Better Writing: Fuel your fascinations & inspiring authors

In my Creative Practice course, one of the exercises I give to writers is to write down their fascinations, what they are absolutely interested in, the things they love and the things they despise. Many of these powerful obsessions, interests, pursuits can become the basis of energetic writing. By starting with the times, places, artefacts or people who really grip you, you are providing the fuel that can produce many short stories (looking through the prism of your fascinations from various angles) or longer works such as novels which, like rockets trying to get all the way to Mars, need massive amounts of fuel.

As well as taking the time to explore your own fascinations and why you even want to write at all (a subject I’ll come back to in my next few posts) listening to other writers describe the background of their books, and the source of their literary energy can also help you clarify your interests and see where the material of your works might lie.

Very recently I was reminded about my own fascination in social psychology and the power of the media through watching an old documentary by writer Don De Lillo. The examples and associations that had formed the basis of many of his works reminded me of my own excitement at making such connections. What was also really interesting was to see how some of his works had started with a single idea or association- a photograph he stuck on his wall, not really knowing how it could develop into something more. Subsequently he made links with other material and began an exploration in writing of these ideas, eventually producing the novel Libra.

This same video obviously struck a chord with writer Daniel Carpenter. I spotted a great post by Daniel yesterday where he links not only to the De Lillo documentary but to several other author videos that he’s found informative and inspiring. Take the time to watch some of these and I’m sure it will fire up your enthusiasm for the art of writing and perhaps help you clarify what you find fascinating to write about.

To Daniel’s great line up I’ll simply add my very favourite inspirational author video – one from Ray Bradbury, a man of great humour and artistic energy. I’d love if you have any further suggestions of inspirational and energising documentaries you have seen by your favourite authors. Please let us know of them in the comments.

My Head Above Water facebook page or @HAWwriters on Twitter are the repository of many links to articles I’ve found that help support creativity in busy lives. Browse for more inspiration!

Spontanaity.org: poetry, prose, music & visual art creative chain reactions

Head above Water has a fascination with the conditions of creativity and an enthusiasm for the idea that you can make creative sparks by combining ideas from a variety of sources. When I discovered the online magazine Spontaneity.org it encapsulated perfectly that cross pollination – an artwork in one creative sphere literally leads to another through a series of site links and people use existing pieces as the inspiration for further work. Today I’m delighted to have Ruth McKee, founder of Spontaneity.org guest posting to tell us all about the site and suggest some gorgeous and highly evocative artistic works from the site as the starting point for your next creative endeavour. Over to Ruth. 

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New experiences, not just creative ones, but any kind — travel, music, a love affair – open us up to different ways of expressing ourselves, give us new things to say and novel ways to say them. Spontaneity is a magazine which offers new experiences in words and pictures in the hope of sparking an idea, making a connection. It’s a creative chain reaction between poetry, prose, music and visual art of all descriptions.

I’m a writer, but I also play musical instruments, enjoy painting and love design – so I wanted to start a magazine that welcomed all kinds of creative people, from the newcomer to the established artist, that didn’t have boundaries of what was acceptable and that was an interactive place. This is how Spontaneity came about in the autumn of 2013, and already it’s a thriving community.

The concept of the magazine is simple: respond to any piece, from any issue of Spontaneity to be considered for the next. So, if you’re drawn to a particular photograph, story, or poem, respond in whatever form your creativity takes – and that can be anything. Recently we had a music video (http://spontaneity.org/issue03/note-weeper/) which responded musically and visually to a previous contribution – we love this sort of thing! We’ve had street photography, portraits, oil paintings, pen and ink sketches and acrylics. We’ve featured everything from the lyrical poetic series to short modern verse, poetry in French, Irish and in translation — and all kinds of prose, from the traditional short story, to the super-modern.

Here are two arresting images from our current issue to get you buzzing – a painting by Kate Powell “I tried to draw my soul but all I could think of was flowers” and a photograph, “Abandoned Cottage” by Ian Murphy. So why not see what ideas strike you and get submitting? For more details about these images and for some creative inspiration, see spontaneity.org and check out our submission guidelines http://spontaneity.org/submit/

I tried to draw my soul

“I tried to draw my soul but all I could think of was flowers” by Kate Powell http://spontaneity.org/issue03/ad-lib/

Abandoned cottage

“Abandoned cottage” by Ian Murphy http://spontaneity.org/issue02/an-apple-a-knife/

Creative Practice & Short Story Essentials Writing Workshop

alisons writers course posterAs a psychology and communications graduate and over the course of several years writing this blog I’ve developed a great interest in the techniques and psychology of motivation and creativity. As a mother of four I have personal experience of juggling a busy life with creative endeavour. I’ve had many stories published in literary journals and anthologies in Ireland (Crannóg, The Stinging Fly, New Planet Cabaret etc) and abroad (Two National Flash Fiction anthologies in UK, Deck the Halls and Eighty Nine in Australia, Literary Orphans in Chicago, and online Metazen, The View From Here etc). I’ve also been nominated for the Hennessy New Irish Writing Prize, Bridport and Fish prizes and many more shortlists. ) I’m running a morning course on June 8th in Bray, Co Wicklow to encourage and support new and newish writers on their creative practice and develop the basic techniques to write great short stories.

I’d be very grateful if you could share the details of the course with anyone you think who might enjoy it. I want the focus to be enthusiasm and developing abilities.

Creative Practice and Short Story Essentials Workshop June 8th

Venue:
St Peter’s Hall, Bray, Co. Wicklow (Dublin Road, coming into Bray, turn right at the Coach Inn.)

Date, Duration, Price

June 8th 10am -1pm, 30euro

Course outline

Creativity: Tips on finding the space, time and energy to write: Aims & deadlines, motivation, writing places, marking progress and calling yourself a writer, gathering material and down time. Idea generation.
Short story essentials: Very short stories/flash fiction, longer short stories, plot, character, journey, showing, telling and dialogue. You will get a good idea of what makes a good short story, how to begin and develop a story, the importance of character, revision etc.
Practical writing exercises

You will also receive handouts on creative exercises and short story resources.

 

Booking

To book or for more info: Email alison@brierwell.com downatthegate@gmail.com or headabovewater@brierwell.com

cliffwalk142

(In conjunction with Down at the Gate Craft and Creativity Classes or see Head Above Water on Facebook)

 

Make them feel it – let the body talk in your writing

A quick one today as I’m trying to train myself into sticking (roughly) to a schedule in order to progress work on a couple of projects at a time (more on motivation soon!)  On one of my projects I’m trying to inject life and tension into a novel that’s already in pretty good shape but needs to grab us by the vitals more.  I recently found a terrific post by Angie Capozello on the Friday Flash site that talks about how she puts body language to use in spicing up her work.

Rouse the reader

She talks about getting up close and personal, but the only seduction is that of the reader. Our characters glare, frown and grin she says but what is the body doing, if they brush against someone, pick up and object, look at their watch there is a direct physical react, and, says Angie, OUR bodies react to these descriptions too.

Get real

She also makes an important point of looking at our use of the word ‘Like’ . If we say something is ‘like’ we are making an intellectual comparison with an object, not eliciting a visceral response. She also talks about our physical reaction to the description of textures. Think of sharp glass, pine needles, pebbledash walls – these evoke a response.

Let your characters react

Angie gives a great example of a piece of dialogue where one protagonist describes how he feels about someones eyes. Our characters don’t just observe, they also have physical responses. Dialogue can be set on fire by characters talking about their own sensations.

Read the great article here in full and let me know the tricks you use to try to make your work visceral and vivid.

Public Battles, Private Wars – Writing, Motherhood & Laura Wilkinson’s new novel

public battles draftFollowing on from yesterday’s consideration of the challenges of a parent-writer, today we have a guest post from Laura Wilkinson who’s new novel Public Battles, Private Wars about a family, and particularly the women involved at the time of the 1980s miners strike in Britain is just out. With great depth of character and dealing with the pressing issues of that difficult era as well as universal themes, this is a engaging and moving page-turner. I originally interviewed Laura for my mother writer series. Over to Laura.

 

Out celebrating a friend’s wedding anniversary last night, I was asked by another guest how I manage to find time to write, with two children and a part-time job jostling for my attention. ‘My house is very dirty,’ I replied, only half-joking. It’s a question I get asked a lot and one many mother-writers hear.

I am lucky. Both my boys are pretty self-sufficient; they’re resourceful and good at entertaining themselves for chunks of time. And at fifteen and ten it is considerably easier now than it was a few years back. As I write this, my youngest son is playing outside with a friend and my eldest son is reading book one of Game of Thrones (that should keep him going for while!). All well and good, but I would be lying if I said I do not suffer from heavy bouts of guilt – more often than not when I’ve lost myself in the work and rather than being absent (not physically, you understand) for two hours, I’ve been absorbed for over three. During holiday time, we have a rule – mummy works in the morning and in the afternoon we go play. However, deadlines mean sometimes these rules have to be bent, or ignored altogether.

In an ideal world, writers need space to think, as well as write. It is the thinking time that is hardest to find. When they were very small, I grabbed whatever time I could and soon learnt to write at the dining table while they played Lego on the floor. The constant interruptions were hard for all, but they soon learnt that a raised hand meant ‘give mummy a minute’ and they waited patiently as I scribbled notes that made no sense to anyone but me. They understand that Mummy quite often drifts off into a world of her own and are old enough now to joke about it. They’re dreamy sorts themselves.

Have my children suffered as a result of this low-level neglect? I don’t think so. I sincerely hope not. Perhaps their creativity and resourcefulness is a result of it? What I am certain of, and they are too, is that writing fulfils me, and a happy, fulfilled mother is a more patient, caring and loving one.

There are many different parenting styles and we live in instructive times – there always seems to be one expert or another telling us how best to do it. But we must find ways of parenting that work for us and our children. For some that will mean other demands on their time, other than the essential habits of care-giving: food preparation, personal care (washing, cleaning clothes) and maintaining basic levels of hygiene in the home. My own rule is to keep a clean kitchen and bathroom and ignore the rest. No one died of a dusty house.

The central character in my novel, Public Battles, Private Wars, is a young mother of four children. Mandy is a miner’s wife and stay-at-home mum. She flunked out of school after a personal tragedy and thinks she’s useless at everything apart from baking cakes and looking after her kids. She’s not, of course, and the novel follows the story of her rising star. Ironically, it is the upheaval and struggle of the landmark strike of 1984 that offers Mandy the opportunity to discover herself and her hitherto buried talents. But as she discovers a world outside the home, she is torn apart by guilt. This is especially poignant for Mandy because she believes that while her children are suffering during the strike, if the miners lose, their long-term life chances will be seriously hindered. What a dilemma. And there are plenty of other women in the book facing a similar problem. Most of the women I spoke with during my research for the novel were mothers – miners’ wives, girlfriends, sisters and mothers.

cakes 2

Mothering and motherhood is a theme in much of my work. Hardly surprising, it’s an important part of so many women’s lives, mine included. Like many writers, much of my inspiration comes from the world about me and my own experience of it. That’s not to say my stories are autobiographical, but as a parent I am interested in the myriad pain and pleasures this role brings. How could it not slip into my fiction?

Here’s a bit more about Public Battles, Private Wars and where you can buy it.

Yorkshire 1983

Miner’s wife Mandy is stuck in a rut. Her future looks set and she wants more. But Mandy can’t do anything other than bake and raise her four children. Husband Rob is a good looking drinker, content to spend his days in the small town where they live.

When a childhood friend – beautiful, clever Ruth – and her Falklands war hero husband, Dan, return to town, their homecoming is shrouded in mystery. Mandy looks to Ruth for inspiration, but Ruth isn’t all she appears.

Conflict with the Coal Board turns into war and the men come out on strike. The community and its way of life is threatened. Mandy abandons dreams of liberation from the kitchen sink and joins a support group. As the strike rumbles on relationships are pushed to the brink, and Mandy finds out who her true friends are.

Amazon UK

Amazon.Com

Accent Press

 

More About Laura

Laura is a writer, reader, wife and mother to ginger boys. After hedonistic years in Manchester and London, she moved to Brighton. As well as writing fiction, she works as an editor, freelance and for literary consultancy, Cornerstones.

Laura has published short stories in magazines, digital media and anthologies, and three novels, with another scheduled for publication this year. Public Battles, Private Wars, (Accent Press)is the story of a young miner’s wife in 1984; of friends and rivals; loving and fighting, and being the best you can be. You can find out more about Laura and the novel, including Book Group Questions, here: http://laura-wilkinson.co.uk or follow her on Twitter @ScorpioScribble

The 5 greatest challenges of a Parent-Writer (and what to do)

If any of you saw my tweets over the weekend you’ll see that I was struggling to stay focused on writing with the children about. Let’s just say they weren’t in the most pleasant of moods and even though they were supposed to happily occupied playing (I gave them a huge cardboard box for goodness sake!) I could hear their intermittent gripes and let’s say animated debates. I WOULD LIKE ONE HOUR OF SILENCE I tweeted. My wish came true later when my husband organised a trip to the playground for the younger two and the older ones were with friends. Finally – a clear space to hear my own thoughts and attempt wordcount for the #30KinMay. What happened? I fell asleep! My children are a bit older now (between 6 and 13) and while it’s not so physcially hands on as when they were babies and toddlers, there are many demands, emotional support, homework, healthy dinners, being a listening ear, teaching them new skills around the house and so on. Parenting is one of those jobs that expands indefinitely into every crevice of your existence from early morn with the lark children to late at night with the anxious and insomniac teenager with nocturnal eating habits.

Challenges

1: Not being able to hear your own thoughts

Literally, because of the constant jabber and interruptions. Even for mundane thought processes as to what to make for dinner or whether to do laundry before cleaning the bathroom will be cut off by a young one needing something, or needing to bend your ear about something. Older children need you to really listen so that they can feel you are taking them seriously or so you can sympathise or advice on difficulties. Younger kids are adorably surreal in their ramblings but can take 15 minutes to tell you about a game they are playing which, in the end makes no sense at all. The nodding is important to them but what about that brilliant idea you had to solve the plot dilemma in Chapter 12. Gone, like a hat in the wind.

One piece of advice Write Everything Down in a notebook, smartphone notes (with backup facility) or a magnetic fridge list. Do it before you are interrupted or develop your own hand signals to ask the kids to pause so you don’t lose that genius idea.

2: Time, interrupted

I’ve written before about my experience of going on a writing retreat – a rather disconcerting experience for someone no longer accustomed to silence. Also if you’re a parent writer you’ll hardly know what to do with the freedom, it might make you crazy – though you can spend it catching up on all the sleep you’ve missed over the years!)  On retreat my greatest revelation was ‘There’s no-one asking me for anything,’ very unusual. I came to the conclusion after the retreat that perhaps you don’t need whole swathes of time to write, to produce material – that can be done in a concentrated time period. However having a space of time, non-interrupted to consider the book as a whole, to do research, to chill and let ideas incubate, and have a rest is probably invaluable. The reality of being a parent-writer is that your time is very much curtailed and there is no luxury of being able to immerse  yourself in a project. I do find it difficult when I have got into the flow of a project though and have to break off to cook dinner or do things with the kids. The flow quite often is hard to get into and hard to get back to if broken!

One solution to the time-immersion and interruption problem is to write early or late. When possible I get up early (5am) to write and NO-ONE interrupts me. As one commentator said here recently, she keeps her laptop open at all times and writes in between the spaces. A shorter amount of time can, as explored in this blogpost by parent writer Liz Catherine Harper focus the mind (and there are lots of other tips in the article as to how the writer adjusted to being a new parent.

3: No writing place to call your own

I had a lovely writing office and then the kids grew up and I (stupidly/kindly) gave up my writing office so they no longer had to share a room. Now I most often write at the dining table surrounded by family clutter and within full view of the breakfast dishes (Open-plan – also the bane of writers). As part of a writing ritual it does help to remove yourself from your other (bottle washer) existence. I’d be interested to hear from any of you who go elsewhere, coffee shops and libraries etc to see how that works for you. On my part I’m hoping that the leaky garage roof can be fixed so that our ‘hobby room’ conversion can be truly functional (and dry) for me to hide away there with all my writing bits and bobs.

4: Exhaustion

I had a writing hour and I fell asleep! Parenting is constant , the hours are long and there are no holidays. Writing (especially a Novel) is a marathon and requires a massive amount of mental and physical energy. We have to be realistic and take time to rest and relax as well as fitting in writing into our busy lives. Of course combining writing with a full time job is equally exhausting and it’s also difficult to gain the necessary head space to write after a day at work.

5: Guilt and Family/Society Expectations

As a parent it’s difficult to carve out time for yourself and sometimes hard to know when you should take time away to write and for how long, especially if you are only beginning as a writer and do not have the social seal of approval of publication. No matter how important writing may be to you, friends and family might see it purely as a hobby or not understand how long it takes to practice the craft. You may work on a novel that might never see the light of day, so it’s hard to justify to yourself that you deserve free time. There’s no straightforward solution but if you get involved in something like #30KinMay or #Nanowrimo you can let people know that you have an aim within a specified time and you can call on them to back you in your writing challenge. Apart from that you’ll need to try to set aside times that others know are yours to write. You need to be able to say no to coffee or phone calls on specified days and let others understand that you are working.

I’m so interested to hear how others face these challenges. You might be interested in seeing how some mother-writers did in this series from 2011. Many of these busy mothers have now gone on to being published authors in Ireland, the UK and the US. Another resource I find brilliant for articles on balancing creativity and parenthood is Studio Mothers. Tomorrow on the blog I have an article from Laura Wilkinson, one of the mother writers who recently released the engaging and fascinating Public Battles, Private Wars a fictional account of ordinary families (and particularly women) and the reality of their lives at the time of the 1980s miners strike in Britain. Laura writes about juggling motherhood and writing and about identity and career for a particular mother from her new book.

Postscript

While I was writing this my kids came home from school and my train of thought was interupted. Later a pot of noodles burned while I was trying to finish the post. This is the reality of writer-parenting!

 

 

#flashfiction #writeprompt & great submission opportunity

Here on the blog for the May Carnival of Creative Possibility I’ll be throwing out writing challenges and prompts and we may even work up to a writing competition later in the month.

Here’s an interesting one for you, a writing prompt that will get you really thinking and also give you the opportunity of submitting to the wonderful National Flash Fiction day anthology. I’ve been involved in the last two anthologies Jawbreakers and Scraps and the standard of the work included was just wonderful. I’ve waxed lyrical about the wonders of flash fiction before and how it’s been the single most inspiring avenue of writing that I’ve been involved in and has helped me produce an abundance of work within a busy life. If you haven’t written much flash fiction before this will help you hone that craft & hopefully get the same buzz at producing a dynamite piece of writing in a short space of time.

National Flash Fiction Day director Calum Kerr says this

Once again we are delighted to open our submission floodgates to your stories for the annual NFFD anthology. This year, our topic is ‘The Senses’ and you should feel free to interpret that however you like. There are the 5 usual ones, but there is also that strange 6th sense. And what about a sense of fair play, of right and wrong, of place or of humour?

However you care to work with our theme, we want to read your stories. The word limit is 500 words, and you can submit up to 3 stories. Please include them in the email, not as attachments, and follow all the guidelines below.

All writers who have a story selected for the anthology will receive a free print copy of the book upon publication.

This year’s editors will be the Director of National Flash-Fiction Day, Calum Kerr, and this year’s Costa Short Story Award Winner, Angela Readman. The deadline date for entries is 23:59 (UK time) on Sunday 18th May 2014. 

So here is your challenge for the next few days. Explore the idea of the senses, chose one or several and really have a think about what a particular sense means and how the lack of it, or a heightened version might affect a particular character and lead to strange circumstances. Surely with the senses the writing should be vivid. I’m writing a book based all around the sensations of food and taste at the moment. The book is very visceral and sense based. One of my recent excerpts was nominated for the Glass woman prize. It might get you inspired to read it. If you’re looking for more inspiration I’ve put some of my tiny stories together in Stories to Read on the Train (for a tiny price).

I’ll give this submission challenge a go, let us know if you’re going to have a go. It’s a particular inspiring prompt so it will be interesting to hear how you got on. Also come back and say if your piece is accepted. The anthology is very well regarded and great fun to be a part of!

 

 

 

Being a Writer: Orientation and Perseverence

Orientation is a good part of the battle

Whether it be as a beginner writer or one taking up the mantle over and over again against the backdrop of life’s challenges and chaos, it can seem as if the idea of getting to write, or being a writer, or becoming a published author is either impossible or unlikely. There are times when the odds seem against us, in terms of time, the market, others perceptions or our own energy levels.  Perhaps this is a sombre view, you can take up many hobbies and activities and enjoy them but if the artistic pusuit feels to you to be part of who you are then being able to do it and progress in it and perhaps be recognised for it become much more important.

The fulfillment of our artistic ambitions becomes tied up with our self esteem and we may begin to berate ourselves for not having begun, or got as far as we wanted, or starting too late in life, or always putting other tasks ahead of what we want to do, or not finishing projects fast enough.

What I want to say to you is that orienting ourselves towards writing, (especially in difficult circumstances) is a significant achievement. Even before you put words on the page, just thinking about writing, thinking about ways you might carve out time or a writing space, letting projects run through your mind as you wake early in the morning, all these can bring their own impetus. We need to be careful not to kill that impetus by denigrating it, by taking ourselves apart and bemoaning all that we have not achieved yet. This might sound counter intuitive and naiive. Of course we can’t just procrastinate and never start, or rest on our laurels or not aim high. We can’t just stay still. We need to be ambitious of course but gentle with ourselves too, nurturing our quiet ambitions and our tentative steps. We need to build up to projects, not run ahead. We need to get others on board and find the core things that will power us as we develop our projects. But first we start, we take a course, we decide, we buy a notebook, we jot down ideas, we write for half an hour or ten minutes, we decide to post up our first story or to self-publish or join a writers group. We need to nurture our quite ambitions and tentative steps.

Perserverance

Last night I was delighted to attend the launch of Hazel Gaynor’s The Girl who Came Home, a book about a particular group of 14 individuals from Mayo who travelled on the ill-fated Titanic. This is a terrifically written book and one that secured a US publishing deal as well as UK and Irish release. But this is not your run of the mill publishing story. I interviewed Hazel several years ago as part of my Writer-Mother series, she was a mum of two very young boys and started out as a Mummy blogger (hotcrossmum) and was very successful at it. After writing several novels, she followed her abiding interest in the Titanic story, and wrote this terrific book and secured an agent. As the 100 year anniversary of the Titanic was at hand and the book had not yet sold to a publishing house, the decision was taken to self-publish The Girl who Came Home. The book sold so well that she attracted the attention of a US agent who then secured a publishing deal for the US and here. Hazel’s story is one of tenacity and determination and also of making your own luck. There are no guarantees when you begin to write that you’ll be good enough and even if you’re good enough, you’ll always need an element of luck in getting an agent or publisher to take note. As Hazel said last night, it was an absolute dream of hers to have a real book, published and in a book shop and I’m very sure the book will do extremely well. It has wide appeal and the writing and story are just excellent.

Begin and Keep On

The task of a writer then is to begin, to have enough courage and optimism and verve to hope and to start. Or even when obstacles stand in the way to still begin, to take out the blank page or submit a work. When years pass honing the craft and small successes arrive but bigger ones are still elusive, you must still keep on. There are no guarantees and you will always have to decide on what balance you want in following your writing dream and the work that goes into that alongside all the other elements of your life. Talking to some fellow writers recently, there’s plenty of candidates to join the Writer’s Despondency Club. I’ve received several rejections recently alongside some nice successes in lit mags, my literary novels are still searching for an agent though and I’m building back the energy after ill health to share my creativity thoughts with you and proceed on a new book. We might never reach quite where we want to – or perhaps we’ll come close but we can make our own chances along the way. We can make our work available to be read (doing that earned me a Glass Woman Prize finalist place), we can submit to journals and send, like Donal Ryan of the Spinning Heart our manuscript out 70 times. We can attend literary events and festival and make contacts. We can, after a day of no or poor words, start again and try. This is how we keep on, keep optimistic, begin over and over and persevere.

Coming Up

Tomorrow I’ll be issuing you with a writing challenge that may help you prepare for a brilliant and upcoming submission opportunity.

#30kinMay

Don’t forget to jump right in to our 30k in May challenge and to introduce yourself and up date progress in the comments on that post.

 

 

#30kinMay

Create wordcount for your new project. 30K – sounds reasonable!

As part of the May Carnival of Creative Possibility, one of our activities is producing words.  We’ve set a reasonable aim of just shy of 1000 words per day. 30k in May sounds better than 31 but it also gives us a little bit of leeway if we want to take a day off and CHILL which is always a good idea!

If you’d like to join in, just sign up in the comments below and also use the comments to document your progress whenever you feel you’d like to or moan about your obstacles!  Similar to the #nanowrimo venture in November, I’ve always found the camaraderie and group spirit good for getting motivated. Don’t worry if you’ve discovered this post well into May, THERE ARE NO RULES, just join in and do the equivalent words necessary to get you to the end of the month. Set your own target if 1000 seems too high! It’s all about getting started!

Speak

Don’t forget to sign up in the comments, talk about your project and document your progress!

And now, get going!

 

 

 

May Carnival of Creative Possibility

Front window

Creativity and Verve

Happy May 1st! Whether you view May as the beginning of summer as in the festival of Beltane or as underlining the definite appearance of Spring (in the Northern Hemipshere at least) it certainly is a month that promotes the feeling of energy and creativity.

On Head above Water we’ve had creativity months before. In January 2013 there was a whole month of posts surrounding creating ideas, promoting writing energy through physical pursuits, motivation and producing work and I’ve been planning to have a similar focus for the month of May. After unfortunately spending most of April either in bed with the flu or recuperating from it some of my personal plans for creativity seemed to begin to feel out of reach but now that I’m beginning to get back on track I think it’s even more important to orient myself towards optimism and possibility and to share that with other writers. After all this blog is about writing alongside (or despite) our busy and challenging lives.

May Carnival of Creativity

I’d like to invite you to join my on this blog for a May carnival of creativity. Once again I’ll be posting links and resources to sites about creativity, articles and creative challenges and writing prompts. With my articles I’ll start at the beginning with orientation, how we move towards beginning to write (either as a novice or towards a new project), then I’ll go through the various challenges that arise as you proceed. I’ll also be asking you to contribute your unique view on struggles with motivation, idea generation, finding time and interupptions, despair, lethargy, resilience as well as your successful ways of finding time to write. My posts will be short and snappy where possible as we want to maximise verve but minimize procrastination time!

Personal Goals

Continuing this blog alongside my own creative writing stems out of a background and interest in the forces of motivation, self-esteem, mental energy and creativity in general. I want to encourage and support others as I know how challenging it can be combining creative pursuits along the responsibiltiies of daily life. Both illness and family pressures have certainly put obstacles in my way but writing means so much that I want to keep going. In particular there are three goals I have in mind for May and the coming months.

1) Adding to my current project (Novel). 2 years ago I wrote a flash fiction (recently published in the Stinging Fly) from which a book is now developing. I have about 50,000 words. To me, the book has always had a ‘May feeling’ and I’ve been hoping to add substantially to it this month. More on this in a minute!

2) I’ve been writing this blog since 2009 and many people have enjoyed posts on creativity, how to be a writer when you’re not writing, how to incubate ideas etc. I’m hoping to collate these blog posts into three key elements, Space, Time and Energy, to add new material and to make the publications available online in the next couple of months.

3) In conjunction with my pal Liz and sister Sharon of Down at the Gate craft courses, I am going to be giving a Beginners creativity and short story writing course locally in Bray on June 8th. This is a new departure and should be fun!

 Many ways to get involved in the Carnival!

  • Come as you are!
  • Return here each day to get involved in the debates and creative challenges and to be inspired and supported.
  • #30KinMay

While I’m not a fan of rigidity (You don’t need to write every day or when mental resources or physical are low but there’s always merit in discipline and setting yourself a challenge. I’m setting myself the challenge of writing 1000 words a day (more or less!) in the month of may and I invite you to join me. There will be a 30K post each day for us to compare our progress (or complain about the lack of it) and I’ll use a #30kinMay hashtag on Twitter

#5amwriteclub

What a lovely time of year to make writing time by getting up early! (I can hear some of you groan!) It certainly doesn’t happen every day but from time to time myself and some other writing pals are up early (London time) and writing at 5am. We use the  #5amwriteclub hashtag on twitter and while we use our quiet time diligently, we post on twitter to let each other know that we’re working away and we compare progress later. The camaraderie spurs us on and makes getting out of bed (slightly) easier. We’d be delighted to meet you there! By the way I’m @alisonwells on Twitter.

Head above Water on Facebook

I’ve just set up a Facebook page for Head above Water to post articles and details of publications and courses, so please Like the page if you want to keep up to date.

The Twitter handle for Head above Water is @31HAW if you want to follow!