The Solace Of Reading

This week has not been the easiest of weeks for me because it has been very up and down. As some times happens, a lot of things demanded my time, but added to that stress was the fact that I couldn’t seem to write.

Now a lot of that is because time is limited, but some of it was because the few times I sat down to write I couldn’t focus. I’m not talking about the usual procrastination, but the lack of focus caused by the mind racing and unable to concentrate. This was heartbreaking for me as writing has always been my outlet at times like this and it wasn’t working. What did work however, was reading.

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Over three days I finished a self help book I started months ago, finished one romance novel and started another and I’ve started a fantasy one for the purpose of reviewing it down the track. Yes, I could have used this time for writing and editing, but I feel my time was better spent doing this. Why? Because it allowed my mind to rest. Ironic because reading gives me something to focus on while part of it works on whatever is bothering me. It’s not exactly rest as you know it, but I found that after several days I was ready to dive back into my writing world.

And I have with gusto. In the space of a day I have worked on my current first draft, my Richell Prize entry and written two blog posts. So my point is, take a break if you need it, it’s okay to rest. Just don’t give up.

Have a happy and creative week everyone!

Writing and the Body

One of the things I have noticed this week in regards to writing is, unbelievably, my body. The reason for this is because I was doing a little bit of yoga and it came to my attention that my shoulders are about as flexible as rocks. The reason for this is because I sit at the computer hunched over for long stretches at a time. Consequently they sit much closer to my ears than they should do. It is also the reason why the area across my shoulder blades aches. And it sucks.

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Incorrect posture on the left, correct posture on the right.

Now that I’m conscious of it, having correct posture while at the computer is hard a thing to do! Perhaps that’s not the case for most people, but for me it is and it’s not something I was aware of doing poorly. So naturally I researched it a bit, because I fully believe that we have only one body and we need to take care of it. Below are the best tips the internet could give me for people who sit at a desk for hours at a time not moving much.

  1. Take regular breaks. This means getting up and moving. Set a reminder on your phone if you have to and go for a brief walk every hour.
  2. Feet flat on the floor.
  3. Get a decent chair suitable for sitting in front of a computer for ages. Invest in a support pillow for correct curvature of the spine if needed. Also look at setting up your desk ergonomically. I suggest researching this because the options range from simple to complicated with angles etc.
  4. Stick a picture of correct posture where you can see it at your desk and regularly check your own against it.
  5. Stretches are your friend. The following are two YouTube clips with a few you can do at your desk. Desk Stretches and Proper Desk Posture.

I hope these tips help and remember, we only get one body so look after it! Have a great week and happy creating.

 

When Inspiration Strikes

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What do you do when inspiration strikes at a really inconvenient time? I know some people who carry a notebook with them everywhere so they can jot down ideas. Others use an app on their phone. Personally I just hope I remember it next time I sit down at the computer. Although I have been known to write it down on a scrap of paper if it really won’t leave me alone. The opening scene for Rosie was like that, disturbing my sleep until I got it out of  my head.

This blog post is also a bit like that. I first thought about it as I was drifting off to sleep last night. It was still there in the morning and I’m currently at the beach writing this on my phone (thank god for modern technology). The idea simply wouldn’t leave me alone until it’s written.

And I think that’s when you know it’s important to you because the idea/inspiration won’t disappear until you write it. It’s also, I think, how you know that writing really is something that is a part of you. It’s not so much about being published, but letting the words out so you can function. I’m very distracted when an idea is hanging around and I can’t write about it.

So what do you do when the ideas are flowing and you can’t stop what you are doing to write them down? Mentally I explore them so that when I do get to write them down I very rarely have to edit them. It’s such a relief to let the words out as well.

Let me know what you do and happy creating!

Friendships and Writing

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When it comes to writing I am not a plotter. I can plan maybe a few scenes in advance, but that’s as far as it goes. I can’t even plan my characters because they reveal themselves to me as I write. For example I was writing Rosie on Wednesday and the antagonist suddenly revealed himself to me. Up until this point I had no idea who this was and at twenty five thousand words into a hundred thousand word manuscript I was starting to wonder if I even had one.  You see I start with a scene of a new story and the writing goes from there.

This sounds lovely and creative and in many ways I enjoy it because I get surprised by what happens as much as the reader does. However this is proving problematic for me in regards to entering The Richell Prize. To enter the competition you have to submit the first three chapters (up to twenty thousand words) as well as a chapter by chapter synopsis. I don’t have chapters!!! I have natural breaks in the story followed by three of these things *. With the way I write the story it doesn’t really lean towards chapters very well and I’m freaking out a little bit. Enter the time honoured art of procrastination. As of this very moment I have sorted out one chapter and not even touched my synopsis. I do have time on my side but the past has taught me that I often vastly over estimate how much time is my friend.

This is why it’s absolutely fantastic that another writer I know, Marie, is entering the competition as well (you can check out her website here. Her book reviews are awesome and varied by the way). Through social media she is keeping me focused and honest about where I’m at with my submission and I have to say I’m really thankful. Without her I would leave it to the last minute and more than likely end up not entering because of it. Then I would be sad and angry with myself for not giving it my best shot and I don’t want to go down that path anymore. What is even better is that other writers we know through social media are supporting us.

The writing community as a whole is great and really, if you’re writing, get out there and connect. Pick a platform, start posting and make friendships. Twitter is pretty good for interaction, but I have to admit that Instagram is my first love. Follow your favourite authors and pretty soon you’ll find other like minded people. Take a look at my accounts on Twitter and Instagram (you can find the links on my contact page) and you’ll see what I mean. And if you want to say hi, I don’t bite or whatever the social media equivalent would be (that’s got me thinking).

So go and connect, writers love supporting each, especially as writing can be a solitary thing to do. And in this era of technology embrace the fact that there is someone at another device, cheering you on. You may never meet face to face, that doesn’t lessen their impact on you. Take it, run with it and write.

Have a happy and creative week everyone!

Getting the Words Down

oliver-thomas-klein-144899Anyone who has even attempted to write knows how frustrating it can be at times. Sometimes the words simply will not flow and other times they are there, just all jumbled up and not making any sense. Then there is that magic moment when it all just clicks into place and you are frantically getting it all on paper/computer screen. I’ve learnt a few tips and ticks to get the words down so I thought I’d share them with you.

  1. Set the timer and write. You can write absolutely anything and there is no word count. I set it for ten minutes and it is amazing how it unfreezes me from a writing block that just won’t melt. It has never failed me, even when I start by writing, I have nothing to write, the simple act of writing gets me into the mind frame of my story.
  2. Setting aside time for my writing. I have set days during the week where I have minimal things happening in my life, allowing me to focus on my writing. I have worked hard to make this happen and I am protective of that time, simply because if I’m not no one else will be. No one else cares about my writing as much as I do, so if I’m not willing to set aside the time for it, no one else is going to give me that time.
  3. Deadlines. I’m one of those people who will procrastinate forever if I don’t have a deadline. I’ll continually put it off for ‘later.’ Well later never really happens. At the moment I’m using the school term as a deadline for the first draft of Rosie and The Richell Prize as a deadline for the editing of Balance. Give yourself a deadline, make it realistic and stick to it. No excuses.
  4. Don’t get caught up in research. Research is important, there is nothing more annoying than reading an excellent story and having one jarring little detail ruin it. However, don’t use it as an excuse not to write. I do minimal research before hand, enough to make sure my story idea is feasible and then I research as I go. That way I don’t get bogged down in details that, although interesting, are not needed.
  5. Don’t edit as you go. This one was a habit that took me a little bit to break. The trouble I was having was that I would write a section and then edit it before moving on to the next. News flash: I was never happy with the section I was editing. This then stopped me from really progressing with my story. I eventually stopped doing it, mainly because the frustration of an incomplete story got to me. There is a reason it’s called a first draft after all.

So that’s it, the tips and tricks I use to get the words down, even if they don’t particularly want to be written. I hope they help and if you have any different ones let me now, I’m always on the look out for ways to help me write.

Happy creating everyone!