So I’ve challenged myself to write something every day for Lent – this is yesterday’s Valentine’s Day special! Technically I wrote this a few days ago, but it counts. I won’t be posting everything I write, but I hope to get at least a few posts written as well as creative pieces. Enjoy! ~R
‘Hello?’ She threw her keys into the tray, pulling off her scarf. Josie, the elderly mongrel she’d adopted the year before came lumbering in to greet her. She bent down and ruffled the wiry fur on Josie’s head, scratching behind her upright ears.
‘Where’s daddy, Josie?’
Josie yawned, trundling back to her bed, pushed up against the living room radiator. May shook her head and stood up straight, hearing typing coming from the office. She rolled her eyes. Working over, again. She hung her coat up and headed towards the noise, pulling her shoes off on the way.
‘Does it ever end?’ She smirked, leaning against the doorframe. Oscar looked up, still typing. He smiled shyly, amber eyes guilty as he shrugged.
‘I won’t be long, just finishing off some forward planning.’
‘And how far in advance is this planning?’
‘Babe, you know the more I do now the bett-‘ May came up behind him, chin pressing into his shoulder as she peered at the screen.
‘Two months?! Oscar, this can wait. You’ve done so much already this week! You need a break.’
‘I’m nearly finished.’
‘That’s not good enough Oscar, you’re exhausted. Come on, save it and turn off. I’ll run you a bath.’
‘There’s not much left to do, I really won’t be long.’
‘May, what are you-‘ She sat on his lap, saving his work and shutting the lid of his laptop.
‘I said enough, Oscar.’
‘I can’t believe you!’
‘It’s for your own good, now come on.’ She took his hand, trying to pull him out of the swivel chair. He resisted, holding on to the chair tightly with his other hand. She raised her eyebrow, trying not to smile.
‘Fine, have it your way.’ She grabbed the sides of the chair and pulled, rolling him towards the door. He couldn’t help but burst into laughter, grabbing the doorframe. She fell back as he stopped the chair. He grinned at her, a mischievous glint in his eye. He leaned forward.
‘Nice try.’ He kissed her as she picked herself up, glaring at him.
‘I’m trying to help you.’ She stood up, crossing her arms.
‘I know.’ He stood up. ‘I suppose I can call it a day.’
There it is! Let me know what you thought in the comments.
So I don’t think this will really become a thing because I really don’t write creatively anywhere near as often as I should, but I’ve had these characters/this story kicking around for a really long time now and I’ve not really done much with it.
Over the last 6 years or so I’ve had periods of time in my life where I’ve had the luxury of being able to do the writer-y thing and sit in a coffee shop and work for hours; bliss, right? This hasn’t been possible recently, but it is how I started the idea this piece is a part of. I worked in a charity shop over the summer of 2014 and in the quieter periods there was a lot of staring out of the window while stabbing myself with the tagging gun being a totally competent employee with perfect hand-eye coordination who could tag clothes and daydream at the same time. I once watched an older lady eat lunch at a bench opposite the shop under an umbrella – on a perfectly sunny day. That’s how the main character of the actual story, Lyza (the grandmother in this extract) came to be. I’ve got my characters mapped out and a few small extracts like this but working out a full plot is a challenge and a half. It’s meant to just be a really fun, silly little story!
Just for some context, as this is an extract therefore not really meant to be read alone, Wyn and Lyza are vampires, Janey is half vampire but her dad Cal (Wyn’s husband) is a fire demon. Janey’s two, so trying to control her powers in the human world is tricky, to say the least. This extract is really, really short but I hope you enjoy it all the same.
‘Janey, we’re going to be late.’
‘I don’t want a hat!’ Janey screamed, throwing the straw hat onto the floor and stomping her foot. Wyn scooped the hat up and put it back on her daughter’s head.
‘You have to wear it, you’ll burn otherwise.’
‘No.’ Janey glared at her mother in defiance. Wyn jumped behind the sofa, just as two rays of orange shot from Janey’s eyes and scorched the wall where her knees had been only a second before. The hat followed and Janey ran off. Wyn heard her struggling up the stairs, and took her chance.
‘Just like her father. Right then, desperate times call for desperate measures.’ She went to the wicker box next to the sofa and pulled out a thick, velvet throw. She swept out of the room, catching her daughter halfway up the stairs. In one smooth motion she had her covered from head to toe in the blanket, rushed outside and strapped into her car seat.
‘Hi mum, I’m really sorry but we’re going to be late. Janey would rather burn holes in the sofa than wear her hat. We’re on our way but I need to go to the shop and get another throw first, she’s gone through another two this afternoon.’
‘You should just let her go outside without it, she’ll be happy to wear it then.’
‘Oh let’s just give her garlic bread as well while we’re at it, shall we? I’m not letting her burn, mum.’
‘I’m kidding darling, just get here when you can. I’ll get Henry to speak to her when you get here, she’ll listen to him.’
‘Thanks mum, see you soon.’
Wyn parked the car and sighed in relief as she looked in her centre mirror; Janey was fast asleep. She silently prayed that she’d stay that way, at least until she could get her back in the car. She put on her own hat, a black sunhat with large rims, before gently placing the straw hat on Janey’s head.
‘Mumma?’ Janey rubbed her eyes, waking up just as they were at the checkout. She looked around, confused.
‘Well, look who’s awake! Hi there pretty girl!’ Wyn smiled at the cashier, an older woman with a strong Southern American drawl. ‘And isn’t that a lovely hat you’re wearing!’
Wyn froze, worried that Janey would get angry if she realised she was wearing the hat again. Janey, on the other hand, seemed quite happy to accept the compliment, giggling.
‘Thank you.’ She said, looking angelic. Wyn almost rolled her eyes as the cashier took a lollipop out of the box at the till.
‘Is she allowed one? My treat for being so good.’
‘Yes, thank you. You’re very kind.’ That’s why she was being so agreeable, Wyn thought, anything for sweets.
I know it’s short and unpolished but I hope you enjoyed – unfortunately not had much time this week but I will be back with a review for you on Wednesday!
See you soon,
PS I know the photo has nothing to do w this, I just didn’t have anything relevant! Plus it’s only part of my face so like, sneak peek? Kinda? It’s a stretch.
So you have writers’ block. Whether you’re a blogger, creative writer, journalist or any other kind of writer, it happens to the best of us and boy is it bad when it does. There are times when nothing seems to get the inspiration flowing; no level of playlist making, book reading, exercising or meditating on mountain tops helps (okay, I may not have actually tried the last one and I know you’re all laughing at the idea of exercise, work with me here). Don’t panic, there is still some hope for you yet!
I’ve been writing properly for about 5 years now, and in that time I’ve been struck with writers’ block several (hundred) times. In that time, I’ve done what I’m sure many writers do; tried thousands of fruitless google searches to motivate myself, given up and binge watched box sets instead until another idea pops up. I have, however, collected several unique and interesting methods of writing, ways of getting new ideas and general tips for getting over writers’ block – so while I do still succumb to the box sets more often than I should (I am in fact searching for the remote so I can put Merlin on as I type), here are some ways that can be used to deal with the dreaded curse.
Okay, this is an obvious one, but definitely effective. Oneword.com is a site dedicated to this – they have a new one-word prompt every day. The set-up of the site allows you to write as much as possible on the word in 60 seconds before submitting it to their forums, however you can of course just as easily use the word without setting a time limit. Setting a limit can be useful, and of course you can extend and edit after the minute is over, but it isn’t everyone’s style.
If you’re looking for inspiration for an existing story, it can help to pick several mismatched or random words, and attempt to use them in a single paragraph, page or chapter. There are a lot of websites and sources (including other blogs) that have lists of words – I pick a list, then use a number generator and pick the words in line with 5-10 of those numbers. To get you started, have a few words on me – do with them what you will:
I recently finished reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (come back on Wednesday for my review!). Ransom Riggs used photographs not only to inspire his work, but wrote them into the narrative. The peculiar children are based on real photos from Riggs’ collection, which are featured throughout the book. This is a style of writing that I’ve only tried once, but which can make for an interesting experience for both writer and reader – and with an image already there you don’t have to worry too much about description and focus on the story, which can be helpful when inspiration is waning.
Try this on for size:
Try doing the same with music or poetry. Many writers use others’ works, particularly poems, as inspiration. They don’t have to be at the forefront of your work, but you could take the meaning or even just a line you like and turn it into a piece.
Found poetry is where you take existing texts and use them to create something else – this could even work for prose. I once wrote a poem only using text messages from my inbox.
Listen to conversations, people-watch, pay attention to things that seem interesting in your day to day life – you’d be amazed at where inspiration can come from. In the summer before my final year of university I worked at a charity shop. One day I watched an old lady eat her sandwiches on a bench outside under an umbrella on one of the hottest days of the year. 18 months later and I’m still working on a piece centred around that scene.
The Sky’s the Limit?
Try setting a time limit, or trying to write something to an exact word count. My first assignment for a university seminar was to write a love story of exactly 101 words. You could try only writing sentences with an odd number of words, or start every sentence with the same letter. Writing to strict rules can be difficult, but it’s also a really good exercise and could help get the imagination flowing in the way you write as well as what you write.
And if none of those work…
Take A Break – You Deserve It.
Sometimes the best thing to do is to take a step back, have a breather, and come back to your work with fresh eyes. Whether you go to work on something else or finish the aforementioned box sets, a break can be beneficial.
I hope this has been somewhat helpful in curing writers’ block, or providing some new ways to approach writing. These are all things I’ve tried and while they don’t always help, they are a challenge and fun to try. Let me know if you give any of these a go and how useful you found them! (Or useless, as the case may be).
So I got this idea on the train (unsurprisingly) this morning. I haven’t done more than a cursory initial edit so apologies for any spelling mistakes/grammatical errors! The image of the two doing puzzles has been bubbling away in my head all day, and while I did consider lengthening it and giving them a proper story I quite like the snapshot as is right now. It’s been a while since I’ve posted something creative, so I hope you enjoy!
Tim looked up as someone sat down heavily opposite him. A young woman was going through her bag, a dark green headscarf wrapped neatly around her hair. She must’ve only been in her 20s, he thought, and reddened as he considered how he may appear to her. An older, white male with the Daily Mail in front of him – he was surprised that she’d even considered sitting there; he certainly wouldn’t have.
‘Rough day?’ He said with a smile, noticing the stressed look on her face.
‘You could say that.’ She smiled back meekly. She looked down at her hands, and by extension his newspaper, on the table.
‘I don’t read this drivel, for the record. Unfortunately it seems to have the best crossword; I suppose there’s no need for fact checking there.’
Some fellow commuters turned to stare at them as she laughed.
‘I’m a Sudoku fan myself.’
‘That’s on the opposite page, if you’d like to take a look? I’m awful with numbers, could never get my head around them.’
‘I’d love to, if you don’t mind.’
‘Of course not, it’d only on the fire with the rest of it otherwise.’ He tore the page, handing her half of the newspaper to lean on.
‘Thank you. I’m Aliya, by the way.’
It’s officially National Novel Writing Month! NaNoWriMo is the writing challenge to top all writing challenges: 50,000 words in 30 days. The challenge was created to inspire and encourage writers to stop putting it off and get that first draft written. I’ve started the challenge several times, and won twice – and although I’m not doing it this year I am excited to see what my friends come up with and cheer them on.
This is not an easy feat, and can definitely be a struggle! Here are some of the stages I’ve noticed over the years;
Remembering NaNo is coming halfway through October…and having no ideas whatsoever.
Getting a great idea, planning it out and actually feeling prepared to start.
3. The 1st of November hits, and you’re ready to go…
4. …and you’ve suddenly never been so popular. Everyone wants to cut into valuable writing time spend time with you.
5. You actually get ahead of your target and it feels so gooooood…
6. …and then you discover a huge plot hole and have to redo a huge chunk.
7. But you keep going. You skip showers, binge eat junk food and set up a caffeine IV drip. You don’t see anyone for days and your room/office starts to smell, but you’re determined to keep at it. Even when you’re not writing, you’re thinking about your novel.
8. You get really close to quitting a LOT.
9. But finally reaching the finish line feels amazing. You’ve done yourself (and your characters) proud – now go brush your teeth.
Winning NaNoWriMo is so rewarding and all of the blood, sweat, tears and cancelled social events are worth it in the end! It’s so easy to give up, especially if you get busy or come across problems with your work, but being able to say you did it feels so good. Keep going, and remember that this is only the first draft – it doesn’t have to be perfect. It is also worth saying that you should be realistic; look after yourself, and if the default 50,000 words is too much you can set a smaller target on the website. Don’t doubt yourself, you can do this!
Are you doing NaNo this year? What’s your novel about? If not, have you done it before and what advice do you have?
Since starting university three years ago, I’ve met a lot of writers – most in the same position as me, at university learning to hone their skills and now many of us are graduating and being thrown into the big wide world. In these three years, the same topic of conversation to do with writing has come around a lot; who should we write for?
The question is one that I struggle with personally a lot more now that I have this blog. I created it for myself, as a way to keep myself reading and writing, and so far that has also happened to be quite successful with readers; by no means is the blog popular as such, and I’m certainly not going to become a full-time, professional blogger any time soon, but my audience is steadily increasing and I think I’m doing fairly well considering it’s only been about a month. In posting what I write online, although it is from and for myself first and foremost, the reader becomes a part of the reason for writing.
I think it’s quite common with things like blogs to become easily discouraged, and for me I think writing solely for readers will do that to me; I need a schedule and I need to make myself write things on time, simply to keep me motivated, but pushing myself to write things that readers will want to see all the time will just make me tire of it. I’m currently tackling this attitude quite well; I’m not letting it bother me if my posts aren’t very successful, and instead focusing on writing the next one. This is often easier said than done, but making a conscious effort to do so is helping massively. Writing for me means writing things that interest me – and if other people aren’t interested by that thing, I have a million other things to write/review/discuss.
A friend of mine recently admitted that she was scared to set up a dedicated place on the internet for her creative writing, in case no one read it. My response to this, and I know it’s a hypocritical one, was this – who cares? It’s really scary to put your work out there, and I certainly worry that no one will read or like my creative stuff, but it’s better to have it out where someone can read it than leaving things gather dust in a 5 year old folder with an embarrassing title buried deep in your laptop.
On the topic of creative writing, we must discuss books and publishing works on paper. Historically speaking, many writers wrote for the money; Dickens was often paid by the word to write his serials, which we now of course read in the form of huge novels. It would be naive to say that many popular authors today write without money in mind, however for the majority of writers nowadays this isn’t a lucrative business; only the very bestselling authors earn enough money to live on, much less the fortunes earned by the likes of JK Rowling. Going into writing with the sole purpose of making money would be largely disappointing.
Of course, it doesn’t mean that people don’t write with the intention of getting published – there would be little point in spending all that time creating something to then not show anyone, whether we publish for free or for profit.
So, who (or what) should we write for? Ourselves? Our audience? Money? Personally, I believe a mix is probably the best bet for success, but that’s just my personal opinion – I’ll get back to you when I’m a bestselling author!
Ten minutes left. The man sighed, putting his book down. He’d been checking the clock every thirty seconds anyway; whatever he’d actually read had already been forgotten. The ticking seemed to get louder and louder, a harsh reminder of how long he’d been waiting and how slowly time seemed to be moving.
He got up and went to the kitchen – there was no clock in there. The silence was a welcome break, but he was still itching to check the time. He flicked the kettle on and sat at the small table, simultaneously trying to remember when he’d last sat there and wondering when he’d sit there again. He pulled the crumpled kit list out of his trouser pocket and went through it, picturing each item in his bag.
Seven minutes left. He sat back in his armchair with his tea and opened his book again, determined to forget about the time and focus on the story.
Reader, have you ever had to wait for something? Have you ever felt like time slowed down, just so you’d have to wait longer?
Yes, he thought. Spooky.
Janice Willow is the type of person this happens to a lot. Purely by chance, I suppose – it’s just her luck. Janice is our protagonist, you see – hence my asking. It helps for the reader to relate to a protagonist; or so they tell me.
He put the book down. Five minutes. He’d tried, at least. Never could get on board with this meta-fiction lark; it always just seemed pretentious and complicated to him. He sipped his tea and, upon realising that it was the perfect temperature, subsequently drank the whole thing in a few large gulps.
Three minutes. He read the blurb of the book, rolling his eyes and tossing it onto the coffee table. His daughter had recommended it, said he should get back into reading more literary texts. Personally, he was quite happy with his detective novels; and who said Agatha Christie wasn’t literary, anyway?
He got up again and went to the toilet, picking up his shoes from by the front door on his way back to the armchair. Somehow only a minute had passed. He rolled his eyes, tying his shoelaces up slowly.
One minute left. He washed his mug up and left it on the draining board – future him would probably be annoyed, but that wasn’t his problem.
He hoped his companion would be on time. He didn’t like lateness as it was, but this was especially important. He’d been waiting for this moment for years; ever since Esther died, or so he told himself. In reality, he’d wanted to escape long before that day. She’d been so ill, and he’d worked so hard to give her everything. He’d never want her to think she was a burden; the day she passed was the first break he’d had in two years, but he’d have given anything to have her back. Thirty seconds.
There was a knock at the door and his heart leaped – time to go.
A/N: So I actually wrote this a while ago for an assignment but as I’ve been really busy this weekend (I’m sure you’ll hear all about it!). It’s really dark (again), so I apologise -we’ll have something happy soon, I promise!
See you soon,
I take a deep breath and open the box. There she is, staring at me. She’s always been there, watching. I never thought the day would come that I would need her touch again; I thought I could live without her, but she knew better. She has waited patiently in the darkness, knowing that I’d take comfort in her vigilance. She’s addictive, and she knows I can’t stay away.
I pick her up, the cold stinging my skin. It’s seductive, sensual even. I almost manage a smile for my old friend. She’s as smooth as she was the last time we met, and still as sharp. The light dances off her as I move her around, inspecting her carefully. She’s mocking me, daring me to just try it once more, just one tiny touch. I hesitate. I know that if I do this, I can’t turn back. I won’t be able to let go, and I’ll fall once again. I wipe my eyes, and let her stroke my arm. Fuck the consequences.
It’s just a gentle touch, at first. She glides along, teasing me with her kisses. A tiny drop of blood appears and I sigh – she’s won. She nuzzles deeper into my skin, running faster with every stroke. I throw my head back, the pain taking over. My thoughts and feelings leak out with every streamer of red. There’s nothing now; nothing but me, and her, and the pain. I run the tap and watch the red swim faster. The water fades to a pale pink and eventually runs clear as the bleeding stops. I turn off the tap, let the last of the water drain, and drop her in the sink, wrapping a towel around my arm. She glints in the light; one last flirty wink. Red is her colour, and she knows it. I try and ignore that nagging feeling of regret, and enjoy the brief sense of relief she’s given me.
I take a quick peek at my arm. Harsh, burgundy claw marks tear through the porcelain white skin – glaringly ugly, damning evidence. It looks as though something, someone, is stuck under there, implanted in my body, trying to escape. I suppose, in a way, that’s the truth.
A/N: This got a lot darker than I intended, hope you enjoy all the same. -Ro x
Tap, tap, tap, tap. She walks slowly, becoming increasingly aware of the sound of her shoes against the terracotta tiles. Her breathing is laboured; she’s walked these halls so many times, yet everything has changed now. It’s almost pitch black, she’s never seen the place this dark before. If she shut her eyes she’d be able to picture exactly where she is, but that’s not an option – closed eyes would open her up to weakness. She keeps close to the wall on her right, and as she imagines the peeling blue paint her shoulder brushes up against one of the many posters they’d tacked over the scruffiest parts of the walls. She puts her hand on it, and knows exactly which one it is. It’s advertising a cake sale, the last one they’d ever had – she felt the roughness of glitter under her fingertips. She’s not far.
She keeps on, passing a set of double doors to her left. She ducks, crossing over to the left hand side of the corridor as she passes a large window – she’s too close to risk putting herself in any danger. Finally, she gets to the second set of double doors. She slips through them quietly, finding herself in the hallway she knows all too well. She can’t see it, but she can picture it vividly – the looming cast iron staircase to her right, the battered radiator to her left. It was always getting repainted before, but it probably hadn’t been touched in years. She smiles as she remembers the alcove under the stairs, and can’t help herself.
Instead of going directly up the stairs to her destination, she creeps towards the alcove. She leans against the cool wall, as she had done so many times before. She breathes deeply, letting herself relax for just a moment – but even that is too long. She feels the cold metal barrel of a gun against the left side of her head. The bearer of the gun steps close to her, and she’s not surprised that she knows who it is instantly. The body heat that used to be such a comfort burns her as his familiar smell makes her gag.
‘I’m glad I’m not the only one who remembers our first kiss. You always were nostalgic, Callie.’ She hears a short release of breath as he smirks. ‘Silly little girl.’ He pulls the trigger.