When is a story, not a story?

January 31, 2017


The answer is simple….. When it is not the right one to be told.

I only discovered this at the weekend, when staying at the fabulous Gladstone Library in Howarden. As usual our writing group had arranged a weekend away for us to have some time and space to focus on our writing; as individuals and as a group. Sadly, we were a depleted group, as life sometimes just gets in the way, and some of our members were unable to attend. Normally, non attendance is my forte, as I can be a bit ‘flaky’; but not this time.

Last year had been a tough one for me, and as such, my writing had really taken a back seat. So much so, I was becoming embarrassed to call myself a children’s author.

I had ‘blagged’ my way through various meetings promising to write xx amount of words, but in reality I had done very little. In 6 months, I had probably written about 2,000 words; 4 chapters. That’s it. There is only one word for my attempt. Shabby.

Then came Gladstone, and as I sat in the beautiful room, surrounded by books, an open fire and looking out over the frosty gardens, I had my ‘Aha’ moment!

The real reason for the struggle to write the story, is because it was the wrong story! I had no idea how it was going to work, or where it was going. I like to begin with the end in mind, (thank you Steven Covey for that nugget), and quite frankly, had no clue; I was blindly writing and hoping things would fall into place.

Once I realised this, I felt the pressure of having to write, fall away. It’s strange, once I had given myself ‘permission’ to accept it was going nowhere, a new plot with new characters came to me within minutes.

I now have my plot outline, characters and first chapter written, but more importantly, I have rediscovered my mojo.

Writing is like anything in life. If it doesn’t feel right and you’re dragging your heels; it probably isn’t right.

I now have a better story, and I can’t wait to write it.












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Get on with it

January 1, 2017

This year’s New Year Resolution


This year’s New Year resolution is the same one that I have made for (maybe) the last ten years. Nope, it’s not the one about eating healthily or giving up smoking or building a new back gate or even painting the study. It’s so much simpler than that. It’s this:


Get on with it.


Just that. Get on with it. Crack on, saddle up, let’s roll, strap yourself in, move right along the bus, let’s light this candle, keep your arms inside the vehicle at all times, let’s rock, just Do It, kick yourself and get going.


I’m talking about writing, of course. Because like all genuinely lazy people (and when it comes to lazy, I like to think that I’m as genuine as you can get) I need to prod myself into action. I need to type that next sentence, prune it, delete half of it, write the next one, then the next, then throw away the first sentence, and keep adding until I have a nice round paragraph, then a second, a third, chuck out the middle one, reward myself with a cup of tea or a quick game of Chess Titans (lose) then back at it until I achieve the mystical moments of flow and then I can feel good about the words on the page, the ideas, the process and, ultimately, myself.


Because, in the end, writing is writing, not dallying and dilly-ing and it’s just the hardest thing and application is more significant than inspiration and if you have to write it badly before you can later write it well, hell, then you had best get on with writing it badly, because one thing is for sure: nobody else is going to do it for you.


And from stuttering process of idleness and effort, interrupted by dog-walks and day-dreaming of the glory in the future (“Firstly, I’d like to thank the Nobel Committee”) I have so far managed two novels and 65% (and counting) of a third.


So I’d like to thank everyone in the wonderful Word Watchers of Newbury for all their help in 2016, which has played no small part of the 65% and counting, and hope for more of the same in 2017.

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