I 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!
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 🙂
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.
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!!! 🙂
For a while now I have been leaving my novel alone, not intentionally of course. I’ve been avoiding writing all together. I don’t know why I do it. I love to write. I feel better when I write. I ignore my compulsion to write. Why do I depriving myself of it? I’ve figured something out about my writing process though in the last few days. I can’t focus on just the one writing project. I blame university for that. I got so used to juggling several projects at once, short stories, poems, scripts and novels that I can’t help but do the same thing now I have finished my degree (I got a 2.1 by the way, go me!!). So now I’ve started a new poetry collection from scratch, a new short story collection and I’m carrying on with my novel. I don’t understand the impulse I have to do this but it’s worked, my muse has returned.
Today I have written two poems, I have three new story ideas for my short story collection and I have started writing chapter nine of my novel I Choose Life and it’s only 1pm! Hopefully this will be the end of my writers dry spell and I can finally get something done. I love the feeling of finishing a piece of writing but I have yet to complete an entire first draft of a novel. That will change by the end of the year. If I work hard, I can get my first draft done by the end of December. Most writers claim that the editing stage is the hardest but I think I might find that easier than getting the story written. The problem is, I question myself. I think about all of the things that I am going to change once I get to the second draft stage and I really need to focus on just writing the story from beginning to end.
I need to believe in myself like I do when I write short stories or poetry. Anyone who claims that writing a book is easy, obviously isn’t putting their heart and soul into it. Anyone can write words but it takes a truly disciplined person to be a writer. Although I sometimes lack motivation and give in to the negativity that tells me that my writing isn’t good enough I know that I have the strength to eventually start writing again. There is no way that I am giving up. I will finish the first draft of my novel. I might decide in the second stage of editing that I hate my story and I no longer want to pursue it, if that happens then I will still be pleased that I reached the milestone of writing a 50,000 word draft of a novel.
I’m going to leave it there because I have to get back to my novel. Then I have to write another article for Women Make Waves. Then I might start another short story this afternoon. My mind never stops. I might need another two coffees to help me but today is definitely going to be a great writing day!
I have been extremely busy over the past couple of weeks so forgive me for not updating my blog as often as I should be doing. I have been juggling university work with my two new writing jobs. I am now a blogger for Grads.co.uk and a book reviwer at Good Vibrations Magazine. They are both unpaid positions but I finally feel like I am getting my name out there, in black and white. I am building up a portfolio and making contacts and that is exactly what I need to be doing if I want a career in writing. I feel like my brain is buzzing but in a good way. I am trying to write, do my university work, read as much as possible and have time for myself but I like being busy. I now have three unpaid writing experiences under my belt, Female First internship, Blogger experience, Book Reviewing experience. I am giddy, I am happy and content with how things are at the minute. I do tend to panic over the fact that I am finishing university soon and I graduate in July but I feel like I should just breathe and take it all in.
One day, I hope to see my name in black and white in a printed magazine or even better – my own novel! But for now I will settle with my name being splashed across the world wide web. I am fighting for this because it is my passion. I just want to write. Whether I end up writing slogans, novels, articles or reviews – I will be happy as long as I can write. I know that I will have to get any job when I finish university, so that I can save up some money and me and my boyfriend can get a place of our own and we can both start our careers in our chosen paths. Writing is something that I will always do for me but being able to write professionally and get paid for it – well, that’s the dream. There are writers out there that do it and it takes a lot of confidence, talent and thick skin (something that I lack but I will get better with rejections in time.)
If you head over to my the published tab on my home page – there will be links to my newly published pieces on both Grads.co.uk & Good Vibrations Magazine.
Poetry is freedom. Poetry is emotion. Poetry will always be whatever you choose for it to be.
It is hard to define poetry because poetry can be anything you want it to be. It can be one word placed in the middle of a page. It can be fifteen pages long if you want it to be. There has to be rhythm but does there have to be rhyme? I used to believe this. That poetry had to rhyme but now I have opened my eyes and my mind and now I really stand by the statement that poetry can be anything you want it to be.
I have been writing poetry since the age of five. It is something that I naturally do. The voice in my head creates metaphors, phrases and rhymes. I write them all down and create something wonderful that describes my feelings, my thoughts and my emotions. Each poem I write is another snapshot image of a memory of mine, a piece of writing that paints a picture, words that capture my interpretations of the world.
Although my Creative Writing course includes a poetry module, I strongly believed that poetry should not be taught. I found the module to be pointless and a little bit tedious at times. I didn’t want to learn about poetics, I just wanted to write poetry! I thought it was a waste of time until my teacher’s reaction to my work persuaded me to change the way I write my poetry and I am glad she did. My poetry teacher blatantly told us that we couldn’t write poems that rhymed for our portfolios. What? I was in disbelief… I have been writing poetry for about fifteen years and more times than not, I used rhyme. Of course this surprised me, I went against her wishes and wrote the poems that I wanted to write. I then showed her the first draft of my collection and she quite literally crossed them out and muttered ‘too many cliches’, ‘too many rhymes’, ‘I don’t like that.’ That’s her opinion of course and this is why I believed that poetry should not be taught. The marking is too subjective. How can one poem be compared to another?
However, sometimes people have to be cruel to be kind and I took my poetry collection away and tried to write something different to prove her wrong. I started to write my second drafts, I removed some of the rhymes and cliches, I played around with different styles, line breaks and formations and recreated my portfolio. I definitely surprised her when I received my final mark, not only did I receive a high mark but also a comment that it was good enough to be published. Okay, so maybe I was wrong. Poetry can be taught. Kind of. Or maybe not. It was her opinion that pushed me to change my poetry but she did not teach me what was right from wrong. I think my point is that a writer can be taught and guided to improve their craft but it is a different thing entirely to say that one poem is the right way to write poetry and another poem is the wrong way. I still write rhyming poems but the strong opinions of my lecturer’s taste pushed me to try something different and step out of my comfort zone. I still use rhyme in some of my poetry but now I have the confidence to write poetry that is a little bit more original… and that is a great lesson I learned on a module that I originally didn’t believe should exist.
I think this is the most confident I have ever felt about my writing. I currently have 8,000 words of my first novel drafted, it doesn’t sound a lot compared to the 80,000 word mark I am hoping to achieve but for me it is a big accomplishment. I tend to bore easily with my story ideas but I strongly believe in this one. I might be currently writing The Pendant but that doesn’t stop me developing other pieces of writing. I am in the process of redrafting a poetry collection, I submitted it last year for my Poetry class and my tutor told me with a few more edits it could be published, so I am taking her advice and I am trying to polish it and will hopefully submit it to a competition when it is completed. There are fifteen poems in the collection and I have considered adding a few more, the collection is titled Beneath My Feet and the themes throughout the collection are place, landscape and time.
I also have the ambition to write a short story collection, I have a few ideas and would like the theme to be love, finding love and losing love. I have a few short stories that I have already written that could be apart of this collection and I have plenty of story ideas scribbled in my journal for new short stories. I am determined to make this an academic year of writing. When I finish my third year of university I would like at least 50,000 words of my novel manuscript completed and a collection of poetry and short stories. I am also studying screen writing this year and even though I enjoy it I don’t inspire to carry on with this medium after university.
I have always been overly ambitious, I just wish my efforts matched this ambition. I am indecisive, easily distracted and easily bored which definitely makes being a writer a harder journey to endure. I like to set myself aims that are possibly out of my reach, then I won’t be disappointed if I don’t reach them because they were big dreams in the first place. I’ve always believed that you should dream big or don’t dream at all. I am really excited to go back to university and carry on with my studies, I know that my last year is going to be my hardest year but I am going to try my best and hopefully I will have several creative pieces ready to be published when I graduate.
I would love to have my poetry or my short stories published. I know it’s going to be a few more years until my first novel will be ready to be submitted somewhere, so even though I am writing it I am working on other projects so I can get them published too. I have big dreams. I want to walk into Waterstones and see my book on the shelf. I want people to get lost in a story that I created, I want people to fall in love with the characters that only existed in my imagination and I want people to eagerly anticipate reading my novels when I write them. I want to have a successful career, possibly publishing or editing I’m not entirely sure yet. I have big dreams and I am determined that they are all going to happen. Every writer is an optimist. Canadian poet Margret Atwood quotes that ‘Any writer is an optimist. Why? Number one: they think they’ll finish their book. Number two: they think somebody will publish it. Number three: they think somebody will read it. That’s a lot of optimism. It’s optimistic in and for itself because it believes in human communication.’
So it’s almost August and I wanted a lot more of my novel written than just 3,000 words. I’m a bit disappointed in myself for not sticking to my goal of at least 6,000 words by the end of July. However, I have been busy working at Female First and the days that I don’t go to the office I am starting my third year preparations for university. I have managed to list the ideas I have for each of my classes this year. For the first time we are studying Screen writing and our biggest assignment is to write a short film or TV pilot episode script. I have an idea already set up but I am yet to begin writing it because I don’t have the knowledge of how a script for screen is presented. I am sure this is what I will be learning in my final year but at least I have a solid idea written out in my journal. I have titled it ‘One Step Closer’, it will be a TV pilot episode of a drama about children living in a care home. I have some character profiles and I know some of scenes that will take place in the first episode.
I am making good progress with my third year preparations, I just wish I had made more progress with my novel for my dissertation. I know where I am going with my novel it’s just finding the time and the motivation to write it. As for fiction next year, I have a few story ideas drafted in my journal. One of them is a story about a little girl that goes missing and the story is told in three points of view, the mother’s, the child and the kidnapper. I have a title because I usually start with a title when I am writing and it will be called The Girl In Red.
Although I have only written 3,000 words I am already deciding to make alterations to my novel. At the moment it is in first person, present tense. I want to keep it in first person because I believe it to be the best way to tell the story but I am going to re-write it in past tense to see which I prefer. Better doing it now with 3,000 words than 30,000 words. I have far too many distractions to do it. It’s frustrating. It’s Sunday tomorrow. I have nothing to do. I might go to the gym for an hour but that’s it. So I am going to write. I am going to re-write the 3,000 words I have and change it to past tense. Then I will decide which is better. Saying I am going to write and actually writing are two very different things. I need to stop this laziness and get something written. If not, I’m sure I will regret the heavy dissertation workload that I will be bombarded with in September.