Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Wordsmiths Collective Thursday – 10 Tips To Get Your Writing Mojo Back.

June 11, 2020
mandyevebarnett


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Typically, I write my entire first draft without getting feedback, with the “door closed,” a la Stephen King. For me this draft is a flow of words as the story plays like a movie in my head. Yep, madness rules when a story grips me.

However, for the past few months, I did not look at my current manuscript. It was although, I had lost interest. Although, I read, edited and commented on other author’s works, mine was left desolate. As the COVID19 months passed, I became worried that the writing bug had left me. I felt bereft. I didn’t mean to stop writing.

Has that ever happened for you?

There are lots of reasons that our creativity, in whatever form, can be cast aside or forgotten. Illness, a new baby, a new relationship, a new home or job, divorce, financial stress and many more. To find that creative spark again, we can use one or more of the following:

1. Firstly, do not feel guilty – it is counterproductive and harassing your muse is a form of procrastination.

2. Start writing – use a prompt, do a character study, write out a story idea.

3. Keep Writing – give yourself a time limit 20 minutes or an hour, or write a page, or 250 words. Choose one and stick to it.

4. Finish a small project.

6. Change the location of where you write – it can even be in a different room or somewhere local like your library.
7. Take a writing class.

8. Do another creative activity.

9. Make up book titles – based on well known novels or use a title generator on the internet.

10. Create a character description – including all their back story.

himalayan salt lamp near laptop on wooden table

Photo by Andrea Davis on Pexels.com

For me the spark came back after a discussion on strong female characters and how to make their role believable. It ignited that interest again and I spent the past weekend editing and polishing my steampunk heroine’s character. This writer is back!

 

 

Wordsmiths Collective Thursday – Numerous Writing Ideas – What to Choose Next

June 4, 2020
mandyevebarnett


close up of beer bottles on wood

Photo by Bruno Scramgnon on Pexels.com

Our creativity can be inspired from the smallest word, an overheard conversation or one we have had, an image, whether real or virtual, or even a globally known news worthy article.

What obscure stimulus has sparked an idea for you? 

As many of you know I am a free flow writer so apart from a vague idea where I want the story to go, it is a mystery to me. That is the thrill for me. It is an adventure I willingly travel with my characters. They lead and I follow with frantic typing. ‘Listening’ to my Muse enables me to create freely. It also means the story can change direction quite dramatically at times.

How do you approach new ideas? Frantic notes? Plot arc? Character descriptions?

No matter what system we use, an idea can grow exponentially once it takes hold. This is wonderful, of course, the only downfall being if we already have a bucketful of ideas already. It can be difficult to choose which one to go with first at times. I usually let several ideas ‘brew’ and the one that ‘shouts’ loudest is the one I start. It is not a fail safe method by any means but at least I have a direction.

However, an idea might be a segue to a previous secondary character that you can expand upon or it might be a natural follow up for one you have already written. Then you are in the realms of a series! This can determine your choice of which idea needs to be written first.

When you read through your ideas there might be a correlation between one or two and that could be the start of a new project. Keep your options open, let your Muse guide you.

Have you experienced a story unwilling to stay quiet?

How do you choose?

My novel, Life in Slake Patch was the result of a heated conversation regarding the patriarchal society we live in. I wanted to flip the status quo and have a young man’s perspective living in a matriarchal society.

blurb slake

Author Toolbox – 8 Lockdown Tips for Writers in COVID19

May 21, 2020
mandyevebarnett


book on a white wooden table

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

We are all feeling the repercussions of isolation, social distancing and lack of ‘normal’. It has affected everyone in a multitude of ways. For writers, who are normally ‘isolated’  in their writing life, there has been a change in atmosphere, inspiration, alone time and creativity. (Or lack thereof).

Whatever your normal routine, be it the impact of family at home, remote working arrangements or lack of access to resources, we can adjust.

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Here are a few tips to try (or not):

  1. One of the best options I have found is a virtual writing time. A group of us ‘meet’ on Sunday’s for a couple of hours. And although for the most part, it is a silent meeting, knowing we are connected helps with motivation and makes us accountable. We share what we will be writing at the beginning of the meeting and then summarize what we achieved at the end.
  2. Outside time – this is vitally important to refresh the mind and body. It can be a walk, a bicycle ride and a hike. Whatever, works best for you within the confines of the social distancing parameters.
  3. Writing space changes. It sounds odd but even a reorganization, a new arrangement of objects, a vase of flowers – can make all the difference. Maybe write in a different area of the house.
  4. Reserve writing time. Make a commitment to write for a certain amount of time each day. As we all have favourite times of day to be creative – this can be before everyone gets up, when they are all asleep or maybe a time when you can be alone in the house. Don’t add to your stress by putting a word count on this time. It can be to write, of course, but also to plot, edit, note down new story ideas or even read some research.
  5. Enter a contest. This idea will either spur you on or not. To create something new can be a good way to engage your Muse. Even if you decide not to submit your work, it is a great way to spark your creativity.
  6. Online writing workshops. There are now lots of options for online workshops and courses. Maybe it’s time to hone your skills? I enjoy the monthly creative workshops my local writing group organizes. They are held on the last Saturday of each month. (Link here for May’s workshop: https://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/event-details/creative-writing-workshop-online-3 )
  7. Writing prompts are also a great way to refresh the writing brain. There are a lot of sites and books available on the internet. Try a few, whether they are images, word collections or story starters. You never know where they might take you. Again my local writing group has prompts every Saturday, if you want to try. Link: https://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/our-blog

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What have you found to help your writing during COVID19?

 

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Dreams into Stories

May 7, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Inspiration can strike us at any time from a vast array of sources. An overheard conversation, a scenic view, an image or a news report – the list goes on and on. One of the most frustrating but rewarding is dreams. They are elusive a lot of the time but if we can capture them somehow, they can become the marvelous start to a story idea.

In my current steampunk novel, The Commodore’s Gift, the initial scene is actually a dream sequence I experienced. It is a cloaked figure propelling out of a high window. When I woke up, I immediately wrote down everything I could remember of the scene. It was an older mansion house, an older time period and the person falling was a young female wearing a cloak. 

Writer Tip: Always keep a notebook and pen beside your bed.

Upon reflection of the dream, I was able to ascertain that the ‘place’ was actually very similar to my old school in England. Which was an Elizabethan mansion. When I was at school many of the rooms still had the original wooden paneling, large stone fireplaces and leaded-light windows. It is now a historic site and open to visitors. https://www.historichouses.org/houses/house-listing/shaw-house.html (images above)

As with most dreams their fleeting quality can make solidifying them difficult but with practice you can train yourself to remember them. A notebook is useful to have on hand but also try to keep within the dream for as long as you can before you become fully awake and your day starts. 

Here are a few tips to try:

Write, “I can remember my dreams” on a sticky note, place it somewhere you’ll see it before you go to sleep, and read the note aloud.

Go to bed at a regular time.

Practice 20 minutes of mediation prior to sleep.

What dream(s) resulted in a story idea for you? Please share in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

Wordsmith Collective Thursday – Is Your Writing Life Lethargic Now?

April 23, 2020
mandyevebarnett


tiredHow is the isolation affecting your writing?

When I virtual chat with writing friends most of them say they feel generally lethargic. It is not just their writing life and routine that has changed but also life in general has restricted their creativity. With limited interactions, we do not have access to our normal writing routines. We may have people in the house not normally there, or meetings and events that sparked our imaginations are cancelled. Whatever our normal was, we are being proactive in protecting our loved ones from this horrid disease by staying home.

When I looked up lethargy, I was surprised at how many definitions it has. All of which describe beautifully our current state.

Sluggishness, inertia, inactivity, inaction, slowness, torpor, dullness, listlessness, languor, stagnation, laziness, idleness, indolence, shiftlessness, sloth, phlegm,
apathy, passivity, ennui, weariness, tiredness, lassitude, fatigue, sleepiness, drowsiness, enervation, somnolence, narcosis, hebetude.

So let’s take one of these and use it in a writing exercise. Write a poem or short story about a character affected by it.

Use the comment section to leave your response.

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As writers we can use what prompts us to create. Use this experience in the same way. Make it a positive. Finish that novel, short story, poem. Create a new one using this experience as inspiration. Reorganize your physical or virtual writing files. Research new story ideas. List writing projects you want to achieve. Revisit old story ideas or manuscripts – can they be resurrected?

Think positive – be positive and write!

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