Friday, 31 July 2009

Orson Scott Card on finding ideas for writing

The point to remember about selling things is that, as well as creating atmosphere and “Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don't see any.”

Orson Scott Card

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Writer's little book club chocolate corner

'Never mind about 1066 William the Conqueror, 1087 William the Second. Such things are not going to affect one?s life...but 1932 the Mars Bar and 1936 Maltesers and 1937 the Kit Kat - these dates are milestones in history and should be seared into the memory of every child in the country.'

Roald Dahl

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Integrating the spiritual into business writing

This has been a concern of mine this year. How to write for business in a way that doesn't jar with your own principles.

If this has been a concern of yours too, then I think that we can be reassured by the way that business communication is moving with Web 2.0 and beyond. Gone are the days when a business could put out a caring image and not live up to it.

There are now too many ways for customers to get together on the web and share information and feedback. A wise business takes account of all that and centres its communication around the principles that drive it.

We're all much more concerned now about separating out businesses that promise and businesses that perform. If you're like me, you're tired of being told you can achieve this or that overnight or without work. I've met some of the gurus of internet marketing and I can tell you they work ferociously hard and are extremely competitive. Plus they often have dozens if not hundreds of people helping them.

Let's be honest. If something is worth offering, it will take time, energy and or money to achieve it. What's important to me is that I'm honest in what I do. That may mean I make less profit but I like to be able to greet myself in the mirror each day without distaste.

However you interpret 'spirituality' in your life and business, I'd say put it at the heart of your business and if people think you're crazy that doesn't matter. As a writer for many businesses, if you're not comfortable in what you're offering and doing, it will show up in your writing.

So be passionate, be honest and you'll draw the people towards you who need your particular service or product.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Writing to deadlines in business

Having to produce words about their business - fast- is a challenge for many business owners. So what are the 3 keys to being able to do it?

  1. Being prepared. Assume that someone, somewhere, sometime will ask you for a few words about your business. Work out ahead of time 3 keypoints you want people to know. Make sure they are clear in your mind so that you can reproduce them in print, on line or face to face.
  2. Having a system. Part of your preparation should be to create a system which you can use to expand on your keypoints to 100, 200 or 300 words. If you know about Twitter then you know you only have 140 characters for your message. That forces you to be concise. Moving up from that you can then build a Twitter message into a blog entry maybe up to 300 words. From there you can expand it into a fuller article at will.
  3. Be flexible. Having set ideas about the way you construct text will limit the number of ways you can use it. If someone asks you for text but they want it in a specific way because of the format it needs to fit into, then help them by being flexible.

Once you've mastered those three approaches, you'll never be stuck again and you'll be ready to take advantage of many opportunities.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Marianne Williamson quote

'Our power lies in our clarity about the role our work can play in the creation of a more beautiful world. The miracle is to think of our career as our contribution, however small, to the healing of the universe.'

Friday, 24 July 2009

Are you a pragmatic visionary with your writing

I was re-reading a book by Arthur Joseph(The Sound of the Soul) about discovering your singing voice.

It's some time since I looked at it and I'd forgotten what great material he includes.

Since voice is the expression of our selves and soul, then anything that is wrong with us emotionally shows itself with the voice and how we use it. There are a lot of effective exercises in there to help release your voice and to nurture your soul.

He talks about the 'pragmatic visionary' which I think is a wonderful phrase. I've been having a conversation this week with a friend about people who are very spiritual but don't have a practical thought in their head.

It strikes me that there are a lot of would be writers out there with the same challenge. Recently I read an article about a writer who destroyed himself and to a lesser extent his family with his conviction that he would only be a 'real' writer if he could complete the novel of the century.

In the past I've put off doing things because I thought they wouldn't be perfect when I tried. Well of course they wouldn't and never could be. Perfection is subjective. The perfect novel, or poem or piece of music for one person is sadly lacking in some aspect for another person.

Having a vision for what you want to do and taking steps, even if they're tiny ones at first will create the conditions to help you achieve.

I can only offer my own experience to you. Have a go. Until you try you don't know what you can achieve. Your writing may take off in a different direction from the one you first imagine.

And much of the fun is in the doing.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Learning to write if you hate words

I watched a fascinating programme on Saturday evening. Paul Morley a music critic decided he wanted to learn to compose. The fundamental challenge he had was in not reading music.

Crotchets, quavers and semi-breves and the like were foreign to him and scary. He went through a year at the Royal Academy to come out with his own composition.

I've only watched the first part yet so don't know what he ended up with. But what fascinated me as a writer and teacher was the way they were teaching him to read music and understand the building blocks of what he had to use.

They turned what was a one dimensional scary concept into a three dimensional concrete process that had resulted by the end of the first programme in a very sketchy recreation of his ideas and thoughts and his music.

It sparked off ideas for me because often I talk to people who though they love the idea of writing a book, have a positive aversion to words which are the building blocks.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

What's stopping you writing the book you want to write?

How many times have you done what you thought you should rather than what you really wanted?

I can certainly put up my hand to that one. And it hits us as writers too.

Some of my clients want me to write a website for them that they think will impress other people. And more and more I ask them the question:

But is it you?

And when they've thought about it and we've worked on it, we come up often with something completely different from what they first thought of.

It's no different with books. You can't write a successful book, and here I'm not talking only about financially successful books, but ones that connect with people.

In fact you can't write a book at all until you've cleared out of the way what's stopping you writing the book that's in your heart. It might be criticism from others, criticism from yourself or just fear of what will happen if you try it.

Well I don't know what might happen but I do know that trying to write anything other than what's honest and true doesn't work. You won't be happy with the end result and it won't have the effect you want.

At the moment a fellow writer is struggling with this. And the longer he struggles the worse he feels. Only he can do anything about it and it's the same for you.

Stepping off a cliff never appeals. But remember Indiana Jones and your stepping stones will appear for you.

Monday, 20 July 2009

How to attract what you desire

I've been working this year for what I want in the next part of my life, clearing out some dead wood and holding clear focus.

I came across this quote recently that sums up what I'm trying to do to unite my business and personal desires.

"If we plant a seed in the ground we know that the sun will shine and the rain will water, and we leave it to the Law to bring results. . . Well, the desire you image is the seed, your occasional closing of the eyes in imagery is the sun, and your constant though not anxious, expectation is the rain and cultivation necessary to bring absolutely sure results..."
Frances Larimer Warren

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Maddening things about cats

"A mutilated mouse carcass is their idea of a present." (from 100 Marvelously maddening things about cats.)

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Jay Abraham on selling

"Understand that you need to sell you and your ideas in order to advance your career, gain more respect, and increase your success, influence and income."
Jay Abraham

"The fact is, everyone is in sales. Whatever area you work in, you do have clients and you do need to sell."
Jay Abraham

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Quotes on ideas

“The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.
Linus Pauling

“Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don't see any.”

Orson Scott Card

Monday, 13 July 2009

Why writers should edit

"The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon. " Robert Cormier, writer

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Guardian Michel Thomas language teaching offer Offer via Observer and Guardian newspapers for many languages.

Tried his Italian course before and liked his method. No books, no homework and no trying to remember.

Before you purchase from there check out prices via Amazon - it may be cheaper there.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Chocolate feeds the writer's brain.

'Chocolate is a perfect food, as wholesome as it is delicious, a beneficent restorer of exhausted is the best friend of those engaged in literary pursuits.' Baron Justus von Liebig, German chemist (1803-1873)

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Word junkie word


Combining the form of an animal with that of a man.

Very apt given I've just ploughed my way through the Aeneid.

Can't swear I read every single word but I did make it to the end. I'd forgotten how bloody it was. Imagine I used to have to translate bits of that for Latin homework.

Didn't make me blush as much as translating Ovid did.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

What I'm reading.

Clio Gray - Envoy of the Black Pine: an enthralling mystery of lost libraries, desperate men and macabre murder.

New author to me but already I want to read her previous two books.

plus Elizabeth Peters, Amelia Peabody series and Rachel Ray by Trollope.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Writing a crime novel - the importance of titles

Like many other writers I 've fancied in the past writing some form of crime novel. Certainly I've read enough over the years but reading for pleasure and reading with an eye to learning are two different things.

At the moment I have a plot going through my head which I've tried writing last year but abandoned because I couldn't get the structure sorted.

Three books I've found helpful about writing thrillers are:
Patricia Highsmith, Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction
Lesley Grant-Adamson, Writing Crime Fiction
K R F Keating, Writing Crime Fiction 2nd ed.

Just looking at Keating's book again today one thing struck me again is something I always emphasise to anyone I work with who is writing a work of non-fiction.

How important the title is.

Think of Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Would that have been so runaway popular if it was called Inspiring stories of everyday people?

Mr Keating talked about sometimes having two complete pages of his notebook of possible titles, trying to find one to stand out from the crowd.

I've always loved Mary Stewart's romantic thrillers with such great titles, Airs above the ground and Wildfire at Midnight. A little dated now maybe but I still enjoy reading them.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

'Perfume from Provence by Lady Fortescue, illustrated by E H Shepard I love the word 'serendipity' that happy happenstance that comes out of the blue.

Last week my sister bought me a book while she was on holiday; a charity shop purchase. It was the title that attracted her knowing my interest in perfume and things concerning aromatherapy.

Perfume from Provence is a period piece, written in the 1930s by an Englishwoman who moved to France with her husband, bought a house and set about renovating it and the garden. With a background as an actress and writer she already had displayed talents and practicality beyond what might have been expected from her upbringing.

It's a delightful little book that made me smile, check my gardening books and gave me several hours of pleasure.

on looking her up on the web I find she wrote several books, had a fortunate escape from the Italians in the war and became a well respected local person by organising food aid to the place she loved after the war.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Sculpture park Yorkshire

'Fire is the origin of stone.By working the stone with heat, I am returning it to its source.'
Andy Goldsworthy

Wonderful place to go if you're interested in sculpture or artists working with nature. Saw Andy Goldsworth's work when I went a couple of years ago plus lots of Henry Moore.

Read recently about Andy Goldsworthy working in France to create sculpture out of existing but ruined buildings.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

The writer's life

I was thinking yesterday what a lucky person I am. Not good in the heat so grateful that with a laptop I can wander round the house looking for the coolest spot.

No commute to an office, no traffic jams, and I can work the hours that make sense in this sapping heat.

Strunk and White Elements of Style

Though written in 1918 this book offers a down to earth guide to good writing style with its emphasis on active verbs and cutting out unnecessary words.

I recommend when I teach.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Socrates on inspiration

"I decided that it was not wisdom that enabled [poets] to write their poetry, but a kind of instinct or inspiration, such as you find in seers and prophets who deliver all their sublime messages without knowing in the least what they mean."