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Archive for the ‘Writers’ Category

Every so often, a writer would do very well to ask themselves why they put themselves through the highs and lows of the writing life? Self-exploration on this point saves time and restores confidence. So – ask yourself:

  1. Do I want to write to set the record straight?
  2. Do I want to take my revenge?
  3. Do I want to make some money?
  4. Do I want to write to show others I can?
  5. Do I want to write my way to fame?
  6. Do I want to make a difference – and I think I can through writing?
  7. Do i want to keep my brain stimulated?
  8. Do I just want a writer’s lifestyle?

Apart from a Yes/No answer, you could also grade your answers on a scale of 1 – 10. And this will indicate your writer’s values.

But another way of discovering your motivation is to ‘Cos it’ back to your fundamental purpose in taking up the pen. Here’s mine taken from my journal just after Christmas 2012.

“I want to be a writer because I am a writer because I think about it all the time because I’ve been obsessed with words and stories since I learned to read because words help me describe to myself what makes people tick. I want to do this because I’m curious about life.”

You can see where ‘Cos it’ as a name for the game comes from. And if it’s of interest, it’s a trick actors use to identify the motivation for their characters.

So what’s yours? Have a go!

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Sharing your writing is such an important part of the writing process. It is in fact the main reason for writing – you want to be heard. This is one of the basic human requirements for emotional health – not to be sniffed at. And nothing to be ashamed of.

So, how to do this?

The traditional route has been publication. But – as we all know – although you can improve your chances in many ways, publication is a long slow route to ‘being heard’.

Quicker and – in some ways – equally effective is reading aloud. And you can do this to family, friends, and your local community. Writers’ groups and literature festivals with ‘open mic’ sessions when everyone has an opportunity to read abound. The Way in? To find a group near you, check out the National Association of Writers’ Groups (www.nawg.co.uk.)  

Join several – different demographics. More testing that way – and although you may feel more comfortable with, say, the middle-aged and middle-class – how rewarding if your words impact on twenty-year-old former illicit drug users!

If you live in an almost writers’ group free zone, however, all is not lost. There are a number of on-line writers’ communities for advice, information and critiquing opportunities. Google writers’ groups and choose some that appeal to explore. Some are free. Some cost. Some are a mix. I like The Word Cloud arrangement (See http://www.writersworkshop.co.uk )

A stage beyond this is critique groups run by publishing houses on the look-out for new talent. Check out:

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As Summer fades into memory, creative writers among Out of the Box Workshop participants are going to look closely and briskly at technique. And, when we’ve mastered the techniques used in writing fiction or in writing creative non-fiction such as memoir, journaling and travel writing, we’ll move on to a Creative Writing for Publication series! Of which, more later.

Lonely Furrow Company Events 

Current Listings:

(All events will take place at The Conservatory, 28 Park West, Heswall, Wirral CH60 9JF unless otherwise stated.)

September 10th 2011 (10am – 12.30pm) Creative Writing Techniques – Memoir and journaling. (£20)

September 24th 2011 (10am – 12.30pm) Creative Writing Techniques – Finding your voice (Part 2) (£20)

October 22nd 2011 (10am-12.30pm)  Creative Writing Technique – Plotting (£20)

November 26th 2011 (10am – 12.30pm) Creative Writing Techniques – Memorable Characters (£20)

December 3rd 2011 (10.am – 12.30pm) Creative Writing Techniques – Place and setting (£20)

January 21st 2012 (10am – 12.30pm) Creative Writing Techniques – Travel Writing (£20)

In the Autumn, place and dates yet to be fixed, Lonely Furrow Company will also run a series of monthly lunchtime meetings for ‘blocked’ creatives – people who don’t know where to start or can’t keep going. These will be based on the programme devised by Julia Cameron in her international best seller The Artist’s Way. You’ll be expected to bring your own lunch – soft drinks, tea and coffee provided – but you will – more importantly – have the opportunity to monitor your own progress while supporting other creatives through their recovery. A low fee is meant to encourage as many creatives as possible to commit to this programme.  Please contact me on elizabeth@lonelyfurrowcompany.com for further information and to register your interest in joining us.

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It all started when I was climbing the conning tower of the UK’s latest nuclear submarine.  Yes – you’ve guessed it. HMS Astute. My knee not so much gave way as disappeared out of my leg completely.  And that was it – over twenty years of freelance journalism and poor workplace ergonomics (I work from home) were catching up with me. Musculo-skeletal disorders were rearing their pretty ugly heads. Along with a rather peculiar form of adrenaline-aversion which is triggered particularly by deadlines. And deadlines – as we all know – are an essential tool in journalistic productivity.

‘No work’ was not an option and ‘Less desk-bound work’ and ‘using my expertise’ were imperatives.  And – with unusual foresight as opposed to journalistic crisis management – I just happened some time ago to have taken a coaching course. So now, I was able to re-jig my career – for the fourth time if you include motherhood.

I still do occasional medical journalism assignments and I’m working on a series of short stories and a novel.  But, since 2005, when I founded the Lonely Furrow Company, a new world has opened up. Trained in co-active coaching, NLP and transactional analysis, I am now a writing coach.

As a result, clients ask for my help with projects ranging from novels to academic theses. And tricky but common writing coaching problems  include writers’ block, time management and work life balance, where to find ideas, how to handle feedback and how to write a book proposal.

But, it doesn’t stop there. I improve people’s communication skills – personal and professional – by drawing on my eclectic knowledge of literature and my Masters in Sociolinguistics. Communication impacts on human relationships and the simple equation is: better communication skills = better relationships. Of course, other aspects such as shared values and a GSH help. But communication contributes here too.

Within the Lonely Furrow Company stable, there is also the workshop facilitation service, Out of the Box Workshops. Some workshops on offer embrace creative writing for personal development – such as memoir writing and journaling – writing coaching, creativity and opportunities for peer review. Others deal with media coaching issues such as how to write a winning press release or how to give a good account of yourself, your work and your organisation when interviewed by the media. Other presentations deal with corporate interests such as the role of communication in leadership and team building and yet more, deal with the highly-charged areas of family breakdown and healthcare.

And I am a storyteller. I use story to help people reflect on their personal and professional lives. And I train others in the use of story. Clients for these workshops range from healthcare workers to family lawyers to organisational leaders.

In fact, put simply, I tell stories for a living and help others to do the same. And this – in the brave new world of the economic downturn – is what retirement means.

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For me, as a writing coach, one of the most revealing questions directed to an agent and listed – among many – in Harry Bingham’s Getting Published (A & C Black 2010) is:

Are you taking on me or my book?

You need to know they are taking you on. That would mean they are on your side, they believe in you, they’re going to work for you, they have not assumed you are a one-trick pony. This will do wonders for your confidence as a writer. And the confidence to say ‘I am a writer’ is an elusive quality among the unpublished but hopeful.

This of course is a nonsense. Publication in itself is not proof of writing talent. It is, it’s true, a form of external evaluation and accreditation. But – like many of the people sitting in my workshops – many hopefuls could in truth and in confidence make the statement ‘I am a writer’.

But they don’t.

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As the nation gears up to its Christmas sofa-buying frenzy, I thought I and my writing groups – and others – could benefit from a spot of goal setting.

Writing makes our lives meaningful so – in addition to any religious significance Christmas may have – a writing goal set and achieved could be an appropriate anti-dote to the push towards bankruptcy.

(more…)

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