Category Archives: Blog

Posts on my writing, what inspires me, fun facts and fiction lists

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!

Blogger Recognition Award

S.S. Mitchell has been nominated for the Mystery Blogger Award!

I was delighted when Nin Chronicles put me forward for this nomination! She was previously nominated for her contribution to her own thought provoking blog on diverse topics, from parenting and philosophy to poetry. Thank you Nin Chronicles for considering me! It is a wonderful acknowledgement.

About The Award:

This award is given to bloggers by the bloggers, who, in turn, pass it on to more bloggers. The Award promotes community and shows us just how far one little thing can go as each nominee shares the love further.

Rules:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and add a link to their site.
  • Write a post on your site displaying the award.
  • Share why you started your blog.
  • Share two pieces of advice for the new bloggers.
  • Nominate and notify 11-15 other bloggers.

Why I Blog:

I blog because I am passionate about the craft of writing. Writing comes easily to me and what better way to document this than via a blog! I am a Fiction and Non-Creative Fiction writer and I love to share aspects of my writing process. My blog articles are mostly inspired by what’s going on in my writer’s life. It consists of things that I just can’t wait to write down and share with others in the hope that it might help them out with their own writing craft.

My advice to other bloggers:

Enjoy the process, always focus on content that interests you and keeps you motivated rather than current trends.

Keep going! It takes commitment and time but remember why you are doing this and use it to motivate yourself.

I would like to nominate:

yamteq.com For insightful information on working remotely and professional practice.

glowsteady.co.uk A consistent blog with mouth watering plant based recipes and in-depth reviews on the latest beauty products.

ellieslondon.wordpress.com For tasty treats, bucket lists and lashings of culture.


beautyobsesseduk.com With this aesthetically pleasing blog, you can see the effort and care taken to create quality beauty content.

whatsinmywonderland.com A Wonderfully presented book blog which makes you want to click into each square to find out what she’s been reading. A great introduction to new books.


nineteenthharmony.com Thought provoking critiques of socio- cultural forms and politics.

I really enjoy looking at how others present their blogs and subsequently showcase their passions. I am really pleased to be included in the Mystery Blogger Award Nominations and to be supporting other bloggers in the process.

Happy blogging everyone!


How Toni Morrison’s works Inspired me to Write

Her rich narratives inspired me to write with depth and without constraint.

When I recently saw Toni Morrison trending on google my stomach flipped. How likely was it that she was trending because she had broken the internet with a controversial picture or been involved in some tasteless topical scandal or a public spat with a peer? Highly unlikely. Toni Morrison was a Nobel prize winning writer who stood on the platform of her integrity to inspire others and scatter her gems of wisdom among us literary types. So when I saw her trending, I thought the worse and sadly I was right. Her recent passing has really saddened me, not only because she was arguably one of the greatest writers whoever lived, but because stumbling on her work as a child is what inspired me to write. It might sound odd but for the longest time I always considered it a privilege that my favourite author was still living and breathing while I was.

An Early Introduction

My introduction to her work came through a copy of the novel Paradise which I found laying around one of the spare rooms in my grandmother’s house. At my young age, a lot of the sentence structures and dense metaphors were beyond me. I was unfamiliar with words which read like art. My first encounter with how she wove her words together so abstractly intrigued me and I hoped to one day access her stories.

I was second time lucky when the motion picture of Beloved was released. A part slave narrative about a woman named Sethe who (now freed) is haunted by the child she sacrificed in her infancy. Sethe lives with her surviving daughter Denver When a mystery woman named Beloved appears out of nowhere and wreaks havoc on their household. Oprah Winfrey bought the rights to the novel and  starred alongside Danny Glover and Thandie Newton in the 1998 motion picture. I was captivated by it and it soon became one of my favourite films. Of course, the novel was even better.

A Life’s Worth of Writing

Toni Morrison did with words, what I hadn’t thought possible. She wove intricate portraits that humanised the suffering of a historically oppressed people. She brought the narratives alive that compelled people of all backgrounds to sit, up, take notice and empathise. Moreover, she inspired me to gather my experiences and spill them onto blank pages through one of her most memorable quotes:

“If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

I absolutely adore this quote. It’s nurturing and yet earnest about the need for us writers (arguably the biggest procrastinators) to be proactive in creating the art that we want to consume instead of waiting for what may never appear. She did exactly this with her own work and thank God she did! I can’t imagine a world without her stories in it. Morrison juxtaposed the traumas of slavery with the infinite possibilities of newfound freedom in Beloved, she liberated her characters without minimising their suffering.

In The Bluest Eye, which I discussed in this previous post, she holds up many mirrors which enable us to see how little black girls view themselves both internally and externally, how their beauty and worth is viewed both within and beyond their own communities and the external factors which help to either shape their strong sense of self-worth (Claudia McTeer) or lack thereof (Pecola Breedlove).

Her works serve as historical artefacts; fictional ethnographies that speak to the very real socio-historical experiences of black women and yet can engage everyone. Her stories are many things at once: harrowing, brutal, awakening, educational, honest, beautiful. I’m just grateful that she inspired me to pick up something that I love- painting pictures with words. And for that I am truly grateful.

Have you ever read anything by Toni Morrison? If not, which writer’s work has inspired you the most? Let me know in the comments below!

Being a Writer in a Heatwave is Hard

Extreme weather is bound to have an effect on your writing sessions…

Being an author is hard work. You only have to eavesdrop on the conversations of writers to get my gist. You will hear soundbites such as writer’s block, lack of motivation, I’ve just discovered I hate my protagonist etc. It can really be a labour of love but I believe that getting through all of those emotions and the practical debris of the craft is what really makes a writer. You get to show what you’re made of. There is a huge factor that makes writing hard and that we sometimes can’t control and that thing my friends, is life.

In my last article I spoke about creating the perfect writing environment. Sometimes however, the elements have ideas of their own. The UK has recently been in the midst of a heatwave (as has the rest of Europe)- at its’ peak hitting temperatures as high as 38 degrees. You can imagine that at that sweltering point, opening windows and operating fans have had zero impact on me creating my perfect writing environment. You know things are bad when you’re sitting still and the weather decides on your behalf that no matter what, you will wilt like an ice cream. In short, my writing has suffered somewhat but I have to be okay with that because I am human.

Good intentions, not so great outcomes

Sometimes no matter how hard you try, your writing plans conspire to go south.  I started my week as I meant to go on despite the furnace-like temperatures and aimed to transfer that same motivation to my work. However, this heat has made me feel physically faint and exhausted during the nights when I would usually be writing and so I have had no choice but to listen to my body and give it a bit of a break.

I am somewhat of an organic writer and that works for me, however if this UK heatwave returns, I will need a bit of reinforcement in order to push ahead. I will propose two tactics to my usually organic writing process:

Word count

I will enforce a minimum wordcount on myself. You don’t do this? I hear you say- The answer is not really. I write when I am inspired and enthused and when I am not, I stop. That way you stop Writer’s block dead in its tracks as I discussed in this previous article. I definitely do check how many words I have written after a session though as I find it useful to know.

Write notes ahead

Sometimes feeling unmotivated to write doesn’t mean that you should stop writing altogether. Why not write up some notes that will keep you ahead of the game in the next session? My manuscripts are full of incoherent paragraphs containing disjointed sentences and singular words. They act as a guide to my next scenes and thought they would look illegible to anyone else, they act as a beacon for my storylines. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken up really pleased with myself because I have more insight into where my project is going. Being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel is a huge incentive for us writers.

So, when the going gets tough, what tactics would you propose to keep yourself going?

Let me know in the comments below!