Posts Tagged ‘challenges’

Although my writing focus is on poetry at the moment, I continue to practice some of the writing tools I have found useful.

One of these is reading the news with an eye to an interesting or unexpected story.  As someone deeply engaged in politics I also read political blogs and websites to understand different responses to those stories.

This is proving to be a real eye opener – although I don’t agree with many responses I have a much better comprehension about why some people want to see the world structured in particular ways.

From the human, bloggers for peace, point of view, understanding is imperative to social cohesion.

From a writing point of view, it’s a great way to test out characters.

You can take any character you have written and imagine them reading a post.  What do they think? How do they react? Is the topic something they would have a strong reaction to or discuss with friends? What is their political point of view? Are they engaged with current affairs, do they watch the news or read a paper?

You might never write about anything of this nature but it doesn’t matter: the better you know your character, the more believable and consistent they will be.

So if you find yourself reading something which doesn’t reflect your view, take a chance on it, and read through the eyes of your character. It might provide the spark of engagement you need to find.

Happy writing,




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It’s been a funny old year, so far. My job has got busier, my health has been problematic, my writing has been erratic, my personal life has been massively busy, with occasional blank spots.

Nothing has really been on an even keel.

I was talking to someone recently about when I will get back to normal following my illness in the summer, and I realised that I may never get back to that normal because it no longer exists.

Not that life is abnormal, you understand, but that life is changeable.  This is something I have commented on before but every so often something pops up to forcibly remind me!

I have so many different factors making up my experiences now that it is almost impossible to know how things will look from one month to the next.

This is, for the most part, a very good thing.  The occasional banana skin has probably been easier to manage because in life terms, it affects a smaller percentage of my world. I guess my ill health in the summer was a plantain skin because it was a bigger impact, but you get the idea!

So I am not getting back to normality exactly, but as work calms down and I pick up dropped hobbies and activities, as I get more routine around my writing, I will create a new normal from which I can launch the next.

And you will finally have some posts about writing. That’ll be a nice change…

Happy Writing,



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I am back from my Welsh retreat, and it didn’t exactly go to plan…

Retreat Mountain

Despite adding a good 10,000 words to the whodunnit, I am still a long distance from the finishing line.  I was genuinely surprised to see how little movement those words gave me in the storyline.

I was seriously fed up after three days of writing and no sense of closing the story, but for my own peace of mind I tried to look on the bright side – if I don’t I will ultimately just put my pen down and walk away from my writing, and that can’t be an option.

So I shifted my perspective instead.  It took a bit of effort and a glass or two of wine but I got there:

I have a proper plan showing story development; I am 10,000 words further along than I was, and they are purposeful words, not just space-fillers; I managed to enjoy the beautiful Welsh countryside and really have a mental time-out every day I was away, which was absolutely necessary.  I got to be artistic with pencils, and creative with poetry, as well as work on the story – this gave me a chance to reconsider elements and re-write paragraphs that weren’t working as I intended.  I got to spend quality time being peaceful with my husband, without the blare of the tv or the interruptions of work.

I also accepted that this is a growing story – from short story to novella, and from short form novella to long form.  Possibly even a novel, by the time I’m through.  The storyline carried me onwards, and is almost setting its own parameters.

Having hit the wall on this story a few times having it flow naturally was something of a relief and I’m not going to regret it.  When this whodunnit came into my mind, it was a way to work through a problem I had in another story, getting the twists to work effectively. However, I’ve become much more wedded to this story, and am being much more tenacious about completing it, than I was the originator.  Reading a few crime novels along the way has been invaluable, and has really opened my eyes to the potential in this genre, which is one I never previously cared for as a reader.

Now it is time to regroup and identify what needs to be done to get this story finished. As of tomorrow, the timesheet comes back into play as the key tool to carve out time to write, with a pragmatic and realistic target of about 1 hour per day.

I have a family event in Germany in a few weeks time so I will aim, once more, to be close to the conclusion by the time I go away.  If I set enough targets, I’ll hit one eventually!

I am going to stop there because this is already a long post and I want to go back to the whodunnit for a little more time before I get myself ready for a return to the office.   After all, I might not be on retreat any more but that is no reason not to retreat into my work!

Happy writing






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People often said how brave I was to give up work to write, and see where it took my life.  Yet for me, going back to work was a far greater challenge.

Challenges are part of all our lives: we face them every day and it is in overcoming them, or at the very least managing our response to them, that we learn and grow.

I was watching the launch show of one of my favourite time wasters tonight – Strictly Come Dancing – and it occurred to me that challenges expose the very best and worst in us, in a lot of ways.  They can bring out tenacity, strength of will, unknown talents; they can expose weakness, poor sportsmanship, childishness.  In learning about our best and worst traits we can learn how to harness them, if we’re smart.  In experiencing different facets of ourselves, and others, we can explore what I call the human experience.  We can explore life.

From a writing perspective, challenges build us up to face rejection, and feed our subconscious and conscious minds with data that we draw on for characterisation and storytelling purposes.  We build up a mental log of body language, facial expressions and verbal retorts.  We see that responses aren’t illogical, that they come from somewhere inside – and we build that into our characters.

But don’t forget we all respond differently to the situations in our lives; our characters must too.

In other news – we missed book 49 of the list, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos. Honestly, I didn’t know this was a book; I’ve seen the film and enjoyed the music, and Madonna’s subsequent ‘Material Girl‘ video in homage to it 🙂  It’s something I might look out though – relatively short, an a little dark under the top layer and the basis of an iconic film, what more could you ask?!  Book 50 is Mrs Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf; this sounds a little heavy-going and although Virginia Woolf is on my ‘must read’ list for the future, I think it’s going to take a little too much out of me at the moment!

And finally – I’ve got one possible guest post for when I’m away on honeymoon, but I’m still looking for a couple more guest bloggers so if you want to share your experiences of writing here, please let me know!

Until next time,

Happy writing,








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This week promised myself I’d write another 2000 words, and thankfully I’ve done it.  However, my writing is seriously taking a backseat in life: not only have I got charity events to help arrange and local volunteering to do, but I’ve also got my new work, plus looking for another temporary role, plus the big event I am planning all taking chunks of my time.

And now’s as good a time as any to say that the big event is my wedding, in just over 4 months! 🙂

As I’m sure you can imagine, writing is getting lost in the mix (despite huge support from people around me – my partner, mum, big sis and SC all deserve a special shout-out here alongside lots of others who have offered to help in many different ways).  It’s the one thing that I don’t have a set date to get done so from a time management point of view it’s the easiest thing to drop.

Back in the mists of time (2010) when I decided to take a career break to write, I did so because I never found the time to do any writing at all.   It wasn’t just that I didn’t have time – lots of writers have jobs and write – but that I didn’t have the capacity within myself to do it.  I don’t want to be in that position again and I think I have put enough of a framework in place to keep it going, but it is going to be at a pretty slow pace.

So from now on I’m going to start working on my time management much more stringently.  I have set myself a target to write at least 2000 words a week from now until I get to the end of the current novel, and from then I will reassess.  I will put aside those things that can wait until after the wedding – things like courses I want to take, or some of the extra books I might want to read for the challenge.  I will make sure that I log writing time again (the timesheet is embarrassingly empty of data at the moment) not to make me feel I am not doing enough, but to remind me that I am still a writer.  I will focus my writing on the third book, and just keep going until it’s done.

It has been suggested that now would be a good time to upload book 1 as an e-book, as I am not sending it out at the moment; I will make a decision on this soon and let you know!

So there we have it – life comes in waves and I’m riding a big one now!  But if I keep going I’ll get to where I want to be, even if it takes longer than expected.

And finally – I missed book 39 last week: The History of Mr Polly by HG Wells which I haven’t read and in light of everything I’ve just written, is not going on my list!  I haven’t read book 40: Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm either and the same applies!

Happy writing,




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When I started my B4Peace journey I thought it would be 12 months long, a chance to do something different and connect my work to something more widespread. It was a chance to think about the part of me that yearns to speak up against the negatives I see in the world.

It didn’t always work out that way, and the link to my writing hasn’t always been at the forefront of my posts, but I am glad I got involved.

This could have been my last post.  However I recently saw that a new year of blogging for peace is ready to roll out, with a new set of challenges.

So this month’s challenge – to plan a party for peace – is not the fond farewell it might have been. Instead it’s a New Year celebration, with fairy lights and fireworks.

There were a lot of things to consider for this party for peace. Who would be there, as guests or as performers? What would be discussed? Where would it be?

When I looked back at all my peace posts this year, I realised I’ve spent the last year preparing for these questions!

I already have a location in mind – the grounds of beautiful ruins, surrounded by nature.  Somewhere we can look around and think about our experience of peace.

There will be a big banner signalling the purpose of the event.  The entertainment will include poetry, thoughtful musicrestful music, and art .  We can really look at the world around us, engage in the moment, and create new entertainment too.

Everyone can discuss their dreams of peace, the language of peace and the importance of forgiveness.  And eat party food!

The whole world will be invited, of course – because forgiving, and accepting, is a path to peace; by forgiving, we educate others.  By showing kindness even to those who have hurt us, we become ambassadors for peace.

At the end of my party, I’ll give everyone a party bag to take home, with two presents inside.  One will be a seed of peace, to be planted wherever the ground is bare.  The other will be a word of peace, ready to use when needed.

Oh, and there will be cake in there too; it’s not a party bag without cake!

I will carry on blogging about peace through 2014, and look forward to seeing what challenges Kozo comes up with for the next 12 months…

Happy writing,



B4Peace Central

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