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21 April 2011


I've just spent the past couple of days painting. Not in the style of Monet or Rembrandt, I hasten to add. Just walls, kitchen and bathroom walls. I panicked at first, being away from the PC, as once you start these jobs you have to finish, and they seem to have a habit of growing into a full blown spring clean. But actually, on reflection, it's been a good 'writing' time. 

For one thing I've not been distracted by the Internet and my inbox. I read a piece by Lorraine Mace in the latest Writers Magazine last week about the perfection of procrastination on 'writing days'. I think it must be a particular affliction for writers, and unfortunately there isn't a  magical cure. One thing I have learnt though, is to develop a habit of  productive procrastination. Yes, that's right. Productive time wasting. But the fact is you're not. Wasting time that is. If you choose to procrastinate whilst doing something quite banal, it can actually help the writing process.

I probably did more writing in my head, with my tongue sticking out as I edged the window frame than I have done on recent 'writing' days. I sorted out the beginning chapter of my novel in progress, The Promise', something which has alluded me for weeks, I drafted out the outline of a Monday Muse, including the setting and two characters, I had numerous ideas about other potential writing projects, and edited several short story ideas where they had got a bit stuck. So all in all, not a bad time spent. And the kitchen positively sparkles! 
So next time you hit the avoidance phase, why not pick up a brush instead of a pen? Try it - you may be surprised!

Don't Think Just Write

13 April 2011

Writing Competitions - A Case of Win or Lose?

The main aim of our writing group at Writers Abroad is to improve our writing through feedback, encouragement, support and to badger each other to seek publication. Part of this obviously means entering competitions. We've all had a bit of a dry period at the moment and the continual 'non-placement' of our stories can be a little daunting on an individual basis. So what are we doing wrong, if anything? We have quite a robust feedback mechanism which includes: characterisation, plot, dialogue, conflict, showing not telling - all the stuff that together should make a good story and we have an agreement to be honest and constructive.
All of our members have had publication of some sort or another so we know that we sometimes get it right and some members have had novels and novellas published, so we have a rich background to pull on. 

I know that this writing business is a very 'subjective' one and I suppose that's why some writers give up and opt for something which is maybe a bit more dependable. And perhaps my view of some of the 'winning' entries I read are a bit 'sour grapes' but some of them do seem to break all the rules of short story writing which is a little frustrating. 
I've come to the conclusion that there aren't winners or losers in writing competitions but there are only a limited amount of places for stories to be showcased. It's a bit like rolling the dice. That doesn't mean I've written a bad story, just not one that reached out to one or two judges. If my work was read by a whole panel of readers, it might be a different story. So I'm not giving up.
Can't be that certain about my commitment to a daily blog, though! 

Don't Think Just Write

8 April 2011

Distractions and Temptations

Having blogged about my ten most guilty pleasures earlier this week, I missed a post yesterday because I was enjoying one of them ! It wasn't a bag of Maltesers or a bath, because we have neither of them here in Italy and are considered two of my most luxurious luxuries. It wasn't a glass of red whilst cooking (but a glass of rose) or a quick nap after lunch - instead braving the heat to walk Bertie. I didn't sing, watch a film, read a mag or write with a fountain pen and Simon simply refuses to let me buy another bag... 

After a few weeks of - should we, shouldn't we, no we can't - can we? - sort of debate, we decided to add to our little family of animali and now have 9 week old Freya, a Maremma (Italian Sheepdog) puppy who has lived in the field where she was born until yesterday. At the moment she's learning how to climb steps and stairs (barking when she needs a little help) and following our two year old Maremma dog, Bertie, around like a little lamb. She has also been down to say 'hello' to Na, Wilma and Doris our three hens. We've named her after a Norse Goddess of love and beauty - a little like myself... I wish.

Not that I need more distractions but hey, life is for living in the moment which reminds me of a quote by Oscar Wilde (I think) 'I Can Resist Everything But Temptation'.
Now, must get to work on the purchase of a new item for my bag collection. (Poor Si).

Don't Think Just Write

6 April 2011


There are days when we all could do with a bit of a lift, a hand up or an armful of a cuddles.When things look bad we tend to forget the good things and when things are good we never remember the bad. A stumbled across a quote by Winston Churchill and a poem which says it all for me.

The Don't Quit Poem 
Author Unknown

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, 
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill, 
When the funds are low and the debts are high, 
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh, 
When care is pressing you down a bit, 
Rest, if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns, 
As every one of us sometimes learns, 
And many a failure turns about, 
When he might have won had he stuck it out; 
Don't give up though the pace seems slow-- 
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than, 
It seems to a faint and faltering man, 
Often the struggler has given up, 
When he might have captured the victor's cup, 
And he learned too late when the night slipped down, 
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out-- 
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt, 
And you never can tell how close you are, 
It may be near when it seems so far, 
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit-- 
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.

These are going up on my wall above my desk, so tell me, where do you get your inspiration from and the energy to keep going?

Don't Think Just Write

5 April 2011

Ten Guilty Pleasures

Although writing and my loved one are definitely listed as a pleasure, I can hardly admit that I feel guilty about them. What would life be without a little bit of a guilt trip now and again? These are some of mine - I'm sure there are lots more...

  • Maltesers (or chocolate balls as my granddaughter calls them) as many as I can cram in to my hamster-like cheeks
  • A glass of something red whilst cooking lunch
  • A ten minute snooze following lunch
  • Flicking through a trashy magazine (like Hello) looking at pictures
  • A long, soapy bath ideally by candlelight and with a good book and a tank of hot water for refills
  • Any Elvis Presley film
  • Bags of any kind, preferably leather and made in Italy
  • Fountain pens and inky fingers
  • Puppies and kittens - usually ones that no-one else wants
  • Singing along to 'I will Always Love you' by Whitney Houston (you don't want to be around)
So come on 'fess up. How do you pass your guilty moments?

Don't Think Just Write

4 April 2011

Writing Prompts

Are good for a writers soul. At Writers Abroad we do them regularly - our Monday Muse. The key is to choose a prompt, which can be anything from a first line, an image, a plot scenario and  free write (write without punctuation, following your thoughts) for twenty minutes or 500 words. Sometimes we go over time and word count, but that's not important. Writing without the inner critic helps to free the mind and whilst some of it might not make a lot of sense, many of us have gone on to develop these muses into flash fiction and short stories, some of which have been published.

Here are some of the sites that offer some suggestions for prompts. Why not have a go and free your inner writer, the one who is the most creative... it may look a little like alphabet soup to begin with but I can guarantee you that a nugget of a story will be hiding there somewhere.

Don't Think Just Write

3 April 2011

Mothers Day

Is a little over rated if you ask me, and yes I'm a mother! It seems to me just a way for someone (makers of greeting cards, florists for example) to make more money and often out of small children. Why is it that the price of flowers particularly increase just for this one day? I'm of the thought that everyday could be a 'mothers' day because mothers  don't only mother on one day, its a year long job for the rest of your life. And if it's the only day that a child recognises the efforts made by their mother, it's a pretty poor show.

So even though my darling son has remembered, he also often remembers me throughout the year, by just saying 'thanks' or 'I love you'. Far more meaningful than going along with the crowd. I'd rather he spend the money from today on something which really counts, perhaps on children who no longer have their mothers or mothers who are in need of help in one way or another. That would at least make a difference to someone. 

Don't Think Just Write

2 April 2011

Front Page

If you could be on the front page of any magazine, which would it be? For me it would have to be a writing magazine. I won't choose one here because it feels a bit fatalistic. But to feature on any one of them would be quite a personal scoop. Maybe it would tie in with the publication of the first of a series of historical drama's that I'd been commissioned to writer over the duration of my life - well one has to dream big! Or maybe it would be a series of 'how to' articles from the desk of a published author, a position I hope to have one day.

I don't think I'd like a picture of my phizog though, I take a dreadful picture as my long suffering husband will only tell you. 'Smile naturally' he shouts at me just as the shutter is about to go off rendering a malevolent  grin which only looks good on the face of a comic about dogs with big mouths. No, I'd like the cover of my book on the front page, but then that's another dilemma - who would create such a thing of beauty? I love front covers. A front cover is one of the reasons I would pick up a book in the first instance, I may put it back down again having read the blurb, or the first page, or heaven forbid the last page (a habit I'm trying to break). But a front cover is important. It's like any kind of 'front shop'. It needs to draw your audience in, whoever it maybe. 

So come on, spill the beans, where would you like to flaunt your stuff?

Don't Think Just Write

1 April 2011

Ultimate Blog Challenge


I've signed up for the Ultimate Blog Challenge for April, in the hope that it might give me the inspiration to blog for the love of it - rather than it being a chore. I love to write and am at my happiest with pen and paper or in front of the PC, thinking of the right word, the perfect phrase, the succinct sentence. 
However, with blogging, I've stumbled along a bit lately and I've been thinking over some of the reasons why this may have happened. I think there are several things a blog, or a blogger needs:
  • A Passion for what you are writing about
  • So a Theme is probably a good thing
  • The Commitment to blog regularly and consistently
  • Which means that you need to Write well and succinctly
  • To Follow other like-minded blogs and contribute via comments
So, with that in mind, I shall use this month to shape and develop my blog into something I Want to do and hopefully a place where people can come along and enjoy the read...

Don't Think Just Write