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Posts Tagged ‘writer’s block’

This hasn’t been a great week for writing.  I don’t know where the time is going, but it hasn’t been going towards my poetry.

Well, I’ve had a few ideas and rambling thoughts but they always seem to bubble up when I am halfway between places and can’t stop to record them.

One made it to paper when I got home, and I am quite excited about it, but it’s a story not a poem so although I can add notes and ideas, it shouldn’t be my focus…  Everything else was absorbed into the ether, never to take physical form.

It would be easy to waffle on at this point about the whys and wherefores, but you’re all human and you all know that some weeks are more productive than others.

My task now is to put a bit more effort in over the next couple of days. It helps that I am faced with some glorious sunshine at the moment which buoys me up no end; perhaps an hour or so sitting outside, listening to nature, will get me back on track.

And if the poetry is really off this week I still have prose, reading and studying to fill my writing needs!

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

 

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Tonight is my only night free in a week, and the last free night for another week. I love having things to do with my time but I am getting a little tired out.

So tonight I’m not doing anything in particular. I’m sitting down with a candle going, and watching a bit of trash tv. I am well aware I should be writing, or researching courses, or even just carrying on with a few writing exercises – but I’m giving in to the temptation of a lazy night.

I have read so many comments from writers saying they write even when they are tired, or excessively busy, or overwhelmed that I wonder if it means something particular when I choose not to work and watch sci-fi nonsense instead.

Perhaps it does – but perhaps it simply means I didn’t thrive on exhaustion. Perhaps it means I have less stamina. Perhaps our relative views on how busy we are is different. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…

Of course this post is, in some ways, perfect evidence that I didn’t just sit and do nothing. I did do a writing exercise.

I took a few details and shared them to form a scene, and I gave the narrator free reign on a stream of consciousness. I set context, I even gave the character a personal quandary to consider.

Wow – it’s amazing how much work you can get done even if you’re taking some time out!  But after all that effort, I really need a break 😉

Happy Writing,
EJ
🙂

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It’s actually just gone midnight so technically it’s Friday but never mind.

I have not had time to write much content this week – I feel like I’m saying this a lot at the moment but there’s been a lot going on and trying to fit everything in has been difficult.

Tomorrow/today is a difficult day for me on a personal basis but come Saturday, I will be off on a break to celebrate my first wedding anniversary which my husband and I are really looking forward to – it will be great to have a change of scenery. It’s not quite the trip we had planned a few months ago but we are lucky to get away.

One thing I always find when I go away is that my inspiration levels go up – not just for writing but for experiencing different things. I am really hoping something piques my interest over the course of our break because I need to break through this writing holding pattern I have got into.

I see other people storming ahead – a writer from our local group has just published his first poetry anthology on Amazon, another friend is about to publish his work online – and I feel I am at a standstill.

But maybe it’s not a standstill, maybe it’s a crossroads. Maybe I need to spend some time listening to my gut rather than my brain – rather than my insecurities.

If I can reconnect with the creative part of my brain over the next few days, hopefully I’ll be able to break the holding pattern and get back to my writing self.

Keep your fingers crossed for me – I think I’ll need it…

Happy writing,
EJ
🙂

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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

EJ

🙂

 

 

 

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Firstly, let me tell you that I have done some writing this week – again not as much as I might have hoped but as I’m still doing extra hours at work and have very little writing time, I am just happy to get something done.

I said before I wouldn’t get the writing timesheet back out but I think I might after my retreat, which I am now thinking will be a kick-start more than anything else!

I have been getting some reading done, ably helped by long tranches of time sitting in the passenger seat of my husband’s car, but I have found concentrating on the book a struggle (I will tell you why on Tuesday, of course!). I finished my trapeze course and got to my dance class and travelled to a family party a few counties away, but I feel like the week has been all about picking up bits and pieces and not really getting anything ticked off the list. It’s been a little like that at work too, with my extra hours being sucked into new tasks rather than completion of current ones.

Overall, it has been hard to focus over the last seven days. It hasn’t helped that the weather here has veered all over the place; one day abnormally hot, the next day a dry thunderstorm, the next day abnormally hot again, then a torrential downpour.  Even the weather can’t get into a groove!

I’m feeling a bit of a writing failure, to be honest.  Someone I know even said I don’t write anymore, that I’ve moved on from it.  So I have to get it back into everyone’s mind that I am a writer, and I have to own what is, in effect, a period of writer’s block.  I have to get back into a habit and even if I don’t write the whodunnit I need to write something.  Every day, in some way, I have to be a writer.

That way, if someone says anything similar again I will know they are wrong, and not just hope it.

In other news – Book 93 on the 100 Novels list is Money: A Suicide Note by Martin  Amis.  I have only read on Martin Amis book, London Fields, and I really didn’t like it very much.  I’m not sure if it was style, substance or subject but if I think about it, I can feel my face screw up which is a sure sign I don’t want to revisit it!  That makes me very unlikely to read any other Martin Amis, especially one which sounds very ‘macho’ in terms of money and power.  It’s not a style that floats my boat, as they say.

And finally – I found an article focussed on writing poetry about ruins.  As I love poetry, and ruins, and have written poetry about ruins, and one of my favourite poems is The Ruin (as mentioned in the article as well as on here in earlier posts!) I decided to share it as a reminder that however much changes in the world, some things are strong enough to keep on standing.

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

 

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Well, I’m back on a Thursday, for this week at least!  Hopefully I’ll be able to do at least one of these posts a month going forward, now I’m getting to grips with my new life timetable 🙂

This one really is a thought, and one I wonder if anyone shares or if I’m just an old-fashioned girl…  At my last writing group, one of the other writers was talking about tools they use. One of these is a website for rhyming words, which they use for poems, and they advised us all to use the site when working on our own pieces.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about this advice and I am not entirely sure I am comfortable with it.

For me, part of writing is about seeking out a word that says something to me.  Every word in my poems is fought over, and wrestled with, until I get a line or stanza that has the emotion, rhythm, and physical feel in the mouth that I am after. The work has to look right on paper as well – spiky letters or round, long words or short, repeated letters. All of it is part of the work, and I can’t imagine just picking a word that rhymes is nearly as effective.  In fact, only about 30% of my work has a formal rhyme scheme because often I can’t have the poem I want within the confines of a set scheme.

Don’t get me wrong; if I was massively stuck with something I might use it to prise some ideas loose, but it wouldn’t be a shortcut, it would be a jump-start.

Writers of the past – Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Auden, Owen to name but a few – didn’t have these tools, and they managed to produce poetry that has long outlived them and still has power and resonance today.

So what do you think? Should we writers use every opportunity to make life a little easier? After all, a writing life can be pretty draining.

Or should we delve into ourselves to find words, sweat over them when needed, to make sure they fit the poem in every possible way?

I’d love to know what you think – post a comment below and let me know if you are like me or if I should get myself into the 21st Century already!!

Happy writing,
EJ
🙂

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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,

EJ

🙂

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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,

EJ

🙂

 

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This week I have tried to get back into the habit of writing. I’m not doing too badly – a bit of my own note-taking, a bit of advice to a writer friend about next steps in their own work (it involved a Venn diagram, I felt very scientific!) and when the writing muse went for her quiet time, I got on with some reading which has been a little bit of study in its own right.

Hopefully that last bit will make sense on Tuesday…

However, I still didn’t give my writing the time I wanted. Odd working arrangements, a family birthday and pantomime trip, Christmas drinks with one friend, a Christmas meal with another, shopping, wrapping and delivering presents, panto rehearsals…  I have let life be an excuse for a lack of writing in the last few months and now I am carrying that on.

I want to write, I feel the lack of writing, and yet I am putting barriers up in the way of myself once more. I know why, and I know I have to get over it.

That is my task, my responsibility for the next few months: to really get back into things and start producing work I am prepared to follow through to the end of the story, however the story goes.

I would say wish me luck, but it’s not luck I need. It’s a kick in the metaphorical posterior. Can you give me that instead?

Happy writing,
EJ
🙂

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You can tell before reading this post that I didn’t do as well as I had said I would do, can’t you?

In my (self) defence it hasn’t been a straight forward week. Still, I did have time to write and chose not to do so. I also chose not to rehearse my panto role or wrap Christmas presents or sort through the remaining wedding odds and sods.

I chose to have a wallow instead – I watched some trashy tv and bad films, ate junk and generally lazed about when I wasn’t working. It was necessary, and the end result is a list of ideas I have for future works so it wasn’t a complete waste of time, but it wasn’t the most practical time management tool…

I haven’t started the last novel up again yet – I feel too far away from it in writing terms at the moment – but getting some ideas and concepts down is a good step in getting me back into thinking like a writer.

Realistically, I’m not going to get into a proper writing pattern until after Christmas as I have so many things on, but just getting back into the habit of writing some notes every day will ne useful, sensible, and valuable.

I feel really quite rusty at using my brain in that way, despite my notes when I was away, and the work I did before.  It’s almost like I’m training myself to write again.  So writing each day is my first target, and I want to achieve it this week.

In other news – there’s still plenty of time for you to suggest books for me to read in 2015, and I’d love to get your suggestions.  I’m even thinking about starting a local reading group to get some more interesting ideas from people (because one reading group just isn’t enough!)

And finally – on a semi-related subject, I haven’t read book 63 or 64 of the 100 novels list.  Both sound like they are worth investigating further though…  I am doing quite badly with this list but it is introducing me to new writers and new books so I guess I am doing well from it at the same time!

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

 

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