Tag Archives: Writing Exercises

Upcoming Writing Events- Add Yours for your Location…


events

This week I will be attending a special supper with a member of my writing group who resides in Newfoundland. Not only is it exciting to see her, for her visits are few and far between but to really connect with her rather than on social media. A group of us will share stories and gossip (of the writing kind of course!) at a local restaurant  and then attend the normal monthly writing meeting. I know, Sharon is really looking forward to the evening especially the meeting as she so misses the camaraderie of the group.

Writers Foundation Strathcona County

Our meeting will run in its usual format with a review of upcoming events, submissions for the newsletter and our Canada 150 book project and then a writing prompt to inspire the Muse. After this we will share our current writing projects for constructive critique. 

After the workshop I attended last week I did try out an exercise suggested by Jennifer. Read the first five pages of your manuscript and then answer the question, does it give the reader 12-15 points to introduce who, why, when and where of your protagonist. Obviously, some genres do not start with such an ‘info dump ‘ but if your reader can get a sense of who the protagonist is that will help engage them and make them turn the page. It was an interesting exercise with my current five manuscripts and I did change one first paragraph.

Have you tried this technique?

Did it help you identify a revision?

My major event will be on Sunday. It has been months of exhaustive organizing by both boards of the Arts & Culture Council and the Diversity Committee and we hope for good weather and large crowds! Heritage Day of Strathcona County may become an annual event (what am I letting myself in for?) if this initial event does well. With numerous vendors, performers, food providers, music and even a special free shuttle and a magician, we have done all we can.

heritage day

Other events:

 June 8, 2017: The Writing Stick: Sharing Indigenous Stories

“The Writing Stick: Sharing Indigenous Stories” conference takes place June 8 to 10, 2017 at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta. It will foster conversations on editing and publishing Indigenous stories and writers. The conference is intended for Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants from all walks of life including publishers, editors, writers, storytellers, filmmakers, academics.

juxtapostions

Welcome to the WGA Annual Conference 2017: Juxtapositions! This is where writers from all across Alberta come together to socialize, network, learn, and celebrate writers and writing. We’ve asked over a dozen authors to share their talents and experiences in fiction, short story, poetry, and journalism through keynote speeches, author interviews, panel discussions and more. And Saturday night we’ll take it up a notch with our Literary Awards Gala. Join us June 10 and 11 at Lister Centre, U of A campus in Edmonton!

https://writersguild.ca/events/wga-annual-conference-2017-juxtapositions/

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


writing-hub

Writing:

Unfortunately my creative writing has taken a backseat this last week while I compiled a schedule, contact sheet and action requirements for the Heritage Day my Board and another organization are holding in June. In all I spent seven hours going through hundreds of emails to find contacts and actions made and needed. Having so many people involved is wonderful for the work share but a logistical nightmare. Now it is done I feel confident that everyone knows the status of what is happening, who is attending and special information.

After all that creating my writers foundation Board’s agenda for tonight’s meeting was a piece of cake!

I will use some of my long weekend to type out the personal experience notes my ghost writing client gave me and insert it into the draft book. I’ll also be putting the finishing touches to the workshop I am presenting at a writers conference on 22nd April – I want to ensure it is informative but also fun.

Conference logo 2017

Hopefully I can also take some time to continue my edit and revision of The Twesome Loop. It is tantalizingly close to the finish prior to going back to beta-readers.

Twesome Loop 002

How is your current work in progress coming along?

Books:

The Faraday Girls by Monica McInerney- I am on the last few chapters of this wonderful narrative – I will not spoil the ending for anyone wanting to read it – that’s so unfair. So will put up a Goodreads review once I’m finished which will be this long weekend for sure.

faraday

The Other Life by Ellen Meister – so excited to read this story. If you could choose a different life, one you actually knew about – would you?

The Other Life

Do you have a recommendation?

Do you want to hook up on Goodreads? Follow the link on the side bar to my account.

Writing Tips:

Join a writers’ group so you can gain support from the writing community and enjoy camaraderie in your craft.

From personal experience a writers group is invaluable for any writer as long as you receive constructive critique, your style and voice are acknowledged and respected and there is a strong sense of support and encouragement. My group: www.wfscsherwoodpark.com  encourages writers any stage, any age of their writing career. We have local and virtual members.

Be observant. The people and activities that surround you will provide you with great inspiration for characters, plots, and themes. (And people watching is so much fun!)

Use writing exercises to improve your skills, strengthen your talent, and explore different genres, styles, and techniques. My favorite ‘inspirational kick’ is finding a word or picture prompt. I create a prompt on our website every Saturday – scroll back and find one that ‘speaks’ to you – top right on the calendar www.wfscsherwoodpark.com

Happy Writing…

Image credit: http://www.mywritingblog.com

 

A Writers Conundrum – Finding Time to Write..


To have inspiration for our writing we must observe life, to avoid our family and friends abandoning us we need to engage with them, to pay the bills we must usually work a day job, to maintain our word count or deadline we must organize writing time. So the question is, how can we juggle all of these demands on our time with failing at each one?

Finding the ‘perfect’ balance between these is always a challenge. You may be in the depths of a scene when a small hand lands on your lap, a teenager ‘must’ be taken to a friends house, your husband needs help with a project or dare I say it your boss needs something from you? We inevitably crumble and leave the narrative in the hope you will remember the details later? We may scramble to jot down that idea, phrase or even paragraph before being torn away. I have looked to other writers, famous or not, and tried to delve beyond the obvious and gleam an insight into their methods of finding time. There are numerous hints and tips populating the internet but in the end you know your life and its limitations best. You may get up extra early, stay awake until the breaking dawn or cram a few paragraphs into your lunch hour – whatever works for you and your writing – is the right way to go. The trick is how to organize your time productively.

How do you schedule your writing?

What time of day works best for you?

I have to admit my writing is not scheduled. I take advantage of any time I’m left alone and once absorbed find it difficult to let go. Weekend mornings are good for me as I get up early and have several hours while my daughter is still sleeping and my husband is playing about in the garage! Other times I can use are the evenings when I arrive early for writing group meetings and write until the allotted time. Other ‘escape’ opportunities do arise and I always take advantage of them: a cancelled appointment, the house to myself or the glory of a  writing retreat! Obviously, I dream of the day I can shut myself away with my laptop and not have to answer to anyone…it will happen I just need to be patient.

With my freelance work increasingly demanding more of my time, I have to split my writing with that of clients. Maybe I am wrong but I tend to complete a client’s work prior to my own. Having a deadline for a paying job and completing it is, to my mind, more important and vital: a) for repeated work b) for remuneration. That is not to say I believe my own writing is secondary, far from it. Within my writing group, Writers Foundation of Strathcona County, I am fortunate to have other writers who engage in an annual novel workshop. At the beginning of the year, when several of us have participated in NaNoWriMo and others are ready to share their first draft, we meet every month until June (sometimes longer). We section our novels and email them to each other, then edit and comment on the narrative. Then at month’s end email our editing and meet to discuss the stories. It is beta reading within a ‘safe’ environment if you will. This mutual assistance enables me to edit my current manuscript with the views of several other authors and a ‘faster’ editing process too.

Care to share your writing schedule or tips you found useful?

My writing area expands a little each year! Where do you write?

New Writing DEsk 003new writing deskPicture Wall

Tailor Make Your Writing Schedule To Your Life…


In a perfect world we would be able to write whenever and where ever we chose. However, life gets in the way all too often. Many of us have to juggle family commitments and a ‘day’ job while writing. Finding the ‘perfect’ balance between these is always a challenge. You may be in the depths of a scene when a small hand lands on your lap, a teenager ‘must’ be taken to a friends house, your husband needs help with a project or dare I say it your boss needs something from you? We inevitably crumble and leave the narrative in the hope you will remember the details later? We may scramble to jot down that idea, phrase or even paragraph before being torn away.

juggling

 I have looked to other writers, famous or not, and tried to delve beyond the obvious and gleam an insight into their methods of finding time. There are numerous hints and tips populating the internet but in the end you know your life and its limitations best. You may get up extra early, stay awake until the breaking dawn or cram a few paragraphs into your lunch hour – whatever works for you and your writing – is the right way to go. The trick is how to organize your time productively. I came across this interesting post and thought it was worth sharing.

http://thejennymacbookblog.wordpress.com/2014/08/13/punch-clock/

How do you schedule your writing?

What time of day works best for you?

I have to admit my writing is not scheduled. I take advantage of any time I’m left alone and once absorbed find it difficult to let go. Weekend mornings are good for me as I get up early and have several hours while my daughter is still sleeping and my husband is playing about in the garage! Other times I can use are the evenings I arrive early for writing group meetings and write until the allotted time. Obviously, I dream of the day I can shut myself away with my laptop and not have to answer to anyone…it will happen I just need to be patient.

Care to share your writing schedule or tips you found useful?

writing desk 1

 

Human Book Chains and Friday Fun…


book pile

The passion for books is not dead and this article proves it. If so many people are willing to brave the cold to physically pass thousands of books into a library, then we have hope that reading for gaining knowledge and for pure joy is alive and well. History is unfortunately littered with book burning’s for political and religious reasons but the human spirit and love of books has never been squashed.

When you realize how long the list is, then you understand books are more than paper sheets bound together – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_book-burning_incidents

Saving them is paramount for future generations not just for historical reasons but for the author’s words to be shared and loved beyond their life. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_burning

human-book-chain

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/140120/14000-latvians-form-human-chain-deliver-books-library

“The people who stood in the Baltic Way remember that feeling of being shoulder to shoulder with complete strangers. The people taking part in the book chain who are prepared to stand here on a cold winter day are taking this seriously too – we are literally standing up for culture.”

Quotes:  “A room without books is like a body without a soul.”  ―Cicero

A personal favorite as an English woman: “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”  ― C.S. Lewis

FunDay

And now for the fun part of today. A prompt to spark your imagination:

While hiking through a ancient woodland you discover a moss covered metal box with ornate brass decorations. What is inside? Where did it come from?

Share your responses.

Literary News & Fun On Friday’s…


wirheader-

My community announced the new Writers in Residence for 2014 recently – the details are below.

I would like to say if you have the opportunity to meet and gain wisdom and help from a Writer in Residence, then do so. Having an expert review your work and give you authoritative assistance, all for free, is worth its weight in gold. If you are unsure contact your local library for their residency details.

Margaret Macpherson Margaret_smaller

Margaret Macpherson has worked as a full-time professional writer, teacher and editorial/educational mentor for the last decade. With a Masters of Fine Arts (Creative Writing) from UBC and she was widely published in newspapers and magazines both nationally and internationally before moving to Alberta in 1994.

After a career in journalism and teaching, which took her to the East Coast and Bermuda, Margaret began playing in long narrative prose. She has subsequently published seven books, both fiction and non fiction, including a biography entitled Nellie McClung: Voice for the Voiceless which won the Canadian Authors Association (CAA) Exporting Alberta Award in 2004.

Her collection of short stories Perilous Departures (2004), and her first novel, Released (2007) were both nominated for Manitoba Book Awards and her last novel Body Trade won the DeBeers Northwords Prize in 2012.

An essayist, poet and storyteller, Margaret has worked as a fiction editor for three different literary magazines and regularly performs poetry and aural story telling.
She represented Alberta in the National CBC Poetry Face-Off (2006) and has won (and lost) the coveted Story Slam championship.

An expressive arts practitioner, Margaret mucks about with oils and pastels and has sold the odd watercolour. She has written and co-produced a CD of original music and has had one of her plays produced in Vancouver’s NewWorks festival.

Although Edmonton has been home for the last 18 years, Margaret grew up in the Northwest Territories, and has lived extensively in Halifax, Bermuda, Vancouver and Nelson, BC. She lives with her husband, three kids and a very black cat.

Jason Lee Norman

Jason_smaller

Jason Lee Norman was born and raised in the Edmonton area. With a degree in English from the University of Alberta and a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Manchester he returned to Edmonton in 2009 to make his fortune. He is the author of two short story collections: ‘Americas’ and ‘Beautiful Girls & Famous Men’ and is the co-founder of the #yegwords (Words with Friends) creative writing collective which holds regular events in Edmonton throughout the year, including the very popular Word Crawl.
In 2013 he introduced Edmonton to 40 Below: Edmonton’s Winter Anthology. 70 pieces of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction all about or inspired by winter in Edmonton. 40 Below was published by Jason’s small publishing concern Wufniks Press.

In the past few years Jason has nominated himself for dozens of awards but has won very few. He hopes to one day finish his novel so that it may receive a scathing review in the National Post. Thus completing the circle of life

Full article here:  http://metrowir.com/

Literary Magazine link: http://www.everywritersresource.com/literarymagazines/

And for the fun part of today : Invent your own country! It can be on earth or another planet. Inhabited by humans or aliens. Hostile or idyllic.  Let your imagination go wild.FunDay

Are You A Dutiful Writer..?


Dutiful – definition: filled with or motivated by a sense of duty

Image found at Utopia Moment by Jack Ruttan…unfortunately link has crashed.

Dutiful writer

Writing about 2,000 words in three hours every morning, ‘Casino Royale’ dutifully produced itself. I wrote nothing and made no corrections until the book was finished. If I had looked back at what I had written the day before I might have despaired. Ian Fleming

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/11/20/daily-routines-writers/

http://ollinmorales.com/2012/12/26/schedule/

Please visit these links – great tips.

I must admit I do not have a set schedule although having to submit a blog post every day and creating a prompt every Saturday does take some organizing. I do try to write at least five days a week, even if it is only a short response to a prompt or a revision to a current project.  My target for 2014 will be a more ‘structured’ writing week to include more freelance opportunities. I am still pondering the frequency of my blog posts and the theme. Writing just when the muse whispers would probably not be as productive as having a schedule but we have to balance when we are inspired as well. My initial thought is – Monday and Friday evenings split between editing my current and previous manuscript and commenting on fellow writers projects. Wednesday evenings focus on freelance work, promotion and submissions. Saturday prompt onto writing website – http://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com and Sunday creating blog posts for the following week. Will I keep to this or refine it? Who knows…it is after all a work in progress.

What is your writing schedule? Do you have one?

Any tips for keeping dutiful?

Just as a side note I’m keeping myself warm today – weather warnings in affect – we have a -40 wind chill – flesh freezes in 10 minutes! Keep warm and safe everyone.

Related articles

What’s Your Writing Habit…


Proclivity – definition: natural or habitual inclination or tendency

Paper- WritingWhat is your natural or habitual tendency when writing?

As I have mentioned before, my tendency in writing is free flow – it is how my creativity manifests itself. Given minutes or hours, I will write. Whether it is a prompt or an idea that gives me that spark,  I give my mind free reign to create it. The normal process for me runs something like this:

The idea comes to mind as I read, hear or see something. Usually it starts with a character of some kind, whether a person, animal or inanimate object with a consciousness (I wrote about a rug fearing the vacuum once – that was fun!) Then a circumstance begins to form and that is when the ‘flow’ begins. The story grows into its own creation in my head and I type – is this like channeling do you think?

Within my writers group, we have planners, free flowers and a wealth of combinations of both processes and more. Some edit as they write, others make separate notes and some write the whole thing before revising. There is no right or wrong way – whatever works for you is the best way.

Has your process changed as your skill increased or do you stick to a formula that works for you?

This link has some great pictures of famous authors notes.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2326630/Notes-diagrams-famous-authors-including-J-K-Rowling-Sylvia-Plath-planned-novels.html

I loved this little note from writing and had to share.

writing habit

Lilliputian – A Complete World – Is Yours the Same..?


Lilliputian – definition: extremely small : tiny

English: Illustration to Gulliver's Travels, b...
English: Illustration to Gulliver’s Travels, by J.J. Grandville. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Swift’s novel Gulliver’s Travels, he created several believable and complete societies, incorporating  hierarchies, laws and  histories for each. It is, however, the Lilliputian world that became the favored land in the eyes of the public. Cartoons and movies have been made of Gulliver’s travel to Lilliput omitting his subsequent journeys.

Gulliver also traveled to Brobdingnag, a land of giants, Laputa, a floating island inhabited by theoreticians and Houyhnhnms, populated by rational thinking horses. These perfectly developed societies have been, for the most part, lost to the public.

In reading about these other lands, we realize they brought understanding to Gulliver of ‘human’ nature and was actually a vehicle for Swift’s own views on society. To create such well defined worlds is what every writer strives for.

Wouldn’t you love your world or character to become a dictionary term? If only we could all achieve this feat.

When writing our stories,we delve into the fine details of our characters and the worlds they inhabit. Many of these details never actually reach the page but are vitally important. Without them we would not understand how our characters react and what their restrictions are, whether physical, emotional or spiritual.

Surrender to Your Muse…or Not?


Cede – definition: to give in, yield or formally surrender to another

As writers should we surrender to our muse?

Muse floats

I have found, in my experience, that surrendering to my muse has enabled me to accomplish large quantities of narrative. Whole chapters have formed with details previously unknown to me. In some circles this is known as channeling but more on a spiritual plane. May be my muse has more control over me than I care to admit. Although, saying that, once a story starts to flow, I yield to the process completely. I enjoy the journey as much as my characters. I am immersed in their lives, wondering which paths we will tread. Writing uninterrupted  by aspects of editing is a freeing experience.

Have you surrendered to find unexpected plot lines or do you need to control every aspect?

170px-Muse_reading_Louvre_CA2220

Some famous authors and their perceived muses’:

F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda

Charles Dodgson (Lewis Caroll)—Alice Liddell

Shakespeare-The Dark Lady/The handsome youth/Henry Wriothesley

J.D. Salinger/Joyce Maynard

A couple of links concerning the muse:

http://www.juliamccutchen.com/blog/?p=837

http://chloegetsaclue.com/writing-tip-the-care-and-feeding-of-your-muse/