Overwhelmed? Think Things Through…

 

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The patented Cat organiser!

Division of Labour

If you’re a writer, whether that be fiction, non-fiction, blogging, or similar, then you probably have a ‘real’ job too. By ‘real’ job, I mean one that you do on a day to day basis (or nightly if it’s shift work), the one that pays your bills, that (just about) keeps the wolf from the door, the boring one, the one you don’t want to do but are forced to.

So how do you find time to write (other creative/art forms are available)? When you have laboured at your regular employment, you need a break, you WANT a break, you have to shift gears mentally and often emotionally before you begin to scribble.

There is really only one answer –

Get Organised.

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Captain Eddie Rickenbacker

Edward Rickenbacker was an American Fighter Pilot in WWI. After surviving the war, he started an auto company, became involved in the aviation industry and wrote a comic strip (Ace Drummond), amongst other things. He is also known for this quote – “I can give you a six-word formula for success: Think things through – then follow through.”

Often, these sound-bites are nothing more than that, snippets of chat to gain attention, look at how newspapers, and blogs, title pages, it’s intentional, to draw the reader in. But Rickenbacker’s is more than that, it is practical: Think things through – then follow through.

It’s another way of saying – Get organised.

But if you’re anything like me, getting organised is harder than we all think. I understand we all have other things to do, the problem, I have found, is other people. Colleagues probably think that, like them, when the weekend comes, or when you finish work for the day, or have a day off, that it is just that – a day off. Hah! Creative types rarely, if ever, get a day off. Once the paying job ends, that’s when the real work begins for us.

So how do we get organised?

By thinking things through -then following through.

Does your week go something like this?

Regular job – housework – research – family – shopping – writing – regular job – social media – laundry – planning – fix printer – regular job – family – writingmaintaining writers profileregular job – stressing – editingpaid writing job search – regular job – correspondence – job search – regular work – visitors – exercise – elderly parents…

Can you see that there are only 2 slots when actual writing is being done? There is so much more that you could add to this, depending on your personal life, family size, days you work in paid job, other hobbies you try to maintain.

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“I bet Mister Rickenbacker didn’t have all this ironing to fit in.”

So when do you write? And don’t forget, writing is not just the act of setting down words – just like painting is not just the act of laying down colours. For me, a huge amount of the work is done in my head; thinking of ideas, plots, characters, events, moral issues, inventions, possibilities, to misquote Jarvis Cocker, It may look to the untrained eye like I’m sitting on my arse all day.”

Get organised.

  • Get a piece of paper and pen – coloured pens if that’s your thang.

I recommend handwriting this for two reasons – 1.It’s easier to think without feeling rushed when you hand-write, and 2.You probably spend enough time on a computer as it is.

  • Sketch a table of your week; Monday to Sunday. And write in the hours you ‘go to work’ – that’s your paid work in the ‘grown-ups’ world, not your writing.
  • Now look for the empty spaces. You may only have Saturday and Sunday free, and even then you have to spend some of that with the kids. Into these empty spaces jot down what you want and or need to be doing in regards to your creativity.
  • Arrange your empty spaces so you have a balance of work and play, as much as possible given the time you have remaining. Remember, you need time to sleep and play and do nothing – unless you’re really a robot, in which case, meh.
  • After days/hours/minutes have been allocated as you want, break these down into smaller sections. For example, if you’re a blogger it might say, Monday 4pm to 6pm – writing/Friday 1pm to 4pm writing.
  • Break this down to, Monday 4pm to 6pm – research/planning/generating ideas. Friday 1pm to 4pm – write blog post.
  • Try it for a while and stick with it if it works, otherwise, re-jiggle your week. If you have trouble organising yourself, then don’t just read this – do it! Otherwise, you’re wasting time.

 

Think things through – then follow through.

Before you even do the organising activity, Think things through – do you want to carry on the way you have been? If you like your way of working, then who am I to tell you otherwise?! Are you lucky enough to be financially independent so as to not have to go to work? Or, like me, are you stuck in low-paid work with no option of advancement? Does it suit you, does it give you time to write/paint/sculpt/blog?

Then follow through – If you don’t like your working week try a change. If you hate your job, can you move, or find a different one? No-one is going to make the changes for you.

Bloggers

Whip it up in a couple of hours (or so some clients believe!) and hey presto, there’s a witty post. We wish. Bloggers must allocate time for generating ideas – researching – learning about new stuff (that may be technical or other) – deciding what you are going to write in advance. There is tons of advice on the internet to help Bloggers, you might want to spend a little on one of the numerous pre-made Blog Planners out there to help you get organised. Bloggers work to deadlines – whether their own or someone else’s.

Fiction Writers

Just float through life collecting ideas by some sort of osmosis which then transfers itself to the page by another kind of osmosis – Right? – Wrong! Writing the story, whether short, novella, trilogy, is the easy and fun bit. Don’t forget, you need to edit, and this can take as long as writing the bloody thing in the first place! If you are submitting work for an open competition, then you’re working to a deadline. If you’re submitting a MS to a publishing company, you’re working to their guidelines. Do read all the rules. Do make time for your Author Bio and Plot Summary.

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Dear Diary, today I fired my teacher as she gave us too much homework. Time for tea and cake.

Non-Fiction Writers

Probably the most organised of the creative bunch. This lot typically arrive here from an academic background and so are used to working to deadlines and briefs. But if you’re a free-lancer who also hold down a day job, you will need to arrange times that suit you as well as enough time to complete the brief. A diary, actual or E will be your friend.

Think things through – then follow through.

On each of my days off, I go through a similar process.

Write a To-Do list, this will include writing, research, mail, laundry, check for potential submissions, blog, editing.

Work through this list – in any order – do laundry first as it’s like eating your greens before your meat.

Take a break in-between each activity – especially between writing and everything else: this allows my brain to shift gears into the realms of fantasy.

It looks on the To-Do list like I do the same thing over and over, but because I write, then it doesn’t feel like that at all. I write my blog, I write stories; variety of genres, and I am NEVER, ever bored.

Now my monkeys, “Fly, fly!”

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I’m cogitating
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A Brief Intro To Worldbuilding

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                                         Image from The World Building Institute

Worldbuilding is the process of constructing an imaginary world, sometimes associated with a whole fictional universe. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worldbuilding

Engage the Reader

Whether a real or imaginary place, a certain amount of Worldbuilding is required. For example, I recently wrote a short story set in early 17th century, there’s some stuff on the internet about the history of England at that time – however – it was set in a none-existent village, in a landscape partially based on reality, with characters from my imagination – bring on the Worldbuilding – houses, the inn, the church, beehives (skeps), brewery, orchard, river, etc. etc. I drew a map, I collected pictures; of landscapes, of replica buildings, of people, I researched dialect and place-name etymology. I created the village of Hope Ghyll.

Do You See What I See?

It’s all about getting your reader to suspend disbelief – if you go too far, i.e. no psychological realism, then you have lost them and the story is senseless. Lewis Carroll and J.R.R. Tolkien created worlds with fantastical creatures; a land that is always winter, or one whose dangerous element is essentially a visible, intangible evil that can call upon the heinous and chaotic to fight on his behalf. Tolkien was especially adept at showing us his creation without actually describing an awful lot. Instead of slapping a large platter of roast orc, horse sweat and forest before us, he wafted the aroma beneath our reading noses, thus allowing us to create the vision in our own minds – and yet, when we watch the films, somehow we all ‘saw’ the same thing! Now that’s genius!

Fantasy and Sci-fi writers, I believe, have the biggest job of all – pretty much EVERYTHING has to be ‘built’.

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Map of Westeros from Game of Thrones

Geography 

Where does your story take place? An alternative or parallel universe? Another solar system? Are you on planet Earth even? You are free to make the landscape anything you want, and for it to be any place you want, but it must be justified within the story-line. Your geographical location affects who we are – think about the stereotypes of various nations around our world, you don’t even have to look too far – Londoners are a different beast to, say, Yorkshire folk, inhabitants of Los Angeles have a different mind-set from people living in New Hampshire. Remember that quote from Ken Russell’s Excalibur, “You and the land are one.”? Well so are your characters. Which leads us nicely to…

Maps

I love maps. I love looking at the shapes of coastlines, the quaint names of places in Britain; names are very evocative, the distances between one place and another; that in times past, people travelled on foot! I also enjoy making my own. I often create a map when I DM a game of Dungeons and Dragons, there’s something satisfying in being a world creator, the Master hand, dare I say, God. If you can’t draw, use existing places – have a look at Google Earth and take a screen-shot. Not only that, have a look at how our world used to look – the Neolithic Age might be exactly what you’re after for a fantasy ‘off-world’, https://www.eupedia.com/europe/neolithic_europe_map.shtml#early_neolithic. There are templates to be found online of existing and imaginary land masses.

Time 

Depending on where your story takes place, you might want to look at how time works, if you are on Earth, then no problem – or is it? If you are in a fictional Roman Britain, then you are going to be using the pre-Julian calendar; https://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/roman-calendar.html, which had only 10 months! Most countries today use the Gregorian calendar. http://roman-britain.co.uk/roman-calendar.htm.

Different planets have differing day lengths; this will affect the character, activities and potential festivals you have in your world. If Counter-terrorism agent Jack Bauer has 24 hours to solve a crime on planet Earth, how long will he have on Saturn? Not as long, so he better get a move on!

History

The history of your setting will have impact on the lives of characters your reader meets. If there has been a robot uprising 50 years previously, that is going to shape the politics and lifestyles of them now. If you are setting it in a prehistoric jungle infested with lizard men, how did they develop? What will their relationship to your protagonists be?

History cannot be ignored, we don’t live in a ‘bubble of the here and now’, wherever you live in the world, think about what your daily life is like, what has affected the way your country is run? Is there a ‘ruling class’? How did they get there? What about your own family, maybe there is a story from your ancestors that you can use as a jumping off point? Your hero hasn’t sprung up fully formed – unless he/she is one of those Greek Gods that emerge from the severed head of its parent! – he/she will have a reason that they’re in the position they are, right from the beginning of your story. Know their history.

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         Worldbuilding by games designers is fantastic. Image from Mass Effect 3; The Citadel (Image from WallDevil)

Civilisation/Culture 

Is it a flawed system? Does public transport run late, or is everything perfectly in-tune with the surroundings? Who rules? A Royal family of dragons?! What are the politics? What sort of art/music/dance/sculpture is created there? – If there is, in fact, any creativity at all – maybe you have a warrior based society only. Looking around our own planet, we can see a huge variety of differentiation between countries – education in the Scandinavian countries, for example, is regarded as some of the best, whereas in the Wodaabe culture, because they are a nomadic peoples and the land is everything, they do not have schools or an education structure that many in a Western ‘developed’ country would recognise. What about religion? Even if you yourself do not follow a belief system, chances are your society is moulded by one. There may be laws that dictate your character’s daily life, there may be holy festivals, holidays, observances that shape the mindset of this individual. Every society has a culture – the extent of it’s intellectual achievement is up to you.

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                            Image from Alex Greene’s Klingon language lesson

Language 

You can, of course, write anything you want in your story – it’s your story. You can make up new words for an imagined language, BUT, if you make something too complicated, your audience is going to struggle to read the actual story as they will be so busy trying to work out what the Hell you are talking about! Names; people and places, are a great way of adding texture and signalling to your reader that this is ‘another world’. Baggins, Mordor, Galadriel, Gondor – words that conjure a place and time that is not our own. Tolkien was an expert on the Old Norse language, and incorporated it into his work to give his invented world a real sense of believability.

New Crobuzon, Bonetown, Sil, Besźil – another place and time; totally different to Tolkien’s, China Miéville offers us a future; or alternative reality, that is succinctly expressed with Worldbuilding mastery. If your story takes place in the distant past, again, readers are going to struggle if you write the whole thing in Middle English (see Chaucer), so select the odd word or phrase that gives a flavour to your tale; don’t have your reader struggle over every ‘daggere hangynge on a laas hadde he’.

And Finally

Let’s be honest, Worldbuilding takes time. The amount of time/research/planning you are prepared to put into it will affect your writing when you begin. You should be the expert on this world you have created. You should know EVERYTHING there is to know about it. You won’t necessarily mention all the stuff you have built into your world; like how long it takes to shear a sheep, but it will have an impact on your mind-set as you write and will therefore add some element of realism. Worldbuilding can be hard work, but if you are planning to write a series, then it will definitely be time well spent.

 But most of all, enjoy it!

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You don’t have to go this far! Building for the film Blade Runner 2049

Writing is Like… Bowel Movements

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Toilet Graffiti
Warning
You may not want to read this if  –  you have a sensitive nature, you haven’t eaten yet, or, you have just eaten.

 

Writing is much like taking a dump.

What!?

I shall repeat that – Writing is much like taking a dump. It’s true.

So join me today when we’re going to use (cue Ta Da music) The Bristol Stool Chart to decide what kind of writer you are and what you can do about it.

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Bristol Stool Chart (For Writers!)

 

Well here we are ladies and gentlemen in the world of poo. The Bristol Stool Chart is a real thing, honestly. They use it for patients to point at what their shit looks like and the doctor diagnoses the problem and gives dietary advice, so without further ado, let’s find out what kind of writer you are –

#1 – These writers lack a normal free-flow quality, because research, experience and/or knowledge are missing and there is nothing to retain ideas. Ideas are painful to pass, because the lumps are hard and scratchy. There is a high likelihood of emotional bleeding from laceration of the mind. Even brain farts are missing. You probably like the idea of being a writer more than the actual reality.

Solution – Stop trying so hard, don’t push it. If you’re meant to be a writer it will happen. Otherwise, stop lying to yourself.

#2 – A combination of Type 1 writers impacted into a single mass and lumped together by some vague notions. Mental constipation is the most destructive by far because its size is near or exceeds the maximum opening of the creativity aperture. To attain this form, the idea one is a writer must be in the mind for at least several weeks instead of the normal 72 hours. A history of minor dabbling with writing is the most likely causes. Minor brain flatulence is probable. This writer is likely to be irritable because of continuous pressure of large ideas with little skill or experience to open the dam.

See #1 for solution.

#3 – This form has all of the characteristics of Type 2 stools/writers, but the transit time is faster, between one and two weeks. You write in little bursts, relieving the pressure or build up of ideas. It is likely you will be irritable; with yourself mostly. Brain farts are a minor issue, because creative defecations are regular. Straining is required.

Solution – You know you have something. You can feel it brewing. Get some more variety in your reading diet and you’ll begin to flow!

#4 – This form of writer is normal for someone defecating/writing once daily. Pages may range from 1 to 100, the larger number suggests a longer transit time (thinking) or a large amount of dietary fibre in the diet (reading).

You almost got it. Keep going!

#5 – This is considered the ideal form. It is typical for a person who writes daily, after major meals, (no, not really after major meals, that’s definitely stools). You are a regular reader, you are interested in variety in your life diet, you write daily, because, let’s face it, what else are you going to do? You are a natural creative, but that doesn’t mean you can become lax in your exercise regime!

#6 – Borderline normal. It may be difficult to control the urge, especially when you don‘t have immediate access to a keyboard. These kind of scribblers may be a little neurotic about themselves or their writing. It can also indicate a hypersensitive personality prone to stress.

Solution- you can actually do this, you just worry too much what other people will think of your work. Write for yourself first and foremost.

#7 – Whoa! This, of course, is verbal diarrhoea. Two causes here – It‘s typical for people who are new and inexperienced or convalescing from faecal/idea impaction; ideas have built up and up and have no place to go but out onto the paper. The large creativity centre is stuffed with impacted ideas throughout its entire length. The other; more unfortunate, is the belief that , ‘Hey, I’m good at writing, my mum says so, so it must be true.’ and then proceed to pump out story after story after story of trite nonsense. Some good stuff has been absorbed, the rest accumulates in the rectum of the mind. Unfortunately, it‘s all too common.

Solution – find a trustworthy Beta Reader. Listen to constructive criticism. And slow down before you drown us all in word poo!

 

I hope you found today’s advice useful. Remember – not a doctor!

*Toilet Graffiti from https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/420664421416782750/?lp=true

 

Write For Money (or not)

 

Okay, heads up people, this is going to be a short one – I have a tonne of editing to do, illustrations to make, and a cover to design – so, for your delectation I have compiled a short list of 13 (lucky for some) online sites looking for writers and/or bloggers.

Many are paid jobs, some are not, but there is a real mix of technical, specialised, general and fiction sites you can go visit and see what you fancy.

But remember – read the guidelines!

I repeat – READ THE GUIDELINES, don’t get pissy with anyone who doesn’t like your pitch because you didn’t pitch correctly; especially when applying to guest write on someone else’s blog, it’s their blog, you’re a guest, play nice!

Now go and write stuff…

LittleZotz (Lauren Tharpe)

http://littlezotz.com/write-for-me/

Pro-Blogger

https://problogger.com/jobs/

indeed

https://www.indeed.co.uk/Blog-Writer-jobs

BloggingPro

https://www.bloggingpro.com/jobs/

Upwork

https://www.upwork.com/o/jobs/browse/?q=blog%20writing

adzuna

https://www.adzuna.co.uk/jobs/blogger

Jobmanji

http://www.jobmanji.co.uk/blogger/job-vacancies

BestJobsOnline

http://uk.best-jobs-online.com/search.php?keyword=Blogging&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIw4qt1cHS2gIVzZPtCh3CFgxFEAMYASAAEgL3PfD_BwE

The Work Online Blog

https://workonlineblog.com/get-paid-to-write/

Back To College

http://back2college.com/guide.htm

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

http://www.elleryqueenmysterymagazine.com/contact-us/writers-guidelines/

Fantasy Scroll Mag

http://fantasyscrollmag.com/submissions/

Daily Science Fiction

http://dailysciencefiction.com/submit/story/guidelines

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Just because it was an outdated machine, did not mean Dorothy wasn’t going to write some shit hot stuff on it.

The Write Way To Connect

Hi folks.

So you still want to write? (you mad impetuous fools *chuckles)

What exciting times we live in, when the opportunities for writers is so huge, huger than it’s ever been, huger than the hugest thing you can think of…

Blogging. Fiction. Travel. Educational. Analyst. Content. Legal. Finance. Freelance. Journalism. Technical. Copy-writing. Marketing. Ghost-writing. Et cetera, et cetera.

WHY? WHAT? PLAN! AUDIENCE! CONNECT!

Why are you writing? (Been here before haven’t we?!) What are you writing? Plan your working days and promotional days. Who is your audience?

And when you’ve written your stuff, you need to get it ‘out there’. You need a client, a market – an audience!

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What happened when Bob and George didn’t plan their outfits!

A lot of writers today have blogs or web pages to self-promote. What, you thought that would be done for you?!

WHY? WHAT? PLAN! AUDIENCE! CONNECT!

Assuming you managed to get your thing written… And assuming someone was interested enough to publish it… It doesn’t mean they will promote it for you…You have to do some of this yourself (unless of course you are lucky enough to get a contract like some woman called Joanne Rowling!)

I’ve mentioned Google Digital Garage before. Get yourself over there and pick up some hints and tips. If you already have a blog, then check out – Your Long-term Social Media Plan.

Also, to help you plan – your posts, your writing schedule, whatever, Kate at Small Paper Things, has created a digital and printable calendar for bloggers to help get organised. Just click on the plus sign next to the words Google Calendar at bottom right corner of screen.

WHY? WHAT? PLAN! AUDIENCE! CONNECT!

And when you have posted, printed, published your lovingly crafted stuff, keep on top of it. Revisit it, no not every day, don’t overwhelm people, back off! And it isn’t a cactus either, watering twice a year won’t cut the mustard!  Social media is a two-way conversation, so keep the conversation going, pay a visit every other day (I would recommend) to wherever it is you like to ply your wares.

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“I say, is this The Twitter? I want to tell you about some tosh I have written.”

You probably already have at least one account on a social media site – use it to promote and connect with other like-minded idiots, I mean creative types!

If you have more than one social media site, then connect them all up; it is made really easy to share stuff from platform to platform.

Remember…

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Despite what Hugo Gernsback said – Writers do NOT write in isolation!

WHY? WHAT? PLAN! AUDIENCE! CONNECT!

Now go get ’em tiger!

So You Want To Be A Fiction Writer?

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Where to Begin –

Stop Prevaricating. Easier said than done, I hear you cry. Been there, done that. I have dabbled on and off throughout my whole life (mostly off B.D – before daughter). Then an amazing thing happened, my daughter came of an age in which she mirrored back to me my own criticisms, persuasions, acronyms. She was constantly told as a child to ‘have a go’, ‘just try it’ and ‘just go for it’. I ended my dabbling when she told me to “Carpe diem. You keep telling me, now this is me telling you.” So I did.

Writers are always telling would-be-writers to ‘just write’! I’m going to try and persuade you not to!!!!

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot,” Stephen King says in his book ‘On Writing‘. Do you already do this? If not, why not? How can you possibly expect to write if you are a stranger to literature in the first place?

I cannot tell you how many times I have been speaking to other people and they say, “Oh, I was good at writing stories in school...” or when I painted:- “I got a B in my art ‘O’ Level, I reckon I could do that...” Really? So why aren’t you doing it? Because you were, or are still, ‘good at something’ is not a qualification for being that thing. You have to WANT to be it. To be a fiction writer, you have to BE CREATIVE! If you aren’t, there is nothing wrong in that, just don’t kid yourself that you can.

In a previous blog I wrote that Writing is like keeping an allotment, in which I was quite helpful (I thought), and kind (for me), about planning, editing and so forth. Now I’m telling you that writing is like rolling around in pig-swill for a huge portion of the time. Where to start? What to write? What’s my style? How do I deal with writers block? How do I resolve this conflict between characters? What’s the difference between Show & Tell? Where do ideas come from? Who will read it? Will I be successful?! I’m not giving answers to any of those questions, why? Because I’m a bitch? No (well, partially), but if you are asking these questions BEFORE you begin your shiny new writing journey – I would seriously question whether this is the right choice for you.

By the way, there is no limit on what age you can begin writing; it may be that you have spent your life working, bringing up a family, and now you’re free to follow your dream. You’re a pressure cooker that has been ‘on hold’ for decades – time to release the flood!

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Who are you Writing For?

And why are you writing? This may sound a bit odd, but people write for different reasons:- for fun, as catharsis, as a way to better understand the world, to escape from the world, for money, a natural progression from previous creative activity, or from journalistic based role, because it’s an itch that needs to be scratched. Whatever the reason, be honest. If you think you’re going to make money from being a story-teller, think again; the successful ones we hear about are few and far between.

Stop trying to please others – write for yourself. Some authors advocate writing the kind of stuff you’d like to read yourself; well if you can’t please yourself with what you’ve written, how can you expect anyone else to enjoy it?

Do you know how many new books get published each year? In the UK in 2017, it reached 4.8 billion! Is your effort going to be picked up amongst all those? If you knew you would NEVER get published, would you still want to write? If the answer is an emphatic ‘no’, read no further, just stop right now and go and watch TV.

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Isolation –

We all know writing can be a lonely gig. Hmm, did I say lonely? I’m never lonely – I may work alone, but lonely; never. You have to want to be alone for extremely long periods. For example, you have to world build if you want to write sci-fi, that takes some serious – and I mean serious – inside-my-own-head time. You have to be prepared to miss social events – and not care.

Disconnect yourself from what you might call ‘reality’ and create your own – but be able to re-surface into ‘normality’ and function well. “I have never yielded to reality.” said Philip K. Dick.

Fiction writers spend a lot of time inside their own heads, we stare into space mulling over scenes, dissecting dialogue and listening in on other people’s conversations! Get away from everyone, lock yourself in a quiet place and work.

You do not need to attend conferences on writing to become a writer. All you need is… writing implements of whatever kind you prefer – laptop, iPad, pen and paper, quill, chisel and stone.

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 Let’s Get Critical –

I have read some shit in my time, seriously, there seem to be people who think that whatever they write is worth the time and attention of readers. I have come across horrendous grammatical errors, uncorrected spelling mistakes, and just plain awful stories. Humans, it seems to me, have become less self critical in recent years, the advent of social media and self-publishing sites has led to an abundance of dilute word vomit.

Prepare for failure and criticism. If you are going to ask other people to read your work, then expect criticism; I do. In fact I welcome constructive criticism – without constant practice and critical feedback, I may do the writing equivalent of jogging on the spot.

This goes back to those people who said, ‘Oh, I was good at writing stories in school‘. So what? I won the  100 metres for my school for 5 consecutive years; doesn’t mean I was ever going to be an Olympic runner! If you want to put your writing out there, get a tough skin!

Practise description. Please! I have read stories where – 1. The scene is not described; to the extent that it was unclear if it was indoors or outside. 2. The number of people involved in a conversation was muddled. 3. A different character’s name was used who shouldn’t have even been included!

Also, it must be credible. You can set your story any where, any time, whatever, it can have pink flying elephants – as long as there is a reason for pink flying elephants, then it will work – don’t think because you have a ker-azy idea that it will make you the next Ian Banks or Hunter S. Thompson. Far from it.

As previously stated, Writing is hard work. It may, in fact, be harder than the ‘day job’ I/you do. Why? Because it is all about you – you come up with the ideas, you do the actual work, you put in the hours; it requires self-discipline. Be honest, are you prepared to be that person?

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Never Stop Learning –

So, you wrote your first short story and your friends think it’s great. Is that it then? All you ever wanted has been achieved? Okay, make way for the stalwarts who are still with me.

Just because your best mate says it’s good – DOES NOT MAKE IT SO – and it does not mean you have reached the pinnacle of your (potential) writing career. Keep going, write another, write some more, keep going, and again…

Readers are greedy for more, the audience constantly needs feeding. But that does not mean you have to keep churning out the same old crap. If you want to be a real writer, you must NEVER think you have learnt everything you need to know. Down that path lies mediocrity and complacency, “Nothing is more hostile to art than a culture of complacency.” says Dr. Joseph Suglia.

Expand your reading, try something you may never have read previously; it can be anything, it doesn’t have to be other people’s fiction. Read about coal mines in South America, find out about about farmers markets in Namibia, read about your local area, learn a new language, read about the average number of piglets in a litter (it’s an average of 10-12 ,if you want to know), whatever you do – READ.

I had to learn American just like a foreign language. To learn it I had to study and analyse it. As a result, when I use slang . . . I do it deliberately.” Raymond Chandler.

If I haven’t put you off and you accept all/most/some of what I’ve said, and the urge to expel a creative nugget is wriggling in your belly, bravo!

Now go and write!

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*The author accepts no responsibility for broken hearts or dreams.

*The author does not proclaim to be an expert on the above topic, just a weary reader.

 

Fiction Writing Opportunities

Hi there!

I’m in the process of editing a novella length story, writing a short Horror piece and a short Sci-Fi piece, plus some other stuff that may (or may not) happen. But I am still keeping my eyes open for other opportunities. I keep entering competitions, not necessarily to win anything, but more as a means to improve my writing. There are opportunities for writers all over the place, you just need to keep a look-out.

Sometimes you just want a writing prompt; for story writing. There are loads of bloggers who provide this, take a look on Twitter too!

Check out some of these:-

https://nanowrimo.org

https://www.freedomwithwriting.com/freedom/uncategorized/12-magazines-that-pay-writers-150-per-article/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/opportunities

https://thewritersacademy.co.uk/blog/writing-competitions/

https://twitter.com/MagicRealismBot

https://twitter.com/writingprompts

https://twitter.com/sff_prompt_bot

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/mandycorine/writing-prompts/?lp=true

Add them to your Favourites and revisit monthly. Follow the instructions to the letter, this will help you, 1)Develop the habit of writing to specs; should you ever have to for money! 2)Writing to deadlines; should you ever have to for money!! £€¥

And don’t forget the good old fashioned magazine from the newsagents such as ‘Competitions: Guide 2018’, and look at the Notice Board in your local library.

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Poets & Writers Magazine, from all good newsagents
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Writing Magazine. Bestseller for opportunities/competitions.

 

But however you do it, keep on writing!