Posts Tagged ‘planning’

So much of my time this week has been spent learning and rehearsing other people’s words that I am actually quite proud of the fact my whodunnit is creeping, slowly, longer.

It’s taking much more time than I expected but partway through feeling rubbishy this week I decided just to go for it and get writing, so I at least had something to develop. Wading around thinking about ‘how to’ was really just tying me up in knots.

There’s not much worse for me as a writer than getting bogged down in a planning issue when I don’t commit anything to paper (or in this case computer memory). There’s a mental equation that looks something like this:

0w = 0p><0p = 100%f

No words = no progress. No progress = 100% failure.

I have said many times that upping the word count and producing something of value are not the same thing, but I can’t edit a blank page so at the moment I’ll accept less than perfect writing for something to work with in a few weeks time.

Once I got going I must say that the writing really started to flow and the pages filled quite rapidly. I have a long way to go – and another week of rehearsals followed by three performances so not a lot of time right now – but I do feel better for getting into some sort of writing groove. If I can find even an hour or two this week to keep going I’ll be happy, and once my performing days are over I will be in a position to really get into the nitty-gritty of the plot twisters – and finally learn what I need to learn to get back to the novel!

In other news – listening lunches are back on the menu, so to speak 🙂 My songwriter friend and I are planning a new round of lunches with hopefully a lot of new material. This year I want to do more, push myself more, and achieve more so it’ll be good to start that as soon as panto season is over.  Plus once I get into the editing of the whodunnit I will be happy to have some poetry to break up my time a little.

And finally – I know I am well behind on the 100 novels list but next Sunday, post-panto, I will catch up with a report on those I’ve missed, and (if I remember) a brief report on where I go next with my reading challenge.

Happy writing,



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This week my writing of an hour a day went a bit awry because I found myself watching some family history programmes in my allotted time instead. It wasn’t a waste of time entirely, because some of the situations exposed through research were pertinent to my writing, and made me question a couple of technical aspects of my story – but it was a fairly standard avoidance technique.

I will do better this week.

Having said that, I now have a full team of characters (with a notable exception I’ll come back to shortly), with a victim, murderer, two who have strong motives, a very useful red herring and a great setting.  There’s just one character I need to sort out…

The detective.

I’m torn – and I’m stuck in the storyline, where the detective needs to come in.  I have a victim, and no-one trying to help them rest in peace…

Do I have a police officer, an expert in their field like Morse or Wallander? A private investigator (official or otherwise) like Poirot or Holmes?  An ‘ interested neighbour’ in the vein of Miss Marple or even Nancy Drew?  Or is the matter solved by an injured party – someone who loved the victim, or a suspect who wants to clear their name?

Because this isn’t my genre, and I don’t read a lot of this type of writing, I am struggling to make a decision.  I am considering taking the question to my writing group next week to see what they think, but what do you guys feel works best?  Does the busybody idea, the butting into conversations and eavesdropping at doors, get old fast? Do you think a sociopathic detective really adds a bit of texture to the tale?  In this day and age is it likely that anyone other than a police detective will be allowed near the crime scene or the case file anyway?

Realism suggests a professional police officer, I guess.  But am I going for realism?

As you will see from the number of question marks this week, I don’t know the answers.  If I can find the one necessary question to make a decision, I will be able to set my detective to work!

In other news – I have worked on a peace post this week, but as with all my writing at the moment, I can’t find the right words. I will continue seeking them this week.

And finally – I am falling behind on the 100 novels list again, so just to get back up to date I have not read books 68 or 69.  I am however reading, so at least I’ve managed to do something I can tell you about in my posts this week!

Happy writing,



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I am really enjoying trying out a new genre of writing, and working out my list of possible killers.  I have my victim nicely set up, and the location and group of people involved all in hand – now it’s just putting some character profiles together and moving on to the more in-depth storyline.  There are plenty of motives and plenty of possible killers.  I know who it is and it most definitely isn’t the butler 🙂

There’s something really energising about doing something I know isn’t my strength – it’s as though I have taken the power back into my writing.  That is such a great feeling after floundering since the wedding.  I will say, thought, that I have learnt a lot from planning a big day and some of the little details I picked up in the process will definitely make it into stories in the future.

For now, I’ll say I am progressing, and that’s something I haven’t really been able to say for quite a while.  Roll on the next step in my crime thriller!

Other than the writing, I have been in rehearsals for my panto, joined a ballroom classing group and started a new course (introductory paleobiology…) – I was so busy with wedding planning last year that a lot of other things went by the wayside and this year I want to do more.  This does mean I need to keep control of my writing time and targets so here and now I will set a target of no less than 1 hour on writing each day.

It’s not a huge amount but keeps me in the regular writing habit, and that’s a big plus!

I am going to leave it there for tonight, but I will be back on Tuesday with the reading challenge, and hope to get back into peace posts this week too, so I’ll see you then!

Happy writing,



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I have done a lot of reading this week. Three novels to be precise, by writers separated by a mix of gender, age, nationality and time period.

I compared them, seeing what drew me into them: characters, storylines, ideas, genre, settings all had an impact on my way of perceiving them, and it gave me a chance to think about what skills I need to develop in my own writing.

I was surprised how much the storyline of the third book appealed to me, as it was a crime novel, a modern-style ‘whodunnit’. I have found this genre more enticing over the last year or so, but historically it’s not really been that interesting to me and has never been what I would choose to write.

And yet… I think that might be a great way to get back into the art of writing. To try out a new challenge and a new genre. Not with any intention of getting a full novel or a marketable piece of work from it; more because I want to get myself out of the writing slump I am in right now.

There is something that puts me off completing my current work in progress, a sense that the tangled histories can’t be portrayed effectively using my natural style of writing.  The plot is there, the setting is there, the idea is there – but I am not sure I am able to sell it.  I think exploring a ‘whodunnit’ idea might help me with this block in my approach.  It will allow me to test out ways to mislead and misdirect the reader in a way that commercial fiction doesn’t really allow.

I remember being taught not to introduce ideas or characters that don’t affect story outline but that is precisely where ‘whodunnits’ succeed: they bring in red herrings, lines of enquiry that appear to go nowhere, characters who couldn’t have been the killer.  It is the way their information is used that makes them valuable, and that is the writing skill I want to develop.

So the next few weeks will see me planning a short crime story complete with cast, alibis, motives and of course victim.  If I can get to grips with the filtering of information from unreliable witnesses, untrustworthy narrators and unwilling conspirators I will be ready to go back to the work in progress and make something of it.

And if I can’t, I’ll know I need to consider another approach!

In other news – I am falling behind in the 100 novels list, but suffice it to say I haven’t read 66 or 67.  Now I am exploring the books I inherited I am far more likely to come across obscure and out of print books of the 40s/50s/60s than anything else for a while (just because these are currently the easiest to reach!) I am not going to add to my personal reading list for a while and will simply see where the tales take me!

And finally – with panto rehearsals, my new dance classes, book club and writing group, my evenings are going to be quite busy for the next few weeks, so I am not going to re-start the Thoughts on a Thursday posts yet.  I do, however, hope to get back on track with these once I’ve learnt all my lines and cues for the show.  Having never done any local am dram I may have taken on a bit more than I can chew with this one, but it’s all in good fun…

Happy new year to you all,




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This week, as is usual now, my writing time focussed on poems for the wedding.

I am happy with some much improved ones and am excited that the writing mojo seems to have come back, although still worried about the timescale.  I think about it a little like an assignment in that I can only do the best I can do, in the time available.  I cannot seek – nor will I ever find – perfection, and I have to remind myself sometimes!

But despite the practical elements, it has been really great to dig out poetry books and read (of course I do read poems on occasion, sometimes even my own but you know what I mean!).  This has been a prolonged study, sitting and identifying what works, what doesn’t work, what words cause a reaction.  What, in effect, sums up the feelings I wish to convey, in the most successful way possible.

Writing is perpetual growth, and even though my mind is scattered and my time is frenetic, I can feel my writing developing as I work.

I am more aware now of the language I choose to use for this project, of the joys and shared happiness I want to convey.  I am exploring a writing side of me that has never really been aired (I don’t write romance in any form, really) and I am getting a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction from it.

That I am doing it for my partner, and our family and friends, makes it even more special.

And finally – this week it’s book 56 on the list – Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.  It’s been many years since I read this but I do know I really enjoyed it – not perhaps quite as much as 1984 but a lot more than many other things I have read!  This is definitely on my list of books to re-read, if for no other reason than I feel it deserves to be considered from a different time and place in my life, and not as a direct follow-on from other dystopian stories.

Weirdly I feel a little nervous that, as with 1984, there will be a little too much that’s recognisable for me when I look again.

A short post today, I know – but it’s found me full of joy in writing, and that’s always a good place to be 🙂

Happy writing,







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This week I haven’t got a whole lot further with the table poems – I have resigned myself to a last-minute rush.

I have, however, been investing time and money in poetry anthologies to give me some inspiration. This has been helpful, and frustrating, in equal measure.

I am very particular about the language of poetry shared in a formal setting – there are some terms and ideas I simply don’t want to parade in front of my extended family and friends. You can call it prudishness, or self-consciousness, if you like; I firmly believe that public, family occasions should be treated as such, and the language used should reflect the audience.

This is a very roundabout way of saying that lots of the love poetry I have read is very sexual, and that is not a road I am planning to travel in my writing for our big day. There are some beautiful poems, with beautiful sentiments, which are rendered unusable because of an explicit reference here, or an unambiguous metaphor there.

Of course I could cut lines out, call it an excerpt – but poems don’t generally improve with having parts of themselves ripped out. So the search continues for poems I love unreservedly or that fill me with the inspiration I seek to finish what I’ve started.

One way or another, poetry will be part of our day.

In other news – I am falling behind a little in checking the 100 novels list so I’ll simply say that I haven’t read book 54 – The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett or book 55 – As I lay dying by William Faulkner and I’m not particularly likely to any time soon.  Maybe when I’m pulling together my reading list for next year I’ll revisit these, specifically As I Lay Dying as the sense of a lost way of life seeping from the pages can be very affecting.

And finally – I wanted to share this article detailing the inspiration behind the 6 shortlisted stories for the Man Booker prize.  As a writer, knowing where and how inspiration grows is important – as is understanding what struggles other writers go through to bring those ideas and concepts to life.  We are all hunting for the right word, the right phrase, the strength of a sentence to put forth the image we want to share.  Whenever you feel disheartened, that’s a great thing to remember.

Until next time – happy writing,



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It’s about a month until my wedding and I am well aware that between the planning, work, blogging and all the other things I do with my time nothing is getting the attention it needs.

Soooooo – I have decided to have a Thursday break, and leave my thoughts posts to one side until I come back from my honeymoon, toward the end of November.

I’m sure I will have plenty of thoughts between now and then but suspect they will focus on flowers, or table plans, or whether or not I have enough table confetti – because let’s be honest here, weddings do make the most bizarre things important enough to wake you up at night!


My dog, also having a break.  It’s a hard life…

I will leave you with a quote I really like, and which I really need to remember!

The pursuit, even of the best things, ought to be calm and tranquil.

Thank you Cicero, for a quote that covers my reason for stepping back, my writing choices and a little bit of Bloggers for Peace all at once!

Until next time – happy writing



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At the moment I should be working on some of the poetry being used in the wedding, and I am trying to finalise the one poem I want to read on the day, but there are so many things to do that the poems keep getting pushed backwards.

When I think about the amount of time I spent on the poem for my cousin, I really do feel a little disappointed that I’m not doing the same for my own!  So this blog is a reminder to me – and to any of you who are struggling to find the time to create – that the writing has to come up the list of priorities.

This is a plan of action post.  A ‘putting it all right’ post.

This week my target is to have written up all my draft poetry, identified poems that are ok to leave as they are and those that need help and TLC/scrapping and starting again.  By the end of the week I want at least 50% of the wedding poetry ready to print.

I think that’s a realistic and reasonable plan, because it’s not all completely unrefined and some things will be very quick to tidy up and agree with my partner.  Let’s just hope I can find time to stick with it…!

Once that’s done, I’ll have time to work on the rest of it and by the day of the wedding I’m sure it’ll all be fine.  And if it isn’t, so be it – I’ll still be married!!

I’m leaving it there for today as I have 1001 things to do, but I’ll write more next week because I’ll be able to tell you about some successes for once!

Happy writing,



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This week I’ve been using my lunchbreaks to make a lot of notes for poems. I grab myself a soup, sit down, watch the clouds float past and write.

It feels really positive because the poems I am working on are for a special event, and are coming together really well.  I am jumping so swiftly from one to another that it feels like I’m on some sort of perpetual motion generator.  A poetry train (of thought) if you like!

It’s good that the notebook is working for me because with such long days and so many other things to get done, writing really did feel neglected.  In fact, my whole creative life was put on hold once I went back to full-time work.  But a few weeks in I’m getting a little balance back.  Writing during my lunches; I actually finished a whole book already this week and started a second; I am making the most of the long weekend here to get out and see some live music for the first time in ages.

I don’t want to work full-time for long, but if I can keep some sort of equilibrium for now, at least it won’t set me back completely.  My worst case scenario has always been going back to work and not writing any more, and finally I am managing to do both, which gives me a lot of faith in myself.

In other news – This week we’ve reached book 48 on the novels list – A Passage to India by EM Forster.  This is a book I want to read, so I haven’t read the comments yet!  I have seen the film, or at least parts of the film, but I don’t remember much of it except white suits and hats, and a carriage.   And maybe a mountain?  It’s been a loooooonnnnnnng time 🙂

And finally – I saw this article about the way we absorb a story being different on physical format to paper format.  As someone who loves the physicality of a book, and has only come to screen reading since being gifted an e-reader at Christmas, I am not sure I could ever be objective or dispassionate enough to debate the relative merits of each: the smell and feel of books is part of the reading experience for me.  I have read a lot of books on the e-reader now and appreciate its practicality but I think that’s part of its downfall for me.  I don’ want a practical reading experience, I want an immersive one – and I still think I get that best with a hard copy book.

Maybe it’s because I’ve always loved reading that to change it – or my relationship with the words – impacts on the subconscious experience.  Maybe the love of reading is as much about feeling the weight of a world in my hands as it is exploring it – and on an e-reader every world weighs the same…

On that rather philosophical point, I’m going to bow out for today!

Happy writing,





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This week I’ve tried to recapture some of my lost creative flow, and it’s worked, to a point…

The notebook has come out again and although I haven’t noted something every day, I have it with me for whenever an idea or image seems noteworthy! I have to go and fill in a few bits once this blog is done, so if nothing else I’m getting back into the writing habit.

The other thing I did this week was to buy myself a couple of books from a charity shop. I have a pile of things I’ve borrowed from people but I don’t like to read those in bed, or in the bath, or stuff them in my handbag and take them to work in case they get damaged. My own books, I am less nervous.

So I am hoping this will give me the impetus to get back into reading every day as well.

I am a lot busier than I have been – but that’s no reason for everything to fall down. I’m about to start week 4 in my current placement and am getting used to the long days and early (for me!) starts. Now I have acclimatised a little I should be able to work through more things and start achieving more!

I’m glad I’ve gone back to the notebook, actually; using one effectively is a skill you develop over time and I was worried that I’d lost the knack!

In other news – we’re on to book 47 of the 100 novels list – Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis. I have never come across this one before, and think I might add it to the list if for no other reason than to give me an American novel of the 1920s that I can compare to The Great Gatsby (you may remember I was a little underwhelmed by that one!).  I want to see if there was still a divide in style between UK and US literature at that point, but I need more evidence to make a decision!

Also – you may have noticed I haven’t written a peace post for a while; the monthly challenges are on hold at the moment and to be truthful that has suited me as everything is so hectic at the moment.  However, I am still being mindful and trying to devote some of my time to peacefulness – I will share a post that I’ve been working on sooner or later!

And finally – a reminder, that I’m looking for possible guest blog posts for when I am away during November; the subject is your own but I need to pre-plan publication so let me know if you’re interested through the ‘contact me’ tab.

Happy writing



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