Archive for the ‘Planning’ Category

I’ve been at writing group tonight, and inevitably much of the discussion was about our open mic night.

I have written the spooky poem but I think it needs a concluding stanza, so we discussed that.  I don’t think the others were in quite the same headspace as me though; there was a push to make it funny!

I also talked about the start of my Wild Swans poem, although that isn’t one for the open mic.

I was working on it at lunchtime today, and I am happy with the way it is coming together.  The quote got me thinking about mindless drones and that has informed my approach.

I won’t say anything more yet but I hope to share the finished article with you all.

Finally, I helped another writer with their work.  I have a very different writing style and approach to them, but I can help with the editing process – identifying discrepancies in rhythm, rhyme schemes which alter unexpectedly, and so on.  It’s a really important part of the group, such as it is, to share what we have learnt in our work .

In the spirit of sharing, this is an old technique that often gets forgotten: always read your work out loud.  You can hear if a line sounds right, or a word is too hard, a syllable extra needed and so on.

This applies particularly to poetry, but other writing can also be improved by listening to it. Try it and see if it works for you!

That’s all for today.  It’s just gone midnight and my coach turned into a pumpkin…

Happy writing,



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You may have noticed my lack of a Thursday post this week.  Or not!

I was all set to write about Hedda Gabler, which I was seeing that night, but unfortunately I became ill just before the show started and missed it. And, by default, posting about it.

I didn’t even feel up to explaining!

So this week has been a bit of a blip week.  I lost creative time, I wasn’t in the right mood to write for a few days, and the weekend got super-busy. Still, two good writing things happened:

1. I finally booked my tickets for the crime writing convention – and still have time to enter the flash fiction competition if I fancy.

2. I have agreed to work on some more performances with a musician friend, and we are about to start work on a new set.

Oh and I guess a third, if you’re being generous: I have started getting some ideas together for a new series of poems about the world.  Nothing on paper yet but my need to explore different feelings and experiences lives on, and poetry is the best outlet for it, by far.

In more fun news, I have a few trips away planned and these always bring inspiration and new concepts so I am looking forward to seeing what comes of those.

Also, my ‘writing in different places’ plan hasn’t really played out but there is a whole new option opening (quite literally) soon, which I think will be a real positive for me.

Watch this space, and keep your fingers crossed!

Happy writing,




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This week has been another non-writing one, because sometime life is a juggling act and I can’t take on that extra ball yet.  It’s been a week in which sleep is too precious to miss and most of my time has been spent in various stages of packing.  Moving house is stressful, even if it isn’t your house!

I have foregone writing to cope with living, really…

However, after another visit to the hospital I have some more ideas to play with in setting, I will be returning to my coursework tomorrow lunchtime, and I have promised myself faithfully that tomorrow evening I will spend at least an hour writing.

I don’t know what yet, it might just be a stream of consciousness.  Or swear words.  Either way, I will be launching myself back into my writing work within 24 hours!

I also want to read a book to focus on language this week; I may not finish but I’ll give it a try.

I have a SMART plan, in business speak.  Now I just need to work smartly to get it all done.

Happy writing,



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Normally I like to keep Thursday posts for random subjects, raising points outside of writing. However, it being the start of the new year and with a collection of new approaches to my writing, I wanted to share how it’s going…

1. Writing – well, so far I have focussed on creating a writing space in my home where I am free of distractions and can sit and write for at least an hour.  I have a new book in which to write and am currently exploring concepts and ideas which can feed into the development of previous plans.  This week is about setting the new pattern rather than producing anything particular, but in effect I am using writing exercises to see what ideas have staying power.  I have not yet explored other venues for writing but at the moment my ‘nook’ is working well.

2. Mentoring – I have found some more sources of mentoring but I have not yet committed to any particular resource or scheme.

3. Courses – I may have got a little carried away, as I have now signed up for 5 courses: 4 writing and one psychology.  They are all short, with short videos which I watch at lunch times.  I will see how I go, but I am enjoying the learning so far!

4. Reading – I am reading a very good book, quite slowly.  I am pleased not to feel under pressure to finish the story as I am savouring it!

So I am feeling pretty positive right now.  I need to keep on as I am, setting aside regular time to write, study and read – organisation is essential, and a bit of strictness with myself won’t do any harm either!

Maybe I will use Thursdays as my mid-week barometer for a while, and you can keep me on track!

I hope your new year targets are going well too!

Happy writing,



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I read something this week that was a good place to start the new year.  To paraphrase: a target without a plan is just a daydream.

I have to stop daydreaming.

My first writing act of 2017 was enrolling in some creative writing courses today – four which cover different elements of writing and which I will undertake concurrently so by the middle of February (when my panto is done and dusted) I will be nearing completion of them.

I have said before how easy it is for me to put barriers in my own way so I’m also going to do some work on breaking them down and will be seeking out a writing mentor to help with this.  I am researching this at the moment and have found a few possible routes open which I will be addressing over the next few weeks.  Some are very costly and I can’t afford to make the wrong choice because I won’t be doing this twice!

Finally, I am going to change my writing pattern.  I find it very easy to get bogged down by life, so much so that finding an hour a day becomes a bit of a pipe dream.  However, if I change my pattern by writing somewhere else I might be able to balance that, at least a little bit.  With that in mind I will try different options – libraries, cafes, pubs and so on – to see what works, and I’ll do it before I get home from work so the household tasks don’t distract me.

I will have to give myself time each day for coursework which will also help to put more structure into my writing life.

The plan is, as it always has been, to be published. There’s no change there – I just have to work more effectively to make sure the work I produce is as good as it can be, and get it out there.

2016 was a bumpy year, but 2017 has to make up for it and some concrete action will be a grand way to start!

Happy new year, and as always – happy writing,





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This week I had yet another bug (and we haven’t even got into the winter cold season yet!) which wiped me out for a few evenings. Hopefully I’ve seen the back of that now but it was a reminder that it only takes a few days to lose the writing habit.

In order to cheer myself up a little I invested in some new writing tools – a book of short exercises which I will be able to do in my lunchtimes (unlike the plot and structure ones which require longer sessions) and a big pack of pens in lots of different colours which I can use to mark up my output. I like to use colour as a tool in presenting ideas, as it can be useful at identifying themes and patterns.

Never let it be said you can have too many of either!!

It’s not all doom any gloom on the writing front though – I have done some writing exercises this week, trying to work out both Fred’s next move and whether there is any life left in the crime story I was working on before I got ill in the summer.

I have not really wanted to pick that one up again because I feel so removed from it, but the characters were interesting. I am considering keeping them and the setting, but building a new story around them.

I would like to do that. As there was a degree of confusion in my key character already – she wasn’t sure whether she trusted her perception of events – I think there is scope to change the storyline and bring a different outcome to bear without losing her voice or her sense of disequilibrium.

However, I know from my mistakes before I have to work hard at the planning stage – so daytime exercises will be generating ideas and imagery, evenings will be spent shuffling things around and seeing what has possibilities by leaning more heavily on my plot and structure tools.

Only when I have a full, strong, narrative will I actually start the writing phase. It’s like decorating a house – you have to do the prep work first!

So this week has been a little slow, but useful; next week I need to step it up a gear.

Happy writing,

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It’s the last day of my break now and I’m a little sad that I am back to work tomorrow. It’s been very restful even with going away for a few days but tomorrow it’ll all go back to normal.

I have to admit Fred hasn’t travelled much with me, and is languishing somewhere near Stonehenge but I have been reading about plot and structure as well as tackling some novels. I wasn’t going to read them but sitting down with a coffee on a squishy chair isn’t as relaxing when you’re reading a text book…

I am about to start re-reading the plot and structure book because it is filled with exercises I want to try out, but that is for next week’s post!

It’s been a useful exercise to revisit some basics though. When I write I tend to fall into certain patterns and behaviours, and the book should help with stripping out the bad behaviours and focussing on a cleaner, more precise, narrative flow.

As importantly, it gives me tools to check the narrative itself – specifically whether it is strong enough to be the foundation of a novel. That is a discipline I need to work on, now more than ever due to my restricted writing time.

The other thing I have been doing is getting back to photography. I went to a couple of Medieval religious buildings and duly paid for photography permits so I could at least attempt to record some of what I saw.

At it was Remembrance Day on the 11 November the buildings were dressed with poppies, which is always a poignant reminder of how history shapes our experience of life, especially when is buildings that have stood for so long.

The last couple of weeks have definitely been more about theory than practice, but I don’t think that is a bad thing for me. I just have to remember that Fred needs a bit of an outing too!

Happy Writing,

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The clocks changed this weekend and it’s thrown me out a bit. In my head it’s nearly 1am and I should be asleep, especially as I only have one day in work before taking a break for a couple of weeks!

So this post will be particularly brief…

  • Plot and structure is going well
  • I actually managed to read a novel!
  • Fred is still awaiting his next escapade
  • I haven’t booked in a writing session with my friend

So a mixed bag of a week.

My challenge now is to get Fred moving through a couple of eras by next Sunday and to finish rereading the Plot and Structure book in the same time. After that, I need to distill the most salient points into notes and study them – it’s a little like preparing for an exam although I need to remember the details for longer!!

That’s my whistlestop tour over, and now it’s time to hit the hay.

Happy Writing

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I said on Sunday that my reading this week would be textbooks and guides to help me get back on the writing track. It’s a little like studying, only without a set book list…

I am currently reading a book called ‘Plot and Structure‘ by James Scott Bell. I have read it before but as planning is where I need to focus my writing development it seemed a good place to start. I clearly need to take more from it this time!

There is of course no way to review it in the usual sense, and I haven’t finished revisiting it, but so far it seems very practical, which I need.

This type of reading will replace novels for a little while – but I am happy to share my views of the writing guides instead, if you are interested – just let me know in the comments.

Happy reading,

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This week has been a little less about writing, and a little more about realistic goals – but over the course of the evening a writing plan has started to emerge, and it’s given my literary spirits a boost.

I happened to pop onto my twitter account for the first time in about a week, to see a message there from a writing group friend of mine.

I won’t give you all the details but the upshot was that we are both languishing in writing limbo, and need a nudge in the right direction.

So the starting point of the plan is for us to agree some writing dates when we meet up at group this week coming. On those afternoons/evenings we meet up, we will write. Maybe talk about what we’re writing too, of course, but primarily sit and write.

It’ll be like having a gym friend who makes you exercise when you want to stay in and eat chocolate! Plus when I’m writing I can eat chocolate 😉

My phase two is to acknowledge that I have the tools I need to write, and to use them. That means my reading materials this week are going to be textbooks, guides, exercises etc – all to get me thinking about how to reboot my work.

Phase three is to set myself a target of 10,000 words to get me to the end of Fred’s story so I can finish it and put it aside for later editing.

Phase four is to review all the crime novel work I have done, archive the unsuccessful bits and pull together the best so I can build a new story with more confidence in it – a story I hope will be planned (not written; I need to get back to basics I think) by Christmas.

However, the most important element of my new plan is to relax about my output.  I need to stop putting pressure on myself and focus on why writing is a joy and I love doing it; to let myself have a bit of fun with it.

Expectations can have benefits, or they can undermine your confidence when you don’t meet them.  When everything in life is a little crowded it is too easy to feel I haven’t done what I should.  I make it worse by telling you what I’ll do, too!

But there is no agent phoning me, no editor demanding my time.  I am my own timekeeper so I can set my own rules.  And for now, my rules are to be a little more kind to myself and to enjoy the process of putting pen to paper.

Happy writing,

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