Tuesday 16 October 2012

How do you get back into writing?

There are times, I think when all writers; published and unpublished struggle to write. I spent a month this summer writing at every opportunity. In the final week, I worked until 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning every day. My motivation was the deadline for The RNA's New Writers' Scheme, a scheme which is wonderful not just because it gives unpublished writers the opportunity to have a whole manuscript critiqued by a published writer, but also because it gives unpublished writers a deadline. It's amazing how quickly I can produce writing of a standard I'm happy with when I'm working towards a deadline. When there is no deadline or when it's months away, I amble along: researching, mulling and producing sub-standard prose. Does a writer needs these times of no pressure so that when the pressure is there they can go for it?

I need to produce a decent draft of Book 2 by August 2013 and at the moment that deadline seems a long way away. I'm seeking out books and websites of interest and writing at a leisurely pace. I've considered taking part in this year's NaNoWriMo, but instead I'll aim for a certain number of words or time spent writing each day in November so I can complete the first draft by Christmas.

How do you get back into writing when you've had a break from it? I do things loosely associated with my novel: reading books and watching films which can be used for research.

Other activities such as the following seem to get the brain going:

Taking photographs: Pinterest and Instagram are great places to collect them.

Visiting art galleries and museums: I recently went to The National Gallery, The National Portrait Gallery and The National History Museum. My second novel has working title, 'The Painting' and I gathered some information at the art galleries. Just looking at paintings, old and new is inspiring.

Reading novels which inspire me: I recently read I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith-wonderful. The main character's father is a writer struggling to write his second novel...

Scenic walks: I love visiting National Trust houses and their surrounding gardens. The history of the houses: the portraits, the furniture etc is inspiring. One of my favourite walks in London is from Waterloo station across either of the footbridges over the River Thames to Embankment: one has a view of Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament and the London Eye. There's a Le Pain Quotidien en route which serves coffee, hot chocolate in a bowl French-style and wonderful cakes.

Sometimes ideas come from nowhere when I'm getting on with everyday life. This morning I went to buy a dustpan and brush as the one we'd had for about ten years finally snapped in two. Whilst walking back to the car park, I looked through the windows of a closed restaurant and the solution to an impasse in the plot for Book 2 came from nowhere. Random thoughts I'd had before and research I'd read all suddenly linked together in my mind. A significant part of writing needs to be spent mulling I think.

How do you get back into writing after a break? Do you like a deadline? I'd be interested to read your comments on anything relating to the above.

Similar posts:
What's in a photo?
Bringing scenes to life with photographs
Paragraph Planet: 75 words on The Ditchley Portrait

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Paragraph Planet: 75 words on The Ditchley Portrait (and other stuff)

Queen Elizabeth I ('The Ditchley Portrait')

National Portrait Gallery, London

*see below re use of the photograph
Paragraph Planet

I'm on Paragraph Planet today with 75 words inspired by this beautiful portrait.

Are you ever drawn to certain paintings when walking around an art gallery? This happened to me a few weeks ago when I went to the National Portrait Gallery. I looked up at Queen Elizabeth I for a while and the image stayed with me afterwards. When searching on The National Portrait Gallery's website, I found a photograph of the painting and decided to submit 75 words on it to Paragraph Planet. Thanks to Richard Hearn for including this story on his website.

According to The National Portrait Gallery's website, the theme of the portrait is forgiveness. There is more information about this here.

Flash-Lit Fiction-Brighton Digital Festival (#flflive)

On 16th September there was a competition during the Brighton Digital Festival: #flflive-a story in a tweet including the word 'now'. I was thrilled to be shortlisted and my story is here under @neetswriter. The story was inspired by selling a couple of items on ebay. I made £10.50 and lost money on postage so won't be doing that again for a while...!

My blog's birthday

My blog is a year old today-can't believe where the time has gone.

I've really enjoyed being a 'blogger' over the past year and I'm so grateful for the support of my followers/friends on Google Friend Connect, Networked Blogs, Twitter and Facebook. Thank you for reading my posts and for your comments.

*Use of the photograph above

I spoke to a lovely lady at The National Portrait Gallery to check I'm allowed to use the photograph of the portrait on my blog (there is also information on their website).

I've downloaded the photograph under the Creative Commons license (use in non-commercial, amateur projects) and have made a donation of £5 to The National Portrait Gallery (a birthday present to my blog). The lady advised me to use the Copyright symbol followed by the words I've used next to it above. Thank you to the National Portrait Gallery for allowing me to use the photo of this wonderful painting.

Monday 1 October 2012

When did you last go to the library?

I went to two libraries last week-Horsley Library on Wednesday for Judith Kinghorn's talk and Guildford Library on Saturday.

My library card didn't work as I haven't used it for a while. The librarian reactivated my card and gave me a pin number so I can use the Surrey online library.

With this pin number I can:

• renew my books online

• search the catalogue for all Surrey libraries, reserve books and request a book to be moved from one library to another so I can collect it there.

• use the online reference shelf-including 19th century newspapers and The Times Digital Archive-every issue of The Times newspaper between 1785-2006

On Saturday I found some art books to use as research for Book 2, 'The Painting'. Instead of handing them to a librarian like the old days, I had to scan my card, then the book and a machine produced a receipt with the 'return by' date on.

The books I borrowed on Saturday were worth around £80, so half an hour at Guildford Library was a great use of my time.

How often do you go to the library? Do you borrow books for research? Do you ever write in the library?