January 29th, 2010
This is the time of year when those New Year resolutions start flagging. That sudden burst of energy and enthusiasm tends to dwindle and suddenly, lethargy takes over. Don’t let lethargy affect your writing. It happens to us all, but there are ways to reinvigorate your willpower.
In an article I wrote for the February issue of Writing Magazine, I interviewed three writers about when they find the time to write. One of them, Diane works full time as a Civil Servant and found it difficult to realise her writing goals. So, she bought herself a small laptop, which she takes to work, and this enables her to work on her writing during her lunch breaks. Suddenly, her writing goals have been reinvigorated. Can you find yourself a new writing slot like this? Often, all it takes is a bit of variety to spice up your enthusiasm.
Sadly, the bad weather conditions here in the UK have meant that I’ve had to miss one of my regular writers’ circle meetings. We all know how writing can be a lonely and isolating experience, so it’s always good to meet other writers face-to-face and swap stories, share advice and offer support. In fact, talk to most writers after they’ve been to a regular meeting and they’ll grin back at you, all inspired and ready to get writing again! If you don’t belong to a writers’ circle, find out if there are any in your locality. Ask your local library, or visit the National Association of Writers’ Group Membership Directory for a list of groups in the UK. Don’t forget online groups and forums can be immensely supportive too. The Writers Bureau Student Forum area can help you connect with other writers online and re-ignite your enthusiasm virtually.
Of course, the best motivation there is, is a deadline, and I have a couple looming soon, so I’d best get on!
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January 22nd, 2010
So, what do you think of the ‘school photo’? You’ll have to excuse the boots and jeans – we don’t normally look so scruffy but we were still sliding around the icy pavements of Manchester to get to work. Still, it was good to look back and think how we’ve changed over the past 21 years and how many writers we’ve helped into print.
If you’re interested in seeing what offers and competitions we’ve got on throughout the year as part of the celebrations, visit our website and sign up. You don’t need to be a student to join in – our celebration is open to all! And incidentally, don’t forget that our January competition – write a poem in 21 words – will close on 31 January, so there’s still time to enter.
Are you a Roddy Doyle fan? (The Commitments, The Van, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha…) I can’t say I was particularly keen until I picked up Paula Spencer recently … and couldn’t put it down until I’d read it from cover to cover. It’s the sequel to The Woman Who Walked into Doors and continues the story of battered wife Paula, gamely battling her alcoholism and trying to re-build links to her four children. I know it doesn’t sound like a bundle of laughs but there is dark humour there – and an astonishing insight into the character. I was left feeling amazed that a male writer could have such an accurate insight into a woman’s mind. If you don’t mind a bit of squalor and plenty of bad language it’s certainly worth reading. Let me know what you think!
Finally, I’m having a break next week. I’m handing over to one of our tutors, Simon Whaley, so that you get a bit of variety. See you in a fortnight!
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January 15th, 2010
I’m not going to say anything further about the weather – I’m bored with the cold and disruption. But a colleague was showing me his photos of the Caribbean cruise he went on over Christmas and the New Year. It made me long for some warm sun on my skin and the feel of sand between my toes.
Talking of cruises, Heritage Magazine are currently offering a luxury Hebridian Islands cruise to the winner of their travel writing competition. They want your story of an unforgettable historic holiday you’ve enjoyed in Britain – in just 500 words. Visit the website for more details – I guarantee it will whet your appetite.
Still on the subject of competitions, don’t you find the Orange Prize for Fiction rather condescending? Why should there be a competition for women only? It’s almost as though they feel that we can’t compete on a level playing field. And you can imagine the uproar if they had a ‘men only’ prize! (Incidentally, if I’m showing my ignorance here and there is such a literary prize, please let me know.) If you’ve got talent it shouldn’t matter what gender you are – to the victor go the spoils.
Grouch over – and on to more cheerful things. This year it’s the Writers Bureau’s 21st birthday. We like to think we’re a friendly bunch and quite a few staff have been with us since we started back in 1989. So tomorrow we’re celebrating. A chilled glass of champagne and a few candles won’t come amiss in these gloomy times. So…Cheers!
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January 8th, 2010
I hope you’re all now fully recovered from your festive excesses! In December I thought how great it would be to have a white Christmas. A week into the New Year, after trudging through snowdrifts, standing for two hours on a stranded train and doing ice-dance manoeuvres in my car, I’ve decided you can have too much of a good thing.
But despite the snow it’s back to work and with so many of our student stuck at home because of the weather conditions I expect we’ll get a bumper crop of assignments over the next couple of weeks. It’s the ideal time to batten down the hatches, turn on the computer and start your research. And if your New Year resolution was to make more time for your writing… you’ve no excuse!
But will you get rich? Whilst many publishers are paying paltry advances to talented new writers they seem to have no qualms about spending their money on famous names. Apparently Random House is proposing to pay Tony Blair £4.6 million to write his memoirs. Jeffrey Archer is due for an even bigger payout from Macmillan – £18 million to write an epic family saga. The ‘Clifton Chronicles’ will consist of five books spanning a century in the lives of a fictitious Bristol family.
Whether you love or hate Archer’s work, at least his books provide entertainment and enjoyment for hundreds of thousands of readers (the £100 million that he’s already made from his literary career proves that). And that’s probably more than can be said for Tony Blair’s memoirs!
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