Thursday, 28 September 2017

Writing and The Importance of Just Showing Up

Today was a 'just showing up' kind of day. The kind that came after months and weeks of turning up the notch on my writing and spending every spare moment of my waking life thinking, writing, thinking about writing and little else. Now I feel spent. There is nothing is left in the tank and yet, I'm so far from finished.

Today I got up early, did all the productive tasks to start my day and sat at my laptop. Then, nothing. Editing felt overwhelming - I didn't know where to start so I switched to writing and that wasn't working either. Nothing was gelling, despite the fact that yesterday I had a super-productive day in both my writing and generally being a together-with-it human.

Having a 'just showing up' day can be tough when you are doing things on your own. I spend the majority of my writing days at home at my laptop. The main reason is cafes and library's are too busy and distracting, and I don't like having to buy a coffee everytime I need to write. I spend hours at a time at my laptop. That's too many coffee's for my student budget to deal with. The inside of my mind feels like the aftermath of a hurricane. My thoughts are strewn everywhere and nothing is in order. I don't know where to start or how to tackle the tasks I need to complete.

The thing is, we all have 'just showing up' days at work too. Yet when all I can achieve is replying to my emails and refiling my paperwork in an afternoon I don't feel like a dismal failure. It's easier to step back and take that for what it is. A sign perhaps, of being too overwhelmed and having too many tasks on the go. In moments like that I reach for something easy. A small win in a day that's not going to plan.

 So, today I'm resigning to the fact that today is not the day to start the clean up. It's a day for airing out. For rest, and naps and peace and quiet.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Book Slumps And How To Fix Them

I am in a book slump. A funk. A pickle, if you will. Ironically since I started studying writing this year and completing my own work I have hardly finished a book. This is greatly upsetting, because a) your girl loves to read so what, whyyyy?? is this happening and b) my writing is so much better when I read. It's like I forget how to word properly without it. See?

Anyway, this post wasn't intended to just be a whinge. I thought I would throw down some tips and see how to get my reading back on.

1. Find a guaranteed good book. Now is not the time to be picking up Ulysses by James Joyce.* Nope, we are in an easy-to-finish zone only here. Find something pacey, fun, entertaining and get to work. (I've picked a very cute book called Dear Reader which I shall elaborate on when I finish).

2. Take your book everywhere with you. I always find myself in random places thinking, 'Isn't this a lovely place to sit a while and contemplate life?' In about two minutes time I start panicking and thinking that other people are looking at me for being a weirdo on their own just sitting staring into the distance. While I should probably care less about this, it also brings me to the fact that I get bored easily anyway and bringing a book along for these moments would provide entertainment and stop me from looking weird.

3. Stop watching Youtube. Guilty as charged. I even did a post last month about my favourite Youtubers to binge-watch. My bad. I quite enjoy watching a few videos in the morning as I much my breakfast but really at night it's not a great habit as the blue light is bad for keeping you awake longer and I'm usually watching very half-arsedly anyway.

4. Read x amount of pages per day. Sometimes it takes a little more concentration to get over the hump of a book and get into the story. A few chapters to break the ice could be all I need to stick to a book and see it all the way through.

*Was never going to do that ever anyway. Let's be honest.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Should You Take A Writing Course?

One of the things I love about taking a writing course is the conversations it sparks with other people. I can't count the number of times that people respond with positive questions and comments like 'I've always wanted to do that' or something similar. Usually when I pry a little deeper or say, 'why don't you?' a lot of people aren't really sure what a writing course can offer or are under the misconception that writing courses are only for a certain type of person. Well, spoiler: they are for a certain type of person - those of us who like to write.

First of all you do not need to have any type of plan or agenda to take a writing course. Perhaps you want to dabble in novels in your spare time or you are convinced you have the ability to be the next J K Rowling. Both of those are great reasons to do a course! You don't need to be a literary whizz to take creative writing. The point of you taking a class is to become a better writer. In both cases, amateurs and the blessedly gifted can become better writers. So, how do you know a writing course is right for you?

  • You want to learn. I am a huge believer that every person can learn to be better at their chosen craft. For some reason there's a belief out there that you are either born an artist or you're not. (Although, yeah it helps to have a smidgen of talent to begin with.) The latter of us are forced to live out an eternity side-eyeing our naturally gifted friends and should just throw our laptops and pens out the window. This is a) dangerous b) costly and c) stupid. Completing a formal qualification is not a pre-requisite to being a great author but a lot of published authors became great writers through learning and then practising what they have learnt over and over again. 
  • You start projects and never finish them. You wanna know how many non-books I started and got nowhere with before starting my course because I didn't know where to start and how to finish? Too many to count. Sometimes the discipline of having a tutor to prod you along is just what you need to help you achieve your goals.
  • You don't know the basics. I didn't know what filtering was before I took my course. I knew what bad writing felt like as a reader but I often couldn't pinpoint why. Sometimes it's the seemingly simple things that can speed us ahead light-years when it comes to our own writing (and oh, filtering is a biggie). 
  • You want other people to read your work and critique it. Having other writers to soundboard off is key and writing courses are often built around workshopping each others work.
  • You are an open book. Be open to learning and you will enjoy the experience, trust me. The great thing about taking a course or a writing class is that you do not have to agree with everything you are taught. Writing is an artform, a craft. It can be as experimental or ridged as you make it. The only truth I have learnt through my course, is this: You cannot edit what you don't finish
Writing courses or classes come in so many different shapes and forms that there is no one way of studying or learning that is right. You might want to complete a Bachelor of Arts, or a diploma in the subject. You might be more interested in a semester course after work or doing something online that has more flexibility in the class hours and deadlines. Whatever you chose, if any of the above ring true joining a writing course might be a great fit for you!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: My Spring TBR List

September brings with it the changing of the seasons and thankfully means longer nights, sunny days and the wild and windy weather Wellington is known for! Surprisingly despite the coming warmth my to be read list is looking pretty dark. Take a look at this week's Top Ten Tuesday!

The Power by Naomi Alderman :: A sci-fi novel about a diverse group of teenage girls and how their lives change when they inherit the physical power. Seemingly overnight the world changes. I love this take on feminism and whether the world would change for better or worse, if women were physically dominant.

The Girl Who Takes an Eye For An Eye by David Lagercrantz :: Continuing on the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series, David Lagercrantz delivers the fifth book in the series. I read The Girl In The Spider's Web a few years ago and really enjoyed it.

The Break Down by B A Paris :: It's been a while since I've indulged in reading crime fiction and The Break Down has come up in my media feeds a lot lately.

Room and The Wonder by Emma Donoghue :: I absolutely loved Frog Music by Emma Donoghue and have always wanted to read more from this compelling author. Although Room and The Wonder are two very different books I love discovering authors who write a broad range of fiction.

Into The Water by Paula Hawkins :: Another crime book! I really enjoyed The Girl on The Train.

© Sundays and Ink. All rights reserved.