Wednesday, 21 November 2018

The Writer Tag

I wanted to dedicate a post to writing this week since I mentioned in a post a few weeks back that I’m doing my own thing for #NaNoWriMo this year. I rediscovered Bee’s ‘The Writer Tag’ whilst I was browsing the Vivatramp archives and I thought it would be a great opportunity to discuss my writing process for those who are interested. Snaps to Bee for creating this tag!

1. What do you write? What genre? Any recurring themes?

I’m currently in the middle of writing a historical fiction novel set in 17th Century France which I’ve been working on for around two years. I’ve always been a history buff and I love reading historical fiction so this has always been a genre that’s drawn to me. The story focuses on love, intrigue, relationships, and the politics of life in Paris during the 1660’s.

I’ve also recently started dabbling in writing bits of poetry and flash fiction, which are nice pallet cleansers when I need a break from novel writing. My shorter pieces don’t always follow particular genre but I like to focus on the dark and macabre.

2. What or who inspires you to write?

I can’t say what exactly inspired me to start writing a book about the intrigues of Louis XIV’s court, but the idea sprang from somewhere and I sort of ran with it. I visited Paris with my sister a few years ago (before I started writing it, although the idea had already blossomed) and our day trip to Versailles really got my creative brain ticking. I wanted to bring my story in to the walls of that magnificent palace, to tell a story about real people who walked those halls. I love to draw inspiration from real places and real people.

Authors also inspire me. V. E. Schwab is a new favourite of mine and I’m in awe of her world building and ability to create memorable characters.

3. Where do you write, when, and with what?

I do a lot of my writing at home, either in my little nook on the sofa, or on my bed. I have notebooks where I scrawl ideas down but a lot of the time, I write on my laptop so I can edit easily and move things around if I feel they belong elsewhere.

4. Sound or silence when writing?

Sound, always. I find silence very distracting when I’m writing so I like to have something unobtrusive playing to help me focus. I like to listen to classical music, film soundtracks, or soft house music.

5. Have you studied writing? If so, what was that like? If not, where do you feel you learnt your craft?

I have an MA in English Literature but I never studied writing during my course. I was more interested in studying the writing of others than creating my own at university. I was always of the mind that I couldn’t write and it took me a long time to get my story down on paper because I thought, what if it’s no good? Even now, there are times where I think my writing completely sucks. I just push through, read as much as I can, and experiment with ideas. I don’t believe you need to be have studying writing to be a writer – you just have to do it.

(photo credit)

6. What do your family/friends think?

Here’s something about me: I’m actually a super private person so there’s hardly anyone in my personal life who has read my writing. They know of it, but I’m only just now starting to share it with my friends. I overthink a lot – a by-product of my anxiety - but becoming part of Bee’s Patreon has helped give me confidence in sharing my creative work. If you're looking for a creative community to be a part of, I definitely recommend Bee's Patreon. It's a lovely little coven full of lovely people. 

7. What do you find challenging?

Writer’s block is a real struggle and I find it difficult to work my way through it sometimes. I have the skeleton of the story in my head and filling in the gaps so I can get from A to B can be like pulling teeth.

8. What’s your favourite thing about writing?

I love reading over something after being away from it for a bit and realising that I actually like what I’ve written. It gives me a real boost and reinvigorates my confidence.

9. Any tips for writer’s block?

Take time away from your project. Trying to work through it can sometimes be counter-productive and I find my brain works through it better if I take a break. Also, read. Read as much as you can. I find reading something different to the genre I’m writing can help me think outside of the box.

10. What are your life long writing goals?

I would love to have a novel published someday. Maybe even the one I’m working on now – if I ever finish it…


Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Recent Favourites (in doodles)

September through October were a bust couple of months for me, from work, to general life stuff, to trying to manage the anxious wreck that is my brain. The last few weeks haven’t been great where my mental health is concerned, so I thought it would be a good idea to focus on some of the things I have enjoyed lately. I’ve never done a favourites’ post before and I thought, hey, why not express my recent loves through drawing? I invested in a new set of coloured pens a while back and I figured this would be the perfect time to out them to good use. That way I get to focus on all the things that have been bringing me joy and do some creative therapy at the same time.

For this edition (I might make this a regular thing, who knows?!) my favourites are largely autumn focused. I’ve been all about cosy nights in with pizza and films, snuggled up on the sofa watching Hocus Pocus. This is actually how I spent my birthday evening and it was one of the nicest nights I had in ages. I won’t lie when I say I’ve loved digging my jumpers out of storage and investing in some new, good quality knits. I’ve also got my paws on some new winter boots so I’m all prepped for the coming months – just waiting for it to be cold enough for me to wear my faux fur coat.

BOOKS. There have been some great books on my list lately but a stand out for me was The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. It was the perfect read for October and it was exactly what I needed – a dilapidated house, a family from a dying class, and creepy goings on. I’m all about creepy/chilling stories in the cooler months.

T.V. AND FILM. Aside from the Great British Bake Off (Kim-Joy is a winner in my heart), I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix lately. Last week I watched all of the Twilight films because I fancied something easy and cheesy to get lost in (don’t judge me, lol). On another end of the spectrum, the earlier seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race have been re-added to Netflix and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve been relying on YouTube to get my regular dose of Season Six clips and at last I can finally watch full episodes again. My soul feels cleaned.

MUSIC. I’ve also been in mood lately to listen to the same songs over and over again obsessively, which is more or less how I listen to music most of time, but my latest obsession is St. Vincent. More specifically, her song Los Ageless and its music video. The video gives me series Wes Anderson vibes and the song, I just can’t get enough of it. I heard it on the opening episode of the new series of BoJack Horseman and the soundtrack for that show is gold. If you haven’t watched it already, please do. Just get ready to feel.

I do find drawing/doodling very therapeutic and I would like to do it some more. I’m looking for ways to help manage my mental health and I think this exercise/post is definitely a healthy and helpful way to look at all the things I’ve enjoyed lately, and I feel good for doing something creative. Double whammy.

What have been some of your favourites lately? Any stand out books or films that you highly recommend?


Thursday, 1 November 2018

NaNoWriMo 2018?

November is upon us, guys. The nights are drawing in and there’s definitely a winter chill lingering in the air. My sister asked me earlier today what I wanted for Christmas and I’ve not mentally prepared myself to even think about Christmas just yet. One month at a time, please. Where November may mean pre-Christmas hype for some, for the writers among you it might mean just one thing: NaNoWriMo.

I’ve taken part in the online creative writing project that is National Novel Writing Month for the past two years and I can really see the merits of signing up to the challenge. Writing 50,000 words of a novel may seem impossible, and trust me some days it’s not without difficulty, but it is doable if you set your mind to it. It’s helped me write the vast majority of the book I’ve been working on for the past couple of years and if it wasn’t for NaNoWriMo I’m so sure if I would have had the confidence to write what I have.

Like many of us out there, I’ve dreamed of writing a book it being published one day but in the back of my mind I always felt silly for trying. Whenever I put words on the page I’d cringe at my own writing and question everything about my idea – is it good enough? Does the story make sense? Due to this constant over thinking I could never make it beyond the first couple of chapters because I was obsessed with trying to perfect everything. My inner editor was stopping me from moving forward. So in the autumn of 2016 I decided to challenge myself and signed up to NaNoWriMo to help me get my story off the ground and actually get words down rather than editing what I had already written.

And – it worked. That year I managed to hit my goal and wrote 50,000 words in a single month. It took a lot of hard work and my entire November was spent doing little else other than writing, but it stopped me from overthinking everything about my idea and to just write. It was surprising how the story flowed once I actually started typing and it was encouraging to know that whilst I what I was writing wasn’t perfect, it was progress. First drafts aren’t meant to be good. NaNoWriMo encouraged me to keep writing instead of trying to perfect it.

Two years down the line and I’m still working on the same novel. It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and written anything new and in those empty months of not putting words down on paper I’ve fallen out of a routine. NaNoWriMo sounds like the perfect time to start up again, right? So, this November I’m going to get back to my story again, only this time I’m going to use NaNoWriMo as a bit of gentle motivation as opposed to a challenge. I’m not aiming to write 50,000 words, I simply want to start working on my book again whether that means I write 1,000 words or 10,000. As long as I write something I’ll be happy.

The reason I’m not completely committing myself to NaNoWriMo this year is because I know I won’t have the time to throw myself in to the project as I did previous years. My job starts to get super busy around the build up to Christmas and last year I really struggled to keep up with the word count, so I don’t want to stress myself out. Mental health always comes first. I want it to be a fun experience so I’m doing a mini version of my own that I know I can reasonably achieve. As long as you’re writing, well, that’s what National Novel Writing Month is all about isn’t it?

If you’re looking to finally getting that idea down that’s been swimming around in your brain, I think NaNoWriMo is a great kick-starter. It shows you the amount you can achieve in a single month if you knuckle down and just write – don’t question yourself, don’t edit - and by the end you’ll feel amazing. Whether you’ve written 50,000 words or 5,000 words, it’s more than what you started off with and I think any achievement, however small, is worth being proud of.
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