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5th-Jan-2010 07:40 pm - Role Call
It's a brand new year and, in spite of the fact that it's going to be a busy year for me, I'd like to make it one of my resolutions to resurrect this community. So, am I on my own here, or does Wordsmiths 101 still have any members?
26th-Mar-2008 10:36 pm - What is copyright?
"Copyright protects creative or artistic works. You should only copy or use a copyrighted work with the copyright owner's permission."

Copyright can be used for many things: literature, drama, music, art, etc. Obviously in this case, I refer to it in relation to literature and creative writing. Copyright applies to any medium which means you must not reproduce copyright protected work in another medium without permission. However, copyright does not protect ideas for a work but once the idea is fixed (i.e. written down) copyright automatically protects it. The great thing? You don't have to apply for or pay for copyright.

Nowadays (since 1989 apparently), you do not even have to say your work is copyrighted. This should now be assumed, however in some countries it is required. If you wish to make absolutely sure people know your work is copyrighted the correct format is as follows:

"Copyright [dates] by [author/owner]"

You can also substitute the word "copyright" with a c in a circle: ©.

According to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), UK law now states that copyright also applies to work on the internet. Bearing in mind the amount of work now posted online and in the public domain, this is important to note so if you wish to use something you've read on the internet, you still need to get permission! And, by the same token, it is in your own interests to provide contact details when you post anything online so that others may consult you for permission to use your work.

As far as I can tell, internationally copyright lasts until 70 years after the author's death. But how do you prove your work existed at a particular time? A proven method is to actually send a hard copy of your work to yourself through the postal system, the letter will then be dated and your work should be left sealed until it is required to prove you own the copyright. This is obviously an extreme measure, particularly if you are producing a lot of work. Another suggestion is to deposit a copy of your work at your bank or solicitor.

Should you discover that someone has been using your work without your permission, it is far cheaper and generally easier to try and sort out the problem directly with the person who has used your work. When someone does this it is referred to as 'infringement of copyright'. If the matter cannot be resolved then you may need to take the matter to court. The IPO recommends taking legal advice in the first instance.

Sources: UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and Brad Templeton - 10 Big Myths About Copyright Explained
27th-Feb-2008 11:15 pm - An idea!
pelethetart has come up with a wonderful idea that I would like to share with you all.

In my previous post about getting out of Writers Block, pelethetart put forward the suggestion of using something called "seeds" to get those creative juices flowing. Basically you are given a phrase, word count and genre and sent on your merry way. Once you've written something, you go back and share and critique each others work. The suggestion has been put forward about perhaps bringing this idea to the community for everyone to take part in. pelethetart has suggested weekly but being a full time worker myself I'd be more likely to suggest either fortnightly or monthly.

So, does that sound like something you would all like to take part in? I'd like to get an idea of numbers because obviously this will probably only work well if there is a group of us doing this. All those who say "aye" please comment below - also, any other suggestions are appreciated!
27th-Feb-2008 04:58 pm - It's a bit echoey in here...
In a bid to get this community alive and kicking (even just a little bit) I have a question or two for everyone...

- Do you believe there is such a thing as writer's block?
- If so, how do you get over it?

I've been sitting here annoyed at how little I've written over the course of the last year and I'm interested in trying various ways to get out of my block so if you have any tried and tested methods, or maybe you heard a handy tip once, let me know so I can put them to the test!
12th-Feb-2008 12:49 am(no subject)
I don't think I've actually posted here before. I hope some of you are still watching the community however as I would love some feedback on this one (it is a creative writing assignment). The criteria for the assignment were as follows:

Your work must reveal clarity of expression and an effort to put into practice the techniques we have been discussing during workshops. I am looking for emerging voices and for writing that is original, but I don't expect anything incredibly unique or experimental at this stage. Students who engage in chiched/stereotypical/pretentiously mystifying texts/rant-like confessional writing should not expect a high mark. Students who reveal effort in the choice of diction, imagery, figures of speech, style and structure will obviously be rewarded. Finally, students should take the reader into consideration - the more interesting and captivating their work is, the higher the mark.

Bearing that in mind, here is what I plan on submitting (it is a rewriting of something I wrote a long time ago -- http://allpoetry.com/poem/1190188 -- but is still not complete. That is fine, she mentioned that it does not have to be a complete work). Any and all feedback is welcomed! Oh and might I add that I personally don't consider it anything special. She insists on us writing in very simple terms without deviating toward the abstract or any such thing, so that is what I have done.


I scan the cluttered dressing table for a little white bottle marked ‘artificial tears’. Every time I need something from this table and can’t find it I am reminded of my mother’s incessant nagging to clear up the mess and put everything back in its rightful place. She may be right. My eyes are itching and rubbing them is only making the soreness worse. Through red, bleary windows I see half-empty perfume bottles, squeezy tubes of body lotion I’ve never used, brushes, scarves, hairbands and all manner of things that don’t even come close to resembling a little white bottle. Next to a pile of cotton pads as dry as my own eyes, lies an eyeshadow palette bedecked with various shades of green, orange and brown powder. Green, orange and brown. Now why did I think I would ever use those colours? The green reminds me of a sandwich I once accidentally left in my schoolbag for three months. By the time I had discovered it and unearthed the source of the disgusting compost-like smell in my room, it had turned into a mouldy glob of goo at the bottom of a plastic bag. Mouldy eyes certainly won’t do. I ought to throw the palette away. Seems like such a waste though, especially when the most amount of money my bank account sees is the Lm36 stipend I receive once a month.

I picture my eyes drying out like thick mud under a scorching sun. It feels like they have gone from moist to pasty and will soon be dried out enough to crack. Chapped lips, messy hair and red eyes; I must look like some alcoholic going through an unwelcome dry spell. Just as I start to consider whether it would really be that bad to moisten my eyes with nail varnish remover, I spot the blessed little white bottle. Head back, eyes wide open, the bottle is held above, squeezed and… nothing. Nothing?! Just my luck for it to be empty. Bollocks. I knew I should have given up looking for the damn bottle ten minutes ago. I could have been at the pharmacy by now. Instead, I am ten minutes further away from relief than I could have been. Flinging the useless bottle back onto the dressing table (probably the exact same action that got me into this predicament in the first place), I head off to the pharmacy.

Passing through the doorway in my high-shine, leather boots, one foot at a time, I am greeted by a world of treatment for anything from heart disease to heart break. The fluorescent lighting causes me to squint, not helping the irritation one iota. Shuffling down an aisle, through the nauseous stench of clinical cleanliness, my eyes scan a different arena in search of that magical white bottle. Left to right, parched eyes rubbing against dry sockets, and it suddenly occurs to me how odd the concept of ‘artificial tears’ is. Artificial tears. It doesn’t get much less human than that. That said, I am surrounded by shelves displaying products used to numb emotion (2 for the price of 1) or crop the next generation (ever an expense and embarrassment), amongst other things. But that is not what I am here for. The grail I seek comes in the form of a little white bottle with blue writing on it and a screw cap, and I can see it peering out at me from behind the counter. So tantalizingly close yet the little matter of the pharmacist still stands between us.

Stepping up to the counter with bloodshot eyes, I motion toward the pearly white bottle, keeping my head down and feeling my inadequacy rise from my heavily protected feet all the way up to my vulnerable scalp in a harsh hue of red. The well-learned, well-respected lady with a world of knowledge at her fingertips and a nametag that reads ‘Sue’ has every right to look down at me over her nose, as she does, whilst passing me my bottle of relief and demanding my blood and sweat in return.


I am also considering using one of my old poems as we are allowed to submit a mixture of poetry and prose. I don't really have the time to rework anything else so I am thinking of submitting one of these two, as they are both quite simple and something I think she might approve of:


What do you think? Should I bother including one? If so, which?

x-posted to my own journal
14th-Apr-2007 04:37 am - Non Fiction Fiction
me pink
My grandmother is sitting. Her armchair looks coarse and feels soft, and is roughly the colour of tea with not enough milk in. Her cobalt eyes look wet, but she says they are always watering. I think of my old green watering can with the purple flower on it: I never did like gardening, and watering eyes is a peculiar concept.
She tells me stories, my grandma; black and white stories: men in top hats with canes; ghosts in top hats on the stairwell. I and my technicolour do not fully appreciate these stories until I am much older (my grandma also predicts this).
My grandmother rests her bad leg on a stool with a blue and yellow blanket. That blanket always made my eyes dry and itchy. She reaches into her pocket and pulls out a 50p coin and rosary beads. ‘This is for your pocket money’, she says, ‘and now it is six and we must pray.’
I watch and mime as her thin lips fumble over the Mary Full of Graces. Her watery eyes are closed. The rosary beads are made of real dried rose petals. When I use them I close my eyes and hold them in the groove between my nose and my mouth. Grandma thinks it is because I am passionate; they are old, but if you hold them close enough to your face and breathe in through your nose then you can still catch a whiff of musk.
Grandma’s flat is very different to the way it is now. Now, as I write this, they are stripping the walls of their paint, and they are hanging up ‘aubergine’ curtains. Grandma’s curtains are deep red and regal. My hair then is still blonde and long past my waist. My mother brushes it everyday- one hundred brushes- and scolds me when I put strands of it in my mouth.
Grandma has finished praying and I have finished pretending to. She reaches over to the plate on the table by her chair and produces an aniseed ball. I like the way they burn your tongue at the beginning. When it starts to taste sweet you can pull it out of your mouth and it is white; and if you suck it small enough and pull it out of your mouth, it looks like a tooth. I tried putting a small white aniseed ball under my pillow one night, but the tooth-fairy is not easily fooled.
I have finished my homework, and crossed out the tasks in my diary. My grandmother tells me I am a very good girl when I show her this. When I show her my mathematics copybook she tells me she can only remember her calculus because her teacher was a nun who wore her spectacles too far down on her nose and handed you caramels when you got your answers right. She tells me I must improve my handwriting: it looks like a mischievous spider swam in an ink-pot then danced on my copybook. I giggle and think of Little Miss Muffet. Her spider wore a top hat too.
7th-Apr-2007 10:56 pm - The effects of quantity on quality
ponderances, thinky thoughts
We've seen it a million times. An author writes, an author becomes popular, an author gets picked up on a contract to put out "x" amount of books and the quality diminishes.

I've just finished reading my complete guilty pleasure author, Laurell K. Hamilton and she suffers from this. The demands of her contracts for her series are really demanding.
J.K. Rowling, same thing I feel.  Michael Crichton, John Grisham, Louie L'Mour (sp??), and again, I could go on and on, have all fallen into this pit. The absolute worst for me is the ghost writer continuing under the V.C. Andrews name. I long ago stopped reading the drivel that person is attempting to pass off as being from the mind of Virginia Andrews. It is disgraceful and I am sure she is turning in her grave.

Then I read books by an author who has put out one, maybe two, books and they are just lovely reads. Or I go back to the early days of a prolific author and am amazed at the difference.

How much do you think is the responsibility of the author and how much of this do you feel is the responsibility of publishing house pressure to put out more and more books? Do you think this has caused a flood of substandard quality books from otherwise higher quality authors?
7th-Apr-2007 10:43 pm - Truth vs. Self
ponderances, thinky thoughts
We've talked a bit about truth in writing, how even within the wildest fantasy there must be truth in order for an audience to relate and suspend disbelief.

Some people took this as putting some of themself in their writing, and while I can have truth, it can be completely not my personal truth. If I were writing something historical, I can do a tonne of research and include a lot of accuracy and still not have it be *me*.

So, now I'd like to talk a bit about that. How much, as an author, do you put of yourself into your writing?

I have personally known or seen authors who will create lead characters in their likeness and then make them into heroes. Laurell K. Hamilton comes to mind. It is glaringly obvious how she puts herself into her writing, as Anita Blake.

Stephen King, Anne Rice, Edgar Allen Poe, etc used their writings to exorcise personal demons.

Jack London expanded upon personal experience through settings and characters in his life, as did Mark Twain and well, I could go on and on and on.

My point, everyone does it in different  ways. Some through their protagonist, some through personal connection to a setting, some through support characters, etc. I have found that these authors are fairly consistent in how they present it though.

It has made me stop and look at my stories at how I put myself into it and I realised I am not so consistent across the board. For my "fantasy"/experimental I put the truth more in characters. For the more realistic stories I think it is easier because it is through situation, character and setting. I also feel, in thinking on this,that I find those of either historic or "fantasy"/experimental to be more enjoyable for me to write because they are more challenging to put myself, truth and balance into.

What are your thoughts on this?
25th-Mar-2007 11:02 pm - Truth in Fiction
ponderances, thinky thoughts
Many moons ago when I thought it was prudent to study the craft of writing (something I have since rethought, but that is for another day) one of my professors stated that there must be truth in fiction. Of course students protested vehemently, especially those of us who choose experimental, sci-fi and/or fantasy genres.

However, now that I am older I realize the very profound truth in it. I have read many works, especially lately, that while far reaching in their philosophical, scientific or other contexts they fall flat because the "real" elements were not truthful.

For example, anyone can lace together a strand of psuedo-science to create a sci-fi thriller, Gene Roddenbury and George Lucas have both proved this. Yet if there wasn't an element of honesty and truth in the details, in the characters, we wouldn't connect and we wouldn't care. This is also true for Tolkein, Rowling, Rice and well, I could go on.
Somewhere in all of the fiction there needs to be something real that we can relate to in order to indulge our suspension of disbelief and get lost in those worlds.

Alot of the posted-up here or there, especially in the realm of fan fiction, I am seeing people lose the details and focus on what they perceive to be the grand themes and, for me, it just falls flat.

What are your thoughts on truth in writing fiction?
18th-Mar-2007 06:17 pm(no subject)
me pink
My generic article, which was actually really fun to write:

10 things I hate about men, and 10 goood breakup linesCollapse )
13th-Mar-2007 11:05 am(no subject)
Hi everyone, and welcome to all the new people that have found their way here from add_a_writer. I'll admit this community hasn't been very alive recently but, hopefully, with the latest group of people joining the members list, we can turn this place into a thriving community.

So, to get the ball rolling here is a question for you all - what inspires you to write? And why do you write?
21st-Feb-2007 11:41 pm(no subject)
me pink
Article/Review time:

As I ascended the steps to Sala Isouard at the Manoel Theatre, I felt incredibly underdressed: several academics in suits and heels (the females) were present, and the best my wardrobe could come up with was a pair of jeans and a white shirt. Oh, and trainers. Never mind, I tried to convince myself, it’s all part of my charm; anyway, with my bright red hair I’m sure to blend in nicely. I sat in a rather comfortable chair toward the middle of the hall and began to examine the room. Suddenly I saw it: A Bösendorfer grand piano right at the front of the room. I seriously drooled. Bösendorfers are said to have been the only piano Liszt couldn’t break. That is something. It will also be something when I come up with the Lm 28,873.77 I would need in order to buy one. But I digress.

After the inevitable technical difficulties and an astute introduction by the UOM’s own Dr. Ivan Callus, Professor John Gillies took the microphone to deliver his lecture, entitled ‘Shakespeare in Exotic Performance Mode, Style and Stylization’. The lecture was deliciously insightful: Profs.Gillies focused on stylization in Eastern representations of Shakespeare. His first example was Ninagawa’s ‘Pericles’. Ninagawa borrows styles from Kabuki and Noh theatre in order to animate his narrators; however, as I learnt, there is a big difference between style and stylization and this is that stylization is actually a style wherein styles are represented in an impressionistic manner. Ninagawa’s ‘Macbeth’ was also brought up to illustrate this point: in this performance, Lady Macbeth is played by a Kabuki actor, while Macbeth is played by a Naturalistic actor. The lecture went on to distinguish rival directors who make use of stylization in their plays- and sometimes films (Kurosawa is one such director), and then to explain the decline of stylization, especially in Western theatre. According to Profs.Gillies, stylization lives on in set-design and, interestingly, in post-modern commodity culture.

I spent Friday and Saturday in a Shakespearean daze, literally, as I read Hamlet and Macbeth, not only because I am a hard-working actress and English Literature student (I write this with a wide smile on my face), but in anticipation of the highlight of my weekend: Stephen Berkoff’s ‘Shakespeare’s Villains’ on Sunday evening. Berkoff is my new hero. His website describes the performance as “a Masterclass in Evil”. The performance- a mixture of zany stand-up comedy and pedagogy- sees Berkoff showing off his exceedingly brilliant acting skills as he zig-zags his way through a series of double-takes and writes off an assortment of Shakespeare’s characters as evil. (''What? Hamlet a villain? That's impossible. No! No! He's sweet, he's lovely, he's got blue eyes and blond hair. . . . He's Kenneth Branagh!''), Iago is a “mediocre villain”; Richard III is a “wannabe”; Coriolanus is a mama’s boy; Hamlet is a student villain. And Oberon is an evil drug-dealing pimp.. Yes, even Oberon becomes villainous in Berkoff’s high-speed, rollercoaster-style performance, which had me and even my non-English major friends lusting to read Macbeth one more time.
19th-Jan-2007 10:29 pm - New Year's Resolution
I want to apologise for my lack of attendance here over the last few months. It's been a pretty busy time and I'll be the first to admit, I have neglected this place for a while. But I'm going to make an effort to change that from here on in. I've decided to make it my mission to turn this place into a thriving community by the end of the year if I can.

With this in mind, I'm asking you, the loyal members for a little bit of help. I'm asking you to spread the word, invite your friends or whoever you feel may benefit from this community, everyone is welcome! Let's talk about writing again, let's get writing again. Let's exchange ideas, great websites, handy hints, excellent books to read and anything else that you can think of. Let's get enthusiastic about being writers again!

And despite it being the 19th January already, I'm going to wish you all a Happy New Year. New Year, new start as the saying goes...
30th-Oct-2006 08:35 pm(no subject)
me pink
A “Crisis of Values” in Maltese Society

The President of Malta, Dr.Eddie Fenech Adami, was invited to give a speech to students during Freshers’ Week. He spoke about a crisis of values in today’s society, and opened his speech by stating, “I read a book which came out next month…[sic]” However, we shall forgive His Excellency this slip-up; it was probably just the excitement of speaking to such a large audience of youngsters. It would be a long-shot, however, to even try to apply the same excuse to the rest of his speech.

Dr.Fenech Adami stated that the main culprit of this “crisis” is philosophy. As we all know, philosophy is the work of Satan and that is why it is vital for every academic (and politician) to learn it. Rousseau is then accused for starting this “trend” of deviants, because his work was “undermining the fact that one needs to believe in God, and one needs to be Christian.”Got that? No? Alright, let’s just back up for a second and look at that again. Still not got it? Me neither.
See, Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) was a Swiss philosopher of the Enlightenment whose political ideas influenced the French Revolution, the development of socialist theory, and the growth of nationalism. I repeat, SOCIALIST theory, and NATIONALISM. Say, aren’t they the two political parties we have in Malta? Yes, my friends, we are being told that all we’ve ever known as democratic choice is the work of a terrible man who is responsible for corrupting modern society.
Next, His Excellency alludes to what the late Pope John Paul II had said about there being two ideologies of evil: Communism, and Fascism. However, President Fenech Adami goes on to say that there is an even bigger threat to modern society, and this apocalyptic monster goes by the name of Relativism. Relativism is an umbrella-term for several theories which propose that there exists no one absolute truth, but that truth is relative to the individual’s beliefs and principles. Dr. Fenech Adami blames Descartes for this phenomenon. Descartes is best known for fathering the catch-phrase, “I think, therefore I am.” Now, as most philosophy students will readily tell you, the logic behind this phrase was that Descartes wanted to escape the doubt that comes with Relativism and wanted to find a theory to prove that he existed. He came to the conclusion that thought exists and the fact that he, the thinker, was thinking this meant that thought cannot be separated from the thinker, therefore, the thinker exists.
Instead, Dr.Fenech Adami gave us his own interpretation of Descartes work:
“ The human who is able to think does not need God because he is able to decide for himself what is good for him, what is bad for him.”
He goes on to say, “I think this exists in Malta also, and I think this [philosophy] is very dangerous.”
Now, doesn’t bashing relativism kind of defeat the whole concept of democracy? If there were somebody telling us what to do all the time, that would be tyrrany, or Fascism, which as you recall was said to be an ideology of evil. The root of democracy lies in subjectivism and the belief that a person has a right to decide what is right for him/her.

However, the most ironic part of the entire speech was that His Excellency preceded every statement with the disclaimer, “I believe…”
19th-Oct-2006 04:10 pm(no subject)
me pink
An evening with C.K.Williams was held at the KSU Common Room at the University of Malta on Tuesday, October 17th. This unique occasion was the outcome of a collaboration between KSU and the American Embassy. There was quite a large audience, including academics and the media, and it was especially encouraging to see a large number of youths excited about the poetry.
C. K. Williams is the celebrated author of nine books of poetry, the most recent of which, The Singing, won the National Book Award for 2003. His previous book, Repair, was awarded the 2000 Pulitzer Prize, as well as the Los Angeles Times Book Award. He has also been awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for Flesh and Blood.
C.K.Williams said he was pleased to have been invited to Malta, which he described as “a very beautiful place…[with] very beautiful people.”
Throughout the evening C.K. Williams read a number of poems, including A Day For Anne Frank- an artistic and thought-provoking response to the terrors of the holocaust; The Dog- an unusual take on the consequences of racial hatred; The Cup- where the poet looks back on the turbulence of adolescence; and several others, dealing with themes such as love, jealousy, the war in Iraq, and Global Warming, which Williams admits he is terrified of.
Two question-and answer sessions were also held, where the audience was invited to ask the poet any questions. A few interesting questions were put forward, most of which dealt with the process of writing poetry, and the poet’s writing style.
Representatives from KSU and the American Embassy gave a short speech, saying that this partnership has been very fruitful, and they hope to team up again in the near future to organize more similar events which they believe will offer a “broader picture of American culture”.
19th-Oct-2006 09:53 am(no subject)
Bardic Chile
Hello! I am Paul. I am 21. I am currently residing in Canada. I have been a competent reader since a very young age and my writing ability is at a level I can hope to be proud of. My work is mostly experimenting with poetry: different types of form and structure without much variation with content. I did write a few short pieces of a series that I posted for my friends, but that ended after the 22nd or so. I do often seem to have random excretions of inspired writing, only now it is prose more fit for a novel. I guess my reason for joining this community is to see if I can find people who can analyze my writing and return to me a response with more detail than "Its cool, I like it, publish it!" which offers no thoughts or insights. I do have a current idea going and for my first action in this community, I will ask if there is anyone that can give me a few suggestions of the most unromantic places you can think of!
11th-Oct-2006 01:13 am - Make Time to Write
Ok, so not quite next week, but hey, I've been a busy gal.

So the subject for this post? Making time to write. The pitfalls of procrastination unfortunately affect all of us writers, no matter how much we say it doesn't. But having the time to write is probably the biggest issue for many a person. After all, if we're not making money from our writing then surely other things need to take precedence, like working and earning money, right? I'm an absolute classic example of this. While I would love to wile away the hours in front of the computer producing page after page of fiction, I have to be realistic. My dream does not pay the rent or put food on my table. Nor does it do the laundry, empty out the rubbish bins or keep in contact with my friends and family.

Sadly, these sorts of things are necessary for day-to-day living. If we were to neglect all that then I'm sure we would very quickly go mad, end up seriously stinky through lack of showers and clean clothes and quite possibly end up secluded and lonely into the bargain. So how do we fulfil all our daily needs and still find time to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard? The magic word here is organisation.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm certainly not the most organised person on the planet, in fact, being disorganised is probably one of my greatest weaknesses. But I've finally come to realise that if I seriously want to achieve my goal and become a published writer, then something's gotta give. And that something would be me.

According to David Kilpatrick on Frugal Fun, it takes the average writer one hour to produce one page of writing. Equate that to a novel of approximately 300 pages, and you're looking at roughly 300 hours work. To put that into realistic terms, that's seven and a half weeks at 40 hours a week. Nearly two months worth of writing if you were to treat it like a normal 9 to 5 job. That's a pretty scary thought when you think most of us write around the times we need to work, eat and do the chores. To produce a book of that size you'd probably have to spread it out over a year. With that sort of thinking, you would need to dedicate around 30 minutes a day to produce that many pages. "That sounds a bit more realistic," you might be thinking. But do you have a spare half an hour a day to sit and write?

Kim Wilson states clearly on Write From Home.com that there is a difference between finding time to write and making time. She puts forward a clear and simple plan so that you can make time to write in your busy daily schedules. She suggests sitting down and splitting the day into a 24 hour schedule, then list your primary commitments - your job and appointments you must attend. Then list your secondary commitments - chores, sleeping and spending time with family and friends - flexible time. Once you've mapped out where and how you spend your time, look to find spaces that you can commit to writing. Kim gives 5 suggestions about how to create more time:

1. If you watch a lot of television, cut back. Decide which programs you can live without then use that time to write.

2. Recruit your children and spouse to help out around the house. If your children are at a "helping age" have them pick up after themselves and assist you with household chores.

3. Keep a running grocery list on your refrigerator. As you use items write them on the list. This will save you a lot of time when it's time to do the shopping.

4. Prepare for the morning the night before. Pick out the clothes you and your children will wear. Make lunches and prepare diaper bags and backpacks for the following day. By doing this you will save time and not be so rushed in the morning.

5. Accept help from others. If Grandma, friends or other relatives offer to babysit, let them. In fact if you and the sitter are willing, schedule a regular time on certain days or evenings, then use this uninterrupted time to write.

Ultimately, making the time to write is about making sacrifices. Yes, you will have to socialise a little less, spend a little less time sleeping or eating (eat while you type!), but if you can bite your lip and make that commitment, the product of that sacrifice will most definitely be worthwhile. This is something that has taken me some time to realise, but now I have, I'm prepared to make the sacrifice and the time.
30th-Sep-2006 11:11 pm - Preparing your workspace.
In preparation for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I decided that the first thing to do was clear out my workspace.

According to The Freelance Writer's Handbook by Andrew Crofts, "To write successfully you need to be completely comfortable in whatever space you choose to set up in. It doesn't matter where it is, as long as you're happy to go there. It could be a broom cupboard under the stairs, as long as it brings you peace of mind, allowing you to forget the rest of the world exists for several hours at a time, like returning to the womb.".

I've read a lot of books on the subject of writing, and it seems one thing is abundantly clear with all of them: the need for a dedicated space in which to write. Moira Allen, in her article "First Things First: What You Need to Get Started" on http://www.writing-world.com, says:

"The very first thing you need to establish is a place to write. While some writers have launched their careers from a corner of the kitchen table, it helps immensely to have a space -- even a very small space -- that you can call your own. Most writers feel that this space also requires a door that can be closed against interruptions, distractions, and family members."

She goes on to list the basic requirements of a workspace:

  • A desktop (even if it's a table) for your computer

  • Good lighting for your computer and reading areas

  • A flat surface to spread out notes, books, and other materials

  • A place to file research notes, articles, correspondence, etc.

  • A place to store your writing supplies

  • A handy shelf for your most useful reference books

  • A chair that provides good back support

A good thing to remember is that, while you may have this dedicated writing space, it doesn't necessarily have to be the most organised space on the planet. Ultimately, if you can find whatever it is you're looking for without to much trouble and can understand the notes you may have scribbled down and are now about to include in your writing, then organisation is not your priority. This works out quite nicely for me. I'm certainly not the most organised person around, I prefer to think of my workspace as "organised chaos"! But de-cluttering my desk of all the magazines, old bills, receipts and programs from places I've visited over the last six months has definitely been a bonus. Not only can I now move my arms around without knocking a great pile of paperwork to the floor, but I feel emotionally de-cluttered and ready to start writing! Give it a try, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Next week: Making time to write.
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