My Writing Journey So Far…

This piece is an insight in to some writing projects I did as a kid and my main WIP, which I am on the cusp of finishing.

I have been writing stories ever since I was small. It was a way for me to escape and create, and even though my childhood wasn’t terrible, I never really had many friends, so I guess, spent my days writing about all the adventures I wanted to go on.

My first big project, from what I can remember, was a series of short stories on ‘The Adventures of Taffy and Friends’. It was handwritten with ‘lovely’ illustrations by my younger self and based on my old German shepherd. I think it’s what cemented my way in to writing.

I also made some little picture books on the story of a saber-tooth cat and his family.

The next big project I would undertake, was a 52? page book about me living on a farm and showing horses. It was called Show Girl, and it was followed by another two books of a similar size. I’ve never ridden a horse before, so I have no idea where the idea came from.

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Just before I started writing this, we had just got internet for the first time, and I was fascinated by being able to google photos of anything and slot them in to my story. However, when I look back at it now, I cringe. I also remember my Nan falling asleep while reading it. I don’t know if it was just old lady syndrome, or if it was just really terrible.

It’s very obvious that I was a girl going in to teen-hood whilst writing this. Some of the scenes are so bad, and so unrealistic, I don’t know what I was thinking…

Since then, I’ve moved on to things I hope I will not be so scared about showing another human being. I’ve wrote some short stories, and wrote some first chapters for some novels, but my next big project would be something that I still work on to this day, even if my main WIP takes over most of the time. I think I started writing what I ended up calling ‘The Banished Series’ in late 2006/early 2007.

I remember that at the time, life was really hard and loads of stuff was happening. I wasn’t happy and I needed something to get my mind off of all the bad. So, I looked up at my bedroom ceiling and I asked for an idea. Low and behold, a dream came to me and I was able to turn it in to a novel. I wrote drafts of two books and outlined the third, and even though it’s not finished yet, it gave me that escape that I needed. It’s something I’ll go back to, but more because I want to know how the story goes than anything.

My present WIP, ‘Tales’, I’ve been working on for about six, maybe seven years now. It all started with an idea I got whilst playing Skyrim and my character was stood there, sucking up the soul of a dragon. I’ve always loved olden day games (Fable is my favourite), so I thought I’d give it a crack at writing a story based in medieval times, which over time has turned in to so much more. In the last few months alone, I’ve incorporated qualities from Celts, Saxons, Vikings and Romans.

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Its unbelievable how much it’s changed over the last six years. It’s had a few name changes, a few people killed and brought back to life, a few people killed that I hadn’t intended to kill at all, and I’ve learnt so much about writing that I think it may be the first one that I could give to the world to read.

I know six years may seem like a long time, but as always, life get’s in the way. I had school, college, university, and grown-up stuff to do like going to work and worrying about bills, but it was also because I wasn’t in a rush to finish it. My life was a bit too all over the place and full of drama to be able to do anything with it if I did.

My WIP is a series that has been outlined in to approximately five books, with the first novel having been through seven drafts and the second being on it’s first. I’ve also got future scenes jotted down in my journal and on various pieces of paper here, there and everywhere.

I’ve went through many styles of writing, with the one now being the one I think I’ll stick too. I’m not an overly descriptive writer, I don’t think. I like to get to the point and not ramble (which I realise I have done a lot of here, but it isn’t a book, so it’s okay); but keep a bit of mystery in there as well. I like my characters to be just as confused as the reader.

The most important thing I’ve learnt, other than my style, is that I shouldn’t limit myself to my main WIP. If an idea strikes me for another novel or a short story, I’ll take time out to write it a bit, even if it’s just an outline so I can go back to it later. I find writing other things, whether it’s a piece inspired by a prompt, a blog post on your favourite thing or a baking recipe, it all helps you develop your style and gives you a break, meaning writers block doesn’t come as easily. I’ve found that having a writing journal handy works well for me, and even though I have a make-shift index page at the front, I just use sticky tabs to make the mess easier to navigate.

Maybe in the last year or so, writing took a step back. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to do it, but more because my life was so hectic, with work, university and family issues, that I needed time for other things. But now, I’m back in my rhythm again and I feel like I’m actually getting somewhere.

Although, at one point, I did almost give up because I lost about sixty pages worth of story because I didn’t press the save button. It happened a second time, but atleast I was only editing this time.

For me, I think my worst fear is it not being good enough. Which I think might stop a lot of authors in their tracks, but you never know, there might be someone out there waiting to read a book just like yours, and one smile is better than nothing.

I’m currently on the cusp of finishing my final draft of the first book, and now I finally have a grasp on how I want the series to flow and sound, I think the next few won’t take so long. It’s a been a very long learning curve, but I think I needed it.

Maybe in a couple months, I’ll be able to write a blog post saying that I’ve finally submitted my novel to a literary agent or publisher, and be able to tell you about all the trouble I had writing the synopsis and cover letters, because, I think, that’ll be harder than writing the book itself.

🙂

Modern Day Superheroes! 

I want to know what it takes to be a superhero in this world.
When there’s no magic, no special powers, no monsters,
how can someone become anything more than ordinary
– uninspiredwriters (prompts @ instagram

Watching over this city, I start to realise that, there’s nothing wrong with being ordinary, not really; but I guess, if your heart still earns to be a hero in the modern age, you don’t have to be rich like Iron Man, or be able to run fast like the Flash.

In this world, as far as we know, there aren’t any monsters hiding in the cupboard, no super powers waiting to be bestowed upon us in a thunderstorm, no letter waiting for us on the doorstep to take us in to a world of magic, but you don’t need any of those to a be a superhero.

All you need to do is talk to the elderly neighbor no one talks to anymore, share some of your lunch with that homeless guy you always pass on your dinner break, help that woman with the screaming kids take her shopping to the car.

You might not feel like a superhero, but you could be a hero to them.

To give is your best super power, and it’s one of the easiest things to do.

Finding Inspiration

So, here’s a couple of ways that help me find my inspiration and beat that dreaded thing called writers block. Hopefully it’ll help you too.

  • Explore

I think exploring is the best. You can find all sorts outside whilst your exploring. You can even go and explore a certain setting.

Maybe a cathedral, church, mosque or other religious building

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Maybe a pebbled beach at sunset

A forest path;

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An old street in a Spanish Town

Or the zoo…

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  • Images

It could be one you’ve taken or maybe one you’ve found on the internet. If you’re looking for a certain type of inspiration; maybe you’re writing a crime novel; just type your scenario in to google images and see what you get. You could even make a collage of images if that helps you.

  • Books

Books are usually a writers first inspiration. They can take you away to place you’ve never been before and allow you to escape. Their one of the reasons why so many writers write, because they want to create their own worlds that they can escape in to.

Whether or not the genre is the same as the one your working on, idea’s can be taken from the characters, the scenes and the scenarios to help you create you own. Nowadays, there aren’t many ideas that haven’t been written about, but you just have to remember that it’s never been written by you, and every story written is different from the next.

  • Movies/TV Shows

This is similar to books. The big screen can bring characters to life, give you a different depth of understanding in to how people work, how they walk, how they hold themselves, and how scenarios that you don’t usually see in every day life pan out.

As much as we want to believe that werewolves and ghosts do exist, if their anything like their on-screen counterparts, we’re very unlikely to see them out and about. So, both movies and TV shows can give you that, and the films and shows nowadays can be so immersive and make you feel so much that you can’t help, but want to create your own scenes in your head, which can then become a FanFiction, or something different all together.

For example, despite what you think of E.L James Fifty Shades, Twilight and vampires was it’s inspiration and now almost everyone knows about Christian Grey and Anastatia Steel.

  • Video Games

Video games let you escape in to different worlds in a different sort of way to books and movies. It can allow you to be creative, to make your own decisions and face the consequences. It gives you a first person experience and whether it’s an open world type of game or story driven, the feelings and the emotions that it can give you can be taken from it and developed in to something else.

For me, Skyrim is the biggest influence in my current piece. It’s the game that gave me the idea in the first place, and now it’s developed, only elements of it still remain, but every time I play it, it almost gives me the motivation to write more and finish. Games like the Elder Scrolls and Fable have always been favourites of mine, and there are so many games out there that there’s something for everyone. From Lego adventures to Halo Wars.

  • Dreams

It is said that you can dream four to six times per night, but most of us forget 95 to 99% of our dreams. And even if we do remember it, it’s normally just snippets or feelings. Dreams can be a look in to how your feeling, give you inspiration to work on a project and even help you solve problems you might be facing in your every-day life.

In your dreams, you can have your very own adventures, some of which can end with you saving the world or falling over a cliff (which gives a much realer feeling than you think). Some can be so weird that you don’t want to remember them, but others can leave a mark on you.

They say that the way to remember your dreams is to actually tell yourself as your falling asleep that you want to remember them, and then the second you you wake up, write down what you can remember on some paper or a notebook that you keep close to your bed. Even if you can just remember snippets or images, write it down and it’ll help train your brain to remember more.

You can find out more about this at Sleep.org

  • People

People are everywhere! Their all around us and every one has their own story. Family, friends and work colleagues can all inspire you.

It can be really creepy watching people and listening to what they say, but you can gain so much from it that a little bit of eaves-dropping in a cafe or on a bus may influence your next story. And, just having a wider perception of people and just being more observant can help you learn more about a person, how they hold themselves, how they walk, how they talk. Everyone does it differently and taking aspects of people can help you make up your own.

  • Travel

It doesn’t need to be anywhere exotic. It can be a road trip, or maybe just a week away to Butlins. It could even be a family holiday. Not many of us get the opportunity to travel where we want, but if you ever do, or if you ever want to do it, justgo. Your not going to regret it. You’ll regret it more if you don’t.

Travelling lets you learn about the world, about the different cultures and the different histories that a country can have. It can also give you settings and people that you don’t usually walk in to.

I recently went to Ibiza and the view and the culture inspired me to think about all the settings and scenes where my stories take place, and all the little wonders that can be hidden inside a cave or down an alley way.

  • History

History can teach us a lot, whether it be about the people that died in the cold war or who created the telephone. It can give us idea’s on how to create cultures, religions and build our worlds; it gives us hundreds and thousands of people that lived very different lives to what we live now, and there are thousands of untold stories that lie in the back of a history book or on a shelf somewhere in the library.

Whether your book is a fantasy, a romance or even a comedy, using an era in history gives you an already made world you can use to write your story. Access to the internet means that almost every historical event is at your finger tips, every historical figure has something written about them somewhere.

  • Cultures and Religions

Like I said above, history gives us an insight in to how cultures and religions worked before, but there are so many now and the world is becoming more and more diverse every day that you don’t need to look back. There’s so many books and internet articles on the different types of cultures and religions in the world that there’s bound to be one that jumps out of you, and you can adapt it the way you want,

When writing, having a culture that people listen too, or something that they all believe in and follow can make it that bit more believable. Even if it’s something you’ve made up, maybe all the women over the age of thirty five have tattoos on their arms for some reason or another. It’s completely up to you, but having consistency in a story can make it seem more real, and more immersive.

  • Music

Music, although, it won’t always help you to create a world, it can give ideas for characters, for plots or even scenes. It can even be a playlist that motivates you and inspires you to write.

Artists write about how their feeling, about what they’ve been through and it gives you an insight on how someone might feel in a certain scenario and there’s definitely a song out there to describe the way you want your character to feel, or about the choice they have to make.

For me, The Kill and Attack by Thirty Seconds to Mars helped me develop a character and a back-story for a project that at the moment, is on hold, and various songs by Panic! at the Disco and Imagine Dragons, just to name a couple, helped me develop my current piece.

  • Art

Art can be used in a similar way to photos and images. You can search on the internet, go to a museum, a gallery, or to the local alley where all the kids leave their marks in graffiti. Almost everything around you is part of an art, whether it be a book case, a bed, a house, a park. Everything has an architect, someone that designed and created it.

You can even create your own. By drawing or painting (whether your good at it or not) a certain setting, a place, a character or an object from the world you’ve created, you can make it feel more real, more believable.

I’ve seen a lot of people say that you shouldn’t create your own book cover. Leave it to the advertisers, the marketers, but if creating a book cover inspires and motivates you, do it. Do anything (within reason) that helps to inspire you, to motivate you to write.

People are their own architects, taking bits from every thing and every one they meet. Inspiration can be found absolutely anywhere, you just have to open your eyes and look for it. Take the longest route home, give yourself a couple of moments in the day just to look around, inspiration will hit you.

National Proofreading Day!

Profeading is a writers most useful tool!

And it has its very own day! Business trainer for business writing, grammar, and proofreading Judy Beaver is the founder. Her mum, Flo, loved correcting people so Judy decided that her birthday would be the ideal day to correct errors! You can find more details at:

www.nationalproofreadingday.com

When writing a novel or anything of great importance, proofreading is a must. (Although, nowadays, its even more important that you proofread a message before sending it online, because once its on there it can never be taken back)

Here I have gathered a number of tips you can use to help proofread your latest master piece or your next academic essay! (I wish I’d done this whilst I was at uni)

First though, before anything, you have to know  the differences between proofreading and editing. Editing focuses on the content, on the plots, the dialogue, the setting, the consistency of what your trying to write, whilst Proofreading focuses on correcting the superficial errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and formatting; so for example, it will look at that extra space you put in, or that quotation mark that’s not where it’s supposed to be. It is usually the last part to completing a work piece.

I’ve gathered these from a range of sources over the web and have used most myself:

  1. Take a break! Don’t go straight in to proofreading your work once you’ve finished it. Give yourself a break and mistakes will be easier to spot when you go back to it.
  2. Find a comfortable, quiet place! Make sure there’s no distractions or interruptions.
  3. Use printouts! It’s so much easier to read off a piece of paper than off a computer screen. It also lets you highlight and pen anything you find.
  4. Proofread when your brain is most awake! You need a clear head to proofread so make sure you don’t do it all in one sitting.  Too many words inside your brain at once won’t do anything for your concentration.
  5. Read it out loud! This is the best way to know if all your sentences are clear and easy to understand. It will also give you an insight in to whether or not the punctuation works.
  6. Read it backwards! Many people have said that reading your words backwards from end to start can make the mistakes jump out at you.
  7. Look out for the dreaded they’re and theirs, your and you’re.
  8. Get someone else to proofread it for you! Ask someone you trust; it could be a friend, a family member or a work colleague to look over it. Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes will find the mistakes your overlooking.
  9. Don’t rely on your computer spell check! Make sure it’s formatted to the correct language when writing (English and American’s have different ways of spelling certain words).
  10. Proofread it at least twice! Once for the technical part, and once for sense!

Hopefully, this’ll help you finish your work and get you that one step closer to what your trying to achieve!

 

Twenty Writing tips

I’m no expert, but one of my favourite things is to write stories and create my own little worlds!

But, alas, like everyone, I suffer from writers block. It can last days… months… Sometimes, I just feel too busy to be inspired, and other times, I sit down and just can’t put anything to paper. But I’ve found ways to beat it. Here are some tips that I’ve gathered on my journey as a writer, and hopefully, they can help you write the story you always wanted too:

  1. Make sure you do your research! For example, if your story is set in Tudor times; look up the clothing; what they ate; what roles they had. If a character is ill or murdered, research the symptoms, the causes; the way someone would die if they had their heart ripped our by a werewolf! Research, research, research! It may make your history look terrible, even questionable, but as a writer, you need to know what your writing about before you can write it! It can make a story more believable if you know how much blood your hero can lose before dying!
  2. Try and write everyday! It doesn’t need to be a story. It could be a blog post, an essay, an idea; even writing about your day in a journal will help.
  3. Use prompts! You can find numerous challenges on the internet, and you can even use prompts to help you complete the piece your working on. Just relate the prompt to your story and you may come up with a new scene all together!
  4. Write first, edit later! Remember that you can’t edit a blank page! (I am the worse for this, especially if there’s a complicated scene). If you write something your not happy with, use the highlighter tool so you can go back to it later. Usually, when I go back this way, the stories more developed and I have a better idea of how I want it to read.
  5. When writing, use what’s best for you! Some people prefer the old pen and paper, and some prefer to sit at their laptop. Some may even use a typewriter! It’s all about what makes you comfortable.
  6. Have a little notebook where you can jot down all your ideas! Some may find that a jotter pad or a reporters notebook is good enough for them, but don’t be afraid to get something a little more expensive! I found that after going to WHSmiths and getting an A5 moderno notebook, I’ve been inspired to write more! It gives you a space to create characters, scenes and brain storm to your hearts content!
  7. Said! Laura said, Robert said, I said! It may sound repetitive at first, but it makes a story flow so much easier if you write Aran said instead of Aran questioned, asked, replied, etc! When you think about it, it makes so much more sense!
  8. Let others read it! You may think that your story has lost that excitement and feeling it had in the beginning, but remember that you’ve looked over it hundreds of times and know every spoiler, every loop hole! Having another set of eyes on your work could inspire you to write more, to write better! It doesn’t need to be an agent, or a publisher, it could be a friend, a parent! Just ask them to be honest!
  9. Have an app on your phone or your notebook handy at all times! You’ll never know when inspiration will strike! I find that whenever I have a spare moment, whether I’m sat on the train or waiting for something, I’ll sit on my phone and write a scene for something that hasn’t even been mentioned yet!
  10. Have somewhere to write! It could be your bedroom, your office, your front room, maybe even a coffee shop! Just have somewhere you feel you can concentrate! It won’t be the same place for everyone. Some people need quiet, others might like a bit of background noise.
  11. When writing, you don’t have to start at the beginning. If a scene or an idea strikes you that would be better suited to the middle or end of your story, just write it! You can put it all together later! Sometimes, people find it easier to start writing from the middle and going outwards.
  12. Join writing communities! It could just be a page on Facebook that gives out some helpful tips and tricks, or maybe a forum where you can ask questions! Even following other writers and publishers on twitter can help inspire you! For me, I liked ‘The Writers Circle’ on Facebook and enjoy seeing the handy tips and prompts that they put up every once in a while.
  13. Have a thesaurus handy! Some say its better to have a hard copy next to you, but thesaurus.com is just as good and will help you block out all those repetitive words you see sprawled across your text!
  14. Read books! I think this is the most obvious! Reading, whether its the same genre that your working on or a completely different one will help to inspire you! It can give you different outlooks on how to write, and make your writing better in the long run! I’ve found that being a reader also helps you spell so much better!
  15. Explore! It doesn’t need to be a mysterious path in a forest, or a climb up a mountain! It could just be a stroll down the street, up the park or maybe a road trip! Just open yourself up to your surroundings. The world is full of inspiration in every single nuke and cranny, it’s just waiting to be discovered by you!
  16. Read it out loud! This will help with anything you write! It’ll let you know how well it all flows and whether or not your dialogues make sense.
  17. Make sure that when you do sit down to write that you keep yourself hydrated! Whether it’s a coffee (yuck), a tea or a bottle of water, staying hydrated will keep your mind more focused.
  18. Open yourself up to other types of inspirations! Watch a movie, a TV show, play a videogame, listen to some music, go to a museum! Just because it’s already been done doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Nowadays, every idea has been explored by one person or another, but it’s not been done by you!
  19. Be passionate about what your writing! Don’t write because you want to become a famous author, write because you want to know what happens in your story from the beginning to the end! If your passionate about what you write, the people who read it will be too!
  20. Believe in yourself! That’s the best advice that anyone could give you.