Do You Know Where You Are Going?
Category: Writing
Tags: writing writing goals writing plans smart goals writers abroad

Do You Know Where You Are Going?

(said the Cheshire Cat or in my case, Simba)

'And Do We Need To?' I can hear you all groaning through the Prosecco infused fug of the New Year celebrations. And although I know I enticed you in with a cute kittie picture, it is that time of year and I'm not talking about resolutions, which it seems to me, never get off the starting block. Reading this article seemed to confirm that. It's the way it's packaged.

However, as writers (or indeed in most aspects of our life) we need some kind of plan for the year ahead. If not how do we know if we actually trod the path we visioned, or indeed took a different route? Big, small or indifferent ambitions makes no matter, as long as you have some kind of notion of where you'd like to go. 

Along with the usual rules about setting goals (the old adage of SMART) I also came across lengthening this system to becoming SMARTER. The E stands for Evaluation, so regular maintenance checks on progress or otherwise. The R is for Re-adjustment, which means that plans can and do change.Makes sense to me.

Here is how the conversation really went with Alice and the Cheshire Cat...

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.

“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

So, the forum for our Writing Plans for 2018 has been set up, let us know where you are going... if indeed you are. Happy New Year to a wonderful bunch of writers, but most importantly I raise a glass to our friendship. 



When variety may not be the spice of life...
Category: Writing

I messaged Jo earlier, saying I had an idea, not writing related, to post for the blog. As I began to type, other thoughts came to the fore and my original plan changed course dramatically.

I started to think about my output for the year that has almost passed and what made me concentrate on producing poetry. I've always appreciated poetry in its many forms, so I didn't suddenly spring an interest.

Also, I have written creatively almost since I could hold a pencil, but could never say I had a particular genre. When, and how, do writers know to dedicate their precious time and words to one type of writing?

Many WA members are comfortable, and productive, in a specific writing zone. How did you get there? Did you choose from the very beginning and over time hone your craft? Did the genre choose you, maybe motivated by early success? Is my inability to discover my genre due to a) truly not having one b) indecision c) not being strong enough to say a firm no when distracted by other forms?

I do know I am prompted to write, quite often, by a national or world event, frequently a tragic one, or sometimes by something more personal. And the form that takes is usually poetic.

I don't consider myself a depressive sort of person but reading through my recent poetry, the last few years certainly, the nature of the writing is less than happy!

On a positive note, I think the standard of my poetry has improved. While assembling my poetry file, I read verse written during the time I was a Writelink member and don't believe I'll be advertising it broadly any time soon!

I shall add 'establishing a genre' to my goals for 2018 although I don't think it will be easy. Any advice will be very welcome.

Have a super Christmas Day and extended festive season, one and all.

Should We Write When We Are Sick?
Category: Writing
Tags: NaNo Writing when sick



Not a Christmas blog for you, nevertheless, it is seasonal for many, I am sure.






You’re as weak as a kitten, high on medication, defying healing advice, and the ‘r’ word: ‘rest’.


Why the defiance? Why can’t you just give in and concentrate on getting well?


Because you are a writer of course, and you are at a time in your life when writing is on a par with breathing. You have words to capture, protagonists to develop, and scenes and sequels abounding in your head. And yes, you still have stories to tell.


Especially in November.


November seems to be my month for picking up some bug or other and depleting my strength. It keeps me housebound and I get through copious amounts of tea.


It is also National Novel Writing Month. A month on thousands of writers’ calendars as the 30 days in which to draft a novel. This year was my 11th official year, and I’d almost decided give NaNo a miss. That was until some of the members of Writers Abroad threw the temptation my way.


But I was sick.


I kicked the month off with cellulitis requiring high dose antibiotics, you don’t really need to know that, other than it affected all I did for the rest of the month. Mid month left-eye cataract surgery meant I was functioning on blurry vision while waiting for the right eye. Then, shock horror, a serious chest infection flattened me.  Some of the meds induced hallucinating effects. 


But, you know what, I didn’t stop writing. Hallucinating effects can be precious to a writer. Delirium is like treasure. My NaNo novel was like a runaway train, sometimes clocking up over 3,000 words a day. I began on November 1st with only a title and a book cover design (because that’s the way I roll), and then I wrote up a storm to fill those covers and do the title justice.



I crossed the finish line on November 20th, a week before my 74th birthday. Over 50,000 words accomplished in under 3 weeks.


So, I ask you again, should you write when you are sick? It’s a personal question. My reply is, ‘yes’. This draft novel wouldn’t exist without the NaNo challenge and the team spirit of Writers Abroad, and here’s the thing, those words would be different if I hadn’t been sick, if I’d been bright eyed and bushy tailed. Quite different.


And that’s what makes our writing unique, we haven’t just captured words, protagonists, scenes et al, we’ve captured the way we, as writers, feel at a particular moment in time.


And I know that when I open up my draft novel in the new year I will ask myself, ‘did I really write that?'


My congratulations to my WA colleagues on achieving their NaNo novels too. Between us, we’ve written over a quarter of a million words in 30 days.


A very happy Christmas to you all.



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