Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Give your mind a break, make it think

This may sound contradictory but the fact is I recently realized I barely give my mind a rest to think on its own. I'm constantly feeding it with information. It's like one of those poor geese in France being fed through a funnel to fatten their livers until they practically burst. I keep doing the same with my brain. When it's not work, it's reading books, or listening to audiobooks or the radio, or watching TV. My brain is constantly receiving external information and this means it barely gets the chance to have a thought of its own and produce something useful.

I recently had a chat with Kate Lace (author of A Class Act) and she said she didn't listen to audiobooks when she was driving because she found it an excellent moment to think over her plots and characters. Then Jane Wenham-Jones (author of Wannabe a writer?) also said something that applied to this. She sent a tweet suggesting that if you don't have the time to sit down and write, at least take every opportunity you have to think out what you want to write and this will save you time for when you do have a chance to write it down.

I know this is probably basic for you, but I'd forgotten to do this. I'd forgotten to let myself think things out while I was cooking or driving or having a bath. I was stuck with a part in my plot and I was avoiding thinking about it because I didn't know where to lead the story. I had many helpful suggestions from different people on how pull your feet out of the mud, but in this case it was all down to facing the problem and thinking about it. And that is what I did. As I was driving, instead of plugging in the audiobook, I plugged in my brain and thought about the plots and plans. And the answer came to me.

So I've decided to feed my brain a bit less instead of making it into foie gras and I know the exercise will do it good.

Did you ever have this problem?

Friday, 15 October 2010

Flying dreams - #FridayFlash

He looked up and resorted to his habitual shake of the head to flick the hair out of his eyes. As his sight focused again, his gaze met the almond shape of bright green eyes. He didn’t look away in a hurry as she did, embarrassed by the intimacy of the moment.

He fumbled trying to thread his belt through the tight loops of his chino trousers and barely suppressed a smile as he risked a glance towards her while she hopped from one foot to another fitting one black boot and then the other and zipping them up her calf under the long skirt with as much grace as she could muster under the circumstances.

She’d never seen him before but she now felt compelled to lift her gaze and quickly take in the clear blue eyes framed by the laughing lines which were clearly used to working all day. She noticed his dark tousled hair falling into his eyes as his tall frame bent down to pick up his shoes.

The feeling of heat spreading inside him made him sense her eyes upon him and he breathed in deeply before looking up again to meet them. This time, she paused a second before letting her gaze drop with one delicate movement.

She’d glimpsed the flash of gold on his fourth finger before burying his hand under his jacket. This didn't surprise her, she’d got used to men of her age being married, but it wasn’t often that she felt a tinge of disappointment. He oozed charm through his expression, his eyes and the smooth movement of his hands. The slight ascent of the corner of his lips showed a mouth prone to smiling.

When they were both fully dressed and they’d arranged their clothes to hide the previous disarray, they each picked up their belongings with slow, lazy motions making the moment last that little bit longer, knowing it was never to happen again.

A cold, impersonal voice interrupted their thoughts, 'Please move on quickly, people are waiting.’

At that, they both looked at the security guard in surprise and then indulged in one more surreptitious glance at each other before parting in the direction of their respective boarding gates. 

Monday, 11 October 2010

Are you a Fraud?

As a newbie writer, one of my recurrent problems is insecurity. In any career, we want to know that we are reaching goals and improving our skills. So writing isn't any different. We want to know our writing is moving forward and we are heading towards mastering the different techniques.

So this insecurity doesn't only affect newbie unpublished writers who don't even have the approval of editors or the audience, but also well-known authors. If you're on twitter, you will often hear popular (even best-seller) authors express their fears when their new book is about to come out and some won't even read Amazon reviews in case they find negative and hurtful criticism.

However, I think it is this insecurity that forces us to make a greater effort. Not only in writing, but in any other area of interest too. Living with the fear that what we do is not enough or sufficiently good will push us to better ourselves. Overconfidence can lead people to slack in their efforts and the outcome can be disastrous however good author you may have been in the past.

I'm using my insecurity to push me to read and learn more about writing and hopefully improve a little bit more every time. And there are so many blogs out there with excellent ideas on how to improve your writing, there is an endless source of improvement.

Do you now feel confident about your writing? When do you feel satisfied with your work?

Monday, 4 October 2010

The Why Factor

Last week I was on a writing course in Oxford. It was How to edit your own women's fiction given by Julie Cohen and Helen Corner

In three days I learnt so many things it will take me some time to wrap my head around it, but the most important  advice I came home with was to always ask yourself WHY. You should write as if you had a nagging little four year old sitting on your shoulder and asking Why about every single word in your manuscript. This will give depth and credibility to your plot and characters.

During this course we had the chance to look at each other's work, and as we analysed mine, I realized I didn't know my characters properly. I hadn't understood or considered their background enough to determine why they followed one path or another, so I hadn't been able to form round live characters that would engage the reader.

Also, I've learnt many of the basics I needed (e.g. pacing, show and not tell) to feel more confident about what I'm doing. This means, I feel ready to dig deep into my story until I find the treasure I was looking for.

Where did you get your writing knowledge from? Courses, books, blogs...? Or are you lucky enough to have been born with that knowledge.

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