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
mandyevebarnett


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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?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Writing Goals for 2021

January 7, 2021
mandyevebarnett


At the beginning of every year, we decide on what goals we want to achieve. Sometimes we are successful, sometimes not, but it is the thrill of a new year that engages us in this ritual. I make a goal board to help my focus and motivation. It is not just for my writing goals but other personal ones too. As you can see from the image, I have four sections to my board this year – writing, family & friends, finances and health and relaxation.

Interestingly, this board is the most complex one I have ever made. Maybe because there is a stronger motivation this year due to the restrictions we have all encountered. And that is my word for 2021 as well – MOTIVATION.

Do you have a word for 2021?

I have already submitted to several writing contests and began a six week writing course too, so I am on my way. I am also determined to have the first book of my detective novel trilogy, edited and revised by the end of the year, so it can be published. To this end, members of my writing group will be swapping chapters of our current work in progress for suggestions, editing and review over several months. This is such a useful tool, as each person will ‘read’ the story, allowing me (and them) a preview of our novels.

What writing goals do you have for 2021?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – 10 Tips To Overcome Being Disheartened With Your Writing

November 18, 2020
mandyevebarnett


We have all felt disheartened as writers. It can manifest itself in a variety of forms. Lack of impetus, illness, stress, unrealistic comparisons, self expectations or stumbling over a particular section in a writing project. Some call it writers block. In truth it is just life.

Firstly, don’t beat yourself up, you are not alone. Every writer, whether novice or any of the top 100 authors, have doubts about what they are writing. We question ourselves – is it good enough, over and over. This can only spiral us downward into self-doubt. There are ways to give yourself a pick you up. I hope these help.

1. Focus on enjoying telling your stories. Do it to the best of your ability.

2. Remember you are building an inventory of your writing but also learning your craft.

Photo by Anthony Shkraba on Pexels.com

3. Lessen your expectations, don’t be so hard on yourself. Yes, we all want a certain quality to our work, but with patience it will come. There is no quick fix.

4. Don’t compare another writer’s finished work against your in process drafts. You have no idea how many changes they made.

5. Remember you get to rule over your own creative process. You choose, shape, mold, and create whatever you want.

6, Your words will, in time, sway minds, move hearts, and touch the lives of dozens of people you will never meet in person.

7. Your words, your stories are your legacy.

8. Do not take rejection personally. Think of it as a learning tool.

9. Take a long-term view of your writing career – no-one is ever an overnight success.

10. Participate in supportive writer groups. Share your work with encouraging friends.

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

What have you found works for you when you are feeling disheartened?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – NaNoWriMo Writing Sprints & Doubts

November 5, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Yes, it is NaNoWriMo month and there is the usual flurry of activity. Pre-planning, devising ideas, questioning if you should do it or not and the encouragement of the writing community. As I said before this year’s NaNo, for me, has me delving into an unknown genre and the start of a trilogy.

I have booked every Monday off work in November to allow myself extra time to write. This doesn’t normally happen but without the option of taking vacations, this year due to COVID19, I thought my best use of my days would be short writing retreats and extra time in November.

My first writing day, Sunday, was a super day. I had the house to myself, apart from the dogs, so indulged in writing for most of the day. Apart from several dog walks, and the occasional snack! My total for the day was 14,558. And at the time, I was super happy with that.

However, the next day doubts began to creep in. Had I given too many clues or sited too many suspects within those 14K words? This halted my writing. Should I re-start or continue? As we all know NaNo writing is just the first draft of a manuscript, so I shook off the doubts and returned to the story. Last night’s total was 16,951.

I may have to dissect this novel in the New Year, but for now I will enjoy the journey my characters are taking me on.

Are your participating in NaNoWriMo? What is your project?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Effects of Weather on Your Writing

October 29, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Weather can have quite an effect on our writing as it influences us emotionally and physically. Each season has its benefits.

Spring

Spring brings hope of warmth and plans conjured for outdoor pursuits, clearing of winter’s destruction and planting for summer blooms. It is also a time when a new project or idea may come forth. Use the short days and early evenings to plot, plan and create.

The sunshine and heat of summer tempts us outdoors to the wonderful variety of activities and abundance of the season. Looking at our writing area sends sharp pangs of guilt into our sub-conscious. I should be writing is its taunt. Remember experiences count as research so enjoy your summer. Find a quiet nook to write in the early mornings, or in a hotel lobby observing guests going back and forth or curling your toes in the sand on a beach. People watching is a trait a writer should indulge.

Fall (Autumn) with its burst of colour and chilly winds encourages warmer clothing and the last hurrah before the winter. The seasonal change turns our thoughts inward to postponed projects and the opportunity to begin them. Plotting, character development, and the first lines into a new story warms our Muse.

winter

In Alberta, my homeland now, winter is severe. We experience extreme cold, lots of snowfall and limitations on outdoor pursuits. Obviously, some people relish the opportunity to ski, snowboard, sled etc. but for others it is a time of indoor pursuits and a hibernation mentality takes over. Secluded in your writing area, your focus can dwell on your writing, ignoring the cold, harsh weather outside.

As writers, we learn to use emotional, social, and climatic insights and feelings to the benefit of our craft. It gives us an idea how weather can effect a character’s situation or show the passing of time.

How do the different seasons affect your writing?

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