Posts

Research Stage of Writing

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Having carried out my own little definitions of the Procrastination Stage, the Preparation Stage, and the   Character Development Stage of writing; I am now truly in a stage I love. It’s the happy stage of research. I had one of those fathers who constantly reminded us kids to use the word “ love” carefully. “You love people not things etc.,” I still have a need  to say I love this stage as I just love research, and it is particularly qualitative research that I love. I would go as far as saying the methodology of narrative research is all about people. It’s listening to them. It’s asking questions and listening and noting their answers with the intent of using what they say in my writing.  Quantitative may be all about crunching numbers, but qualitative is more focused on what questions I want to ask (keeping them few as possible or you’ll be there for a year writing up the responses), and treating responses with respect. My first novel is going to be set in Jamaica in the 1970’s, whe

Demystifying Poetry-Writing (Hopefully!)

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As a secondary school English teacher, I often have people commenting that they don’t know how I do it - there is no way they could teach hormonal teenagers and other such veiled compliments. I find these observations the most puzzling from Primary School teachers, often wondering in reverse how THEY cope with the ceaseless demands of small children throughout their working day. Even Year 7 are a little small for me and I have to remind myself to be nice-and-not-scary when they put their hands up for the umpteenth time to ask whether they should turn a page or underline a title. I get a similar response when I say I write poetry; many think of it as a mysterious, unfathomable pursuit. I so enjoyed a session I led at my local ACW Group on writing haiku; it was lovely to see self-confessed non-poets freed from their fears and limitations and scribbling away, creating the most wonderful verses-in-miniature. For me, in writing poetry, I am free to express my soul’s cries through my pen; i

Once there was a boy... by Veronica Bright

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Photo acknowledgement: Dr Waheed Arian: The refugee who treats Afghans via Skype - BBC News … a boy whose earliest memories were of bombs exploding, people injured and killed, and fear. A deep, deep fear. Waheed Arian was born in war-torn Afghanistan 42 years ago. He says,’ I spent much of my childhood amongst death and fighting.’ The family escaped to Pakistan, and as refugees lived in camps, often cramped and without basic sanitation. Waheed contracted TB and suffered from malnutrition, which almost killed him. When he was fifteen his parents gave all they had, to get him to the UK. He arrived alone with 100 dollars in his pocket, and very little English. He became a boy with a quest. He worked at various jobs to support his family in Pakistan, learned English and studied for his A-levels, because he wanted to be a doctor, making a difference to people’s lives, just as the doctors did in the refugee camps. Waheed says, modestly, ‘I did well enough to be accepted into Cambridge, and

When you lose your confidence... by Liz Carter

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Being a writer can be a bit like being on a rollercoaster at times, can't it. There are highs where we celebrate book deals and great reviews, and lows where everything seems like one great big slump. There are times we ride the writing wave and stride forward with confidence and assurance that we are doing pretty okay, that others like to read our stuff, that we can legitimately say that we are authors. And then there are times the wave crashes over us instead, leaving us dazed and bewildered. The thing about writing is that it is inextricably bound up with our emotions, and so our circumstances to a large extent tend to dictate where we are with our writing. For some of us, the pandemic has been a time where we've struggled to write, and for others it's been a rich time resulting in a whole load of new inspiration and material. The fact is that we all respond differently to external factors, and there are times in our lives where we seem to lose confidence altogether. I&#

Throwing away Books

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  What a dreadful title for a writers’ blog! But wait - I’m only trying to release space for more books. As you know, a writer needs to read to improve their writing skill, so week-by-week I accumulate more and more reading matter.  I have a massive bookshelf in my kitchen which is double stacked. Every other room except the bathrooms have equally crowded bookshelves. It’s not a problem until I read something on my ever-growing to-be-read pile but have nowhere to put it. Ok - I could buy more bookshelves but there are two problems there. The first is the lack of available wall space and the second is the knowledge that this large rambling ever-needy house is increasingly becoming too much for us. At some stage we’ve got to sort out our possessions and, with piles of books growing, it is time to begin. I tried the other day. After many hours I’d found four to take to a charity shop, then realised I hadn’t read two of them. Is it permitted for a writer to throw away a book before he/

Solutions Focussed Writing

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  Sometimes the fulltime job feels like it gets in the way of my writing, sapping energy and time. But some days it can be a source of inspiration or transferable skills. When I first moved into palliative care, I found a lot of anxious patients. I thought my previous experience in mental health would be useful but quickly realised that teaching relaxation skills over a course of weeks didn’t work. We didn’t have that kind of time. They needed something that could be applied quickly and easily. Solutions Focussed Therapy proved to be an answer. I there are principles from it that can be useful to writers too. SFT is an approach that assumes people are problem solvers. It focusses on when things are going right rather than wrong. And it has a great framework for dealing with different responses to following through on set tasks. Let’s imagine you’re stuck on something, maybe how to move a plot forward. Here’s some questions to ask yourself: 1.        Have you been in a similar

Morning (but not afternoon) glories

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  Earlier this year, a friend very kindly gave some morning glory seeds. Despite my best efforts, they somehow survived, and the result has been a host of beautiful purple flowers clambering up our shed (apart from the more adventurous ones who attempted to make it over the fence into next door’s garden).    What I quickly discovered about morning glories is that the individual flowers don’t last long. (I guess the name is a bit of a giveaway …) Each morning, I’d open the blind to discover a fresh crop of blooms, but by early afternoon they would shrivel and wilt.   One of my favourite Bible verses is in Lamentations, where we are reminded that “Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning” (Lamentations 3:23, NLT). And while my morning glories will soon succumb to the cooler autumn air, God’s compassion is freely available to me each and every day.   So, what does this have to do with writing?   Every writer I’ve ever spoken to has good days and bad d