Splitting my head open

…to catch its content upon the page.

It doesn’t matter where I look, or what I read, I’m constantly reminded that I really do need to be keeping a writer’s journal. I have plenty of notepads, even leave a nice one with a pen by my bed always with the intention of writing in it as soon as I get up.

The problem is, as soon as my alarm clock goes off, my cat goes batshit crazy. If I wake before my alarm, my brain’s so fuzzy I forget what I thought I should be doing. In fact, I don’t even remember my intention to write at all until I’m awake, and on my way to work.

One of my course books refers to a writer’s notebook as a ‘creative compost heap’ that you write in ‘in a rapid, impulsive way’ (Creative Writing Handbook, p.33).

Things to explore in a notebook are listed, but not limited to:

*Observations

In summary, don’t focus too much on ‘correct’ sentences. Just quickly write out as much detail as you can, such as small details and moving outwards to the larger picture. Ref: Virginia Woolf’s diary.

*Daily Events

Ref: Maugham’s notebooks.

*Writing Practice

‘The habit of daily writing… and free-writing’, essentially can bring out some exciting ideas to play with later.

*Morning Pages

This is about free-writing first thing in the morning, before you do anything else. Ref: Dorothea Brande’s Becoming a Writer

*Record of Reading

Can learn about good and bad writing, genres, ideas… and so on. Writer’s should be big lovers of reading.

These suggestions have all been taken from the Creative Writer’s Handbook.

I need to pledge this now: To write in my notebook every day. Ideally it’ll be a set time every day, so I establish the habit, but I think I’ll give myself permission to move the time slot around for now. Just so I get into the habit of actually writing.

I remember reading Pen on Fire which was great for ideas on how to get creative juices flowing, plus there is always an abundance of activities and prompts around. Finding something to write about isn’t the problem, it’s getting into the habit daily that is.

I do really enjoy working on freewrites, and have managed to extract some interesting ideas to work with for short stories on my degree. I just need consistent practice. I also want to mix things up a bit, and have the journal for exercises and musings on specific topics, as well as a brain dump.

Something I do want to try is to improve my vocabulary. To do this I thought I could select a random word each day (though a useful, usable one – does anyone have suggestions?) that I then use as a writing exercise, basing a passage around the use of this word. My thinking being I will most likely remember it then too, if I manage to apply it in this way.

I know there are sites out there somewhere with what I need, but I’m open to pointers to ones you’d recommend.

Helpful links:

Life Hacker: Writing Exercises

A Scenic Route: Love Fear Writing

Kim Evans Writes: Journal Story and Character Ideas

Finally Raining: Writing Journal

Young Unknown Author: New 2015 Journal

A special shout out to a super supportive blogger 🙂

Lita Doolan: Any Old World Uncovered By New Writing

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Blog Necromancy

I imagine I’m dragging the battered booted feet along the ground, my failing limbs objecting to the motion. And yet, that’s not true. I miss the process of writing for writing’s sake. I also miss chatting to fellow writers from all over the world, just because I can.

This is essentially an update along the lines of ‘where am I now?’ and ‘what are your goals this year?’

I reverted to the habit of list making in notepads and on scraps of paper. I’ve found they don’t make me anymore accountable for my actions (or inactions) than writing them on a blog does. It’s important I acknowledge this point, because that seemed to be my reason for disappearing for long periods. I become disheartened by the stale life I sometimes feel I’m in, or embarrassed. Embarrassed about big plans that don’t happen as quickly as I’d like. Especially when you know there are people out there who are all too happy to say they knew you couldn’t do it. That they only ask where you’re up to because they want to know you fail too, regardless of how big you dream.

Yet, the dream never leaves. It’s not really a dream at all.You is really me. Or maybe it’s both of us… I won’t really know that, unless you tell me. But I find the dream is more of an impulse; an urge; a feeling that I need more. I hope that if I hold its tail, it’ll lead me to where I need to be. That doesn’t happen though. I get shaken loose and find I’m not on that path anymore.

This is my reminder. I’m not really so far away as I once was, and yet there are still processes I have to go through. I’m still not where I feel I should be, but I’m making progress.

I’ve spoken before about work places not being what I want or need. That’s changed now. I’m now working for a PR agency. I’m mostly doing admin, but I also work on their social media. That’s more adhoc at the moment because I’ve only been there 3 months but, as I learn more about the industry, I can then pick up more projects. My aim is to develop a content plan that’s industry driven to engage with their target audience, but that relies heavily on me being able to carry those discussions. I will get there!

I am in my 3rd year of an English degree currently doing a module on reading and studying literature (A230), and advanced creative writing (A363) through Open University. Only one more module (The Art of English) and I’ll be graduating my BA (hons) summer of 2016. My grades aren’t too shabby, but they would have been better if I gave it more time (which I don’t have).

My aim last year was to pick up more classes or activities that I found challenging, physically, but were fun. I did about 3 months of aerial swing (think: Cirque de Soliel) before I had to put it on pause for the workplace change. I’m now back driving and booked onto the next course at the end of this month. Still very much a beginner!

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I have also started Ashtanga yoga this year (3 lessons so far). I’m really enjoying this! My main aims are to improve flexibility and strength, to support my aerial training. The de-stress and health benefits of Ashtanga are a bonus. Such a lovely environment to train in!

So… where do I go from here?

Writing

My writing still needs a lot of work. I have to be honest about that. Idea generation isn’t a problem, but my dialogue needs work. Plot holes and the like can also be a bit of a problem, but I’m getting there. There’s a fab group of students on my course forum who offer some awesome advice, not to mention the invaluable feedback from my tutor.

My plan for the next few months is to engage with the learning material as much as possible, with my end of module assignment being a novel (due 19 May).

I also have a list of books I need to work my way through for both creative writing, development, and the literature module. [I will add this as a separate list and link to it when done]

I will be exploring online resources for content creation, article writing, and story development to cover the areas I feel are weakest.

I’ve already joined Writing Magazine’s membership (it’s been many years) and Mslexia. Hopefully they’ll help to get me more familiar with the ever changing world of writing. I seem to spend most of my time paying very little attention!

There was also a site http://rockingselfpublishing.com/episode-34-traditional-publishing-self-pub-holly-lisle/#listen which was super helpful when I used to listen to it and found it in my blog drafts for me to explore in more detail – so I’ll have to investigate!

Networking

Socialising needs to be up there on the list too. I certainly don’t meet that many people, especially not those I can share my interests with, so I’ll be working finding activities or groups that do expand my social ‘circle’.

I could do with looking at public speaking, or something of that nature, as I know confidence can be an issue. Especially if I want to be more involved with workshops.

To swing by ROW80 and ISWG to see if they’re still relevant to my journey, which I’m sure they are!

Health and Fitness

I would like to take pictures or videos of my progress on flexibility and sequences. I know that’s fine for aerial, but I’ll have to work something out for yoga.

To continue to make minor adjustments to diet to accommodate shifts in mindset towards health and well-being.

To also plan in extra training when we decide at work what charity fundraising we’re doing (the talk is a 10k run, an open water swim, and a team relay bike ride, so we’ll see).

Today’s Plan

To eat lunch

Go for a walk

Do a little grocery shop

Cook up a batch or two of food stuffs

Finish the short story draft for TMA05 (next creative writing assignment)

Read ‘Beach of Falesa’ for TMA04 for literature assignment.

That’s all for now folks. 🙂