Tag Archives: writing tips

Writing 101: Day 4 – The Serial Killer

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Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

This doesn’t need to be a depressing exercise; you can write about that time you lost the three-legged race at a picnic. What’s important is reflecting on this experience and what it meant for you — how it felt, why it happened, and what changed because of it.

Today’s twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.

Our blogs are often made of standalone posts, but using them to take readers on longer journeys is an immersive experience for them — and you. It allows you to think bigger and go deeper into an idea, while using a hook that keeps readers coming back.

A series can take many forms:

We also have advice that might help. If you decide to go serial, we’ve got days scheduled for parts two and three, so don’t worry about writing everything now or having to shoehorn the other posts in.

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A Loss:

I have lost so many things, I could write some dark material from this prompt. My mind immediately heads to people I have lost first, then things, of which I have lost many pinnacle material items, then parts of myself – I have lost along the way, battles I have lost, people I have lost who are still very much in the world, pets I have lost, beliefs I have lost, lessons I have discarded.

I am trying to gain material from joining Writing 101 – the main focus is writing practice – a daily dose and beyond that a hope of up-cycling something, even if it’s the odd sentence or idea. This is my reason for trying to stay positive, that and it is better material for you to read than all the things I have survived, I am sure.

When I was thirteen I started to write to people all over the world through a pen pal scheme. I loved receiving letters and getting to know people in other countries. A few of us are still in touch which means the world to me and some I have since used the internet to search for. Enjoying the irony of meeting back up online (now we have pretty much killed the postal service, if it wasn’t for ebay/ Amazon orders) – I have always been unsuccessful in finding them, many were girls and probably have different surnames by now.

I remember the first time I lost a penfriend though, because we were still very much in communication and suddenly the letters stopped coming. This worried me, Melinda lived in the Philippines and I had no way of knowing if she was okay. We had grown up together and we were turning 17, maybe she had got tired of writing, but knowing her as I did- I know she would have sent a card to tell me she didn’t want to keep writing letters anymore.

I have never been able to trace her and the letters just stopped. Nothing. I don’t know why it happened. Perhaps her college studies had taken all her time. I think about her often and the different culture she was brought up in.

I lost interest in writing letters for a while, Melinda was one of the first and she was no longer sending me mail. I then realised that as far as other pen pals were concerned, I had now disappeared too, so I started writing letters again.

I still enjoy writing letters and fortunately have a few friends in this Country and others who like to write back. The joy of having things in the post which aren’t bills or statements is a wonderful thing.

 

 

The art of choosing: poetry magazine editors reveal how they sift and select | Write Out Loud

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The art of choosing: poetry magazine editors reveal how they sift and select | Write Out Loud.

inspirational-speaker This is an interesting article, currently doing the rounds on social media.

It does prove how important the opening stanza is… in fact, the OPENING LINE! Bear it in mind when you proofread your next submission.

TOP TIPS 2013 – A Year in My Writing Skin

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Some of you will be aware of  The Write Year page on this blog, a place I leave a monthly review of all writing developments and sometimes pitfalls. I like to finish each monthly entry with some TOP TIPS that might help others too.

I have not yet reviewed December – I will be adding more top tips to this post in the next few days (be sure to check back)!

I hope you have also had a great year of writing. Let us know!

TOP TIPS 2013

  • Use a laptop/ PC not connected to the internet to complete your writing.
  • No matter how tired you are feeling, do it anyway!

planner Make a writing schedule and try to stick to it.

  • Prioritise – you can’t do everything, so choose which projects fulfil yourself and your aims the best, concentrate and focus on these.
  • If you miss a writing opportunity make a note of it and look out for it again next year.
  • Enjoy your writing. When you reach the point that it is grating, switch to something else or leave your PC completely (even if you’re close to a deadline) you are likely to find that spending sometime away from your focus helps you find more energy and drive to complete your targets when you sit back down.
  • If (like me) you have no writing desk and your bed is your office, over time, even with fabulous support pillows, you may find you suffer back pain and can’t walk straight for the first minute when you get up!
  • I may have said this tip before – Invest in a Polar Cup, your Costa/Starbucks/ Local coffee house is just within reach and it hasn’t cost you much!

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  • Know when to take a breather and when to push on through. Learn to recognise the difference between laziness and exhaustion and take the appropriate positive action – a rest or a push!
  • Get someone else to motivate you if you can’t manage to spur yourself on.

We all need a personal cheerleader from time to time, but the most important lesson I have learnt is just to

  • KEEP ON GOING! Move yourself forward and celebrate.Celebrate the World
  • Get out there – out and about – away from your desk, meet people, talk to other writers.
  • Collaborate and share – work together.
  • Network.
  • If you don’t ask you wont receive… so ASK!

 

  • Surround yourself with creative, like minded, positive people.
  • A positive attitude creates positive things.
  • Most of all enjoy what you do and keep doing it!
  • Spread your wings slowly to expand.
  • Fifteen years is a long time, but it’s not the end of the world.

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  • Listen to your inner voice – it can guide you and often knows more than you do.
  • Approach people, talk to them. Writers are people too and a source to point you in the right direction, I have discovered more avenues to explore by being brave.
  • Get your books signed. Make it personal to you.
  • Do a little research. The internet is an amazing tool beyond social media.
  • When you are ready… JUMP – you will know when this time comes!

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  • Find calendars of events in your region, pen them ALL into your diary and choose week by week where you want to go and where you want to be seen.
  • Contacts are useful and often appear out of nowhere!
  • Keep an address book of all the people you meet with notes on areas where they can support you.
  • Support other writers, buy their books, I have bought 3 this month.
  • Find where you want to be and go there.
  • Surround yourself with a supportive network. Lean when you need to.

An Index of Ideas

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I started this blog to map my own journey back down the path of writing, along the way (so far) I have met an abundant amount of inspirational people, watched motivating videos, enrolled onto incredibly useful writing classes, online courses, attended many workshops, network meetings, Festival events, performances, lectures and even an annual conference.

Along the way I have blogged several HOW TO or WHAT TO DO type articles. The most popular of which – Writing Short Stories – continues to attract around 30 readers a day.
It is getting close to the end of 2013 and new followers have recently discovered this blog and with over 700 posts and only a few hours online it would be easy for you to miss the gold dust… so….
I have compiled some link lists to shoot you straight to the good stuff.

 

ARTICLES YOU MAY FIND USEFUL AS A WRITER:
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These 1st 3 posts appeared in October as part of the INKSPILL writing retreat weekend!

 

MORE TO FOLLOW SOON

My Writing (admin) Day – Including Tips for Writers

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I have included some tips for writers throughout this article.

  • Look for bullet points and bold text.

 

alarm-clock Today started with a half seven phone call, I had requested no work as I am booked out the rest of the week and have several writery things in the diary, a story commission group, a book launch and a Stanza meeting which I need to prepare a poem for. 1 nb
I was awake and didn’t get back to sleep. I started with a Polar Cup of Coffee and my offline laptop.

  • arm yourself with Polar cups of coffee

I had Admin to catch up with – my records stopped in September, next years resolution will be to keep on top of these. It has taken me an hour to catch up with monthly activity/submissions and expenditure.

  • Keep financial records up to date – log and go

As a freelancer it is advisable to keep records and receipts for tax purposes. As yet I am making no money from writing, but in the future I know I will and these records will show my expenditure before profit and hopefully enable to claim some expenses back from the initial outlay or tax back from the money made (which is almost guaranteed – as we are allowed a personal allowance of nearly £10K before we have to pay taxes *although the government take it for a year before they reimburse any struggling artist!) and I know Poetry is a small market, the smallest of all and is a tough one to make money from, poetry however is my passion and my love, but not my only writing plan.

  • Be realistic – On gaining financial reward – writing is a small market and Poetry…
  • Poetry is a mere stall on that market, somewhere on the far side miles away from all the amenities! 

I will reveal some admin information at the end of the year – as much for my nerdy interest as anybody else’s, this year has cost a small fortune but far less than a hobby like horse riding or racing cars!
It is money well spent. I had originally set aside £450 to 500 that is what a years membership to the slimming club would have cost me. As for my weight, I can address that issue next year!
Needless to say I blew that budget before the summer.

  • Create a writing budget (cut corners from somewhere, you’re worth it!)

I am now working my way through the writing magazine (I finally took out a subscription for) and writing a DECEMBER Action Plan, as I have not committed any intention to paper since the beginning of the Autumn.

  • Set goals for the month, know what you want to do, need to do, how you are going to do it and when!

It was exceptionally hard to stay organised during NaNoWriMo, but now that’s over there is no excuse.
I would like to take part of the day to catch up with PAD poetry challenges which I abandoned just over half way through, if they are still online.

I then spent another 2 hours creating my December Action Plan, including a list of 30 opportunities for submissions I want to look into today on my day off.

  • Give yourself time for Admin, check it off the TO DO list.
  • Weekly slots, save sifting through the files and paperwork for mindnumbingly boring hours.
  • Do it offline if you can. YOU KNOW WHY!

I skipped breakfast and ate lunch. Which reminded of all the chores I have to do downstairs. It has been ages since I had a day like this to organise writing and dream up future plans, I think the last time I dedicated a day to all the tasks surrounding the writer was perhaps August and as I cannot afford a PA and UK Interns don’t work for free, there really is no choice.
Over lunch I made calls to estate agents and have finally moved onto actioning the 2nd part of trying to sell my apartment by going with the Estate Agent I should have used in the first place.
I was just settling back to the PC upstairs when there was a knock at the door – the postman with parcels… parcel parcels that CAN be opened before Christmas and are for me!    I knew what it was. Funny on this writing day that I should receive my 2nd subscribed magazine and the Writers & Artists Yearbook 2014! Did a little happy dance and then turned straight to the Poetry Section.wa bk

Now, for the 1st time since September*, I am working through my Action Plan.
* I wrote one in October and abandoned following it. Was busy with Inkspill, the Literature Festival and performing Poetry. November I didn’t write on, because of Nanowrimo.

  • Don’t just write an Action Plan… DO IT!

Day 19 Totally NaNoed – NaNoWriMo

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Before you get too excited by the title… I haven’t finished my total…. but I have managed to get in from work do all the things I needed to do and then sit down in one sitting to bash out 2004 words and have managed it in less than 1.5 hours. I barely stopped and I did free write – no editing.

It is funny how many inconsistences you find and want to edit when writing this way. Resist!

So now I have broken 33000 and my little graph is proud to have bars just over the average by this point marker line.

NaNoWriMo-2013-Power-Up-Flyer

Here are today’s STATS
Imagination Rain.eps

Your Average Per Day 1,740
Words Written Today 2,004
Target Word Count 50,000
Target Average Words Per Day 1,667
Total Words Written 33,068
Words Remaining 16,932
Current Day 19
Days Remaining 12
At This Rate You Will Finish On
November 29, 2013
Words Per Day To Finish On Time 1,411
And of course my top tips:
  • Every day feels different – sometimes the writing hurts, sometimes it feels stuck or forced, bottle the feeling you have on the days it gives you pleasure. Spend a few moments breathing in and thinking of how good that feels. It may help you feel better about your write.
  • Try not to judge… yourself. Turning off that inner editor doesn’t just mean write without a spell check, it means write without your Gremlins telling you how poor it is, tell them to bugger off and come back after 50K words, that way you will have rid of them for at least the rest of Nano if not well into Christmas and the New Year!
  • Just keep going – there is less than a fortnight to go. If you have written everyday you have less to do than you have already done.
  • Stay positive – this has really helped me – I have tried to keep thinking of this project as a GOOD experience to have and this has helped not get emotionally run down by the daily task of producing 1667 words.
  • Remember how AMAZINGLY awesome you are for even attempting to write half a novel in a month!

NaNoWriMo – Day 18 and a MAMMOTH 4 Day Catch Up Write!

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I have been busy for 4 days and was unable to complete any NaNo writing – today I had the day off and set myself the writing challenge of 4000 (secretly hoping for more like 6000) – unfortunately it was 5pm before I started! It has taken me the best part of 4 hours but I have succeeded. 602281_10151891592314299_1657758687_n

I have been counting the parts in bitesize chunks of 200 – 500 words, not intentionally this is just where the natural breaks came – I had a post-it note taken from the plan highlighting the events for different characters in tonight’s write and I have been updating my word count too. By the 18th day you should be around 30000 words, I was *up until my break- ahead on NaNo stats and so it is a tad disappointing to sit within the limit now but I know I have some time on Weds and see no reason why I can’t produce at least 1457 words a night after work (this is my limit now dropped from 1667 – to finish on time.)

I shall now share my STATS and TIPS 1nano1vikwith you and wish you continued success in this vital 3rd week of writing!

I HAVE BROKEN MY NEXT MILESTONE!30000

1077

 

Proof it is so easy to fall behind

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Your Average Per Day

1,562

Words Written Today

1,077

Target Word Count

50,000

Target Average Words Per Day

1,667

Total Words Written

28,130

Words Remaining

21,870

Current Day

18

Days Remaining

13

At This Rate You Will Finish On

December 3, 2013

Words Per Day To Finish On Time

1,683

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423

Your Average Per Day

1,586

Words Written Today

1,500

At This Rate You Will Finish On

December 2, 2013

Words Per Day To Finish On Time

1,650

30000 card

Your Average Per Day

1,600

Words Written Today

1,747

Found out my par is 30000 for the 18th and if I manage that I will back on track but not ahead, I do have weds afternoon to catch up and get ahead again and every night after work I shall do my best to write 1667  (although my average word count needed should be lower by the time I have finished writing tonight.)

30000 card

Your Average Per Day

1,614

Words Written Today

2,005

Target Word Count

50,000

Target Average Words Per Day

1,667

Total Words Written

29,058

Words Remaining

20,942

Current Day

18

Days Remaining

13

At This Rate You Will Finish On

December 1, 2013

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Your Average Per Day

1,630

Words Written Today

2,303

 

 30000 card

Your Average Per Day

1,659

Words Written Today

2,825

 (Still not caught up to finishing in November, frustration mounts!)

30000 card

Your Average Per Day

1,694

Words Written Today

3,447

Target Word Count

50,000

Target Average Words Per Day

1,667

Total Words Written

30,500

Words Remaining

19,500

Current Day

18

Days Remaining

13

At This Rate You Will Finish On

November 30, 2013

Words Per Day To Finish On Time

1,500

 (At last!)

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Your Average Per Day

1,725

Words Written Today

3,999                                     (just 1 off!)

Total Words Written

31,052

At This Rate You Will Finish On

November 29, 2013

FINAL STATS TONIGHT

30000 card

Your Average Per Day 1,725
Words Written Today 4,011
Target Word Count 50,000
Target Average Words Per Day 1,667
Total Words Written 31,064
Words Remaining 18,936
Current Day 18
Days Remaining 13
At This Rate You Will Finish On November 29, 2013
Words Per Day To Finish On Time 1,457 nano_13_cup_detail1
TOP TIPS
  • Just keep going
  • If you fall behind that’s okay – choose a good time to sprint ahead of the pack!
  • Lots to do? Write in bite size chunks.
  • If you are writing in bite sizes keep updating your word count and watch it grow!

Day 13 NaNoWriMo – 13 Unlucky for Some (NOT ME!)

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I owe my Nano Manuscript over 2200 words (from the past 2 days) and 1667 today – let’s just call it 4K! Over the marathon weekend I only managed 5K ….

However I knew what the problem was;

Exhaustion and the need for SLEEP – I have fallen asleep by 9pm for the past 2 night writes -resulting in SMALL word counts, Tuesday I produced 800+ and just 309 words last night.

Both writes were tough… why? I HAD NO PLOT!

I didn’t mean to be a pantster this Nano (one who flies by their seats of their pants with no plan and free writes through 50K!) It just happened this way as I was far too busy in October with work, poetry, performances, Literature Festivals and organising the Inkspill Writing retreat to complete any planning and preparation for NaNoWriMo.

Last night when I finished my measley 309 words I decided I needed a plan!

Today I was home and ready to write at about 2pm – I have spent the past 40minutes, drinking coffee, planning and researching.

Here is where today’s NaNo started;

1 nb 1 nb nan (excuse the 70’s carpet we haven’t yet replaced… it is warm and deep and I intentionally took a distance shot – not that anyone would want to steal my story arc planning – but it keeps the story a bit of a mystery!)

In my notebook with a story arc plan for each character followed by a list of chapters and main events.

Of course the 50 000 words is only half the story and I plan to use the spring and summer camps to finish it if I can. footer-camp

Right off to start writing in stages.

2:45 pm Stage 1

POST TO BE UPDATED – pop back and find out how I have done!

3:00 pm

  • I have already beaten last night’s word count – in just 15 minutes,  321 words!

3:45 pm

  • An hour after starting and I have 1342 *nearly finished today’s word count and then to catch up! It is so much easier when you have a plan.

BREAK – Caffeine and much needed cake – the sugar will keep me awake now that day light is fading… and the best thing – I would usually still be at work and in the past 2 hours I have managed all this, as well as a mini-food shop on the way home and lunch!

4:15 pm Stage 2

  • Slippers on and 5 minutes into the write I have accomplished today’s word count: 1670

Off to update NaNo Stats and then I will carry on catching up the missing words from this week!

Words Written Today
1,670
Total Words Written
22,978
Words Remaining
27,022
I love it when the words written and the words remaining get closer to the same number 🙂
6:00pm
I have been writing for about an hour – I have researched medical facts and treatments for injuries – Mr G is also home from work.
I have written another 1293words.
nano ame
Here comes the stats update!
Words Written Today
2,963
Total Words Written
24,271
Words Remaining
25,729
Imagination Rain.eps
I think I can make the 4K!
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6:30pm Stage 3 
I think…. therefore I am (Descartes) and now I finally understand it…. after a 40 minute write at 7:10 pm I smashed through 25000! WOW! Having a plot really helps!
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There are an unbelievable

2013 Novelists

2 9 8 , 5 9 7 Wrimos taking part – that’s 298, 596 other people as mad as me! 🙂

Words Written Today
4,545
Target Word Count
50,000
Target Average Words Per Day
1,667
Total Words Written
25,853 nano voice in a million 25
Words Remaining
24,147 (whoahoo LESS than those I have written!)
Over half way – less than 50% to go! Yipeeeeeee!
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TOP TIPS:
  • If you are ahead of the word count, try to stay ahead.
  • DO NOT feel guilty for occasionally not making the word count. I haven’t managed the past 2 nights, the important thing is I turned up and wrote… even if it was only a few hundred words.
  • So turn up.
  • Turn up and WRITE!
  • Plan – have a plot no matter how flimsy or flexible.
  • Have in mind what you want to achieve each day, as far as the content – what you will write and even a target number of words if that works for you.
  • BITE SIZE chunks – it works for revision and it works for creating too. Tonight I had 3 sittings and managed over 4000 words.
  • In the words of Nike – JUST DO IT!

Top TIPS for Wrimos – NaNoWriMo

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During the NaNo Marathon Writing_Marathon_851x315_1(yesterday, 9th November) I watched  LOTS of live streaming from the Google Hang Out – mainly to placate my guilt from not writing much as I spent the afternoon and evening with friends we’d not seen for a while and to feel part of the nano community as I missed the regional meet/ write in/ live marathon.

For those of you who didn’t run or watch and for those of you who did, here are some inspirational tips now we have passed the 30% barrier!

NaNoWriMo-General-FlyerTOP TIPS

on getting stuck….try

 

Chocolate

Taking a break

do something not novel related

Go back to it

Start at a different point

Some writers add a challenge word

Take a shower

Murder your inner editor

Chat or forums twitter – ask for help maybe someone out there has an idea

Look at cat pictures or something else on the internet every 15minutes or 100 words

Search random photos and add a scene about them

Dream sequences

Caffeine

Go to the library

People watch

Give yourself some inspiration for 10-15 minutes

Go for a walk

Take a timer 15-20 minutes

Go to the regional in person event – bunch of people trying to do the same thing

Word wars

Sprints

Have snacks handy

watch Google + hangouts

Go somewhere where all you can do is write

 

On hitting the wall;

keep writing and …

pray

sprint –  5 minutes as many words as you can

include certain things in the manuscript – wrimos pick key words/ objects etc

Ask ‘What would your character do if no-one was watching?’ & write!