Writer’s Block Or Life Block?

typewriterrrr.jpgI was reading Writing Magazine a few days ago and came across an article about writer’s block. It’s something I have always struggled with. I go through phases of no writing at all and I always blame it on writer’s block, I either have too many ideas and can’t seem to pick one or unfortunately, sometimes, I have no ideas at all.

I’m sure all writer’s can relate to this, the ongoing struggle to get the beautiful poetic voice in your head to somehow find its way to the page, to find the right words and put them in the right order and to finally turn an idea into an actual story. However, I’m starting to realize, after reading this article mainly, that it may not be writer’s block.

Every writer has their ‘perfect mood’ to write. Some wait until the world is falling apart around them to finally get a poem on the page and some have to be in a happy state of mind to even consider putting pen to paper. I am the latter. I’ve been through a lot of personal struggles and during this time, I haven’t been writing. Now I feel I am moving away from the shadows and finally feel myself again, I want to write.

Strange isn’t it? Maybe I was intentionally choosing to let life block my writing muse? The events of my life were forcing me to ignore the writer in me. I was so focused on just getting through each day and understand the range of emotions I was feeling. I was failing to do the one thing that helps me get through almost anything and that is to write about it.

I feel like my ongoing battle with depression and anxiety has not only killed my happiness, but my confidence too. I had no belief in myself that I could write anything good, so I didn’t write at all. Silly really. I shouldn’t care if my writing is good or not, I should do it because it’s what I love to do. Only now that I am on the other side of a long, dark tunnel, do I actually see what I have been doing all of this time.

Now, I don’t know if this feeling of being myself will last. So I’m going to make the most of it. My typewriter is sitting on my desk, waiting for me to carve words from my mind and piece together something beautiful. I’m going to do what I do best, I’m going to write and no amount of self-doubt is going to stop me, not this time!

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The Second Draft.

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I’ve finally finished editing the first draft of 1:58 and if there is anything I have learnt from this experience of using a red pen on my own work it is this – I can be brutal. Many writers say that they don’t like to ‘kill their darlings’ but I found it quite easy to use my inner-editor to cross out sections that didn’t work, be brutally honest about my use of clichés and accept that there were parts of my novel that just didn’t work.

I had a dream a few nights ago about my novel, when I woke up I realised all of the mistakes I was making with my story and I quickly jotted them down. I’m going to make some major changes, from the name of the novel to the events that take place in the narrative. It’s still the same story in many ways and I am keeping the characters that I have grown to love but the novel didn’t excite me when I read it back. If it doesn’t excite me, then it’s definitely not going to excite a reader.

This is the first time I have completed a novel and edited my own work, so it’s an entirely new process for me. I am excited to get started on the second draft, it may take three or four drafts before this novel is ready but I’m willing to put the hard work in to really create the best story I possibly can. No one said it would be easy. Ernest Hemmingway once said “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” A little dramatic but he definitely has the right idea.

 

 

 

 

Breathing New Life Into An Old Story…

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In 2014, when I was studying Creative Writing at university, I decided to take part in something called NaNoWriMo. A writing task to write 50,000 words during the month of November. Despite my lack of belief in myself, I managed to do it. I spent a few weeks beforehand writing a plan, I had detailed questionnaires on all of my characters, I was ready to go. I celebrated when I reached the word count. I actually completed a novel! Yay me!

Then, I left the story alone. It sat on my USB for two years, yes you heard right, TWO YEARS! I guess I didn’t have much faith in my story, I thought it was rubbish and didn’t want to read it ever again. Until one day. I don’t know what pushed me to do it but I decided to read my story to myself. As I scrolled through the pages, I realised it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. Although my inner editor had already started to rewrite the story in my head, I saw a few moments in the story that had true potential.

I printed off my manuscript and took out a red pen. I highlighted sentences that worked, crossed out sections that didn’t and scanned the manuscript for inconsistencies and spelling mistakes. I’m still in the process of editing the novel but once I’m done, I’m going to start my second draft of 1:58. I’m breathing new life into an old story and I couldn’t be happier about it 🙂

 

 

 

The Muse & Me

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Credit: Oprah.com

I’ve always had a turbulent relationship with my writing muse. I’ve been struggling with writer’s block for two years. After graduating with my degree in Creative Writing, I decided to give my writing brain a rest. I had spent the past three years juggling poetry, stories, scripts and essays in my mind, so I simply stopped. The problem was, I didn’t know how to get started again.

I’ve made so many attempts over the past two years to get into the habit of writing regularly. After a while, I realised that forcing myself to write was only decreasing my enjoyment for it and I should just let go and wait for my muse to return when I was ready.

Well, now I’m ready. I woke up one morning with an idea burning at the front of my mind. I couldn’t get to my notebook quick enough! I thought it was a fluke, but a few days later, I started writing in my pink journal, which is a mixture of poetry, story ideas and random thoughts that inspire me.

The ideas started to pour out of me effortlessly. When I didn’t think too much about when I would start writing again, my mind was clear enough to allow ideas to develop. I have a large stack of Writing magazines to read and without even thinking about it, I have started to make my way through them. I’ve also decided to print off the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo in 2014 and edit it. I am reading and writing again and I couldn’t be happier.

There’s a small part of me that has been missing for the last two years. I am a writer and although I have been occupying my mind with other things, getting a job, relationships, family, friends, starting my own magazine and discovering my love for teaching, I feel whole again now that I’m writing stories and coming up with new ideas.

When my writing brain is active, I feel like a child again. I cast my mind back to the excited little girl, sticking out her tongue as she scribbled stories in Woolworths notebooks and I smile. Not a lot has changed. I’m all grown up now but the burning desire to create stories is still very much a big part of who I am. I allowed ‘real life’ to grab my attention for a while, but now that I am in a place of contentment, I am ready to make room for writing again.

A Story To Tell

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It’s been a long time since I had a story to tell. Writing stories and poems has always been a big part of my life but over the past two years, I’ve been doing it less. I would only feel inspired in small doses and I felt like I didn’t have the confidence to write well any more.

Today I woke up and decided to finally get an idea on paper that has been brewing in my mind for the past couple of months and it felt good. It’s a novel, in the planning stages but at least it’s something. I’ve decided to stop putting pressure on myself with my writing. Instead of giving myself deadlines and expecting too much, I’m just going to write, for fun, like I used to.

I’ve never lost my passion for writing, just my motivation to do it. If I only write my novel when I want to instead of when I feel I have to, I will probably start to enjoy the process again. In time I will get my confidence back and writing will become a daily part of my life again. No matter how much I write, I will always call myself a writer because I believe that writing is not a profession, it’s a lifestyle.

The amazing thing about writing is there is the freedom it brings me. There is no right or wrong, no rules on how something should be. I feel something strongly and I write about it. I create a character in my mind and write their story. I love to explore the beauty and tragedy of life, the questions I want to answer, the places I want to go through my writing.

I’m excited by my latest idea, I have a good feeling that this could be the story I want to tell but if it isn’t then that’s okay, there is plenty of time for me to try different stories and to grow and learn as a writer.

 

Camp NaNoWriMo 2015

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So, I have decided to do Camp NaNoWriMo. After the success of winning NaNoWriMo in November last year, completing 50,000 words in thirty days for my first full length novel 1:58, I decided that it was time to do it again. Camp NaNoWriMo is the same as NaNoWriMo but there is more freedom, I can choose my own word count goal. However, I’m still sticking to 50,000 words. I can do it. I know I can.

I feel like I have lost a lot of motivation in the writing side of my life and the less I write, the more confidence I lose and I knew that it was time to transfer the novel that I have been planning for months in my head, down on paper. I have started to outline and plan a novel called The Last Letter. I have it planned up to chapter twelve and I am going to spend the last few days of June planning the rest to start the Camp NaNoWriMo on July the 1st.

I have planned many novels and many of them have never been written but this one, it just feels different. I can’t really explain why but this is the story that I really want to tell. Completing the challenge last year boosted my confidence enormously because I had never completed a longer piece of writing from start to finish. I had written poetry and short stories but never succeeded in writing an entire novel. Now I can say I have. And I am going to do it again.

I have so much time on my hands right now and I feel like I am wasting it. Day in and day out, I do nothing productive and it is only getting worse. I don’t want to be the writer that doesn’t write. I don’t want to be the woman who says she wants to be an author but never even tries to make the dream a reality. I want to write this novel.

The Last Letter is my chance to prove that I can write novels. It is easy for some writers to just write a 100,000 word novel from start to finish, start revising it, complete it and then send it to publishing houses. But what about the rest of us? The struggling writers that don’t always have the discipline to complete what we start? The writers that listen to the voice in their heads that says they are not good enough and believe it. The writers that know they can do it but have to convince themselves that they won’t fail.

I can manage 1,600 words a day. I have done it before. There are a few days in the month of July that I will be busy but I will have to work around my plans and make sure I get my daily word count. I know I can do this. I have done this before.

July has one extra day than November. I have thirty one days and 50,000 words to write and this time I am going to revise the novel and redraft it and get it ready to be published. No more messing around with ideas and wondering if I am good enough to be published. I need to start believing in myself. I can be an author, no, I will be an author and doing NaNoWriMo is just a stepping stone on my journey to achieving this dream.

Writers Write

There is nothing more frustrating for a writer than a blank page.

For the last few months there has been a lot of blank pages. I have made no progress with any of my writing projects. I haven’t settled on an idea yet for a novel, I’m not writing poetry or short stories. I’m struggling to write articles and I have to sit down and remind myself to constantly update this blog.

It’s like I have nothing to say. I try my best to write but the words don’t come. I sat down at my typewriter a few days ago. I started to write a short story. I got about ten lines into it when I decided that it was rubbish, I threw it away and sat there with my head in my hands. I was frustrated with myself and I still am. Why can’t I write at the moment? I feel like I have lost all of my confidence and I have no ideas, nothing.

Writers write but right now, I’m not writing. I don’t know what to do. I feel like I have tried everything. I have given myself time, I have tried to read a book to try and get inspired, I have tried writing prompts. Some writers have to feel pain or sadness to write, for me, I think I need to be happy. At the moment, I’m not entirely happy. It’s hard to explain. I feel tired but it’s a tiredness that cannot be fixed by sleep. I don’t find writing enjoyable right now and this is hard for me because writing has always been an escape. I feel like life is trying to bring me down but I have to try and stay positive.

One day soon I will pick up my pen and write, for now, all I can do is wait until that happens…

 

 

Letters To Emily

I’m still amazed that I completed NaNoWriMo in 2014. I set myself the challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I completed it and now I feel like I am ready to write another novel. Writing 1:58 was an amazing experience, I finally finished a novel. It was a big achievement to actually finish something. 1:58 is technically a novella but it’s definitely given me the confidence boost that I need to move forward.

I learnt a lot from the NaNoWriMo experience, I found that discipline was extremely important and I learnt to turn off my editor voice in my head and just write. I really loved the characters in my story but once I wrote the finally word and ended it with a full stop, I knew that the plot definitely had to change. My original story fell flat and I knew I could do better. That’s when I started to plan Letters To Emily.

There were many different titles but I’ve decided to settle on Letters To Emily because it fits the idea I have in my mind perfectly. I’m still using the character’s Eleanor Hemming and Lacey Collins because I loved writing about their lives in 1:58. However, instead of the story being centred around two babies that were switched, I’ve decided to change it to a child that is taken.

Now, I know that the idea has been done many times before but there are a few twists and turns that I have planned to make sure that my novel stands out. There will be many different forms in the novel. Letters and messages will be embedded into the narrative and the story will not only focus on the lives of Lacey and Eleanor but their daughters Charlotte and Erin and let’s not forget Lacey’s husband Ben.

A big secret will change the lives of both families and I want to focus on how a tragedy can effect a family. I also want to write about the bond between mother and daughter and another layer to my story is how the internet has become an important part of our daily lives. Charlotte and Erin meet on an online chat room, they become friends and confide in each other about the daily problems that they both face. Erin feels disconnected from her mother Eleanor, they never stay in one town for long and she finds it difficult to meet new friends. Charlotte is tired of constantly being in Emily’s shadow, her mother is still obsessed with finding her daughter even though ten years have past. Ben doesn’t know if he can save his marriage and Lacey is either running her bookshop or posting in an online forum about missing children.

I am confident that this is the book that I want to write. I know that 50,000 words is achievable in 30 days so I shouldn’t have an issue with writing 80,000 to 100,000 words with no deadline. Of course I would love to finish the first draft of the novel by the summer, so I can edit it and make it better and hopefully get it ready for publishing by the end of this year.

I Love Being A Writer


I love being a writer. Why you ask? There are many reasons… I love that writers think differently to other people. We see the world in a unique way and we have an ability to create, turn a blank page into something beautiful. Our minds are never empty, we’re always thinking in rhymes and metaphors and we not only want to write, we feel like we have to.

I love being a writer. It’s an amazing euphoria to escape into a character’s world and decide their fate. I love the way words can blend together and inspire others, I love the way black ink looks on a white page and I love the smell of old books and the fresh aroma of a book that has just been printed. I have pens scattered around the house, knowing that inspiration can strike when I least expect it. I could be drifting off to sleep and an idea ignites in my mind like a flame, I have to write it down so I can explore it in the morning.

I love being a writer but sometimes it’s hard. Writers are sensitive beings, we have to keep our emotions at the surface and call us judgemental if you wish, it’s our job to be. We have to analyse the people and the world around us, we have to see the flaws and we live to make assumptions. A person on the bus, a family member or a stranger walking his dog, anybody can ultimately become a character in our minds, so watch out! Writers have a natural curiosity. Being a writer is an important job. We have to create something from nothing. We have to inspire, make readers cry, laugh, smile. We have to paint a picture and make words dance on the page.

I love being a writer. I feel like I am part of a secret club, the non-writers in my life think that I am weird, quirky, posh and emotional but the writers out there know that these qualities are what we all possess. We all have the same burning passion in our hearts. We all hide away in a secluded room and pour our hearts onto a blank page, it’s exhausting, it’s amazing and it’s therapeutic.

I love being a writer.
I love being in a world where words are everything.
To put it simply, I live to write and I write to live.

 

My NaNoWriMo Journey

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I WON NaNoWriMo!

In September, I decided that 2014 would be the perfect year to take part in a writing challenge. I had plenty of free time and I was starting to wonder when my first novel would actually get written. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, hundreds and thousands of writers from across the globe take on the challenge of writing 50,000 words in just thirty days. It’s insane! I thought it was impossible but it really isn’t.

It’s been quite a journey and there were many days in November that I felt like giving up but when I crossed the finish line and I received my online winners certificate, it was all worthwhile. I now have a solid first draft to work on. I feel happy knowing that I have completed a novel, from start to finish. It isn’t perfect, there are lots of mistakes and it needs a lot of work but I’m proud of myself for actually finishing something I started.

There is no secret to being a great writer, you have to write. One word after another, you have to put all of your insecurities and doubts away and lock them away to an unreachable place in your mind. That’s what I did for the month of November. I knew that no one would read my first draft and it didn’t matter how rubbish it was, I just needed to write a full story. Now I’m already thinking of edits, revisions and plot changes for my second draft.

I’m really proud of myself, I have always wanted to be a novelist and now I know that I can be. Technically 50,000 words is a novella but still, it’s the longest thing I have ever written, my first novel attempt was about 20,000 words so this is a big achievement for me. I know I can write poetry and short stories but I wanted to prove to myself that I can write novels.

I will definitely take part in NaNoWriMo again but for now I am going to start revising my first draft… I’m so excited!!! 🙂