be slack as no cover is needed. This has given me a couple of clear days for writing. This week I found out about an exciting new opportunity to present work or possibly even a workshop for a mental health festival. I am writing my bid today. Yesterday I researched some Lit Magazines and read some informative articles which I will link you up to during INKSPILL. Then the wireless connection started unfriending me and I spent time writing with ink and preparing my set for the Poetry Lounge.

Today I am working on a couple of submissions and having come home with a scribbled list of ideas after last night’s event would like to get some writing done too.

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This evening is our last time up the allotment, we are emptying the shed, digging up the rhubarb and carrying long beanpoles (bamboo canes) home and then we are handing the land back to the council. It is quite sad, we have had the allotment for 5 glorious years and it has been a big part of our story (me & Mr G) …I plan to pay tribute to the past half a decade of hard graft and bountiful harvests, through poetry. This year will be the FIRST year we don’t carve our own HOMEGROWN pumpkins for Halloween.

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We are growing in our garden and still expect to fill the Christmas Dinner plates with homegrown wonders though.

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© A.Cooke 2013

© A.Cooke 2013

 

 

Here Comes INKSPILL 2014

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For the 2nd year we are offering a FREE Online Writing Retreat at the end of October, 25th & 26th.

Please comment to register interest, it was helpful and fun for many writers who participated last year and some of the TOP POSTS each month come from INKSPILL 2013.

This year I also have some exceptional Guest Writers lined up for you all and it may be the final time we can offer this retreat as 100% FREE. Each year we cover different aspects of writing and also add a selection of Free-writing and observational activities of the workshop variety.

You can participate in real time (GMT) and follow the whole process over the weekend or just dip in and out of posts. You can link back to your own blogs if you think some of your followers may be interested and people can join in at any point over the weekend.

SO SAVE THE DATE – 25th/26th OCTOBER and come and join the fun.

Leave a comment or a LIKE if you feel you may be interested. This is by no means a commitment on your behalf, just gives me some idea of preparation.

INKSPILL 2014 will be posting requests soon.

Have a think: if there is a gap in your knowledge, something confusing you, a direction needed? You can ask us to look into it – after all it is YOUR retreat!

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25th & 26th OCTOBER 2014

 

Mslexia Survey & Writing Tips

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Found this in amongst my emails, thought the questions might be of interest to you even if you decided against doing the survey.

I would recommend you do this, often:

When you read something that excites you, analyse why it works so well, include these strengths in your own writing. When you read something that you believe is below par (and yet it has been published) analyse the weaknesses and avoid them in your own writing.

IF YOU FEEL YOU NEED HELP/SUPPORT/ENCOURAGEMENT be sure to sign up for the FREE Writing Retreat (final weekend of October) ‘INKSPILL’ on this very blog! Look out for tasters and teasers coming soon! Inkspill tinyinkspill pink

And now the survey…

How does your reading affect your writing?

The latest Mslexia Survey

Hello, it’s me again…

With another wee survey to distract you from your writing for a few minutes. (Though people have told us that our questions are actually quite helpful in clarifying their thoughts about their creative process and their writing lives).

Our Guest Editor Bernardine Evaristo wanted us to investigate how what we read feeds into our writing. We thought that sounded interesting too.

There are ten multiple choice questions, so it should only take ten minutes to complete. The survey closes at midnight on Saturday 16 August.

As ever, your responses are anonymous and it’s impossible to match them with your contact details. If you’d like to respond more personally, or at greater length, or contribute to the Letters pages in the magazine, please email your comments directly to editor@mslexia.co.uk. (If you do respond in this way, please let me know if you’d prefer your contribution to remain anonymous.)

The link to the survey is below.

Very many thanks.


Debbie T
Editorial Director, Mslexia

Survey

 

Leave Time for Admin and Research

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Hopefully one day, you can add ‘marketing’ to the title listed.

The greatest lesson I have learnt since I relaunched into writing is that Admin and research take a lot of time and both are necessary. I have spent the past few days researching markets and scheduling writing through the diary around life and performing.

It has taken days… I tried an old trick I used to push myself with back in the days of a pile of office work. I worked out that in an hour I had (on average) covered about 5 websites, I basically tried to cover what I needed to find out in less than 20 mins a site, then less than 15, I couldn’t shave any time off this as I was also copying information into files on my computer.

I am only part way through my list and have, as yet, not actually worked on any new writing, which I am champing at the bit to do (eager).

I can now post a review of ‘A Night With Maya Angelou’ with links to Jordan’s review (organiser). I am also dropping in a post about ‘Off the Page’, Jan Watt’s official book launch, attended on Tuesday.

Go read, enjoy! jan benches

Diaries, Deadlines, Determination: A Very Rare Writing Day!

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plannerThis morning I had the exciting task of waiting in (whilst the sun shone) for a delivery! Mr G and I have finally bought the sun loungers we spent last summer dreaming about. With the garden practically finished and summer on the way (I hope!) it seemed like it was about time we treated ourselves! They are still packaged up but the cushions look comfy, we have resisted buying sun loungers from all the shops we have seen them in. Frustrating though that was, I am glad we waited now.

All we need is the sunshine, which according to the forecasts has now disappeared again until the tail end of next week.

I have taken today as a writing day (and with the exception of a few household chores, neglected over the weekend), I plan to do just that.Jean Atkin’s Writing Workshop yesterday, at Acton Scott Historic Working Farm* has reawoken the poet/writer inside me with some vigour. * I have reblogged Jean’s own post and will write about this workshop soon. Poetry Workshop best mr

So far today;

  • I have updated my writing diary and list of websites to research/surf.
  • Realised I don’t have a free weekend until August now!
  • Resisted logging into social media.
  • Checked emails in one of the inboxes.
  • Searched out opportunities and ideas for the future.
  • Made a chronological list of all the writing I need to be getting on with.

This week I have a wonderful week of being entertained. The poetry events I am attending are not ones where I have to perform. Tomorrow night (Tuesday) I am going to check out The Tea Project at the MAC, tickets have already SOLD OUT! It sounds exciting and Lorna Meehan is performing some pop up poetry. I fear I may be the oldest attendee having read their manifesto and target audience and realised the artists themselves are fresh out of university…. I know I will still enjoy it.

Then on Thursday we have the last of three events organised with Ledbury Poetry Festival and Worcester LitFest, a group of us are heading out for a poetry night out to listen to Carol Ann Duffy. poetry and place

 

I did have a stanza meeting *the last one clashed with a performance and spoken word night organised by Nadia Kingsley and David Calcutt. This month clashes with something that Mr G has organised (Jimi Hendrix/ Cream Cover band) should be a smashing night out. But means my latest poetic work will remain unedited, may have to call on my Buddy Group.

Then on Sunday Hayley Frances finishes the project in Stratford, Page Talk and has invited us to the RSC Theatre to watch the showcase event. Exciting, I have given up voluntary stewarding and a special Tshirt to attend the event *if i have enough energy left by the tail end of the weekend.

As we have just had half term (and it was rather action packed) and I am tired and in need of breaking back in gently (and have 1 less mortgage to pay from now on) – I am only working my 3 contracted days this week. I look forward to another day in my writing skin on Friday.

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Today’s Tips:

Be organised (believe me I am the least organised person in the world),

make a plan and stick to it,

map things out and approach deadlines chronologically if you can, giving time to the most pressing elements of your list,

go easy on yourself.

Reward yourself if you achieve your daily goal(s).

Keep all audio/visual equipment OFF (unless it helps you write)!

Keep it small. Keep it simple and enjoy. ENJOY!

 

 

I have managed to squeeze about 5 hours out of my writing day (dang chores!) in this time I have made a list of possible outlets for submission, looked at subscriber competitions for June/ July, added 3 blogs to WordPress (other people’s not creating anymore of my own… I have plans for a website I need to develop in the Summer), read 4 online e-magazines, (well the poetry sections), have scribbled frantically over this week’s pages in the writing diary, made a timetable blocking out time I can work on what this week – something I will need to do for the rest of the month. I have already decided I may be unable to attend Hayley’s event this Sunday, I think I am going to need the writing time!

Now I plan on catching up with blog posts before the next 3 days of work and poet-ing takes me away from the laptop!

 

Writing Historical Fiction: Research

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Last October I hosted INKSPILL – a virtual writing retreat, as part of the programme we looked at Historical Fiction.

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INKSPILL HISTORICAL FICTION Part1

Part 2

Today I am attempting to write a short story which is Historical Fiction.

Here is some of the advice I researched;

1. Fiction. Regardless of your time period, regardless of all the in-depth research you’ve done, you must remember that you’re writing fiction first, and historical fiction second. In other words, don’t forget that it’s action and conflict that moves the book forward.

2. Avoid history lessons …You know your period of history so well, but you must assume that your reader does not. So, it’s temping to fall into the habit of giving history lectures for a few paragraphs. Educating your reader may be necessary, but it works best when the history comes across as part of the action.

3. Using your research. Make sure the historical fact is of interest to your reader.

Don’t paint historical pictures without making them a part of the drama of your book.

4. Building a Setting. I’ve always found that an effective way to build a setting is not simply to describe the landscape, but also to make the setting part of your character’s journey.

5. Using languages or accents. I was always careful not to use words that took too much space to translate. The basic rule of thumb, I think is, if you want to use a foreign word for effect, then look for those words that are close enough to the language of your book that the meaning is obvious.

© 2014 Writer’s Digest wd

Pick your time period – it should be an area of history you either know about or have an interest in learning.

Then choose your character(s), setting and work on the plot – remembering this is a story first, you can edit, amend and add historical detail and facts at a later stage.

Immerse yourself in that time period.

 

 

Writer Fatigue

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waiting-for-perfection

I have spent 2 days wondering whether to blog about this or not. I didn’t want to appear that I was whinging, however maybe this article will be useful to you, I would be interested in hearing how you deal with such things yourself because this fatigue leaves you feeling pretty down about your writing and worthiness in the field.

I decided this morning I would write about it and started researching. (Hoping the answers I find will make me feel better about my writing self.)

I know about burn out and fatigue – it is no different in the world of writing, especially when you are working and trying to balance, life, family and writing outside these hours. (Which, let’s be straight most of us are – dreaming of the days when we can make a living being a writer but until then trying to squeeze it into every little gap of time life throws us!)

I have taken on extra paid work recently, this has left me tired (over-tired) and feeling stressed and fraught. I am not in the middle of any major writing projects, where writers block can occur and lead to a fatigue. I have just signed up for NaPoWriMo and NaNoWriMo though and have a lot of writing future going on in my head (times when you constantly seem to be thinking about it, mulling it over and creating stories mentally) in an already overfull mind!

I have taken a week off events, although this has been a good way to conserve energy, I believe the lack of direct contact with creatives has left me feeling dulled. This is the first time since December that I have had a week off from the world of spoken word.

I have started to doubt the quality of my writing. Feel low when I am writing. Feel low when I avoid writing. A vicious circle.

When I looked into it the best advice (as with insomnia) is go and do something else. Leave the laptop alone for a whole day, 2 days. Release the pressure. The writing you produce otherwise may well not be good enough, it is a waste of time trying when you are suffering from this fatigue. Leave it alone and come back to it – even if you have submission deadlines.

I see light at the end of this tunnel. There is only 1 more week of work before our 2 week Easter break – a time for R & R and a writing catch up. But in these last few days of juggling life, work and writing – I keep dropping all the balls!

For now – it is good to know it IS normal, no writer escapes it, even established ones. That you can’t force it when it won’t come. That stepping away is not avoiding it, it is giving your mind space and time to work through it. There is another side, the days when you are full of writing energy and can’t write enough, when 24 hours is not enough time to get everything down on the screen.

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Have you ever suffered writer fatigue?

What helps?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

 

 

 

Related articles

http://thewritingant.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/writer-fatigue-do-you-have-it/

http://www.noveldoctor.com/2010/05/26/stuck-in-the-middle/

http://www.writersdigest.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=8610

motivation ave