Posts Tagged ‘writing groups’

The last week has been full of creative input. Since last Thursday I have been to a writing convention, scoped out a possible performance spot with a friend who is a great singer – getting to enjoy some live music at the same time, some of which was perfect writing music – and been to my writing group (which focussed on books with unreliable narrators today!).

None of these things were impossible before my career break, of course, but I value them more now than I could before, because they have a different impact on me.  Prior to my break I would have enjoyed them and moved on. Now, creativity stimulates my mind and inspires me to write. Even just the memory of a piece of music I heard yesterday brings a specific scene to mind.

When we are in the normal routine of going to work, looking after families, doing the housework and so on, we don’t care about the creative input. Sure, we might have the radio on when we wash the dishes but it’s just background noise.  But I learnt that the more aware I am of the world around me, the better I can express that world in words.

The more the input, the better the output.

So the next few days I will be reflecting on what I have seen and heard this week.  Not just the creative input either, but the sights and sounds of daily life which grab my attention and keep it there.

I hope some of it will feed into my series of poems but if not, it might appear in another guise, at another time.

That’s the thing about input – if you value it, it can last for years!

Happy writing,






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As I said on Thursday, I was off to another open mike night – and what a lovely night it was!

There was only two people reading poetry, and only me doing original poetry, so I was a little nervous at the start, but it really was a very relaxed event.

The format was round-table, so I read on three separate occasions, and in between I could listen and enjoy performances by other people.

And the outcome of listening and being surrounded by music? I began editing the poems in my folder.

Before I carry on, I have to say that these were not new pieces. The most recent was written over a year ago, and everything I edited was either entered into a competition or was a piece of coursework: to all intents and purposes they were ‘complete’. But as I reviewed them, deciding which to read, I could see improvements as though they were highlighted in neon!

With the music going around me it was almost as though the different notes emphasised the different rhythms of the words.  Things I wasn’t quite satisfied with suddenly became clear, and lines I had struggled to adjust seemed to fall into place.  It was amazing – especially as I can’t normally concentrate when listening to music.  I couldn’t do it when people were singing, but listening to the varied instruments really seemed to unblock me.  I definitely need to sit with my other poems in that circle and see where the music takes me.

It’s worth trying even if like me you need silence to write in proper poetic form – sometimes a buzz of creative energy can really help!  Suffice it to say, I will be going back, and honing my reading and my writing 🙂

It’s been great to have a couple of poetry weeks but now I need to get back to the prose – I am going to finalise my bio and my synopsis this week and I also want to re-read the second novel and work out some of the kinks before I start on a second review of that, which I’d like to get underway in July.

I’m also a little overwhelmed with the courses with another archaeology course starting tomorrow and two nutrition ones ongoing; I’d like to finish what I can of them too.  By the end of the week I should be much more organised!

In other news – I read an interview with Khaled Hosseini today which struck a chord with me for a number of reasons: his understanding that over time his writing has changed, his feelings about calling himself a writer, and the importance of family.  I’m glad to see some of the same thoughts that I have about writing are reflecting in a multi-million-selling author!

And finally – I talked about setting up a writing group some while ago, because there was nothing I wanted near me.  Well, I have finally taken the first step and advertised in my local newsletter for interested parties to join one – as I said to my friend, if it just ends up three people in the pub every month, so be it – at least we’ll have a nice night out!

Happy writing,



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Today I went and did a poetry reading (3 poems again) at an open mike night.

I do not like doing these – my hands shake, my stomach twists and squeezes, my face flushes and heats, my heart beats as though I’ve run a mile.  I speak too fast, and sometimes my tongue trips over the words and can’t get straightened out.

And yet I do them, and I try to enjoy them, because reading out my poems to an audience – of one, or a hundred – makes me believe I’m a poet.

Reading is believing.

So I thought that today I would share what I’ve learnt so far:

1. Pick pieces to read that you are comfortable reading.  For me, that means nothing with explicit language or of an intimate nature; for others it may be pieces related to current personal trials.  Go with what feels best for you.

2. Trust your audience.  They want to hear poetry, and are there because they enjoy it; they are not trying to pick everything you say apart.  And if they do, sadly it’s a side effect of sharing your work.  Writing requires a thick skin or an incredibly quick healing time.

3. Speak slowly.  Think about the way you speak with your best friend – then slow down to half that speed.  It feels agonisingly slow, but it’s the only way the audience can hear what you say.

4. Be respectful of other artists.  Don’t talk through their performances, make unkind comments about their work or undermine their confidence.  You might not like what they do – and you can certainly talk about it afterwards – but they have the right to be heard without interruption.

5. Listen to your performance.  Do some words grate against each other?  Are some words causing you to stutter or slur?  Are some phrases repetitive?  Use the reading as a chance to improve your work.

6. Know you are a writer.  You are there because you have a voice to share, and know it is worth hearing.

So there’s a few tips for your own open mike events.  I am not good at them all, and other writers are not always to your taste, or polite, or sensitive to your feelings, but if you want to learn to enjoy sharing your work, you need to practise.  The first attempt can be honed and refined, just like your writing.

And if you’re confident and happy to read to a roomful of strangers – please tell me how!

Happy writing,



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