Tag Archives: Tips

INKSPILL How Not to Waste Time – Article and Discussion


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13:30 How not to Waste Time – Article & discussion


Wasting time – we all do it… we all know we shouldn’t do it… some of us can come up with strategies for time management others need some support with this discipline.

It is a subject I have blogged about before and something that I am always trying to improve on.

These posts may be of interest to you.




This article helps us focus on writing time and it is definitely not a waste of your time to read it.

The secret is finding your rhythm. Wishing we had time to finish our novel, write more, begging for more hours in a day are all common laments of the writer. We chase time as an entity rather than attempting to bond, we need to build up a relationship with time. Firstly consider how it can move your writing activity forward or how it is holding you back. If you think you’ll never have enough time, you never will. We cannot play with time, but we can give it less power over us by managing it.

  • I use a writing schedule, which starts as a TO DO list (based on chronological deadlines).
  • I estimate how long each task is likely to take.
  • I avoid social media throughout this time, the entire internet in fact, unless I am in need of research.
  • I am someone who cannot write with distraction, there is no TV, music, people around my writing space and if I am seriously working towards a deadline, I even switch my phone off. I wouldn’t be available on it if I was at work and if it is urgent, people leave voicemails.
  • I build in breaks every hour or so, mini ones. To check the phone, stretch, manage those household tasks that need doing. It is amazing what you accomplish when only given 5 or 6 minutes.

Forgiveness is another tool you need. It gets to the end of the working day and you have writing that still needs to exist.

  • Push it onto the next TO DO list and praise yourself, celebrate what you have managed to accomplish, rather than worry about what isn’t yet real.
  • Unless you miss a deadline (which happens from time to time in the world of open submissions, but should never happen when working with editors with conversing about the schedule), give yourself a good talking to and learn from it.
  • How can you schedule your writing with gaps to manage the task in time?
  • I even use a polar cup so I avoid the kitchen and kettle for several hours.
WLF Polar cup This particular one was bought for me by my writer friend Andrew Owens, in 2014 I wrote a collaborative performance poem about Moustaches.

There are lots of books out there about time management, here is a link to an article by Rachel Scheller in which she uses an excerpt from The Productive Writer by Sage Cohen to explore Managing Time further.


We all get the same twenty-four hours in a day. What you do with yours is up to you. You may believe that you have “no time,” but the fact is, you have just as much time as anyone else. What varies for every writer is our unique mix of work and family responsibilities, financial commitments, sleep requirements, physical and emotional space for writing, and perhaps most importantly, our ability and willingness to prioritize writing in this mix.


DAlma Please leave your comments below.

Mslexia Survey & Writing Tips


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



MONDAY! Monday! On Writing and Time Management.


Monday rolls around all too quickly, HALLOWEEN 2011 081 you know I made the assumption that connecting back into a much missed creative life would take away the Sunday Slump of the rat race and the Manic out of Monday… how wrong I was. A lot of the internal struggle is created by the fact that the writing isn’t paying (yet) and so to keep my house, car, life (like many writers) I still have an evolving career/ day job.

If the tax man is reading this – YOU OWE ME MONEY – lots £100’s on a tax rebate….. would be helpful to receive that soon – believe me I doubt they read the blog (big brother paranoia) but when I tried to contact them through the website and calling I just got an automated message telling me if I was owed money they would know and would be dealing with it — then it automatically HUNG UP! Now this may be true but I tend to be a little unlucky with bureaucratic red tape and things that may take a few months usually roll on for years if my names and codes are attached to it! imagesCAEEZNXM

Anyway back to the post. I have had a productive morning, waking early on my writing day, doing some laundry (despite the rain which is supposedly clearing by dinner time!), starting my diet and exercise regime ready to not be uncomfortable in my skin at my brother’s wedding this Autumn and in the hope I fit back into some of my dresses this summer. By the time I logged on it was 10:30, I felt guilty and then I THREW AWAY that negative feeling, I could have slept in until 10! alarm-clock

So I made a start (as I always do) at the beginning of a writing day, by making a list. A set of goals, jobs to do, things to research, write, read.

paper-notesI am well disciplined and stay off social media until there is a break point or after the list has been completed is better. Breaks tend to elongate without you realising once you are trapped in the social media bubble. The way I see it is I wouldn’t have access if I was at work. I am at work (writing) – I have no access. My brain is so easy to kid!

Sometimes (depending what is on the list) time gets rolling fast and it will be time to pack up before I have ticked off the 1st two items. I do NOT worry. The post-it list is stuck in my writing diary, ready with the starting point if my next writing session.

Today’s list consists of research and writing. Plus I had a few business emails to read/ respond to. That’s the biggest surprise I think in writing, the fact that ADMIN takes up so much time. It took ages to flag up the emails, despite using designated email addresses for different areas.

to do I have currently applied for a pop-up performance arranged by Naked Lungs for this year’s Birmingham Literature Festival, have 2 – 4 short stories to complete (2 this week if I can) and several poems to write, some to follow up the workshop at Acton Scott Farm with Jean Atkin, some for a performance tomorrow night (1st one in 13 days, took a bit of a break!), some for this weekend and others to catch up on other projects I have only had time to dip in and out of. I also have my first official book review to write (for which I was paid, a complimentary copy of the poetry pamphlet)!

I have 14 websites to looks at/research, a character to create from a world I know very little about (eek!), I have a scratch night I probably won’t make pencilled in* and a book launch. This weekend is the Writing West Midlands Creative Writing Group and a deadline for some written submissions.

* Conserving energy (and petrol) WLF – Worcester LitFest in a fortnight and lots going on before then too. Plus I now have to fit EXERCISE into the schedule – and don’t suggest parking and striding to the gigs – I get red faced after about 3 minutes and would need a shower when I arrived and most venues have no dressing rooms or facilities!

So I had best get on with my list! imagesCAISM7Z5


Time Management:

  • Split chunks of time, I find not being to prescriptive works well (in my day job, things have to fit in allocated slots of time) and it feels good to break free! I started at 10:30 and said I could have a break in an hour, that kind of thing.


  • Know what you need to do, get your head down and try to do it.


  • I say try because creativity cannot be forced or pushed, some days it comes easier than others. So the true TIME management falls in making sure there is time to complete your projects when you have those duff days. This is usually a 4 day buffer at least, depending on length of editing/ proofing time.


  • I always try to get things written in time to give it some rest and a look over/ edit before submission – this is usually a period of a week if you have enough time to do this it can be beneficial.


  • Keep your unfinished list to know where your starting point is next time.


  • If you can that starting point should be part way through something -or the start of a task based on researching or something you can get into straight away. The problem with starting with your next writing job is the possibility you will be staring at a blank screen for some of the time.


  • Try not to lose focus. I often set alarms on my phone, that way I don’t even have to glance at the onscreen clock anyway.


  • Try to ease the pressure off. You are your Boss, it is always beneficial to get on with the Boss right?


  • And just like real work (unless you work in Health or Education/ Public Sector) take some breaks and give yourself treats and incentives for reaching target! Not food though – you don’t want a writer’s (saggy) bottom!


Good Luck! Green-Clovers-Vector-Illustration

PS I used part of my break to write this – I am now walking away from the screen!

Writing Historical Fiction: Research


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

AWF Banner


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.



You CAN Eat an Elephant, one bite at a time (Tips for surviving NaNoWriMo)


No animals were harmed in the making of this post.

imagesCAY08TDAThe first motivation is;

  •  Remember why you signed up for camp.

Take some time to think about this or even write out your goals on paper.

I bet one word that comes up for many of us is FUN, make sure you are having some. camp_nanowrimo_2013_calendar_by_somesortofwonderful-d5z9ze1

For BELOW-AVERAGE counts;     images  

  • Remember these are just numbers.
  • It is the amount of words you have written that is falling behind the recommended daily allowance, NOT you. You are NOT below-average – you were BRAVE enough to sign up for camp!
  • Ask yourself WHY? What reasons do you have for not typing 1667 words a day?

If you were busy with life (especially if you were enjoying it – then forgive yourself.)

If you have spent the day in PJ’s watching bad TV, staring at a laptop that’s not even powered up – then forgive yourself!

Yes, you heard me.


FORGIVE & Forget

If you don’t forgive yourself you will hold onto this lack of words, you will label it a failure and that epic fail will set the tone for your camp.

Get out the marsh-mellows, toast some and TOAST yourself – ‘Here’s to tomorrow when I will try to write the suggested word count.’


The whole idea behind NaNoWriMo is to promote writing and get people writing.

As long as you are writing then you have won, whether you make it all the way to 50,000 or not.    e1b03d4cf9e0dd5e602f266e5d32e0e3


Keep going

Keep writing

Keep believing

Keep enjoying

Keep motivating

Keep camping.

Happy writing x

Blogging – PART 1 – My Journey – including tips & links


PART 1 My Journey

My Organic Approach


In late 2012 I became part-time and saw it as a perfect opportunity to restart my freelance writing career. It was the right time.

In January 2013 I decided to start my blog. https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/about/

I had already subscribed to writing magazines and WordPress was often mentioned in articles. I did some quick Google research and decided out of the 3 top blogging platforms WP was my choice too. I had no idea HOW TO use wordpress and my method was ‘trial and error’. The only webpages I could find to guide me through the HOW TO were walking me through things I had already worked out.

Since then I have found these Blogs which have been tremendously helpful.

(Links to follow)




In the Beginning

In the beginning all I needed was to

  • know how to set up your blog
  • know the reason for blogging

Set up your Blog

This was easy, I fumbled through trial and error, creating awritersfountain, choosing my theme from many, changing it 3 times until I was happy with how it looks. (Technically I have since discovered that my chosen theme doesn’t allow for sidebar information and extra widgets, there may come a time that I decide this is more important for readers than looking pretty.)

Reason for Blogging

To document my freelance journey, to keep myself on track, to get involved in the writing community.


I didn’t even consider the need for knowledge or my promotional marketing strategies, these were of no importance to me. They evolved naturally over time and went like this;


  • Mail shot my writing friends and let them know I had a blog, encourage them to follow (3)
  • Post, my background, reasons for the Blog (I knew this needed to be obvious)
  • Gradually I learnt about categories and tags what they were and how to use them.
  • I discovered freshly pressed and dreamed of appearing.
  • I started to read and follow other blogs.
  • I discovered some writing challenges and started to take part.
  • Number of followers grew.
  • I learnt the importance of making sure I had balance between the blog writes and my freelance schedule.
  • I was concerned about Copyright – I was using my own photography.


  • I blogged as often as I could – when I had something to say, I didn’t want to be writing a diary.
  • I was no longer typing into a void and knew that people were reading and liking some of the posts.
  • I decided to create my own Writing Challenge for AWF (my blog)
  • I created a Contribute page.
  • I changed the organisation and management of my freelance work.
  • Followers grew, as did the list of blogs I follow.
  • I learnt extra things about HOW TO wordpress.
  • I started to save Copyright Free Stock Images to use on my Blog.


  • My freelance schedule was huge, the projects I undertook were much bigger than an article or one off submission.
  • I had to do a lot of research for my writing and in doing so developed a curiosity to find out more about Blogging.
  • I started to research creating and marketing successful blogs.
  • I managed to balance the writing on and offline.
  • My strategies for managing my freelance writing worked and I developed more effective ways of working.
  • I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo in April.
  • I signed up for a workshop in April.
  • I read a lot of articles about Writing and Authors.
  • I found even more writing challenges and blogs including some on Blogspot.
  • AWF followers grew to nearly 100 (97)
  • I realised it is quality over quantity – both in terms of my posts and followers. People started liking in February, by March we were involved in proper conversation. I had often seen posts with 1000’s of likes and thought WOW! Now I would rather have a few some comments that 1000’s of people not telling me what they think.
  • No-one contributed to the AWF writing challenge and I decided to shelve it for now.


A Quarter of the Way

Here I am in beginning my 4th month of blogging with 130 posts and 97 followers, I am involved in many challenges (I promote later in Part 2) and have sent 14 submissions. I have had 2 rejections and 1 accepted for publication (print/book). My writing schedule increases month by month as does my LOVE for the time with my laptop. My creative spirit has been nagging me for years to get up and do this… and now I do. I wake up everyday and write!

In PART 2 I will share with you my findings from the research and include more useful tips and links.



I would love to hear your thoughts, how do you find the World of WordPress Blogging?