Friday, 28 May 2010

Linda Pastan poet

Found an entry about this poet in yesterday's Writers Almanac newsletter.  If you haven't checked this out yet they're now also doing an audio link each day.

I'd never heard of Linda Pastan  before but they included one of her poems titled 'Things I didn't know I loved; after Nazim Hikmet'  which takes in clouds, the sky, the rain, and the sounds of departure.  Not an adequate description a lyrical poem with some wonderful descriptive lines.

Wish I could quote from it but I don't have permission so all I can say is look her up or check out her lucid writing at

Reading about her I admired her tenacity prepared to revise until she creates the impact she wants.  And her tenacity to keep going.  At the age of 71 in 2003 she won an award from Poetry magazine in the US with prize money that paid her more than she'd ever earned in her life as a poet.

''She once said: 'I often write poems in my head to distract myself during hard times. ... Years ago, after a car crash, while I lay waiting for the ambulance, I actually finished a poem I had been working on, determined not to die before I had it right.'''

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Quotes for writers

'The great wisdom for writers, perhaps for everybody, is to come to understand to be at one with their own tempo.'

Alan Hollinghurst

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

How to manage the creative process when writing a book

Met up with a client yesterday to check on her progress with writing a book. 

She brought up a couple of issues one of which was time management; she's a busy mum, running her own business, house etc etc.

But the biggest issue she had was about the creative process.  As a perfectionist, and we all are to some degree in that we want to get it right, she was worried about sabotaging the creative process.

I can understand her concern because many would be writers I meet do just that thing.

Stop themselves writing.

Often before they start because they're scared to start...

but more often when they start because they can't help meddling with what they've written.

Bad move.  Very bad move.  Why?

Because you need two completely different mindsets for writing, that is the actual getting down of the words on the page, and editing.

The problem is that many people try to combine the two.  They read back what they've just written and think I can improve that.

Well probably they can and probably they should.  But not at the creative stage. 

It's almost like shifting down a gear when you're on a straight fast motorway.  Like trying to turn right where there isn't a right turn.  So you bang into a crash barrier. 

And that's your creative urge squashed for that session.

It's very difficult to pick up speed again.  Can be done but it takes more guile and experience than most beginner writers have.

What you should do therefore is keep going.  Put your foot down, in writing terms and power on. 

Forget about grammar.  Forget about spelling.  Forget about factual accuracy.

All those things can be fixed.  At a later stage and in a different mindset.

When you write;  WRITE

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Writing blogs and blogs for writers

If you're a writer and you haven't opened up a blog why not?  They're a great resource for all writers whatever your genre.

If like me you're technically challenged then using WordPress or couldn't be simpler.  Trust me - if I can run a simple blog, then anyone can.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Extraordinary Women 2010

Attended the event yesterday and spent a wonderful day in the company of inspiring and successful women.  I'm not talking merely about financial success but more that of someone having a vision, turning it into a goal and achieving the goal.

Each of the speakers was asked to describe themselves in 3 words and Trish Davidson of Unchosen (an organisation campaigning against human trafficking in the UK) used 'Never give up'.

If you despair of getting your children to talk to you then have a look at what Lisa Warner is doing over at Fink.

The theme of the day really was not setting any limits to what you can acheive and someone sent me the following quote last night which is apt.  We'll assume that Gandhi had in his mind and heart the role of women when he said this.

"Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I shall have the belief that I can do it. I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it, even if I may not have it at the beginning."

Mahatma Gandhi, 1869-1948, Indian Nationalist Leader

Thanks to Vicki Espin, Francine Pickering and the team for all their hard work in staging the event.  Nominations for the awards will open in June for 2011.  If you know a woman you think should be honoured then check out this website.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Writing quotes

Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else.

Gloria Steinem

Monday, 17 May 2010

Writing quotes

'Writing is a cop-out. An excuse to live perpetually in fantasy land, where you can create, direct and watch the products of your own head. Very selfish.'

Monica Dickens

Writing quotes

'Writing is a cop-out. An excuse to live perpetually in fantasy land, where you can create, direct and watch the products of your own head. Very selfish.'

Monica Dickens

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

How prepared are you to invest in your writing?

If you want to make a serious life change to be a writer and are prepared to invest time and money then take a look at this page on the Faber site.  It's a serious investment but the calibre of the people involved is high and if they accepted you on their course they must feel that you have something of quality in your writing.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Business writing: how to write to communicate and connect

Writing is a fundamental skill in business.  But it terrifies many business people. 


They're afraid of the blank page.
They're afraid of grammar and punctuation which they believe are there to expose their weaknesses.
In short they're afraid of getting it wrong.

Let's look at what we're trying to achieve when we write.

Whether we're writing for business or we're would be novelists, our aim is to make some connection with our reader.  That's it plain and simple.  Because without that connection the reader won't turn the page.

That's essential in business isn't it.  And even if they won't turn the page, i.e. on a website, you still want them to keep reading.  Because and let's be honest here, you want in the short or long term to sell them something.

What motivates most business people is not merely the desire to make money, but to offer something you're passionate about.  Something that will help people lead happier, more fulfilled, healthier, richer lives.

That's why passion is the key to connecting.

Imagine you want to buy something.  Who are you more likely to buy from?  Someone who just mumbles and mutters and shows no enthusiasm.  Or someone who looks you in the eyes and tells you honestly what the product can, and as important, can't do.

So you need to drill down to the reasons you want to pass on this product or service.  What do you believe about it that you can transmit in what you say or write?

Be proud of what you're offering.  Be passionate about how it can help people.  Always write as if you're speaking directly to one person at a time because only one will read it at a time.

When you write from that core of belief, your writing will sing and connect with those it can help.

Let me know what's happened to you when you've written from your core beliefs instead of writing from the surface.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Writing competitions

Found this on my Google search:  Guy named Michael Shenton rounds up some of the competitions.  Covers all types of writing.  Scanning through I found competitions in Welsh, from Italy (though not in Italian)  Some have entry fee, some not.  Prizes range from money, to subscriptions to magazines to goods.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Agatha Christie on writing

I've always believed in writing without a collaborator, because where two people are writing the same book, each believes he gets all the worries and only half the royalties.   Agatha Christie (1890 - 1976)

Friday, 7 May 2010

Article writing strategy; how to create a winning formula

Article writing is an important part of creating your presence on or offline.  A contact of mine recently had an article published in her peer journal enhancing her already solid reputation.

How can you make your articles stand out from others?

Increasing the value your reader finds in your articles is the only way to go.

Imagine you're building a house.  You do it brick by brick from the bottom to give the house solid foundations.  Start at the top and your house is likely to fall down very fast.

It's the same in writing articles.  Here are 3 key strategies for consistent article writing.

  1. Decide what you can write about:  create a list ot topics you can cover.
  2. Create a way of writing fast: making yourself some templates for articles means that you can ring the changes effectively.
  3. Decide on a writing strategy: because you're busy, you might put off writing articles 'until you're less busy.  But you can write articles anywhere.  Between appointments, on train journeys or at a time when you're focused and most efficient.
The key point in using articles as part of your strategy is to being consistent.  Many people wait for time and inspiration.  Be open and flexible and the ideas will come.  Be committed and you'll surprise yourself by how fast you can write them.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Cautionary tale for writers

I was amused by a piece in the Guardian Review for 1st May by Blake Morrison about attribution.

When he was writing South of the River, he quoted from some pop songs, played in one of the scenes.  He knew about getting permission for quotes from living authors but hoped that using only a few words from each song would slide through unnoticed.  He also knew it's the author's responsibility to obtain and pay for them but left it until his editor did the job for him.

For quoting two lines of I shot the sheriff by Bob Marley it cost him £1,000.  And so on with the other songs.

So his advice to other writers is DON'T and if you have characters in your novel playing music, don't quote the lyrics.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Farhana Shaikh

I met Farhana recently at Amplified Leicester's Showcase event.  She edits the Asian Writers publication and is involved in a very interesting project for Amplified Leicester on families in Leicester.

You can learn more about her at

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Volunteering England and the Olympics 2012

Nothing to do with writing as such but if you or your organisation is considering doing something about the Olympics then there are opportunities available.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Writing exercise

Daily Flash Fiction Challenge

Transliteracy and the future of writing

Just a reminder that the Transliteracy Research Group regularly posts interesting articles about a wide range of transliteracy-related topics. Do check it out at

There's an intriguing item on there called Transliteracy as Blueberry Smoothie by Brian Hulsey