Inside a Writer's Mind

Inside a Writer's Mind
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” -- Oscar Wilde

Friday, 30 December 2011

My Philosophy For Living

I was having a conversation last night with a friend and we were talking about what it is each of us considers to be important in life, which led onto to what we think the purpose of this existence is (other than buying as many brand name products on as much credit as we can access).

And I managed to distill what I believe the meaning or purpose of life is, down into a sentence. (Be it a rather long one).

Here goes:

At this point in my journey I believe the meaning or purpose of life is to identify my fears (some of which include: flying, public speaking, disapproval, being emotionally vulnerable, being a poor partner and/or father, handling confrontation poorly), work towards and through confronting and overcoming those fears, and therein discover my passion/s (some of which include writing, travel, meeting new people, experiencing new cultures) and then pursue and use those passions to inspire and encourage other people to confront their fears and pursue their passions; the byproduct of all this is growth.

Keep writing!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

I'm Back...

Crossing the Nullarbor was still an amazing experience -- even third time around. (See photo's below.)

Arrived at our destination on December 23rd, after six days of travelling. We poured out of the car like zombies released from a tomb.

It's good to be near family again, after so long on the other side of the country.

We're recuperating and enjoying the summer weather; it's invigorating swimming laps in a fifty metre outdoor pool under a sunlit blue sky.

My writing plan is to start proofreading and rewriting my MS. To be honest it's rather a daunting task after not having touched it for a couple of months.

But as someone said (maybe me), 'Discipline is more important than talent.'

Keep writing.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling...

I'm in the middle of preparing to move from the western to the eastern side of the country.

So not much writing happening at the moment.

My plan is to spend the summer editing and rewriting my MS, and then begin resubmitting to agents in the UK and Australia early next year.

Keep writing.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Grammar Grab

I’ve decided to include the occasional grammar and/or parts-of-speech analysis, starting today.

When I was teaching high school English I noticed how often students mixed up "were" and "we're".

"Were" is the plural past tense form of the verb "are".

For example, "We were on our way to Paris when it started raining."

"We're" is a contraction of "we are"; the apostrophe indicates the omitted "a".

For example, "We're friends now, but for many years we were enemies."

Keep writing.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Thoughts, Words, Actions, Habits, Character, Destiny...

Be mindful of your thoughts, they become your words,
Be mindful of your words, they become your actions,
Be mindful of your actions, they become your habits,
Be mindful of your habits, they become your character,
Be mindful of your character, it becomes your destiny.

--Author Unknown (Based on the word and teachings of the Buddha)

If you enjoyed this, you might enjoy my novel: Seventeen Summers.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Novel and Short Story First Drafts

Hemingway said (and I’m paraphrasing here too), that all first drafts are shit. And I have to say that’s been my experience with all my first drafts. (And with a good number of second and third drafts as well.)

I think one of the keys to successfully completing a first draft is to try to get it down in as short a time as possible.

Stephen King makes an analogy in his book, On Writing, between a writer penning the first draft of story and a paleontologist excavating a dinosaur skeleton.

He says it’s unlikely the entire beast will be exhumed in tact and in one piece, but once the bones begin to emerge from the earth, the more swiftly and carefully you work, the better the chances.

‘Swiftly’ is pretty straightforward, but ‘carefully’ needs further excavating.

I think in this case ‘carefully’ should read ‘carefree’—because the less inhibited you are when you are writing a draft, the easier it will flow. In other words turn off your editor during this part of the process and just let your ideas pour out onto the page.

Some writers plan scene by scene before they commence a draft, in effect mapping out their story with a series of sentences, each briefly describing each scene of each act (of which there are normally three), from the orientation through to the climax and denouement.

Some also write out detailed character descriptions before they start on the first draft.

As with everything else to do with writing, there’s no one way of doing anything. There’s just the way that works best for you.

And for me I find it works best when I just start to write…a few pages of story with some dialogue and other bits and pieces thrown in as they come.

I try to write the story from start to finish as it occurs to me.

And as I’m writing I add in sections to what I’ve already written, like extra pieces of railway track to a miniature train set.

And hopefully at the end it bears some resemblance to the skeleton of a story.

Keep writing!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Stick Wars!

Albert Einstein once said (and I'm paraphrasing here), he didn't know how they would fight world war III, but world war IV would be fought with sticks and stones.

God, spirits, universe… save me from the hateful, the ignorant, the judgemental, the critical, the frightened, the cruel, the unaware, the incompetent, the greedy, the poor (in spirit), the ugly (in nature) and the pathetic (in attitude). 

And help me to remember I am as much a part of them, as they are of me—like water droplets in a pond, we are all connected.

And aid me to see, that ultimately, any attack against another is an attack on myself.

(Help me) Make Love (a priority in my life), Not War (or money or possessions or power).

Hey Man…!!!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Fiction Writers: Grab The Reader and Don't Let Go!

In his book, Writing the Breakout Novel, Donald Maass describes an observation study of lunchtime browsers in a New York bookstore. 

He relates the fact that the vast majority of people who were observed picking up a book, spent moments to minutes scanning the first page only.

They then did one of two things: they put the book back on the shelf, or took it to the cashier.

This type of reader/book buyer behaviour might explain why agents and publishers put so much stock in the opening paragraph/s of your manuscript. And also explains why prologues in beginner writers' novels might make it even more challenging to get an agent's attention.

I've spent more time on the opening pages of my last novel than anywhere else in the book, and I'm still not happy with it. It seems that to be effective the opening page has to do many things: entice the reader to want to read on; foreshadow significant events or character traits; clearly sound the narrator's voice and the writer's style, and above all, connect with the reader's emotions.

For tips on strengthening your opening page/s, see Mr. Maass's book and Noah Lukeman's The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying out of the Rejection Pile.

If you have any thoughts on opening paragraphs/pages I'd love to hear them.

Otherwise, keep writing.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Why I Write Fiction: Short Stories and Novels

For years I tried to ignore the need to write, but it kept creeping back into my life like a stray dog that won't take no for an answer. What motivated me?  Really...? It was more than a desire to express myself. (Important as that is.)

I couldn't really understand it.

You see growing up I was never much of a reader. At least not in the traditional sense. Rather than read novels or short stories (I think I was in year six or seven before I read a novel, and then didn't read another one until senior high school--and not one from the prescribed reading list).

What I loved to read were quotations and axioms. Looking back, I think what I was seeking were other ways of seeing the world: reassurance, insights and understanding that I couldn't find in the people around me. If, as the saying goes, we 'write to be understood', than I guess I read to find the comfort of knowing there were people out there whose experiences, insights and wisdom I understood and could relate to. Or at least wanted to. And it filled a need in me nothing else could (or can, I still collect and carry around quotations).

The other thing I got (and get) from quotations and axioms (and now novels and short stories) is the reassurance that there is more to life than what exists on the physical plane. There is more than earning money, buying things, and living what too often seems a very shallow existence.

I've noticed that many people in their social interactions are primarily concerned with some one's (formal) education, occupation, and earning potential, and collectively this is the agreed social barometer for an individual's worth, well being and happiness. Many assumptions are made based on a person's employment, perceived bank balance, and the quantity and quality of their assets.

Ultimately these things carry all the substance of a fart in the wind.

I read once (I'm paraphrasing because I can't find the original quote--sorry): 'if there is any joy/contentedness to be had in this existence it will come through being and not having.' And, based on my experience, that statement holds true. That's not to say you don't need a certain amount of money and possessions to survive in this world. But not as much or many as society, corporations and the mass media would have us believe. 

There is (or should be) much more to life.

Like: developing and enriching your personal relationships; a sense of spending your days in a way that is meaningful; and sharing your love and positive energy with people and the planet.

Since I stopped teaching full time to concentrate on finishing my novel I’ve been surprised at the negative reactions of many people, based largely on their perceptions of what is a worthwhile and responsible way to spend time.

I've been amazed at the amount of people, some of whom I'd previously thought of as friends, who’ve openly ridiculed my decision to quit full time teaching and pursue writing. Most were only concerned with how I was going to earn the same income tutoring and doing relief as I had full time teaching (I wasn’t). (Teaching in Australia is relatively well paid compared to the USA and UK.)  Few were interested in my reasons for needing to spend time writing, or in the lack of fulfilment and sense of emptiness I'd felt in the last few years I’d spent teaching.

To my way of thinking a friend encourages you to pursue your dreams and follow your heart. They don't stomp on your sand castle before it's even half built.

But the experience has been a valuable one for a number of reasons. It is teaching me several things: most people are scared to give up the illusion of security and pursue their dreams-- to truly live; too many people live desperate lives doing all they can to avoid change and the reality that everything is temporary; and finally, to look for approval is futile--you need to dance to your own drum beat.

Ultimately, I realise, I write to seek understanding, and to try and provide for some one else what I sought and seek in books: the reassurance that I'm not alone, and the knowledge that someone else out there has had a similar experience (or thought or idea or feeling) and that is human.

Keep writing!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

More Quotes I Like and Hope You Will Too

Trust in yourself. Your perceptions are often more accurate than you are willing to believe.
Black, Claudia

Do not fear mistakes- there are none.
Davis, Miles

Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself.

One learns by doing a thing; for though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try.

Do the thing you are afraid to do and the death of fear is certain.
Emerson, Ralph Waldo

The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time.
Lincoln, Abraham

Many of us spend our whole lives running from feeling with the mistaken belief that you can not bear the pain. But you have already borne the pain. What you have not done is feel all you are beyond that pain.
Kahlil Gibran

Every exit is an entry somewhere else.
Stoppard, Tom

One sees great things from the valley, only small things from the peak.
Chesterton, G. K.

The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.
Jung, Carl

To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.
Stevenson, Robert Louis

Stop thinking and talking about it and there is nothing you will not be able to know.
Zen Paradigm

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.

There is the risk you cannot afford to take, and there is the risk you cannot afford not to take.
Drucker, Peter

With courage you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity.
Nair, Keshavan

Trust that still, small voice that says, "This might work and I'll try it."
Mariechild, Diane

Life shrinks and expands in proportion to one's courage.
Nin, Anais

Saying no can be the ultimate self-care.
Black, Claudia

I was taught that the way of progress is neither swift nor easy.
Curie, Marie

You've got to find the force inside you.
Campbell, Joseph

I need to take an emotional breath, step back and remind myself who's actually in charge of my life.
Knowlton, Judith

You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
Roosevelt, Eleanor

Once we make our decision, all things will come to us. Auspicious signs are not a superstition, but a confirmation. They are a response.
Deng Ming-Dao

The only way to pass any test is to take the test.

If you are not living on the edge, you take up too much room.
Native American saying

When I look at the world I'm pessimistic, but when I look at people I am optimistic
Rogers, Carl

Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.
Roosevelt, Eleanor

The giving and receiving of pleasure is a need and an ecstasy.
Gibran, Kahlil

If you just set people in motion they'll heal themselves.
Roth Gabrielle

If anything is sacred the human body is sacred.
Whitman, Walt

Teach us to care and not to care. Teach us to sit still.
T.S. Elliot

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
Gibran, Kahlil

A man's true wealth is the good he does in the world. Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror. But you are eternity and you are the mirror.
Gibran, Kahlil

To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.
Wilde, Oscar

Every blade of grass has its Angel that bends over it and whispers, "Grow, Grow."
The Talmud

Nobody sees a flower really, it is so small, it takes time; we haven't time, and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.
O'Keefe, Georgia

Fear grows out of the things we think; it lives in our minds. Compassion grows out of the things we are,
and lives in our hearts.
Garrison, Barbara

We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.
Melville, Herman

Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.
Rubin, Theodore Isaac

If you help others you will be helped, perhaps tomorrow, perhaps in one hundred years, but you will be helped. Nature must pay off the debt... It is a mathematical law and all life is mathematics.

To receive everything, one must open one's hands and give.
Deshimaru, Taisen

Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair but manifestations of strength and resolution.
Gibran, Kahil

Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless.
Mother Theresa

The Power of Words

I had a conversation with a friend recently about the power of words and what effect the things we say can have. Effects, I think it is fair to say, the speaker may often be unaware of.

Maybe that is part of the reason writing appeals to me, because from a young age I knew how powerful words could be. That’s not to say I’ve never opened my big mouth and not realized ‘til afterwards what I’d said had caused embarrassment, discomfort or hurt.

Or worse, never realized...

Unfortunately I think this has probably happened more than I care to think about, even though I’ve tried hard in recent years to be more aware of the words I speak and the effects they may have.

Maybe it’s easier with writing, because you draft and revise and redraft and revise and therefore what survives to be read at the end of the process should be pretty close to our intended meaning. At least in theory.

But often we speak before we even think about what we’re saying. We speak from some sort of emotional or gut reaction to what we’ve seen, heard and felt. We speak in self defense or all out attack. We speak to say what we think others want to hear. Or we speak to give voice to our ego, our fear or our ignorance. Or, we speak simply to avoid an uncomfortable silence.

Henceforth may we both strive in our speech and our writing to use words to build people (and their hopes, dreams and aspirations) up, rather than tear them down… unwittingly or otherwise.

Keep writing.

Friday, 11 November 2011

My Way of Getting Through The Day

When I was teaching English full time and feeling the load, or just wishing I was somewhere else doing something else, I’d often make time to search the Internet for inspirational quotes, print them off, and carry them around with me for the day.

I found that reading and reflecting on them when I could, was a good way to give myself a spiritual pickup. (A sort of caffeine for the soul I guess.) And it helped to motivate, energise and centre myself.

I read some quotes earlier today by one of my favourite authors (and author of the beautiful book The Prophet) Kahlil Gibran. Here are a few that I connected with:

“Perplexity is the beginning of knowledge.”

“When you long for blessings that you may not name, and when you grieve knowing not the cause, then indeed you are growing with all things that grow, and rising toward your greater self.”

“He who has not looked on sorrow will never see joy.”

“In truth we talk only to ourselves, but sometimes we talk loud enough that others may hear us.”

“He who understands you is greater kin to you than your own brother. For even your own kindred may neither understand you nor know your worth.”

Keep writing!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Un Café S'il Vous Plait

Sitting in an independent café (i.e. one that's not part of a global chain) sipping good coffee (a long black or flat white, made from fair trade coffee, out of a ceramic cup) is one of the greatest pleasures in life.

I like to sit in cafes and write. And I find when I do, I frequently strike a vein of thought, feeling and insight that I don't readily access when I sit down to write elsewhere.

Maybe it's being surrounded by the energy and interactions of other people. Or the stimulation that comes from just watching, observing others go about their day, in all their diverse ways.

Or maybe it's the caffeine.

Keep writing!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

A Poem By Me: J. C.


The day’s dawn
Golden orb risen
Orange light blankets
Green strokes and strands
Waves of hope and healing
Stand still and listen to nothing
Consciousness expands to fill the seemingly void
Senses hold hands and dance around your core
Silver thread extending out from forehead to horizon
One day your soul will be reeled back in like a fish on a silver line
Eternity in a moment

By J. C.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Ways Around Writer's Block

This last week or so I have found myself struggling to find the motivation to work on my latest project. It is not often that I’ve struggled with writer’s block in the past, so I’m not exactly sure how to address it. Writing this post is one strategy—at least I’m writing, even if I’m not working on my novel.

Schools of thought on the topic of writer’s block seem to differ. Some say you need to push through it; sit down at your desk at the same time everyday and try to squeeze out a thought. While others suggest leaving your writing aside and doing something else for a while, until you naturally feel the time is right to return to your project and carry on. I don’t know what I think. Having tried both of these approaches I’m still not sure.

At least I know I’m not alone. I read that Henry Miller had periods of time when he struggled to write a sentence and that when his partner came home at the end of the day they both pretended he’d been working productively all day. Even though he was sure they both knew he’d barely marked the paper.

Those times when I have felt blocked I’ve searched the net for inspiring quotes or reread favorite novel passages.  If you have any thoughts or strategies you would like to share please do.

Otherwise, keep writing!   

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Excellent Books on Fiction Writing

There are a lot of books out there that offer advice on how to write fiction. I started collecting them years ago, possibly as a way of actually avoiding writing: I figured if I was buying books on the subject, even if I wasn't practising it, at least I was keeping a foot in the stream. I'm not sure the logic was sound, but I can tell you I have found some of the books extremely helpful, others less so, while many were a waste of time.

Granted, it does depend on what stage of the journey you are at, and on what you are looking for: Are you are looking for ways to begin or motivation? Are you looking for ideas about developing or improving your craft or technique? Are you looking for agents or publishers or are you keen to know what they are looking for?

Below is a list of books that I've found very useful and/or have seen recommended in a number of places.

For the beginner:

This Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosley; On Writing by Stephen King  (Both offer practical advice and motivation.)

For the already committed:

The Poetics of Aristotle by Stephen Halliwell; Story by Robert McKee; Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass; On Becoming A Novelist by J.C. Gardner; Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain; Rhetoric of Fiction by Wayne C. Booth; The Art of the Novel by Henry James; Fiction Writer's Handbook by Hallie Burnett; The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler; Stein on Writing by Sol Stein; Plot and Structure by James Bell; The Writer's Essential Tackle Box by Lynn Price; The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman; Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King; Revision and Self –Editing by James Bell

And, for the ready to be published:

Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents by Jeff Herman (Refers to U.S. market); Writers' & Artists' Yearbook 2011 (Refers to U.K. market)

You can get all of these books from somewhere like for around four hundred dollars, which is about the same price many book doctors charge for a manuscript appraisal. (I’ve paid double that for a manuscript appraisal and gotten far more useful information from the books.)

I personally think studying books like these, written by people who have spent decades writing, selling, and/or teaching how to write fiction, and making notes on what you can apply to your manuscript to improve it, is the best way (along with regular fiction reading and writing) to develop your fiction.

Hope some of this is useful.   

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Fiction Writer's Inspiration

Why am I doing this?

This is a question I have often asked myself, in regard to a number of things, but particularly writing. And having looked into this a little I have found some interesting theories and surprising reasons why people write, as well as some really inspirational quotes on writing in general.

Here are a few sites I found interesting:

Why Do Writers Write?

Why Do Writers Write?

Mark Coker: Why Do Writers Write?

"A writer writes not because he [or she] is educated but because he [or she] is driven by the need to communicate. Behind the need to communicate is the need to share. Behind the need to share is the need to be understood."  Leo Rosten

And my favourite, from my daughter:

"When Daddy sells his book we can go on another holiday."

And here are are some quotes I found inspiring or instructional, or both:

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."  Mark Twain

"Write what you care about and understand. Writers should never try to outguess the marketplace in search of a salable idea; the simple truth is that all good books will eventually find a publisher if the writer tries hard enough, and a central secret to writing a good book is to write on that people like you will enjoy."
Richard North Patterson

"Only write from your own passion, your own truth. That's the only thing you really know about, and anything else leads you away from the pulse."  Marianne Williamson

Most of these and many other great quotes can be found here:

Keep Writing!

"You must want to enough. Enough to take all the rejections, enough to pay the price of disappointment and discouragement while you are learning. Like any other artist you must learn your craft—then you can add all the genius you like."  Phyllis A. Whitney

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Fiction Writing: Plotting Versus Pants-ing

When it comes to writing novels, according to what I’ve read, and from what I've gathered from my own experience, there are essentially two approaches: the first is to plot your novel from the get go, i.e. create a plot overview, indicating the three acts and the chapters and scenes that will compromise them; the second is to write intuitively, by the seat of your pants as it were.

This is not to say that you can’t do both, but I think writers tend to do more of one than the other. I would say I fall into the second camp. Or at least I always had. With the short stories and novels I’ve previously written I usually had no idea where they were going from one writing session to the next. This has not really been a problem, except that I’ve had to make sure I have a pen and note book handy on the bedside table to make the connections between strands of character development and plot, when they come to me at two o’clock in the morning. As a matter of fact this approach worked very well with Leaving Town because of the nature (stream of consciousness) and genre (literary) of the novel.

However, I am now almost thirty thousand words into the first draft of a thriller (my first) and I’m sensing I’m rapidly wearing out the seat of my pants. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure if I don’t do some overview plotting soon my boxers are going to be on public display.

As what I’ve written previously have tended to be more literary stories, I’m now realizing that genre affects the approach you take to the work, or at least determines which approach is more likely to bring results (completion) in a reasonable time frame.

So whether you are a plotter, or a seat-of-your-pants-writer, I wish you luck. And suggest that at some point, particularly if you experiment with other genres, you might need to play for the other team. Even if it’s just off the bench (for the unsure this is football parlance, as in Barcelona FC, for a short period of time.)

Keep writing.

Monday, 18 July 2011

On Fiction Writing (and Reading)

Stephen King, in his excellent book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, talks about the importance of reading for an author. Specifically, he makes the point that if you want to write, you can't afford not to read. And, he offers a suggested reading list near the end of the book. What struck me when I first scanned this list was the variety of novels included.

It seems that a varied diet of reading matter is as important to an author as a regular (preferably daily) routine of putting pen to paper (or finger tips to keypad). Having spent a number of years collecting books about writing, I have noticed this point is made in many of them. And over the years a number of writers I have spoken to, or heard speak, have also mentioned the importance of reading.

If you are reading this and thinking that's pretty obvious, I agree, but I think that what's not so obvious, initially, is that reading as writer is somewhat different to reading purely as a reader—or it should be.

For a start, as a writer when you read, you need to be analysing, or at least taking into account, the way the writer has used language to take you on a journey. You need to ask questions: How have they have used the building blocks of fiction: words (especially nouns and verbs) and sentences (simple, complex, compound, fragments)? What decisions have they made regarding choices of setting, narrative voice (or narrative point of view), character construction and development, story and plot development, and style (including use of simile and metaphor)? What are the effects of these elements individually and collectively?

The writer’s decisions determine the quality and nature of your journey as a reader. And so it will be with the choices we make, so we need to be sure our choices are informed.

So read, read, read…

And keep writing.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Fiction Writer's Doubts

I recently had a conversation with a writer friend, who is working on his second novel. His first, a YA novel, was published a couple of years ago and has done well. Both in terms of sales and critical appraisals. He was very honest and told me he was losing confidence in his ability to complete his next book. And, he wondered, if the first one had been just a ‘fluke’.

I reminded him of what he’d achieved with his previous effort and tried to encourage him. Ultimately I’m sure he’ll get past this patch and write another great book. But what struck me was the crushing self doubt he was feeling.  

Even though I’ve read about ‘second book syndrome’ I'd thought that sort of doubt in your ability to 'just finish the thing...' was an affliction of the yet-to-be-published-debut-novelist (i.e. me), and that when you'd had some success in terms of getting a book out there, a lot of that doubt would lift like morning mist.

But not so.

Maybe self doubt goes hand in hand with writing. With any thing that involves putting yourself out there. And maybe that’s a part of what makes it so hard, and ultimately, so rewarding.

And maybe, it’s out of that conflict between self doubt and self belief that the whispers of creativity come.


Keep writing.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Why Blog When I Could Write Short Stories or Novels?

One of the reasons I was reluctant to start a blog, was that I thought, it's taken me this long (never mind exactly how long) to get serious about my writing, and, if I divert my energy into something else now, like a blog, I may find myself naval gazing online, instead of working on my manuscript.

But at this point I think setting up this blog about my journey as a writer, and hopefully helping you a little bit with yours, has had the opposite effect. And, I feel as if I'm actually taking another step in convincing myself that I'm serious about this path I have chosen. I think putting our goals and dreams out there, where they can be buffeted and damaged, is the only way (we and) they build strength, resilience and momentum.

I have a friend who at the age of seventy six recently got her first piece published—she's thrilled and now thinking about starting work on her first novel. Seeing her writing in print for the first time has given her the confidence to move forward.

And moving forward only takes little steps. One after another.

Keep writing.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Fiction Writer's First Post


And welcome. This is my first post. On this, my first blog. Which I’ve set up to chronicle my journey as a writer.

Already, over the course of the last two years (the period of time of time its taken me to complete my first novel—I’ve attempted three, but only one is at the point where it’s ready for submission), I've learnt a lot: from ways of improving and developing my writing, to information on finding and approaching literary agents, and writing an effective synopsis.

My other motivation for setting up this blog is to provide information and encouragement (two necessities for an emerging writer, along with discipline, commitment and self belief) to others who also dream of sharing their stories with the world. In future, I plan to add links to sites I've found helpful, share quotes I've found inspiring, and give updates on my own writing progress.

And I’ll try to share something useful (that I’ve found useful anyway) each post.

The first nugget of wisdom is to write as often as you can, preferably everyday. Even if you just keep a diary, as I did for many years, at least you’re building up those writing muscles. After all, you wouldn’t get off the couch after years of imitating a sloth and attempt to run a marathon, which is the sporting equivalent of writing a novel.  

Keep writing.