Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

I’ve been all about the poetry again this week, whilst trying to rest up following exposure to some rather unpleasant germs – not what I want when I’m still recovering.

I find it particularly frustrating as a writer, because sluggish body = sluggish mind: I am constantly struggling to find the right word for the scene or emotion I want to convey.  I have some extremely erudite friends and I often feel the need to expand my capabilities, but even for me I’m being pretty basic at the moment.

It’s very problematic when my vocabulary lets me down.   I spend ages not just trying to think of the right word for a particular feeling, but any word that is approximately correct which I can use to hold the space…

So I am going to try to minimise the impact, and get back to reading the word for the day I get tweeted each morning – I have neglected Twitter on the basis it’s really not essential right now, but as a tool it has its uses.   And I’m going to use it!

Hopefully the next couple of week will see me get back some of my writing confidence – or if not confidence, at least ability.

In other news – this week coming is a big project week for me at work, and I will be hard pushed to get any posts written on Tuesday or Thursday; I’ve done very little reading over the last few days anyway so I don’t think you’ll be missing much, but if I get a chance I might just post a positive quote or a happy song.  It’ll be something else to think about when I need a break from project talk!

This is a short and sweet post, but that’s ok, I think.  The important thing for me is being here, and getting back into the groove.

Happy writing,



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Since my break, I’ve lost track of what week I am on and after some deliberation I have decided it doesn’t matter. Writing is not a project where I have to report on progress against my targets or identify any risks and mitigations – it is a way of living my life. So for now I am dropping my weekly count.

If I change my mind, you’ll know soon enough!

As I said on Thursday, I wanted to get back into the habit of writing poetry. I have succeeded in pulling a short draft piece together and although its probably not ever going to be for human consumption, it has unblocked me a little and helped me process some thoughts and feelings that have been building up in my mind.

For this particular poem I have dealt with the frustrations of being unwell and how time loses all meaning when your normal daily experience has been undone in some way. I feel better for it.

Writing is a great form of therapy. It is an empowering way of taking strong emotions and owning them – crafting them into art and then making a choice about their future. It gives back a sense of control, which is incredibly important to me, and I’m sure I am not alone.  I have poems on all sorts of subjects from grief to embarrassment to physical pain to joy – and whether or not anyone else ever sees them, I am glad I produced them because they are a record of how I got where I am.

I don’t tend to choose poetry subjects before the writing but this week I want to write more about what’s uppermost in my mind to clear the decks, so to speak. Once I have done that I will be ready to build up my portfolio a little more.

It feels great to have some output for the first time in ages, and even better to feel this is only the start.

Happy writing,



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Having caught up with all my completed novels in Thursday’s post I made a bit of a rookie error, because I didn’t finish the book I was in the process of reading at the time – so now it’s a failed challenge week!

So to replace books tonight I will tell you about another new challenge I have taken on – learning to sew. I was inspired by a chat with Mrs Fox over at Mrs Fox’s Finery about making clothes that suit our own styles. That led me on to a conversation with a friend who lives a few doors from me about finding a sewing coach – and she offered to coach me herself!

So today was day 1 and I made a mini cushion cover, a prototype for a project I will be working on soon.  It was really just to give me a change to get familiar with the machine using basic stitches but I was very proud of my slightly wonky creation.  I would have shared an action shot if it weren’t for the problems I am having with my newly-upgraded computer…

I do love that rush of excitement when something works out; and until I feel up to proper writing again this is a less intensive way to fulfil my creative needs.

Anyway, that’s taken us a long way from the book talk I am here to share.  I will probably finish the book tomorrow, irritatingly, and will therefore tell you all about it next week!

Happy reading,



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I am back from lovely Northumberland – it was too short a break really, but we squeezed it in between various things and were lucky to get any time away, to be honest.

I said I’d tell you about my theatre trip when I got back so here goes…

The Royal Shakespeare Company have been touring the UK with a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and we got tickets for 23 April, which was the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.   The performance has used local theatre groups to fill certain roles around the country, and the performance we went to see was no different.

Except that it was: for the first time ever recorded, a woman played the part of Bottom.  Not only was this historically significant but the part was brilliantly performed by an amateur, not a member of the RSC cast.

The local performers were great – I wasn’t sure when I heard about it how well it would work but for our performance they were brilliant, and had the audience in stitches.  Interesting phrase that, by the way: current usage is relatively modern but an earlier version was used by Shakespeare in Twelfth Night, so it seems appropriate!

The staging was completely different from any other version of Midsummer I’ve seen – no trees, forests, flowers but what looked like a bombed out building.  Reading the programme I understood why but it did give the performance a different feel from normal.

So there you have it, in a nutshell.

I find myself reflecting on elements of a performance long after the play has finished.  There is generally one scene or image that floats in my mind and settles into the memory bank more strongly than others.  Sometimes it is obvious why – Idina Menzel rising over the stage singing ‘Defying Gravity‘ was a pretty theatrical image! – but sometimes it is a simple gesture that tugs at my emotions in a powerful way.  The intimate nature of those moments only works in a theatre for me: even when we’ve been in the cheap seats I have felt connected to the scene before me.

One of my earliest live performance memories was seeing the ballet Swan Lake performed.  It was at a beautiful moated castle and although I was probably only about five I can still close my eyes and see (or imagine I see) the shadows of those dancers pirouetting across the stone walls.  It was magical and dreamlike, and it’s the feeling I am searching for every time I see a play, ballet or show.  I think it’s why certain images stay with me too – they reflect that first memory.

We are all inspired by, or brought joy by, different things – be it music, dance, football, golf, films, gardens.  What is the same is that it makes our lives richer.  We can be transported to another place and we can be genuinely removed from the trials and tribulations of day to day life.  We can be inspired to try things ourselves: I am sure my am dram life is related to my love of the theatre.  We can expand our horizons.

All that from a couple of hours is a pretty good return on investment, don’t you think?

Happy writing,




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This week I have been doing too much, and not enough.

There have been a lot of things going on – appointments, extra meetings at work, extra hours at work, reading a script for the drama group and so on – and writing has taken a little bit of a back seat.

It’s frustrating, but just because the words haven’t quite hit the page it doesn’t mean I haven’t been planning – it’s important for me to remember that!

I have mapped out logistically how to take what I picked up from the crime writing convention and apply it to the whodunnit. I have a new storyline because one of the key things I realised as I sat in that audience was that a police procedural is not my style.

Now, that’s a bit of a worry, because I wrote a story wrapped around a police officer. But with some tweaks, I can make it effective as a more angsty/psychological story which is more about perception and not entirely about reality…

It became really clear as I listened to police officers and ex police officers, and civilians who are authorised to go out in uniform in police cars, that it’s not the route I want to take. They are experts and can bring years of experience to their work, they can use the language, the systems, without fear of getting a major detail wrong.

I can’t do that, and I am not in a position to give up work to go around chasing gangs in a police car any time soon, so my best bet, and the one I think will work better, is to work with what I know: people.

At last, a degree in Sociology might have a tangible benefit!

There are resources, of course – but one thing I know from research (yay Sociology again!) is that there’s nothing better than doing your own: only you will know exactly what it is you are looking for.  This isn’t science, it is about people in potentially dangerous situations responding based on their own experience and belief system.  If I only needed a few details to pin it together, I could ask one of my lovely contacts for help.  However, there’s a lot more than that to do, and I have to make it work for me.

All this sounds like another head-hitting-wall moment but it really isn’t, because a) I realised what I can bring to my writing from my own background and b) the whodunnit was never meant to be anything more than an exercise in twisting a tale – the fact I have now seen its possibilities is completely unexpected and quite marvellous!

I am going to leave it there today, on what I truly think is a positive point. Next week I have to get back into sending out my work but for now I’m focussing on the fact that I am working, even when my pen hasn’t really touched my paper.

Happy writing,

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Sometimes writing group turns into more of a reading group, where we talk about the relative pros and cons of certain styles of writing.

Today, it was the frustration of an unfulfilling ending, something I have mentioned a few times in my Challenge Tuesday posts (here and here, for example!).

As a reader, it’s one of my top peeves.  To invest time, energy and emotion into a book only for the ending to be missing, weird, make no sense or just generally not be what I want it to be, feels a little like a betrayal of trust.

However, as a writer I appreciate that a story has to reflect my viewpoint, and the ending has to be real for my characters.

But would someone else reading my book find that ending convincing?  Or would they want my characters to have entirely different futures from the ones I have offered them?  Would a reader want a different murderer in the whodunnit, a different outcome in the suspense, a different choice for my pregnant teenager?

As writers we decide on the story we choose to write: we have to hope any reader will accept the choices we have made along the way, and enjoy the journey to get to them.  As we edit, proofread and prepare our work for market we may consider these elements but we write the stories that come to us, and we can never make everyone happy.

Some of the best learning I get as a writer is to read work that I don’t enjoy.  That sounds odd, I know, but if I love a story I lose myself in it.  I don’t analyse what works because I am too busy being a reader to be a writer.  On the other hand, anything that doesn’t work, that takes me out of the story and challenges my reading zen, I can clearly identify.

I can check my own work for those elements and remove them.

So sometimes when I can’t get satisfaction as a reader, I can engage my writing brain and have a brilliant lesson from that point of view instead.  I can more objectively assess what elements are successful too, because the whole experience becomes more analytical. I can take that novel, and make it a textbook.

In other words, I can take lemons, and make lemonade. Every book-filled cloud really does have a silver lining!

Happy writing




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It’s a long weekend for Easter here in the UK, and I have the next 4 days off work which is a good thing, because I am very tired and not feeling particularly full of the joys of spring.

I have quite a lot planned over the weekend, including time with family, friends and my husband, the reintroduction of chocolate and biscuits into my diet after 40 days off! and some writing, of course.

I found a great website today, which has given me a few rather quirky ideas to play about with over the next few days; it’s www.todayifoundout.com and I’ve already lost a couple of hours there.

But I also have a special project.

Every year over this break, I write some poetry.  I find a few hours of a special kind of quiet which doesn’t really happen at any other time, and it gives me an awareness of the world around me.  It’s good to connect with each moment.  It’s a kind of mindfulness that I can hold on to for hours, which is not that easy for me as a general rule: my mind is always active, especially when I want  it to slow down!

Poetry is a way to process my feelings, emotions and experiences but what I write in these quiet moments is often more raw.  I find myself accessing a more spiritual part of myself.

I know not all of you will have a particular religious leaning but hopefully you’ll understand that sense of existence within, and as part of, something more – the feeling of being a conduit for the words which come without strain or pressure.

That’s not to say they come perfectly, but they come naturally.  I never feel the need to seek out the right word to convey the emotion I want, because it’s already there, and writing it down allows me to feel that emotion.

It’s wonderful, and special, and I regret so many years not writing poetry, and not having these magical moments.

So I am going to rest up now, and be ready for them – I don’t want to miss any more.

Happy writing,



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