Thursday, 24 June 2010


Words don’t come easy, or so the song goes. And for writers that can often be the case. We are all familiar with the fear, that blank page can present us, or the panic when our muse has gone into hiding. It can frustrate and annoy us and often, at times like these, we can lose our impetus and inspiration for writing completely.
So what can we do when this malady strikes?

Well first it’s a good idea not to panic. It happens to all the best writers and a dose of wordlessness doesn’t mean it’s going to be fatal.

Sometimes it can be helpful to take a break, go for a walk or make a cup of coffee. Giving yourself space can help you come back to your writing refreshed and with new eyes.

Many writers have more than one work in progress, so that if they are having problems with one piece, they can move onto something completely different but still feel they are achieving something.

Before I write, I like to limber up. No I don’t mean pumping iron or going for a jog. When I am ready to write, I like to do some mental gymnastics. I write lots of prompts on a page. These can be words from a dictionary, off the top of my head or I ask someone to suggest some random words. I try then to come up with quick plots for each word. These are just one liners but it gets my brain into the writing gear. I find this useful to do before I enter the “Live Writing” competitions in which I have 30 minutes to write a story, from prompts that are given by the competition hosts.

Morning pages are very useful. The idea is to get up half an hour earlier than you would normally. Before you eat breakfast, walk the dog, shower, put on the radio - sit down and write. It is believed that writing at this time of day is useful because we are still in touch with our dreams and unconscious minds and can write with more freedom. The idea is not to be concerned with what you produce - just enjoy the experience of freewriting. It‘s surprising how your much your writing will improve once you get into the habit. Often, something written with abandon can inspire you to follow the idea up with more focus.

Virginia Wolfe used her diary to reflect her writing process. She saw entries in to her diary, as not proper writing and was able to write in a “rapid, haphazard gallop” (1953, p.7). She thought that this type of writing often produced happy accident s and valuable inspiration.

20th January, 1919

Still if it were not written rather faster than the fastest type-writing, if I stopped and took thought, it would never be written at all; and the advantage of the method is that it sweeps up accidently several stray matters which I should exclude if I hesitated, but which are the diamonds of the dustheap. (Woolf, 1953,p.7)

These are just some ideas to get the ink flowing. I invite you to please comment and let our readers know how you cope with that blank page.

Woolf, Virginia (1953) A Writers Diary, London: Harcourt.

Monday, 14 June 2010

AGM and The Benefits of Being a Member of a Writing Circle.

On Wednesday 9th May the circle held its 2010 AGM at the Camden Centre.
Thank you to all those members who attended and all contributors. Being new to the circle it was nice to put names to faces and catch up with writing pals. Whilst the wine flowed we were soon discussing the business of the circle.

New officers were elected for the role of Vice Chair, Secretary and Treasurer and thanks were given, for the hard work and commitment, of those who have recently stood down.

One of the topics brought up was the possibility of us having our own web page to help attract fresh blood to the circle. This would be a real bonus for the circle. After all, if we need information these days,it is to the internet, most of us turn. A quick prompt to Google and we soon have our answer. As a new member, I had great difficulty in finding a writing circle in Tunbridge Wells. A chance encounter led me in the direction of TW&DWC. An encounter I am very grateful for.

And why am I grateful? Well I am sure I am not the only one who finds writing a lonely occupation - hour upon hour, fingers at the keyboard, tapping away at our work in progress, barely pausing long enough to eat, look out of the window or feed the cat. That is our lot as writers.

Some of us may be lucky to have family or friends who will listen to us rattling on about our characters, plots or dialogue, but most of us don’t. I certainly don’t. In fact my requests are met by a unanimous groan from my two grown up sons.

There is nothing better than being able to sit down and discuss your story, play or novel with like minded folk. People who are going to take your writing seriously and not begrudge the time you time spend writing, when you could be doing something much more constructive, like washing the car or making the dinner.

A writing circle is a great place to share your writing concerns, brainstorm ideas, and get constructive criticism from people who know what they are talking about. The advice I have been given has proved invaluable. Often, it just takes a fresh pair of eyes or ears to transform your writing. That word that has remained frustratingly on the end of your tongue is plucked from nowhere by a writing pal and you may wonder why you hadn’t thought of it before.

As writers we all have different strengths. Some of us are good at dialogue. Others, the nitpickers, can spot those tiny mistakes that would have gone unnoticed, whilst some are great at seeing the bigger picture and can advise on structure or plot. In a good and functioning writing circle it is like having a bag of tools at your disposal – a mixed bag of support, encouragement and advice.

I am sure as writers you have had times when you lacked the motivation to write. When the page remains frustratingly blank and your muse has packed its case and gone off on holiday. Being a member of a writing circle can help in these times too. It helps to keep you focussed; other members can encourage and inspire you. It can be somewhere to vent your frustrations, cry and wail if you must. Often there is goal setting to help you keep on track and not lose sight of your goals.

With so many advantages why wouldn’t you want to be a member – or attend if you are?
So, if you’ve lost contact with your writing group, I urge you to reconnect and if you are an active member – Spread the word.