Where my writing is pulling me lately

I have a love hate relationship with blogging. It comes in fits and spurts. I genuinely love writing, so blogging seems a natural hobby to have. Except that it isn’t. Most days, thinking of a blog post feels like hard work. I already have enough on my plate with trying to think of words to put into my second manuscript now that my first is out on submission. I also deal with words most days of the week through my day job, and when I’m not working in one capacity or another, I’m probably trying to tackle my ever growing TBR (To Be Read) pile.

I know I’m not the only writer to suffer from these problems, and really it’s not a problem in the grand scheme of things. Yes, having an active blog would make my engagement as a writer and potential author easier. I would probably be able to grow my audience if I posted more regularly and that would mean more people to know about and buy my book when (not if) it eventually comes out. I’ve just never been one of those people who can blog when there’s nothing to say. It takes a certain level of training to be able to think up and fire off creative writing every day.

The other thing I have been putting my focus towards lately is a course in Copywriting through the Australian Writers Centre. For a long time I’ve fancied that one day I will quit my ‘normal’ job and go out on my own as a freelance writer. The only thing is, as aforementioned, I don’t seem to have the stamina for thinking up and evidently pitching idea after idea to publications, in order to make any sort of living. That’s a bit of a problem if I ever want to freelance.

In truth, I like that I channel my creative words into my novels. It’s what I am most passionate about. I also really enjoy reworking other people’s words. I always have. (Maybe it’s that little bit of control freak in me?) In another life, perhaps I would have pursued a career in editing, and maybe I still will. I have such a keen eye for detail that I actually enjoy proofreading and editing other people’s work. I don’t consider myself a perfectionist, but I do like to read good quality content. Sloppy mistakes hurt my soul – but hey, we ALL make them. I’m not about shaming people if they don’t have a strong grasp on grammar or have a tendency to make silly mistakes. If everyone was perfect there’d be no reason for editors. And I love editors.

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When I saw the copywriting course advertised through AWC, I thought why not give it a go? It’s creative writing, but with the theme/facts already at hand. No need to scrounge around thinking of the angle or the story. It’s about taking the facts and presenting them in an interesting and saleable way.

We are actually surrounded by copy. It’s in just about everything we read and look at every day. That brochure on the table of a coffee shop, the annoying pop up internet ads, newsletters, blog posts, traditional ads, they’re all copy. Surely I’m not the only one who gets annoyed when copy is riddled with mistakes or simply doesn’t sound right?

I didn’t think so.

A good copy writer will be able to take a creative brief and pull something together that a client will want to use. I’m hoping that’s what this course will give me. The skills and confidence to put myself out there and get behind all that copy we see day to day.

After all, I’ve been perfecting other people’s copy for more than a decade now. It’s about time I started writing it myself.

If you’d like to know more about copywriting or any of my other freelance work, contact me here.

 

A year in review

My baby turned one this week. In some ways, I can hardly believe I am the mother of a one-year-old, and in other ways it feels like this milestone took an age to arrive.

I have no doubt that parenting is one of the hardest and most challenging experiences of ones life, exasperated for me by the fact that I was unwilling to let go of my writing during those tough early months.

I didn’t write every day. Not even every week. I wrote some poems when I felt overwhelmed. I wrote in my journal a heck of a lot. But I didn’t really open my manuscript for fear that I would get immersed in it and my baby would wake up screaming. Which he did. A lot.

I feel like he didn’t sleep for the first 6 months. Certainly not in blocks of any longer than 2 hours overnight, 20 minutes during the day. He only started to figure out the whole sleep thing at 10 months. But it’s only been since 11 months that he’s consistently been sleeping through the night, and sleeping in wonderful long stints of an hour or more during the day. You will never appreciate a sleeping baby more than when you experience a baby who doesn’t quite “get” sleep.

Aside form keeping my son alive, I actually managed to progress my manuscript quite a lot in the past year. Something I didn’t think would be possible when I was in the depths of sleep deprivation.

After receiving such generous and heart warming support on my recent post over on Louise Allan’s Writers in the Attic, I began to reflect on exactly what I have achieved in this past year. Not just in my journey as a parent, but in my journey as a writer.

Though I still have a long way to go, I think it’s important to acknowledge how far I’ve come. And in an effort to do that for myself, I’m sharing my achievements with you all, here.

When my baby was 8 months old, in my sleep deprived state, I took myself off to Fiona McIntosh’s Commercial Fiction Masterclass. This was five intensive days in a room of 15 other fabulous writers, learning to hone our craft, navigate the publishing industry and basically get down to business. I credit Fiona and this masterclass to kicking my butt into gear and really committing myself to this manuscript.

I worked a reworked a synopsis and submitted it and my first three chapters to the Richell Prize for Emerging Writers. If you’d asked me 6 months ago how confident I was of my work, I would have told you it would never see the light of day. So to submit to such a popular and prestigious award (even with reservations), goes to show how much my confidence in myself has grown.

On advice from Fiona, I changed the names of my character’s and the working title of my WIP – which resulted in a snowball effect of changes to my entire manuscript. At first, this was incredibly daunting, but in actual fact, it’s returned some of the joy and pleasure back into my rewrites. Everything just seems to fit better.

I sorted out my home office. It may seem small, but for me it’s a really big improvement. In order to feel motivated to write, I need a good space. Something with natural lighting and a decent chair. Though I can (and often do) write anywhere, having a dedicated space makes me feel all that more professional.

I’ve made headway on social media, particularly on Twitter where I get a real sense of what a writing community is all about. I fell out of love with facebook but have since decided to modify my personal page as my writing page. I was going to set up an ‘author’ page, but I bulk at the thought of having another space to manage. So instead, I’m taking Valerie Khoo’s advice and using my personal page as my Facebook writing platform.

I started doing some freelance writing and editing. I don’t want to spread myself too thin, so I’m selective of my clients and the time I can put towards freelancing, but I’m enjoying the diversity of work and the options it may afford me in the future.

I started an interview series with and for my fellow emerging writers: The Writer’s Room.

And I created this blog!

 

Thank you to each and every one of you who have followed along with me on this journey, sent me encouraging words through social media or email, commented on my posts and supported me when I’ve complained or exclaimed about anything and everything going on in my life. Your support and encouragement means the world to me. X

Writing Exercises

I love a good writing exercise. In fact, one of the main reasons I enjoyed studying towards my Masters of Creative Writing was because of the exercises and homework. There’s something about expanding the boundaries of your normal practice that really helps to explore and stretch your skills as a writer. As well as that, playing with words can be fun.

Of course, you don’t need to be a formal student to enjoy writing exercises. If you have better discipline than I do, you could plan and participate in your own practice and achieve much the same enjoyment and development. I suspect being a part of a writers group would support this kind of approach as well.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a writers group, but I do have a wonderful network of friends and writing peers online, who encourage me to expand myself further every day. (Hi Twitter pals *waves*).

Nonetheless, I’m making a commitment to do more writing exercises, whether by joining an online challenge like over at my friend Jodi’s site, picking up on a prompt on Twitter, or opening one of my many writing books and resources and selecting a challenge. The key, like anything, is to do a little bit, a lot of the time. “Little and often”, as one of my friends put it recently.

Yep, thats exactly it.

I’d love to know what writing tools and exercises other writers out there use. How often do you do them? Do you find them helpful? Where do they come from?

Let me know in the comments.

Happy writing, friends. X

Welcome to my home

Many months (ahem, years) have gone by since I last blogged. In a former life, I hosted a vegan food blog, The Natural Foodie. I hosted that site for about three years, when I was really into cooking and eating and exploring vegan life. I’m still into all that, but my life has somewhat changed. I started studying towards my Masters of Creative Writing and I had a baby. Things like writing get a little tricky when you welcome an entirely dependent human being into your life.

Besides having a child, I also realised that hosting a food blog was really just a focused way for me to write creatively. It was also what I like to call ‘A Really Good Way to Procrastinate From Writing The Thing I Actually Want To Write’.

Cue, my book.

For near on four years I have been toiling away at this idea for a book in my head. I’ve played the scenes out in my mind when drifting off to sleep. I’ve daydreamed about who the characters are and what their lives are like. I’ve added scenes based on places I’ve traveled, falling in love with the architecture and the people and realising that I just had to find a way to fit them into my fictional world. So, in November of 2014 I finally got down to the business of getting that story out of my head and onto the page. I took part in my first ever NaNoWriMo and was over-the-edge excited to have broken the 50K word count in that one month alone.

By December 2014, I thought I would be tying up the loose ends, wrapping my manuscript up into a neat little bundle and sending it out to all the publishers I could think of in the hopes of getting a traditional publishing deal.

How naive I was.

I did manage to finish the first draft by February 2015, but then I went and decided that I didn’t like it being in third person and decided to rewrite the whole damn thing in first person. In August of 2015 I started my Masters and was afforded my first opportunity to workshop a couple of chapters with my fellow students and course coordinator. Well, that was an eye opener. To say the least.

The feedback was not bad. In fact much of it was quite encouraging. But there’s always room for improvement, and now that I’m looking at my writing in a far more critical light, I’ve both lost a bit of the confidence I had from my first draft, and gained a lot of skills that will be critical to the success of any full length novel I might publish.

So, why am I back blogging if I have a book to write? Well, writing can be a lonely journey, and we writers need a home for our ramblings outside of the confines of our empty offices and laptop screens. This is my writing home.