Julie's Quest

Hello, and welcome to my blog. My blog is about the trials and tribulations of writing, where we celebrate successes and commiserate our near misses. We tell it like it is here and will do our very best to help you on the road to being published and pick you up after the rejections (they will come!) Whether you are a professional or amateur writer you will find something useful here.

I hope you enjoy reading my posts and will visit again soon.

Happy Writing

Julie Phillips - freelance writer - member of the Association of Freelance Writers - member of the Society of Authors

Monday, 11 May 2009

Inspiration and Perspiration

Another fine day in Shropshire again. It's funny how a spot of warm, sunny weather can make me feel so much better. The sun's rays seem to recharge my often rundown batteries and all is well with the world once again.

Talking about the weather (what else do us Brits do?! ), have you noticed how the weather in a short story, novel or even a poem can really set the tone of the piece? A character walking down a road can be transformed depending on what the weather is like. A woman walking down a quite country lane, wearing a light, flowing dress, and carrying a bunch of fragrant wild flowers, on a beautiful Summer's day gives a very different feel from the same woman stumbling down the same lane in the middle of a dark thunderstorm, wearing a black coat and grasping a single red rose, the rain thrashing down, on the way to lay the rose on an ex-lover's grave. Okay, so the example I've used it a bit of a cliche, but you get my drift! The weather, as part of the setting can really make or break a story, so choose it and use it wisely.

I'm having an inspiring day today. Writing Magazine & Writers' News came through my letter box yesterday, and The New Writer wasn't far behind by arriving today. I love to trawl through these magazines looking for writing competitions and outlets to try my hand at. There's something innately satisfying for me in finding something I can write a piece for and then setting about making it happen.

I sit with a fresh blank page and my pen poised to start planning my writing month. For me a blank page holds no fear! I am so excited and energised at the sight of a blank page, as it means that no one but me is going to write on it and only my ideas will grace it. There is no such thing as writer's block! If you can't think of anything to write then just doodle - straight lines, curly lines, cross hatching, stars, faces, shapes - whatever, drawing in this way can help your creativity flow. Try it - it works!

When you've done a few doodles try doodling with words. Write random words anywhere on a blank piece of paper. I find this works best on unlined paper as your brain will be forced to use its artistic and spacial areas rather than lineal. Write the words in all directions, you can even try writing words backwards. It doesn't matter what the words are - your goal here is not to make any sense but to free up your 'blocked' mind into writing something that will eventually make sense.

If you still can't write then get out somewhere - go for a walk, go to town, a playground, cafe where ever and watch what is going on around you. Look and listen hard, there is always something you can jot down: A half heard conversation, the movements of a dog as it sniffs the ground following a trail, the facial expressions of people as they pass you, the sounds of the trees as you sit beneath them. Everything has the potential to become a story so don't dismiss the ordinary or mundane. (If I can get a short story published about chickens, nothing exciting about these endearing creatures you may think, but just think about what else is unexcitingly waiting for you to use it in a story.)

For me, getting inspiration for my writing is not the problem - I get plenty of that - it's getting the time to sit down and actually write. I know I am luckier than some in that I don't work outside the home anymore, but I do have a family to care for and then there's the h***e w**k, and the cats, and the gardening, the shopping .......Procrastination is the ruin of a writer (or is that alcohol?) I do try hard to focus and get the writing job done, and I must be doing something write, I mean right, as I have been fairly successful in my writing endeavours of late. But it's not always easy to sit and write. I find a lot rides on what my motivation is and what my energy levels and moods are like (hormones have a lot to answer for!)

But now I have perused the writing magazines I have an idea of what I want to achieve this month and will split my goals into manageable daily and weekly bites that I can tick off when I've done them. Not all these goals will be big ones like writing a short story, although that is one of my aims, they will be interspersed with smaller writing exercises like writing letters to mags and newspapers etc. That way I always have something on the boil and something on the back burner simmering, ready to send out should a rejection come my way - one in, one out is my philosophy.

I aim to have at least ten bits of my work out a month. I guage this by using the dates between each of writing groups meetings, but very often I end up with almost double out, which is great and cuts me some slack should I not be able to get so much work out the next month.

When I next get a short story published in a woman's magazine, to celebrate I'll be having a mini competition on my blog, so watch this space and you might win something! (Last time I told my husband that if I ever got one of my short stories published in a woman's magazine I'd run around the neighbourhood naked! That'll teach me won't it! I just told him it didn't count as it wasn't a British woman's magazine - quick and desperate thinking on my part I think!) So this time I'm playing safe by offering a prize on my blog - no nakedness involved, I promise!

Whatever inspires you, may you always be successful and enjoy the writing process. Julie xx


Simon Whaley said...

Er... is the Wrekin Writer venue classified as 'the neighbourhood'? I know that at our group meetings we enjoy revealing our successes but ....

Julie P said...

Oooh er! No, Wrekin Writers can rest easy - I don't class Collier's Way as my neighbourhood!My neighbours aren't worried, though, either - they're used to me and my eccentricities. Mind you there are a lot of houses that have come up for sale here recently, I wonder why?!