Overcoming a lack of motivation

You have a million other things to do and that’s why you haven’t been writing, right? But, what about when you actually do sit down to write and you still can’t motivate yourself to do it?

Overcoming the empty page

The biggest issue can often be the daunting empty page. It’s perfect and unblemished and can only marked with the most exceptional of literature. STOP that train of thought. The best thing you can do is write something. No? Ok, draw something, doodle, anything. Once it has been started, you will be much more likely to carry on, the fear of the empty page vanquished.

Free writing

On a similar vain, free write. Stream of consciousness writing can often provide invaluable nuggets of gold. And, more than that, it lets you get your jumble of thoughts out in order to clear your mind for your work in progress, or something new. Write and don’t stop until you have filled two pages, safe in the knowledge that it doesn’t have to be anything, and see where you want to go from there.

If none of that works, here are a few prompts to try…

A door

Ok, bare with me here, but I have used this method so many times. So, take your character and face them with a door. With me so far? Ok, so, why are they there? How do they feel? What lies behind the door? Take it from there….

Open a book at a random page

Read the page and try and absorb the voice in which they write. Now try writing a page of your own story but in their voice. This one can produce an array of results.

Using images

Scroll through magazines or pages on the internet and stop at an image that interests you. Don’t analyse it. Don’t wonder what it might mean or why you are drawn to it. Take that image and use it as your prompt.

What happens here?

I would love to read any responses to my prompts. Happy Writing 🙂

Journal therapy

I’ve heard the term journal therapy bandied around before but only started journaling in earnest about six months ago but I can honestly say it’s helped me no end.

Different ways of journaling.

I’ve experimented with different types of journaling including: bullet journal, journal prompts, morning pages and art junk journal. And what I’ve found works the best is a combination of them all and that actually there is no right or wrong way to do it.

I started by buying a beautiful leather bound book with my name on it. Having something lovely to write in seems to add to the experience for me. I also made it attractive inside with stickers, washi tape, cut outs etc. This has made it such a pleasure to write in and I’ve loved seeing it grow and come to life.

There are days where I wake up and just write (morning pages) until I feel like I’m all written out and this helps to clear my mind for the day ahead. It really doesn’t matter if it’s just stream of consciousness stuff; what matters is that it’s out of your head, leaving your brain free to face the challenges of the day ahead.

Sometimes I have used journal prompts both creative and personal. I’ve used memoir prompts from Jenny Alexander’s book: Free Range Writing and I’ve also used journal prompts from Annie Grace’s 30 Day Alcohol Experiment as part of my sober curious quest. Each writing prompt, no matter how strange it may seem, always reveals something to me. It’s the process of writing and reflection that seems to uncoil the mind.

Some days I don’t feel like writing at all. So I don’t. I might draw or stick in something I’ve found or make a gratitude log or anything that comes to mind. Whatever I use the journal for, I always feel calmer after doing it, as if the pages have absorbed my conscious or often subconscious worries.

If you’re in any doubt, I urge you to have a go. Happy writing. 😊

Writing by Tetris

Ever found the magnitude of approaching novel writing daunting? I certainly do. So I decided to break it down into smaller more manageable chunks. Each piece is 250 words and the whole thing is 100,000. I showed it to another writing friend and she said it made her brain ache, so it might not work for everyone, but it’s working for me so far. If you would like the template, drop me a message, I’ll happily send it over.

Creativity and mental well-being

Like many other people, the year in lockdown put and enormous strain on my mental health. In order to try and find some sanity and serenity amid the chaos, I did three things:

  • Started keyboard lessons (online)
  • Joined a creative writing course: writing for the hell of it (online)
  • Joined an art class: Art for well being (online)

All three of these things have had a profound effect on my mental health. Firstly, learning the keyboard at almost 40 proved a lot harder than I imagined. I thought by now I’d be doing renditions of Beethoven; turns out I’m still on tick tack toe. But, the concentration it takes to learn that kind of skill is all consuming and doesn’t allow for thoughts of Covid and the outside world. It has been a wholly rewarding pursuit and I hope to progress to Jingle bells any day soon. Luckily I found a very patient teacher.

The second thing: the creative writing course, helped me get back into writing after a long hiatus. And the writing for the hell of it part was just what I needed. I’ve always put too much pressure on myself to produce something that I lost some of the enjoyment of the process along the way. But this course with Adam Z Robinson have thoughtful tasks, delivered with good humour and a sense of fun. It was so nice to rediscover the pure pleasure of writing for no reason at all.

Lastly was the art course. It is especially designed with mental health in mind. I’ve never done anything remotely artistic before and felt really nervous with this one. I needn’t have as the friendly and supportive group made me feel so at ease, it felt like I’d been doing it forever. Nothing was wrong and for those two hours a week, I thought about nothing other than the piece I was working on.

I am thankful for all the wonderful and creative people involved in these courses because they have given me so much support during a really hard time. Creativity, for me, is the key to better mental well-being.

The power of people

Writing can be a lonely pursuit, never more so than since the pandemic started. We sit alone in a world with the volume turned down and try and create life. But one thing is missing… the people in our lives. Having more time alone at home would seem to be the perfect recipe for writing. But, yet, it isn’t.

A lot of writing friends I know can only work out of the house. They need the hustle and bustle of places and people; they need to be submerged in the vibrancy of life. So, this could well be why some of us are like a dry ink pot.

In Liu of this life experience, I have tried to create the next best thing by doing virtual write ins with my friends. We talk, we write, we drink coffee and we can spend whole afternoons like this, sometimes with long episodes of companionable silence. But that feeling of not being alone seems to be doing the trick.

It’s not quite a coffee shop or a writers workshop, but it’s the next best thing and has certainly given me the kick I needed.

So, if you’re wondering why writing just isn’t happening for you right now, it could be the answer is people! If you’re feeling stuck, find your writing tribe and turn the camera on!

100 word challenge

Love a 100 word challenge – picture prompt

I stare at the teddy’s arm, discarded on the floor, like it meant nothing, like it was a nobody, the fur discoloured from when I used to suck on when I slept.

Your lifeless eyes stare at me but I feel no sadness, no sympathy. You made me do it, your life source strewn out on my bedroom floor, making the place untidy. I’m shaking with anger, tapping my finger and thumb, which was supposed to help to calm me. Nothing could undo this. Not now. I stare the vacuous body at my feet. “You shouldn’t have broken my teddy’s arm.”

Writing after a break

After finishing my MA, I left with hopes and aspirations to finish my novel and live the happy ever after of writing for a living… and then life got in the way.

My job changed, I moved, had some health issues and the list goes on. The writing ground to a total standstill. Then, it somehow became a chore to start again coupled with a crippling fear of failure.

So, I languished like this for more time than I care to admit until the pandemic came along. Then, all of a sudden, I had time again. So time to write… but the pesky paralysing fear of failure was still like a noose around my neck.

In steps my heros, or should I say heroines. Friends from the writing MA who live a long way off, but the pandemic brought with it the new Norm of communication – video calling, which we are now all proficient at. So we start to meet and write and chat and it’s all coming back. Just one thing missing, a space to call my own to write.

Along comes my birthday and, with it, the best present ever! I present to you… my writing shed! A gift from my long suffering husband. Let the writing times roll.

On writing

Write Now

Pick up the pen. Poise. Pause. Procrastinate.
Doubt and fear, crushing and inescapable.

A jumble of words and half formed ideas
Collide and clatter, shouting to be heard.

The pen hovers tentatively.  Quivering.
Unblemished paper white and intimidating.

A drip, a jot, a scrawl, a squiggle.  Something.
Slow and scratching, then gliding and gracious.

No longer virgin white.  Tinted.  Tainted.
Sibilance and semi-colons start to tell a story.

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Flash Fiction Friday

Love a photo prompt  – 100 words

Image result for ladybird in rain

The hammering and clapping of the dragonfly’s wings grows closer as I scuttle towards the barren tree, my legs weak, my spiracles flapping violently. Before I reach the tree, I see the raindrop looming pregnant above me. I am trapped. My predator lands, its oversized head just a whisper away. I ooze my life source, releasing my foul odour into the air. It pauses. My moment. The air is heavy with unspilled rain. Can I? I spread my tremulous shell; my wings peep out nervously. The dragonfly’s engorged eyes glaze with confusion. I hover for a second and then…I’m free.