Blog Entries
A Solstice Pep Talk
Category: Writing
Tags: writing goals planning

For those of us in Europe and America, today is the Summer Solstice (for those in Australia and the rest of the southern hemisphere itís the Winter Solstice, of course). Either late this evening or early Tuesday morning, depending on the time zone where you are, we move on to the next season in the year. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, winter and spring have passed and we are moving into the third quarter of the year: summer.

Itís also almost the end of June. At the end of this month, six months of the year will have passed. Any way you look at it, we are almost halfway through this year.

A writer friend of mine, in a Facebook writersí group I belong to, pointed out to the group recently that this is a good time for writers to take stock of our writing progress for the year. In Writers Abroad each January Jo sets up a Writing Goals for the year thread on our forums. Some years I post my goals in early January and then forget to refer to the post again for the rest of the year. But last night I re-read my post for 2016. The short version of it basically says that I will devote this year to finishing the third Short Read in The Yankee Years series, edit a novel for the series, work on a couple new Short Reads for it and compile a collection of the Short Reads into a print book. That should keep me going all year.

But how much of that have I done so far? This spring I added another unexpected project to my list and working on it has set me back a bit. So Iíve almost finished that third Short Read for the series and plan to put together the print book this summer. Then I will start work on another new Short Read. And I still have to fit in the revision for the novel. In other words, I did write an extra story I hadnít planned to write, but Iím a bit behind on my original goals...

If we browse the Writing Goals for 2016 forum, we may find that some of us are super organised and motivated, and have met and even surpassed theirr goals. If youíre one of them Ė congratulations! But, if youíre like me and have fallen behind, it can be discouraging to look back at the plans we had for the year that seem to be fizzling out or have already gone up in a puff of smoke.

If you read your goals post and feel disheartened by falling short of your plans, you have a couple options. You can sit there and feel deflated. You didnít meet your goals and itís too late now. Just forget you ever wrote them Ė Jo archives the Writing Goals at the end of the year anyway. In a few months no one will ever see them again.

Or you can review your goals and decide where to go from here. You still have 6 months left in the year. Check off those goals that you have accomplished and give yourself a pat on the back, even if they were minor ones. †

Then look at the ones that remain. Analyse them carefully. Do you still want to accomplish all of them? If not, scrub off the list the ones that are no longer important to you. Now look at the ones that are left. List them in their order of importance and estimate how long each one will take to complete. Divide the next six months into weeks and months on a spreadsheet, diary, calendar or even a sheet of paper torn out of a notebook. Allocate the time you need to accomplish each goal on your planner. Be realistic about how much time you have available each day to devote to your tasks. You may not finish everything you originally planned to do in the shortened space of time but you can still salvage some of it. Get your revised Writing Goals for 2016 written and post it to our Writing Goals for 2016 forum Ė as an update to your original post or a new post if you didnít post your goals in January. Then get on with meeting those goals during the coming six months. Itís not too late yet.

This Week On Writers Abroad 23rd May 2016
Category: Site News

After the flurry of activity last week when The Third Space was published, things are a little quieter here today.

Monday Muse: Jill has supplied a great mix of sentences drawn from novels to inspire your writing as well as an intriguing image of a young woman and her suitcase. Or is it even hers? Thatís for you to decide when you put pen to paper.

Blog: Jo talks about a topic that every writer who tackles longer works of fiction or a series, has to think about: how to keep track of all the details. Jo suggests that a Story Bible is what you need.

Bragging Stool: The seat is cool as no one has climbed up there this week. Weíll hope for more good news next week.

Thereís been some activity in Works in Progress and Alison has a story in the May Challenge that Iím sure she would appreciate comments about. Also, if you havenít done so, please add any comments you wish to make about Honorary Membership to the thread in the Noticeboard.

Itís a little more than a week since the most recent edition of our magazine was released. It has been well received, judging by responses Jo received. But donít let it slip out of the public eye. Please continue to promote it on social media.

Have a good writing week.†

The Real Thing Tags: writing prompts

Iím sure most of you will agree that using a prompt is a great way to develop a story idea and start writing. We wouldnít have included the Monday Muse forum on this website if we didnít think prompts were helpful. Almost all of us can rhyme off the titles of stories that have come to us from Monday Muse prompts.

So if a phrase or a sentence or a photograph can stir our imagination, what about using real objects? Last week I visited the Northern Ireland War Memorial Museum with our local writers group. We are working with the Living Legacies project and have been asked to create stories inspired by artefacts related to events on the battlefront and in Ireland during 1916. The museum collects artefacts related to Northern Ireland in both World Wars and they offered us a private Ďbehind the scenesí tour of the museum. As the main focus of the tour, the curator explained how they obtain artefacts for their collection, record and display them. During her talk we had a chance to examine First and Second World War artefacts much closer than most museum visitors are able to do.

Since I am writing a series of Short Reads and novels set during the Second World War in Northern Ireland, I was fascinated by the artefacts we had access to. My imagination was particularly captured by a herbal remedy first aid kit from the Second World War that had belonged to the curatorís father. He used it to treat patients for minor ailments such as diarrhoea on the battlefield and in an internment camp. I was also fascinated by everyday items in the display such as womenís utility stockings and boysí leather boots. Items still available today but todayís versions are very different from their predecessors.

Why did these artefacts affect me more than just a photograph of the same items? Itís simple really. A photograph canít capture the texture of an item or the weight of it as you hold it. Or the smell of it. Or any sound it may make as you lift and examine it. A photograph, especially an old, faded one, may not record the colour accurately either. But I could feel the smoothness of the delicate glass vials and the textured roughness of the leather case that held them. I also heard the tiny creaks the leather made as it was twisted this way and that and detected a faint musty odour from it. I could also see the powdered remains of the herbal mixtures in each vial and the pencilled labels on them which were beginning to peel off. I wouldnít have noticed these details looking at a photograph.

Observing all these details set my mind racing and I could imagine the doctor on the battlefront. It would be easy to begin jotting a story about the man this item had conjured in my mind. So, for me, getting up close to real objects is a great way to set a story in motion.

You may not share my interest in wartime history, or even history at all, for that matter. But you can still find objects to inspire your writing. Why not visit a museum, a planetarium, an art gallery, a zoo, a park or any place that interests you and find an object there. Examine it closely. Use all of your senses. Jot down your reaction to it and any thoughts it stirs up. Let your mind roam until a story idea emerges. Your story may not even relate directly to the object. Maybe its colour or the sound it makes reminds you of something else. Run with the string of ideas the object conjures in your mind until you have a story you want to write. Why donít you try it and let me know what happens?


Who's Online
Site News
Monday, July 25, 2016
This Week on WA
Recent Blog Posts
Posted by Bieke Stengos

A few weeks ago I was following the Wimbledon final and the struggle between the up and coming Canuck, Milos Raonic, and the well-loved and...Read More

Discouragement as Part of the Process, not the End of the Process
Posted by Maggie Shelton

Thank you WA writers for your collective wisdom! Iíve posted my appreciation for your responses here because the site would not accept another comment...Read More

Why I Write
Posted by Hamish Macdonald

I know people who revere, and at least one person who idolize, George Orwell as a writer. They are all men.

I confess I...Read More

Follow Us
Writers Abroad

Promote your Page too
Networked Blogs

This website is powered by Spruz