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18th-Sep-2006 01:12 am(no subject)
schadenkatze mentioned over on originalit that November is National Novel Writing Month. As a person who's never heard of this before, I'm intrigued. Anyone else likely to take part?
16th-Sep-2006 07:31 pm(no subject)
me pink
Here's an article I was assigned for the Uni newspaper, although I'm not too happy with it because it looks messy:

Should I be Wed to go to Bed?

Quite a few months ago a campaign entitled, ‘Towards a more beautiful sexual life’, was started by KDZ. When I saw the billboards for this, my first thought was, ‘Could it be? We are finally going to educate people about sex and the importance of contraceptives? Maltese mentality is moving forward!’ I couldn’t have been more wrong. For the benefit of those among you readers who haven’t heard about it, this is a campaign against pre-marital sex, claiming that waiting until marriage will improve your sexual life. Call me a cynic, but when I think about a virgin couple on their wedding night, disaster bells start going off in my ear. What if these people are not compatible? What if one of them has a weird fetish which involves the other doing something he or she is not comfortable with? What if there just isn’t any chemistry between them? To top it off, we don’t even have divorce in Malta, so if you’re unhappy that’s the way it’s going to be.
Don’t get me wrong: I am in no way promoting promiscuity and casual sex. I agree that sex is not something which should be treated lightly and with nonchalance. I do, however, believe that sex plays a vital role in any romantic relationship: it serves to communicate on a level which is beyond verbal communication. When two people have sex their bodies are saying that they trust each other and give themselves to each other in the most intimate way. They are becoming vulnerable and allowing their partner to share that. If a couple is sexually incompatible, then all other aspects of their relationship will begin to suffer. My point is that whether you wait until marriage, or until it just feels right, sex (like so many other things) should be the choice of the individual. If you want to wait until marriage, that is your choice- but don’t become righteous about it and look down upon people who have sex outside marriage. Malta needs to learn that there are Maltese people who are not Catholic (gasp) and therefore morals and ideals of this organized religion do not apply to them. Why we keep assuming that everybody’s principles are alike is beyond me. What is more important, I believe, than discouraging premarital sex, is educating people. Let’s focus our energy on teaching youths about contraceptives, STDs, AIDS and pregnancy, instead of leaving them float around as abstract concepts, and for God’s sake, DON’T DISCOURAGE CONDOMS. What kind of Neanderthal mentality is that? I, for one, was glad when I heard that students of a certain age are handed free condoms in schools abroad. I hope one day Malta will do this too. The only way forward is open mindedness. Aristotle was right when he said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” This means that you don’t necessarily have to like ideals which are different to yours, just be tolerant of them.

feedback is really appreciated. constructive crit and all that.
3rd-Sep-2006 09:19 pm - Writer's Block
writer's block n : an inability to write; "he had writer's block; the words wouldn't come"

It seems writer's block comes to us all at some stage. Perhaps you've struggled with a piece of work, finding yourself unable to continue for one reason or another. Maybe you're fresh out of ideas and the act of writing and starting something new seems overwhelmingly impossible. Whatever you're experiencing, you aren't the first and you certainly won't be the last. And, as difficult as it is to remember sometimes, you're not alone in this feeling. Right now, there are countless numbers of writers out there suffering with this very same feeling, and as unpleasant as it is, there are ways to get out of it. With a little work and encouragement.

As far as the internet goes, where I have largely been researching this article, it is both a lifesaver and a curse to a writer's block sufferer. There are countless resources out there talking about how people get blocked, ways to overcome it and exercises to work through it. The trouble is you can get so carried away reading through all this, it can fast turn into a form of procrastination, stopping you from ever writing another word again! Realising that has made me stop and take stock of the information I've gleaned so far..

According to one website, writer's block is easily confused with other things. Maybe it's more a case of finding the time to write, maybe you're suffering with physical or mental anguish from an outside source or maybe you're in the throws of your natural rhythm and this simply is not your time to write. If you think you might be suffering from one of these things, then click on the link for some suggestions about how to overcome them.

Mark McGuinness makes some suggestions on how to overcome writer's block:

1. Make a deal with your Inner Critic
All writers have an 'Inner Critic' or editor at the back of the mind. We need one, to maintain quality control. The purpose of your Inner Critic is to make you a better writer - but sometimes s/he gets a bit carried away, and starts pulling your draft to pieces before you've even got it down. So every time you try to write, you end up listening to a nagging inner voice telling you everything that's wrong with your work and why you'll never cut it as a writer.

If this starts happening, imagine sitting down with your inner critic over coffee, and make the following deal:

Thank the Critic for trying to help - but point out that the criticism is having the opposite effect
Ask for time and space to write the draft first - save the critique for afterwards
Ask to hear about what's right with your work as well as what's wrong
Ask for feedback that is specific (what needs to be improved?), action-oriented (what can you do to improve it?), and focused on the writing, not the writer (don't make it personal!)
Promise to make time to listen to the Critic and review your work. Keep your promise!
If the Critic starts interfering with your work again, remind him/her of the deal. Once s/he realises you're not going to start mailing any old rubbish off to editors, and you are taking time to review and rewrite, s/he usually relaxes enough to get on with the job.

2. Remember who you're writing for
Writers get stuck when they forget their real audience. They get sidetracked into thinking how the book will look to editors, book reviewers, the 'literary world', posterity, etc. And it introduces a false note into their writing. Who is your ideal reader? What does s/he look like? How does s/he feel as she listens to you? What do you want to say to him/her next?

3. Sit down
Kingsley Amis said 'the art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair'. Sometimes we get distracted by so many 'important' things that we don't give enough importance to writing. If this is happening to you, set aside a regular time to sit at your desk. Even if you 'can't write', stay sitting at the desk. Eventually a thought will come to you, or you may even start writing as a distraction, to relieve the boredom of just sitting there.

4. Stand up
Or you may have the opposite problem - you have been sitting at the desk too long, banging your head on the proverbial brick wall. Your body feels tense, heavy, fidgety. Give yourself a break. Get up, make a cup of tea, wash the dishes, walk the dog or nip out for a pint of milk. Whatever you do, make sure it's something that engages your senses and reconnects you with your body. And whenever you catch yourself thinking about your writing - STOP!

I remember this happening to me a few months ago - gradually it dawned on me that I had been sitting hunched over the keyboard for too long. I heaved a sigh of relief as I got up from the desk and wandered down the corridor to the kitchen. I started chopping vegetables and heating some oil in the pan, taking care to focus on the textures, smells and sounds of cooking. As I fried up the food in the pan, trying to get the right balance, I suddenly realised where I had been going wrong with my writing - and found myself running back along the corridor to my desk...

5. Imagine you're having a drink with a friend...
You're in a bar, on your second drink. You're telling your friend about the book - what inspired you, what you've written so far, and which part you're stuck on. What do you say? How do you make it clear? Is there a simple analogy you can use?

Now write down what you just said.

6. Forget about being a writer
Stop worrying about what kind of writer you are, whether you are cut out to be a writer, or whether you are a 'real' writer or a 'good' writer. When you are thinking about 'being a writer' you are not thinking about your writing. We all want fame and money, but that comes afterwards (or not), and has nothing to do with the actual writing. Focus on writing - the next word and the next - and it becomes its own reward. Anything else is a bonus.

7. Leave the house without a notebook
Writing can be a paradoxical experience. Sit at your desk, try to write and the inspiration dries up. Carry a notebook around and it stays empty. Or you can be out and about, with no pen to hand - and that's when an idea pops into your head. Don't worry about forgetting it - if it's good enough, you'll remember.

8. Get trigger happy
Why do students take lucky gonks into exams? Why do sports players have lucky shirt numbers and pre-match rituals? Why do some writers work in the same place, on the same paper, the same make of computer, with the same pen or drinking the same drink? Are they all mad?

Or have they just noticed that these little triggers make them feel a bit better, sharper, more focused? Because our minds work by association - reproduce the trigger and the feeling comes back. What are the triggers that work best for you? A particular pen? A favourite kind of paper? A different font on your laptop? A special place to write? Music? Coffee? Deadlines?

9. Talk to other writers
Friends and family may be sympathetic but they don't really know what it's like. Meet up with your writer friends to swap stories and remedies for writer's block - or even just to have a good moan. Sometimes it makes all the difference to know you're not the only person who has experienced writer's block. The more writers I talk to, the more I realise that the occasional block is a normal occupational hazard. If you don't know many writers, look around for a good writing class or group in your area.

10. Have some fun!
When was the last time you really enjoyed a piece of writing? What was it like? How did it feel? What were you doing differently on that occasion? Why not do that again?

With all the information I've been reading, one thing seems very clear. In order to get through a block, it seems persistence and occasionally a change in routine is the key. Change the place where you write, change the tools you write with, the time of day you write. Persist, sit down for ten minutes and write whatever it is you think of. Write crap and stop reaching for that elusive perfect piece. Get into the mindset of maybe not necessarily writing the best thing you can think of, but anything you can think of. You're blocked, after all, and this action might be what you need to get the words flowing again. I've also found a couple of exercises to assist with this. Give them a try, posting the results here if you want. Have they helped you? Or are they useless exercises? I'd be interested to know.

Get out your favorite writing instruments (fountain pen and quadrille pad, PowerBook, wax tablet and stylus, whatever). Start putting down words and Don't Stop. Not for a second. Even if all you are writing is "I can't write, I can't think, I hate this," Just Keep Writing. Do not lift your pen from the paper (or whatever modality you've chosen). Do it for at least 15 minutes. Then go back and read it. We're pretty sure, you'll find a phrase or even a whole sentence on which to build.

When you are unable to even think of an idea to write about, instead of staring at a black page, do things which may spark new ideas. Go to the park, the mall, or another public place and people watch. Take a notebook and write down your observations as well as anything else that comes to mind. When you see a person or family that interests you, imagine what their "story" is. Who are they? Why are they there? What kind of past do they have? You might trigger a character or story idea.

Concentrate on a single sense, and write a scene. Don't worry about making a story around it. For instance, have a character walk into a stranger's house and smell an air freshener her mother once used. What does this do to the character? How does she react? What other smells does she encounter? Describe the scene with an emphasis on your chosen sense without excluding any other that naturally enter into it. Remember, this is an exercise to get your creativity flowing. If it evolves into a complete story, go with it, but don't think it must.
1st-Sep-2006 09:28 pm(no subject)
Hey I'm Kelsey, I'm 19. I started writing when I was very little..I wrote short stories. I remember even in like first grade, I'd write small little books about dogs and such, and the teacher was nice and let me read them infront of the class. They probably only had a few lines each, haha, and I wish I still had them. I stopped writing short stories around the age of 12, and started writing poetry on a very regular basis. A few years ago, that kind of declined...To the point where, I write very rarely. I love to do it, I do, I guess I just have writer's block....AKA I'm too lazy to try to break that sometimes. But, I need to. Hopefully this community can help once it gets up and running more!

I found this community because....I just started my major of Film Production, and Screenwriting 1 is a required course for me. I need to write 1/3 of a screenplay this semester, and I guess I just am looking around online for writing tips to break that writer's block. I mean, I never have written a screenplay before and it's not what I want to do...but I don't want to blow the class off just because it's not my concentration..I still want to write decent in it, with good ideas. So yeah I'll stop talking, but that's how I found this community. I want to get my writing back.
29th-Aug-2006 06:43 pm(no subject)
me pink
Hi everybody! My name is Davinia and I'm 19. I've been writing pretty much all my life- I still have a copy of a book I'd made myself once out of paper, staples and crayons. I am reading for an Honours degree in English at the University of Malta. I love it there because I get to do so much reading and gain so much insight. I write poetry and short short stories, although I am having very bad writer's block at the moment. I work better under pressure, and am more inspired when I feel tragically sad, or ridiculously happy. I have had quite a few good ideas for novels but they all turn to dust when I try and write them: I'm very critical of my own work- I don't like most of it and delete most of it as soon as it's there. Pity.
I am soon going to be contributing to the University newspaper, 'The Insiter', so that should be quite fun too.

I can't wait to read about you guys.
29th-Aug-2006 01:27 pm - To begin...
A big Welcome! to the people that have joined wordsmiths101 so far. I suppose the best place to start would be introductions. Tell us why you've joined, what sort of writer you are, whether you're published or still aspiring (like myself) and anything else you can think of while you're at it. Here, I'll lead by example...

My name's Sarah, I'm 26 years old and have been writing since I was 13. Predominantly, I write a lot of poetry although I've been in the middle of a huge dry spell and haven't written anything half decent in nearly a year. I also write short stories, and have a couple of decent ideas for novels on the go. Being published would be the ultimate dream for me, but I'm realistic and know I can't afford to not work in order to write so I have to fit any writing in around the full time job I have to pay the bills.

I'm hoping to gain a lot of information from this community, particularly when it comes to inspiration (of which I'm seriously lacking right now) and organising the time to write. I am always reading books about how to write the perfect novel/short story/play etc, my shelf is laden with Writers' & Artists' Yearbooks, how to guides, reference books and my favourite read - Stephen King's On Writing. As a question to you all, do you know of any other books like Stephen King's about writing and being a writer? I'd love to read some more, I find books like that inspire me and it can't hurt to be inspired, right?

Anyway, that's my two cents to get the ball rolling. Post away, tell me who you and why you're here. Can't wait to read your entries!
28th-Aug-2006 03:57 pm - Welcome...

Welcome to Wordsmiths101. While there are a lot of writing communities on LiveJournal, I'm hoping this place will be something a little bit different. There are plenty of places for you to post your writing for critique and comment, this is not one of those places.

Instead, I'd like this community to be about the act of writing itself. Tips, tricks, good books, websites etc about writing, a regular slot for writing exercises, experiences from members about how they became published, finding agents, how to submit work and where to submit it, where you get your inspiration from and any other questions you might have that the other members here might be able to answer.

It's a haven for writers who are fed up of having to sift through angsty poems and badly written short stories in the search for information.

Obviously this community is in it's very early stages, so any suggestions would be gratefully received. Just email me (the maintainer - madmalteaser) and I will do my best to accomodate you. Thanks and I look forward to your input!

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