Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Toolkit to Create a Writing Retreat at Home

May 27, 2021
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Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

Without the luxury of travel during COVID, regular writing retreats have been cancelled, but it is not all bad news. We can create our own mini retreat at home. There will be some necessary arrangements to be made, which relate to your personal circumstances but it can be done. If you have a full household ask if it is possible for your partner to take your children out for an extended walk or to a play ground or even outside yard activities? Set times that you want to write without interruptions. This may be early morning or late evening, a time of day that you can set aside for writing. If staying in the home is too difficult, maybe drive to a secluded spot and write in a notebook to type up later. There is always somewhere you can find to accommodate writing time.

The length of time you have for your retreat will, of course, depend on what is possible for you. You may have two hours a day over a couple of days or a day or two. Before creating your retreat think about the following:

Why do you need a retreat? This might seem like a silly question but take the time to decide if the retreat has a direct purpose for your writing.

What is your goal? Again ask yourself, what can this retreat help you accomplish. Is it to begin or finish a project, a full edit, or a final read through?

Once you have identified these two points, you can plan by initially setting targets with measurable realistic goals, don’t overwhelm yourself. Depending on the time allotted for your retreat, create a daily writing plan. What are your objectives for each day? This can be writing or editing a certain number of pages, sequencing chapter content or revising scenes.

It is important to eliminate distractions as much as possible allowing you to concentrate. This should include switching off your cell phone, setting specific times for social media interactions, or even setting a timer!

The more you organize before hand the better your experience will be. Let’s look at some essentials.

Plan Your Retreat Time– use your preference – a simple sheet with goals for each day/hour, or a whiteboard with retreat objectives or notes in a day planner.

Tools – these can include a notebook, laptop, post-its, record cards, mood board, a print out of your manuscript, reference books or research sites bookmarked on your search engine. Everything that you need to successfully accomplish your goal.

Snacks & Water– the brain needs to be fed and watered as you delve into your project. Have plenty of water and easy nibbles handy.

Space – designate a space where you will work, where you and your tools will not be disturbed.

Rewards – how will you reward yourself for accomplishing your set goals? Decide how, it can be going for a walk, or thirty minutes on social media, or relaxing reading a book.

Remember this time is ultimately for you and your writing, a time to invest in your craft.

I’d love to hear your experiences with a home writing retreat. How did you achieve it?

A Happy New Year and My Blog Schedule for 2021

December 29, 2020
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As many of you know, I commit to a blog schedule at the end of each year for the up coming year. In 2021, my twice weekly posts will continue to be divided between writing topics and delving into my books and writing life for my readers.

I hope you will find the content interesting, enlightening and fun. I will post every Tuesday and Thursday each week as follows:

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday

Stories behind my published books and also from works in progress.

First pages

Update on events I will be attending – if possible physically, if not virtually in 2021

Glimpses at my current writing project.

Sharing short stories or poem’s I have written from prompts or workshops.

Character Interviews

My book reviews

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday

Special Interviews with authors from Creative Edge

Writing Tips

Writing contests

Literary Birthdays

Author Toolbox – once a month

Monthly Author Interviews (please sign up for one – first Thursday of every month.)

I will continue with my monthly newsletter, so please sign up when prompted. I hope we can develop a great relationship with this new venture – Sneek Peeks & Glimpses. Thank you in anticipation.

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – 8 Writing Tips for the Holiday Season

December 17, 2020
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Writing Tips:

Holiday’s tend to reek havoc on our writing schedule with visitors or visiting, meal preparations, and traveling but with COVID restrictions in place, we need to find alternative ways to share the seasons celebrations. That is also true for our writing time. Here are a few tricks to help you continue writing throughout the festive season.

  1. Keep track of the number of words you write instead of how long you wrote.
  2. Set a reasonable word count goal in small pockets of time even if it is only 100 words at a time.
  3. Relax your normal rigorous writing timetable – take time to chill, enjoy and also use it to observe. There may be a ‘scene’ that could help your current work in progress. People watching is fun too.
  4. Wake up earlier (or stay up later) than usual to ensure that you spend some time writing. If you have the option utilize the guest room to ‘hide’ yourself for a while.
  5. Don’t feel guilty about not writing – we all need down time.
  6. Test out a scene with family or friends to get feedback.
  7. Connect with a supporter for encouragement.
  8. Create a writing plan around your activities. 

Above all stay safe, stay well and write.

Author Toolbox Blog Hop – Creating A Writing Session

July 16, 2020
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Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2

We all want the time and space to write more. Life gets in the way a lot of the time, but if you make some ‘writing’ time within our normal life, it can be done.

person writing on notebook

Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

Firstly, it seems obvious but set a goal for your writing session. Do you know what your objective is? Are you brainstorming, creating a character description, outlining a plot, starting a new project or completing one?

Secondly, prepare for what you will be writing, do your homework for locations, period etc. Brainstorm ideas before you start, make notes. Create a inspiration list and find images for your story’s setting and characters. Make up a board, either physical or digital that you can have in front of you as you write.

TIP: Don’t be too ridge, let the story flow – it doesn’t always go to plan! But that’s the joy of writing.

 Thirdly, gauge how committed you are to this piece of writing? Are you excited to start or is it feeling like a chore? If the latter, try something new or another project.

TIP: Use word or picture prompts to ignite your Muse to get you started and in a writing mood.

Also make sure you are in a good writing spot. Have you minimized distractions? Do you need quiet or music, a cafe or library setting. Or is your home space best for you or will there be too many interruptions?

Decide on how long you will write for. Don’t make the session too long or it will dampen your enthusiasm. Ensure you have breaks for refreshments, to stretch or even go for a walk.

Once you have these elements in place check your clock and set the timer. Don’t look at it constantly – just write. Lose yourself in the narrative. Enjoy the process. Don’t edit as you write – let the process flow. Let your imagination expand.

TIP: Don’t edit or revise – just write.

I like to sit in my living room with my laptop on a little table – in the warmer months, I can look out at the lawn and watch the birds & bunnies and in the cold months, I enjoy the fireplace. When we go on road trips, I usually sit at the desk or on the bed with my little table.

 Where is your ‘go to’ writing spot?

What are you working on currently?

Author Book Signing – 8th July 2017…

June 1, 2017
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I’m too excited to wait so I’m posting this event now! My fellow author pal, Eva Blaskovic and I are having a joint book signing on 8th July at Audrey’s Books, Jasper Avenue, Edmonton 12:00 – 1:00 pm. Everyone is welcome!

Come and see our new and improved novels, get your book signed and ask us questions on the stories or our writing process.

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