Author Archives: Writerlygem

5 Creative Writing Projects For Adults

Creative writing projects, creative writing ideas, self care, writers,
Creative writing projects can help adults to unwind and destress.

Creative writing projects are a great way to unwind and destress. Quite often, thinking of creative writing exercises might bring back middle school memories. However there are plenty of writing projects for adults which are designed for the purpose of good wellbeing and self-care.

The Covid-19 epidemic has affected people globally. Never before on such a massive scale, have people needed to collectively start prioritising self-care in order nurture their mental health. Understandably as the Lockdown eases in some areas, many of us are still cautious about going out and feeling restless and anxious at home

Below I have listed 5 creative writing project ideas for adults to help foster mental well-being. The benefits of embarking on what need not be more than 10-minute writing exercises, are endless.

These benefits include but are not limited to:

Easing stress

Allowing you to be productive

Improving your writing skills

Contributing to improved mood

Fostering a sense of achievement

Allowing for escapism

Below are some writing prompts to get your project underway.

1. Diary Writing

how to write a diary, diary writing examples.
How to write a diary.

You could kickstart this project off by thinking about a really good memory or time in your life. The objective here is to give you a boost and build on your positive feelings. Dig deep to find a memory of a self-affirming or euphoric moment in your life which boosted your self-esteem and overwhelmed you with feelings of wellbeing. Once you have immersed yourself in that memory you will find yourself present in it. You might even laugh or smile.

Alternatively you could start a themed diary writing project which zooms in on one particular time in your life. It could be when you went to school or college. It could be around a time when you were socialising around a particular group of people. Think of that lived experienced through sounds, smell, sight and your feelings at the time. Now write about it!

2.Short Story Writing in a Genre you Enjoy

How to write a short story, short story writing examples, short story ideas

Ever wanted to write a short story solely for your own enjoyment? Now would be a great time to start to write on a pet project for the sole purpose of your own entertainment. Why not start now? As you’d be writing for yourself, you wouldn’t have to worry about reader expectations. Therefore the story can go wherever you want it to! Have fun.

If you are unsure how to start, check out these detailed tips here.

3.Write a Monologue

Think about a topic you are passionate about. Really passionate. Then write a monologue on it. Let loose- remember this is for you only, NOT an audience. Nobody has to ever see it. Be as cynical or dry as you want to. Take the time to express yourself. To take it a step further you could film yourself reading it.

Some topic ideas to consider…

Social inequality

Relationships

Sexuality

Finance

A memorable experience you had

A cultural reference

Music

4.Set aside your free time to write some affirmations regarding your writing.

writing affirmations, writing affirmations examples
Writing affirmations examples.

Examples for writers might be:

I am proactive

I am productive

I am prolific

I engage my readers

And so on…

5.Write a blog article for yourself. The more random the better!

Here you get to let loose on the most obscure or mundane (to others) topic. It could be something as silly as why you don’t find ice-cream refreshing on a hot summer’s day or an unpopular opinion such as why you wish people would just leave the Friends sitcom in the 90’s.

Why not give yourself some reflective self-care that also sharpens your writing pen by embarking on one of the projects above.

Have you ever embarked on a personal writing project for yourself? Would you consider doing it? Let me know in the comments below!

5 Compelling Female Character Traits

A compelling female character isn’t hard to find. She is probably overrepresented across a plethora of genres, particularly in commercial fiction. Her character traits are irresistible to readers who want to find her in different books again and again. So how do you create your own compelling female protagonist? In this article I am going to highlight five key character traits a writer needs to develop in order to create a gripping female protagonist.

I once read a commercial fiction book centred around what I thought was a compelling female character. In the story her best friend and boyfriend had slept together and by the end, she eventually found it in herself to forgive her friend and rekindle her romantic relationship with her man. As a reader I was bewildered. I felt unsatisfied with that conclusion, one which in my eyes didn’t point to the strength or growth of the character. I was new to writing at the time and thought, is that how it really goes? What I had wanted was one of two conclusions: the first being my female protagonist having kicked both of their butts before saying good riddance, having realised her self-worth. The second of my preferable conclusions would have been that she made peace with those who had hurt her but refused to take back the cheater, (perhaps) wishing him well instead.

You see, we tend to enjoy the learning curves of characters. A large part of fiction writing is conveying the growth of the protagonist. Even a perpetual doormat needs to stand up for themselves, lest the readers eventually abandon them. As a writer, I can’t think of anything juicier than concocting how my potentially compelling female character might gear up to collect their self-esteem off the floor and take their power back. Of course, in Literary fiction, this doesn’t always need to be the case as happy endings aren’t guaranteed. However generally speaking, female protagonists must be compelling. I have outlined the five traits of the most captivating types of women in fiction.

Imperfection

The imperfections of characters add to a reader’s intrigue.

Nobody likes a perfect character. After all, what would be the point of a story if it was driven by somebody’s total perfection? Stories where everything goes right for the main character aren’t the ones we tend to read. On the contrary, the most compelling stories see our heroines fighting through the issues they face. Imperfection is a virtue. Considering that none of us are perfect in real life, imperfection is a relatable trait. Whether it’s a physical flaw that might bring on self-consciousness and a need for gradual self-acceptance or a poor habit like persistent lateness, readers tend to become attached to characters they see themselves in. Habits such as clumsiness, paranoia, laziness, overtalking and overthinking are traits which humanise characters and bring them to life.

Humour

One of the 5 compelling female character traits.

What is life without humour? Dull, that’s what. A character who can look at the bright side of life, offers dimension to a story. They have the ability to make light of their disappointments, even if momentarily. Additionally, humour is seen as a character strength in our society; a bit like intelligence or athleticism, it’s yet another item to add to the bag of tricks that we carry with us through life. Furthermore an easy-going character who doesn’t take everything so seriously makes it that bit easier to carry a storyline.

Check out this article which links laughter with likeability.

Integrity

Integrity is a character trait worthy of applause. Particularly for female characters who choose to project their voices.

Integrity is a trait that has earned many a character the respect of their audience. A protagonist who has unwavering morals is a memorable one. Standing up for what they believe in: Piping up at the racist joke in the office, refusing to be somebody’s booty call when they want a boyfriend or not taking back a cheating partner are all examples. Of course, they don’t have to start out so strong and ballsy, we are all human with weaknesses. Integrity is often borne out of challenges and adversity and it is always rewarding to see a character learning to have more integrity. This leads me to my next trait…

Vulnerability

Vulnerability is a relatible trait in fictional characters.

We all have weaknesses and some of us are more vocal about this than others. I love the fact that so many public figures are open about their insecurities. Especially after years of the media having made them feed us the narrative that they were perfect. This is no different to characters in a storyline. Vulnerability is an emotion that we can all relate to and it often resonates with us when we see others experiencing the same.  

Inquisitiveness

Inquisitiveness is a trait that many compelling female characters possess.

Female protagonists who are naturally inquisitive about the environments they encounter make us want to go on a journey with them. Imagine a story where nothing piqued the character’s interest: not a job advertisement, nor that handsome stranger or the opportunity to travel: things would get boring pretty quickly.  Inquisitiveness can act as a catalyst for a character’s journey, thus the overall plot, making for a more intriguing read.       

Check out some of my reads here.

What character traits do you like to see in fictional female characters?                                                                                       

How to be a Proactive Writer During Covid-19 Lockdown

Trying to be a proactive writer has never been as challenging as during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Navigating my writing life during Covid-19 has been a minefield. Trying to be a proactive writer has never been so challenging. I have to be honest, this pandemic has turned everyone’s lives upside down overnight and I am not unique. Life has become about keeping safe, checking in on loved ones via technology, home schooling (if you have children), adjusting to new routines and ensuring you have enough groceries at home. For some of us, writing has fallen to the bottom of the list of priorities at this time. Alternatively, for others it has birthed inspiration and a window of opportunity for extra writing time. We’re all different and as a result of these new conditions being imposed on our lives, our motivations to write may have changed or been affected for better or worse.

If you’re a writer, you may fall into one of three categories:

The inspired writer

Though you may be prone to low mood at times, given the circumstances, your writing life remains healthy.

You have taken this time to immerse yourself in your projects and remain inspired despite the challenges facing you. You have cultivated a writing space and routine whereby you can flourish and write prolifically. Though you may be prone to low mood at times, given the circumstances, your writing life remains healthy, possibly even healthier than before lockdown. The extra time has afforded you the opportunity to be proactive with your writing and pursue it aggressively.

The demotivated writer

you are trying to piece day to day life together much less focus on being a proactive writer.

This new way of life is so alienating that it is hard to know what to do right now. You haven’t necessarily fallen into a routine and you are trying to piece day to day life together much less focus on writing. You may have thought about it but haven’t had time amid your new host of duties, to actually pursue it. Alternatively you may be thinking about the fact that you are not currently writing and guilt tripping yourself over it.

The stuck writer

You may be experiencing writer’s block or writer’s burnout due to stress.

There is too much angst and worry in your mind for the ideas to be flowing right now. You might have begun to sit down to writing sessions but found that you have writer’s block or writer’s burnout. After all, there is a lot that might be on your mind during these strange, surreal times.

I myself have fallen into all three categories at one point or the other during this Covid-19 pandemic. What is occurring globally with this pandemic presents like a trauma in our lives, even if we don’t realise it. We are all having to withstand the dramatic overnight change of being in a state of lockdown. Subsequently we are all reacting in different ways to this new dimension of stress. Please know that it is okay if you’re not writing now like you used to, there is good reason. You will pick up that pen, laptop or notepad again and write up a storm. And for those of you who are writing up a storm, great! Stay inspired and active.

If you need a spruce to get your writing back in gear and become more of a proactive writer, consider some of the exercises below instead of immersing yourself into projects that you may currently find stressful. The excellent thing about exercises is that they don’t ask much of you, it’s all practice, idea generating and sometimes relaxation.

Here’s a list to help you flex those writing muscles again, no pressure!

Set goals

Think about what you want to achieve with your writing within a particular frame of time. It can be in the coming weeks, the next few months, even the next year. Come up with a list of realistic bullet points, things that you can actually achieve and feel immensely proud of once you have ticked them off.

Mind map

Create a mind map focusing on a set aspect of your writing such as a blog idea, a character profile, the events of a chapter or an idea for a new poem.

Revisit

Go back to some of your older work or an earlier draft of what you are working on to see how far you have already come. Sometimes it is an art in itself to stop and look at what you have achieved and give yourself credit for it. Also, learn to appreciate and use your own writing as a form of entertainment.

Read!

Many of us writers are also bookworms so I don’t have to tell many of you out there twice to just sit down and read once in a while. It’s a blissful part of life that is as inspiring as it is entertaining. Need I say more?

Note-taking

Observe life around you. What do you mean, I hear you say! I Am talking about observing the journey you make from the bedroom to the bathroom or the way the water bubbles in your kettle as you wait to make that morning cup of tea? Well, actually yes. Now might be the time to micro-analyse your environment, something might come out it inspiration-wise, honestly, challenge yourself and give it a go. Stare at a plant, look out of your window, play a piece of breath-taking music and see where your mind goes. Then take notes.

Check out this article for 30 more tips to get you motivated to write.

It has become an art to balance all of the things that we are suddenly responsible for. Previously our lives were cut into neat portions, (even if we didn’t think they were) of work, home, the school run, relationships etc. Now these things have blended into one mass and landed in our living rooms and we have been left to turn them into a productive, efficient schedules. Except we are not all perfect and we will all achieve this to varying degrees and that is okay. This is a skill that I am still learning to acquire but with some of the tips I have outlined above, I am beginning to return to my writer’s life.

How has your writing life been affected by these strange times? Are you as proactive as ever or have you found that you have slowed down somewhat? Let me know in the comments below!

Edit Your Novel in 4 Steps

Edit your novel in four drafts.

Pulling your hair out wondering how to self edit your novel? Then look no further. Read on to learn about my four step editing process. Here is how I do it in three stages.

First Draft

Unleash your untethered creativity in your first edit.

Think of your first draft as a bush being allowed to grow as it wants: with wild flowers, thorns and overgrown vines. At the first draft stage, you can unleash all of your untethered creativity without worrying. At this point, it is a blank canvas that you can fill with anything that you want to and no matter what, it should be a fun process. Its impulsive like scratching an itch! I enjoy letting my stories carry me where they want to at this point and also seeing where conversations between characters go. Now is the time to say what you want, create the characters you want and make them behave how you want- or how they want for that matter!

The only rule to heed in order to edit your novel at this point is a rough plot line. You need a protagonist dilemma or yearning for something which pushes the story forward. This also gives momentum to the relationships that your protagonist has with others.

 you also need to build towards something significant. Anything before this is a steady climb up a roller coster but with your first draft, its a journey that you can build organically without worrying about narrative rules.

You can plan your writing or write spontaneously. My own writing process consists of a bit of both and I find that the combination of these two techniques keeps my writing sessions fresh and varied:

Second draft

Make scenes more dynamic in your second edit.

Here is where you do your pruning. At this point that overgrown, beautifully untethered bush (your first draft) will need some TLC. With your second draft edit, you will need to begin to tame and shape it. Check out my previous article, editing tips to keep you motivated to drive you forward at this stage.

Although the second edit should be fun, this is where you will need to employ the most mental muscle to edit your novel during the second draft process. I liken it to spring cleaning- you get to move things around and still be creative at this point. Not only are you weeding out the extra fluff, but you actually get to make scenes more dynamic or intriguing by reconstructing character conversations and enhancing the descriptions of settings. Now is the time to do your narrative justice!

Top tips

  • Look out for inauthentic dialogue. Would someone really say this? Do I really need to add those slang words which might age my work down the line?
  • Think about the overall shape and pace of the story. Does it take too long to get to the action? Are the peripheral characters given enough or too much screen time in the story?
  • Are you creating empathy for the right characters? Or do you want to leave this up to your readers to decide who they are rooting for?
  • Do you have chunks of text that need to be scrapped altogether and left on the cutting room floor?
  • Do you have scenes that would be better featured at a different stage in the narrative?

Once you have taken all of these editing factors into consideration and applied them where necessary, you are onto your third edit.

Third Draft

Success at fixing major structural issues on the third edit.

Hopefully, if you have followed all of the points above to edit your novel, you will have achieved considerable success at fixing any major structural issues. Look at your third draft as a polishing exercise. By now, anything that needs to be adjusted should hopefully stand out clearly as you edit your novel.

The third edit will require you to make executive judgements about things like dialogue and tone. It’s time to sweep up or tweak any unfitting or inauthentic dialogue and see what needs adjusting in places. Your third edit will enable you to cement the overall feel and direction of your story and it is pretty exciting to see your work really come together.

Fourth Draft

Your fourth and final draft will be of a much less creative nature. Think of this as the polishing and dusting phase. Now is the time to employ your proofreading skills: look out for grammatical and spelling errors. Check for any jarring repetition of certain adjectives and adverbs. Once this final sweeping process is over you can go back over and read your work and hopefully enjoy doing so!

If you want to see the end result of this four step editing process, you can ready my short story Filling the Void here.

How do you find the editing process? Is it something you don’t mind doing or do you dread it everytime? Let me know in the comments below.

Stop Writer’s Burnout in it’s Tracks

Writer’s burnout often affects a writer’s creativity and state of mind.

Okay I admit it. I am about five seconds away from writer’s burnout. No, it is not because I suddenly hate writing. I have simply put my writerly fingers into way too many pies and I am juggling writing projects like a performer along the London Southbank. The problem is, I never really learned the art of juggling and it is demotivating. My lifestyle doesn’t allow for it and it is going to take a lot of planning and writing productivity to pull this off. How am I going to do it? Read on to find out.

Not being able to get past a hurdle

Writer’s burnout is usually a bigger issue than writer’s block because it is more than not being able to get past an objective hurdle in your work-in-progress. It is more about the writer’s state of mind and ability to create based on it. I’m probably being dramatic, l do not suddenly hate my fiction and non-fiction work and it’s not that I can’t bear to look at it. More so, I am up to my ears in writing different projects and it is simply easier to bury my head in the sand rather than face what is in front of me. Hence my own specific type of writer’s burnout has ensued.

I have set out some Do’s and Don’ts that I would like to share in hopes of inspiring anyone else who’s in a creative rut now or experiencing writer’s burn out.

Don’ts

Don’t bury your head in the sand if you have writer’s burn out.

Don’t bury your head in the sand like I have. It only makes the problem seem bigger. I have had one writing project that has been collecting dust for absolute months. As a result, picking it back up seems like a bigger deal than it needs to be. If this is you, I would say get straight back to it- pick a date as soon as you can in order to get to grips with it. Set that date and deal with it now.

Don’t write it off completely unless you really feel that there is nothing to gain from it. Moreover, if it is beginning to affect your mental health- at the point where your health is being compromised, then I would suggest considering getting some help and putting it on hold.

Do’s

If you have writer’s burnout share your concerns with other creatives.

Do share your concerns with others. A problem shared is a problem halved indeed and it would help to see if anyone else shares your frustrations or has any suggestions that might help you out with your writer’s burnout.

Do Look at it from a different angle. Don’t tell yourself that you have a big task ahead of you.

Break it into smaller chunks

Writer’s burnout can arise when a task seems undoable.

Writer’s burnout often arises from our view that a project has become unmanageable and is no longer enjoyable. If this is the case, break it down into smaller chunks. Paragraph by paragraph if necessary. As a fiction writer, I break my work down by scenes and if necessary, I will also break those into two parts so that I have a measurable way to make note of my progress.  

Nearly there

Beat writer’s burnout by facing tasks head on.

I currently have a pet project that I am near to finishing but writing one of the last few scenes has driven me towards Writer’s burnout for weeks now. This has happened because there was one scene that I kept building up in my head that I know had to be done but for whatever reason I just didn’t fancy doing it. A few days ago, I faced it head on and realised it needn’t have been this overwhelming task. I cut it down and now that I am in the middle of writing it, I have started enjoying it again! If you are still unsure whether or not you have suffered from writer’s burnout, take a look at this extensive article.

Are there any aspects of your creative process that you find difficult? Have you ever experienced writer’s burnout? Let me know in the comments below!

Book Review: Ordinary People by Diana Evans

Ordinary People by Diana Evans.

Have you listened to John Legend’s classic song Ordinary People recently? If you haven’t, I suggest you take a quick listen now- it will give you a four-minute summary of the themes which punctuate this Literary Fiction novel. The narrative begins in the hills of South London suburb, Crystal Palace amid the social backdrop of the Obama inauguration party where the holders; two successful brothers themselves invite the interchangeably beautiful and accomplished people that they know. Instantly, Diana Evans zooms a lens into a social scene filled by black British professionals such as lawyers, actors and media types. The beginning is racy, not your usual start for most novels, smack bang in the middle of an exciting event where euphoria and celebration is high. Subsequently, that’s the beauty of it. I found myself positively, overwhelmed and excited for what was to come in a story which angles the black British experience from an alternative angle. Evans even signposts a number of songs being played during the party such as PYT by Michael Jackson to really get a glimpse of the nostalgic excitement of the party mixed in with the newness of having a first black president.

Melissa and Michael, a trendy married couple are attendees of this Obama party. They are described as being on the ‘far-side’ of youth, yet clinging to it. Herein our story is set. Let’s briefly go back to John Legend where in his song, Ordinary People he mentions reaching past the honeymoon phase. This is exactly where our protagonist couple lie. Melissa and Michael are burrowing further and further into the crevices of a cosy middle-class life, cushioned in an inner London suburb, Sydenham. They have two children, one a baby, so they’ve achieved their 2.4 children quota and the white picket fence. So what exactly is the problem? Well, exactly those things- the monotony of life, the inner trappings of responsibility when you are still hanging on to the remnants of your glistening youth by the threads.

I love Michael’s character. Though I have met too many Michael’s to recall in my own Black British life, I don’t recall ever reading about someone like him, a suave British born black man of Jamaican heritage, with lashings of dashing swagger and handsome charm. His youthful personality is sweet and brought a smile to my face. His wife Melissa on the other hand is colder, more considered and less emotionally reciprocal to his affection and need for it, this made her less likeable to me but of course, she has her reasons why.

An interracial couple Damian and Stephanie make up the other near protagonists. In response to Michael’s confident swagger, Damien certainly creates less impact. He wears ill-fitting suits and is described as having a thickening tyre around his waist -another signifier of the reality of busy married life with parental responsibility and lesser time for self-care than the former couple. Damian cuts a sadder figure than his best friend Michael. He is grappling with grief and a lack of closure from his lonely, deprived upbringing with a Trinidadian father who he watched decline before his own youthful eyes. He seems to be marred by this. On the contrary, Stephanie, his English wife comes from a more affluent background and a functional, if not imposing family who have expectations of Damian. Can Stephanie use the formulaic nature of her own upbringing to sew her husband back together? We’ll have to see.

In this book, Evans dynamically weaves the couples together to create interesting twists and turns for the reader.

Though the book champions themes from parenthood and grief to ageing, Ordinary People at its crux is centred on identity. The social and genetic make-up of the characters is a central theme throughout the story and seems to overpower the plot, but isn’t this what Literary Fiction is about? Being that fly on the wall and really being able to zoom into a character and all their flaws and motivations. Through its main characters, Ordinary People is a Venn diagram of sociological and Literary discovery of how we come to be who we are, from factors that are mostly beyond our control. It is who our parents were to us and how they brought us up and where. It is how this impacts the romantic and platonic relationships we have with others and what we allow our lives to become as a result of it.

Above all, I really enjoyed reading this book. It was an experience. These characters really could have been friends of mine. Furthermore, it really helps that Diana Evans has told this story through a backdrop of music and the text is dotted with head nods to artists such as Jill Scott, Michael Jackson and a Tribe Called Quest, all of whom I grew up listening to. This book is successful in offering a lens into the socio-cultural experience of Black British professionals in modern London and it’s a breath of fresh air.

5 Perfect Writing Habits to Take up Now

Change your writing output with these five tips.

I wanted to share five proactive habits aimed at helping you to achieve your writing goals for 2020! So without further ado lets get straight to the point.

Organise your projects

We feel less stressed when we are organised.

Identify what your main writing projects will be this year. It’s difficult getting things in order when they’re all just hanging in the air. Instead of letting your mind wonder and beginning to worry, start to name, categorise and subhead your projects into groups.

Here’s your chance to get visually creative by using mind maps, Venn-diagrams, flow charts and tables. I tend to keep it simple by using spider diagrams and bullet points as they’re hassle free and can be completed in no time at all.

According to Psychology Today, clutter can have disastrous effects on our stress levels. For example, when we know we aren’t as organised as we should be, we begin to harbour anxiety about our productivity and our feelings of negativity can spiral. Being disorganised also stifles our creativity because we are not using methods such as the ones mentioned above (brainstorming, diagrams etc.) in order to get rid of the excessive clutter which acts as a stimulant for stress. When we know we are putting systems in place to organise our projects and make space for them, we begin to feel less stressed.

Write your thoughts down

Let those thoughts and ideas flow onto the pages.

Fiction writers’ minds are always flowing with different ideas. Even when we have writer’s block, it’s often because we don’t know how to execute a pre-existing idea. Try to write a stream of consciousness and let those thoughts and ideas flow onto the pages. In addition, research suggests that there are physical benefits of putting pen to paper. In his breakthrough Psychological Science article (1997), Writing about Emotional experiences as Therapeutic Process, Dr James Pennebaker found that personal journaling contributed to greater physical and mental wellbeing.  

Make lists. Lots of them.

It helps to make lists to help you remember unfinished tasks.

It can take a lot of orchestration and string pulling to actually achieve your goals. So isn’t it great that the human brain apparently loves to make lists? According to Russian psychologist, Bluma Zeigarnik, the brain has a fixation with unfinished tasks and is actually better at remembering tasks that need to be done rather than completed ones. This sounds about right. How many of us have those niggling mental reminders about the complaint we need to make, the refund that we need or that left out shopping list item? More of us should be presenting our writing goals as lists; multiple steps which bring our ideas to fruition- they’re an absolute no brainer and written tangibly on paper at that!

Make note of relevant websites, ideas, YouTube tutorials programmes that you might forget otherwise. Anything that holds relevant information and ideas for inspiration needs to be written down and you’ll be well on your way to getting your plans into action.

Summarise your writing sessions

Note what went well and what could have been done differently next time. Evaluate them and use these summaries to enhance your writing experiences and increase productivity.

Talk to other writers

Writing doesn’t have to be a lonely craft.

Writing can be one of the loneliest crafts but it doesn’t have to be. A lot of writers worry about their process and whether they are doing it right. There is no right way of writing but its comforting to hear other writers speak about their process and mention what works for them. Look for an event on Eventbrite or Meetup and add a social element to your writing. The #writingcommunity on twitter is also golden with tons of advice and information for writers of all disciplines and degrees of experience.

What organisation techniques do you employ for your personal projects? Let me know in the comments below!

Beat writer’s Blues in 3 steps

Beat writer’s blues in 3 simple steps.

Writer’s blues is inevitable. We’ve all been there, dissatisfied over the snail-like progress of a project, the persistence of writer’s block or doubts about our competence. However with just three steps designed to change the way in which you look at yourself as a writer and your work, you can begin to say farewell to writer’s blues.

Create a mission statement

Just as a company or a school has a mission statement, write one for who you are as a writer. A mission statement is a set of values and objects which tie into one another in order to achieve a particular goal. Your mission statement might look something like this:

I am a Science Fiction writer working on a standalone novel. My aim is to create an in-depth novel with compelling characters and I will achieve this by attending a writer’s workshop and enlisting beta readers during the process. In order to maintain my artistic licence, I will not pressurise myself with deadlines and will work towards an overall attitude to enjoy the organic writing process, however long it may take.

A blogger’s statement may sound a little different:

I am a food blogger who contributes to a lifestyle blog. My aim is to create twice monthly articles on my experiences with food and I will achieve this by frequenting at least two food festivals or markets monthly and taking snapshots alongside notes, adding them to a log. In order to achieve this goal, I will select my content from these logs and upload my articles on the first and third weeks of each month respectively.

See? Each person’s mission statement will look different and writers need to know this. If every writer was privy to this and created their own mission statement, we might be able to write off Writer’s Blues altogether. Instead of putting pressure on ourselves to perform to invisible standards that nobody has of us, we could actually create our own reasonable standards.

Now what might those standards look like I hear you say? My answer is that they need to be both realistic and conducive to your wellbeing. Don’t burn the candle at both ends trying to create a mini-series or thrice weekly blog articles because not only will they burn you out, but consequently your content might also suffer. Instead, evaluate what works best for you, put it in writing and then act on it.

Trust the process (Fiction Writers)

Cast your mind back to a time when CD’s were the most popular format and think about how often some of the most successful music artists used to put out albums. It was about every 2-3 years. Some highly acclaimed artists would have gaps between albums far longer than that but nobody would complain. Want to know why? Because the value placed on their work superseded the need for a quick cheap thrill of a mediocre album from them.

Depending on your genre, the same goes for fiction writers. Lavish over your project, give it that extra time it needs and don’t yield to the pressure of getting it out there for the sake of it.

There’s something romantic and quaint about stepping into that role of writer. Of needing an endless supply of tea or coffee to keep you going, of staring into space in the middle of the day, concocting a scene or that next storyline, pyjama days the list goes on… bask in it all! It’s a beautiful process.

Allow yourself to get lost in other content, guilt free

I am definitely guilty of this. I am a writer and a bookworm but there’s always a battle because whenever I get tucked into a book, at the back of my mind every now and then, a little voice will say, shouldn’t you be writing? Ignore it! Your interests fuel your passion so perusing other content might give you that inspiration or boost that you need once you’re back in the writing seat but don’t feel like you have to choose one or the other. There’s a time for both and both are definitely beneficial.  

Say no to writer’s block

Seriously, I mean it. In my article 5 Actions for Writer’s Block I urge readers to reject it completely. By this I mean, if the ideas aren’t coming, put that pen or laptop away and take it out another day. Give your mind the opportunity to generate ideas organically by stepping away for a day, a week, a month. Moreover, don’t be pressurised into performing. It’s this feeling that is at the crux of writer’s blues. Reject it and come back when writing actually feels good again.

I hope these suggestions have been helpful in helping you beat writer’s blues when it rears it’s ugly head. Let me know in the comments whether which of the above steps you would consider using and whether you think a mission statement would help you out!

What Inspires Me to Write?

The beautiful glowing tones of the leaves, showy and shimmery before they make way for the icy winter are what I look forward to.

It is well and truly into autumn now and I must say that as a writer I find the season especially inspiring. The beautiful glowing tones of the leaves, showy and shimmery before they make way for the icy winter are what I look forward to. I wanted to share a list of several things that inspire me to write.

People and places

I admit to being a keen observer because I enjoy watching life around me. Strangely enough, because I enjoy bearing witness to mundanity, this helps me as an author of Literary Fiction. My genre isn’t about racy plotlines and exaggerated drama. In fact in this article I wrote, I discuss the fly on the wall perspective of the genre. Something as simple as watching someone call after someone who has dropped their wallet, or watching a person purchase something for themselves, no matter how simple can make you think in a writerly way.

Food

I used to be a major foodie. I’m not sure what’s going on at the moment but I can never quite seem to get around to eating dessert these days. Nonetheless, the experience of food to me is quite significant and I enjoy inserting this into my narratives. I write more about this here. You can get lost in the texture of your food, it can spur on memories and give you something to look forward to. If it doesn’t inspire an idea, at best it can inspire some useful writing exercises!

Music

Music is my first love. Writing was always there but came much later as something that I felt capable of doing. I don’t actually incorporate music into my writing sessions which probably sounds strange given my love of music. But that’s the thing, I love it so much that music wins every time! With that said, I find it much easier to use music as a resource for prompting and writing exercises.

As you can probably see, it doesn’t take much to inspire me to write. In fact, the more boring the detail and subtle the nuance, the more likely I am to actually pick up on it it’s a good thing I don’t try to write action packed stories!

Writers, bloggers, creatives what inspires you to write?

Let me know in the comment section!

Editing Tips to Keep You Motivated

As most writers will know, it’s inevitable that at times, our motivation levels come to a standstill.

Motivation is a key issue that affects writers. Many of us get ideas and set about crafting them into a work in progress.

 I’ll sheepishly put my hand up and admit that whilst I brainstorm and loosely knit my ideas together before a project, I am not a diligent planner. Instead of creating pages and pages of neat plans and diagrams and character profiles, I definitely get straight to mucking in. I like to think of my process as a plate of spaghetti and meatballs- it’s somewhat messy- but I like it that way because I have a lot of strands and meat to draw from at all different angles when I’m writing instead of sticking to a storyline plan.

It’s all great when momentum builds but as most writers will know, it’s inevitable that at times, our motivation levels come to a standstill. I wanted to share with you about how I recently remedied this with one of my works of fiction.

My protagonist was invited to an event at a bar (for the umpteenth time in the story) and I was wondering how I could muster up the enthusiasm to create yet another bar scene. Especially when my protagonist was hesitant about going in the first place. I didn’t blame her, I, the writer was sick of her going to the bar and the prospect actually made me lose my motivation to write for several days, so I put my project down.

Then a solution popped up in my head, a very simple no-brainer that I would encourage all writers to employ. I ditched the bar scene entirely! Consequently, I felt an instant weight off my shoulders. Sometimes certain scenes are very necessary, however when we plan to execute them in unoriginal or unimaginative ways it can make us feel demotivated to write them. If this is the case, DITCH the scene- but allude to it instead like I did- you can do this in a number of ways. I call this pre-emptive editing and it helps you to get over the demotivation hurdle.

3 Editing Tips to Motivate you

Tip One

Create an inner monologue with the character reflecting on or thinking back to the scene. Here you can add as much or little detail as you like depending on what works to drive the storyline forward.  

Tip Two

Enrol characters in conversation about said scene and have fun with what details they offer up about it. You can insert humour, tension, excitement- whatever emotions are relevant.

Tip Three

If you are writing in the third person, employ an omniscient voice to fill in the gaps about what happened. This could take up just one paragraph instead of a whole scene (you know, the one you were dreading writing in the first place?)

This works best using the past perfect form of the verb, for example:

Evan had spent the best part of an hour strolling around the palladium before he spotted Lina canoodling with another man. She had been leaning against him, one open palm resting on his shoulder as they watched the sunset.

So in effect, you cut out the scene that you were dreading writing in real time and find a way to allude to it authentically, instead.

For those of you who are stuck in a rut with a particular scene, I hope that this inspires you to adjust it in a way that motivates you to write.

Non-fiction writers- have you ever taken a U-turn when writing a piece? How did you go about doing this and were you happy with the end results?

Let me know in the comments below!