Posts Tagged ‘focus’

You may remember that a couple of weeks ago I started working on titles for poems, to get me going with a bit more focus.

I got a little sidetracked when one became more like a story plan, but it’s always a good exercise, with positive results.

Now I am working on the next phase; building up some draft poems to see which ones work, which ones I like, and which ones I want to take further.

There’s a degree of order in my process this time because of my desire to write about the world as it is now – and the last few weeks have given me more material than I want, frankly! – but I want to keep as open a mind as possible because writing often takes you in unexpected directions.

It’s important to let it too; in this set of work I want to take unexpected routes.  If I can surprise myself, maybe I will surprise my audience too.

I also want to challenge myself with this work. Last time I wrote a particularly politically-inspired poem it didn’t feel finished or complete enough when I first performed it.  I believe that was because it didn’t quite say what I intended.  This time around I need to eliminate that sense of incompleteness because all it does is saps my confidence.

So I am spending my writing energy from now until at least my holiday in May on getting these poems as good as I can, or at least beyond the first draft status!  From then onwards, let’s see what my audience think…

I will share a few of the unused titles over the next couple of weeks: they might not get my writing going but perhaps they will work for one of you 🙂

Happy writing,





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For as long as I have been writing this blog, I have been reading the newspapers with a view to finding unlikely stories or inspiration.  I have mentioned things I’ve followed up in poetry or prose on here before, more than once.

I always found the slightly off-kilter articles the most riveting because they shine a light on the unexpected outcomes of the human experience. However, we are living in a ‘post truth’ world, where things are not as they seem, where news is not necessarily reality, and in which some of the most odd and off kilter articles relate directly to the behaviour of the U.S. President.

The off kilter isn’t quite so inspiring any more.

I don’t want to be overly political on here, but as a writer I value the skill it takes to properly investigate a story.  News by Twitter feed is all very well but the real journalism is done by dedicated professionals who take risks to get the truth told.

It feels like this work, and by default the capacity of the media to hold those in power to account, is at risk.

So perhaps this week, rather than scanning for little snippets of inspiration online, we can all buy a newspaper.  Read it, and see what we’ll be missing.

Knowing what is happening in the world is important for all of us, but as writers it is arguably part of our job. To lose the opportunity to explore stories, form opinions, share views isn’t something I ever want to see.

So in this ‘post truth’ world, let’s hope we haven’t gone too far down the rabbit hole, and start to value what we have.

I don’t know where we fiction writers will end up if facts are malleable, after all.

Happy writing, and thoughtful reading,





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As I have decided to use Thursday posts to reflect on my writing generally, I am going to use these Sunday posts to focus on one element.  For now, anyway!

You may have heard the quote ‘nothing happens nowhere’, attributed to Eudora Welty, or as an alternative Elizabeth Bowen’s ‘nothing can happen nowhere’.

These two quotes are a starting point for my next challenge.


During one of my courses, the idea of setting as a part of plot was raised – and I remember long ago reading something along the lines that location is another character.  We have to remember its features and foibles just as we do with the people we create.

But how can you choose somewhere?

In my work, it’s generally instinctual: I feel if a scene needs to be set inside, or outside; if it’s a cosy bedroom or a dank, overgrown woods. I trust my characters to put themselves where they need to be and I follow in their footsteps to see where exactly we all end up.

That’s not to say I have no choice, of course; but that as a writer I might know I want a scene to take place covering specific interventions or unveilings, but that I don’t know where it takes place until I have got to that point.

My very first scene in my family tree novel is in a bathroom.  The choice arose from three elements: the need for the character to be alone and aware of their body; a clock, which was important in setting out some bigraphical details of the character and her background; the ability for the character to show frustration through activity in a way that met points 1 and 2.

I have faith in my choices through that story, as each represents an element of character and experience.  However, I need to work more on this in my current planning.

When developing my ideas from last year into a better, more tangible, more cohesive story I need to work on setting, and this is going to be my writing focus for the next week or two. I want to keep my settings cliche free – or if using a cliched setting do it with a knowing wink to the reader.

I can of course use places as I have done before – as a basis, a sound foundation on which to build my fiction.  Or I can create a new environment, free of human intervention, or I can do something in between.  Who knows what it’ll end up being: the only limit is my imagination.

So next week I’ll report back on what I’ve learnt this week and how my aims have progressed.  Maybe I’ll even have a new world to share with you!


Happy writing,



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This week…

I have noticed I am getting behind on the posts a lot.

I don’t have time to tweet, or check my twitter feed.

I have read about three pages of a book.

I have written less than 1000 words.

Where is the time going??

I am generally falling behind on a lot of personal life arrangements. I have reasons, but they don’t get me an agent so they are not worth focussing on.

Instead, a little later than I should, I am going to set myself some weekly targets.

This week coming, I will:

  • Finalise the plan for changing the format of the whodunnit and PUT IT ON PAPER!
  • Send the Family Tree out to four more agents (to make up for a missed week!)
  • Read something from cover to cover.

When push comes to shove, I need to know I am still moving forward. If things slow me down, I run the risk of halting, and I don’t want that.

So this post isn’t really about the week I had, but the week I am going to have, and how I’m going to make it work for me.

And Monday’s already over, so I’d better get to it!

Happy writing,

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