A Room of One’s Own | Helen Scheuerer

A-room-of-ones-own2

When Virginia Woolf wrote A Room of One’s Own she referred to not only the physical space a woman needs to write, but also the need for room in education and the literary world for female writers to overcome the patriarchal nature of society.

Though I dare to say we are in no shape to dismiss these matters just yet, I’m not about to embark upon dissecting the latter topic in this article. What I do wish to talk about, is the need any writer has (woman or man) for a physical work space to call their own.

Like many writers, I’ve lived and worked in some pretty cramped places; from an office that squeezed twenty writers around one trestle table (elbow-to-elbow) to a studio apartment shared with an equally hardworking partner.

I’ve certainly longed for the luxury of my own desk (let alone my own room). It’s because of these experiences over the past few years that I’ve come to realise the importance of having your own work space, whether it’s a coffee table in the corner of a tiny room or an actual office.

Writing is, for the most part, a solitary venture. We lock ourselves away in the world we are creating and don’t want to be disturbed.

Personally, I can’t stand the noise of the television blaring, or people clanging about downstairs unnecessarily, though over the years I’ve become better at tuning it out.

These intrusions usually serve as distractions from our craft, and there really is nothing worse, considering how many of us struggle to find time for it in the first place.

A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.

Try and find yourself a little nook in the house where you can set yourself up a desk (it doesn’t have to be imposing). This desk should be yours and yours alone.

You should be free to leave your books open, your papers loose and your pen lidless, without the fear of having someone come along and moving things around.

Having this space is so important to your creative well being. It allows you to create routine, to stay focused and to have discipline. When you are sitting at your desk, there is only one thing you should be doing: writing.

Woolf said we needed money and a room of our own. I’d say that we need to get the room first (or at least the desk), and the money will come later. Hopefully.

Via: http://writersedit.com/room-ones-own/

Which Is More Important: Writing or What We Write?

Which-Is-More-Important-Writing-or-What-We-Write-820x380

The key thing to remember about writing: It’s about writing! The more we think about what we write, the harder it gets. We can talk and think ourselves out of writing far easier than allowing ourselves just to write. The mind of a writer is filled with objections because most writers are afraid of writing something that doesn’t make sense, or worse, writing something that comes across as idiotic or is considered arbitrary. Your inner voice all too often will put forth resistance, telling you that you don’t make any sense whatsoever and you’d be much better off doing anything, except writing!

Maybe you’ll recognize some of these inner objections:

Am I really a writer? Am I any good?

Will anyone care about what I write about?

Does my story make any sense to anyone else?

Do I constantly repeat myself?

Do I over-edit?

Do my characters seem real? Do they have depth? Should I just go ahead and kill them all off now and give up writing forever?

Do I suck? No, I don’t. Yes, I do.

How bad do I suck? Bad! The Titanic sunk because it knew that I would be born and try to become a writer.

Why Writers Struggle So Much With Rejection

One of the things my inner voice loves to tell me is that my writing is total and complete garbage and beyond any shadow of a doubt will be rejected. My inner voice isn’t alone, as so-called experts tried to convince me of the same things too. Fear of rejection is powerful, because at some point or another we have all been rejected for something, and we never forget the pain. The more times we have been rejected for anything, the more doubt compounds within us. This is an especially complicated issue for writers, because we’ve all heard the stories and watched the movies where writers get rejected. Some will even tell you that if you want to be a writer then you better get used to being rejected. It’s almost as bad as trying to ask someone on a date for the very first time. The possibility of being turned down isn’t just extremely high, it’s 100% going to happen.

Have I made you feel any better about rejection? I didn’t think so. The good news is that the power of rejection holds less threat for writers today. You don’t need an editor’s approval to self-publish and you don’t have to send out thousands of letters to be accepted by any agent or publisher if you don’t want to. So then, what’s to stop you from writing and publishing your writing? Perhaps it’s the internal messaging system we all have that tends to tell us that when doing something, anything, it must be done in a certain way or it won’t be acceptable. Well, that may have been true for a long time, but when it comes to writing and publishing your work, you are now the-end-all-be-all if you want to be.

I think we hold onto memories of rejection because we try to avoid putting ourselves in a position of being rejected again, no matter what type of rejection that might be or from whom. Very few of us, if any, are completely free of this internal fear. All of us have our own way of dealing with it; however, to be truly free of the fear of rejection, one must come to terms with it. One way I have done that is to write for myself, knowing I can publish whatever I write if I choose to. That doesn’t mean I’ll sell a million copies or that it will attract a huge readership, but it’s still a freedom that gives me room to write. Blogging helps too, because it can be done regularly, in increments, and articles can be published privately first and then, when we’re ready, we can publish them publicly. Blogging also takes a while to gain a readership, so our writing is exposed to readers more slowly. As we gain more readers over time, we naturally gain confidence and eventually worry less about being rejected.

How to Conquer the Internal Editor One Word at a Time

At times, if you want to get past the internal resistance of your own mind, you actually have to give in and allow yourself to write whatever you come up with. Even if your writing seems like terrible, useless drivel no one will want to read, the more you write and get your thoughts on paper, or on the screen, or on your blog, the less power the internal nay saying voice has.

Writing rituals also help, which I’ll get to in a moment. Before writing, you might consider looking in the mirror and telling yourself you’re going to write the best gibberish you can come up with, and then challenge yourself to do exactly that! You may find yourself amazed at how much sense your gibberish makes when you read it back.

If you’re like me, then you’d like your first draft to be your only draft, but you probably also know that’s not what actually happens. Writing a first draft is mostly just getting your thoughts out of your head, but there’s a little more to it. A first draft often only makes sense to you, the writer, and it will need to be shaped and formed during the second and, perhaps, third draft. We sometimes heap unnecessary pressure on ourselves to write a perfect first draft. I don’t know of any writer who is ever completely satisfied with his or her first draft. I know I never am. It is the action of writing that matters, not necessarily the content itself.

The Most Important Advice Any Writer Will Ever Hear

I am willing to bet every writer on God’s green earth has been told their first draft is crap. Somehow we come to believe it and even tell ourselves this without ever considering the true mental and emotional impact. I refuse to join the chorus. Allow me to share something very important with you and it took me too long to realise it.

Your first draft is not crap no matter how far from perfect it might be.

I regret the many first drafts I’ve thrown away, because I’ll never be able to get them back. An idea is wonderful, but an idea written down is heaven. As a draft, it becomes a physical, tangible manifestation you can refer to and build on. Throwing away an idea, even symbolically, is painful and wasteful. I think all of us have woken from dreams and wished we had written them down, even if just haphazardly, and even if only to remember them later. How many dreams have you forgotten, but somehow the feeling that they were wonderful still stays with you? What if you had written about a dream while it was still fresh in your mind? What if that became your first draft? What would you refer to it as? I somehow doubt you would call it crap.

Think about it a moment. Consider how the word crap makes you feel (and I am using the “clean” version of the word). What emotional value does it provide? The first draft matters the most and it deserves proper credit. The belief you’re merely writing crap in order to be okay with the fact that it’s not “good” only serves to feed your doubts about your writing.

Every book, every article and every blog post starts off as a first draft. A first draft is when you turn an idea into some coherent form, when you’ve assembled your loose thoughts from notes collected on napkins, scraps of paper, or from your voice recorder. You know how painstaking this process is. Your first draft is perhaps the most important step to completing your project. It’s special. No one’s ever gotten to the end without the beginning. Crap is the last thing in the world that your first draft is!

I’m writing this because too many have come to believe that when they sit down and write their first draft they aren’t doing something crucial to the creative process. I mean, how important can crap be? Don’t throw away another seed before it has the opportunity to grow into something beautiful. Don’t discard the memory of another glorious dream before it can be realised.

Are You Consciously Investing in Your Writing?

I discovered this the hard way. If I don’t think constructively about what I’m writing, I won’t make the necessary mental and emotional investment it takes to see my writing through to fruition. Once I figured this out, I lowered my risk of falling into depths of writer’s doubt and became much more prolific. Your state of mind has a huge influence on your confidence and productivity. Today, when I sit down and write my first draft, I have the greatest respect for it. It won’t be perfect, and it certainly won’t be polished, but without the first draft I wouldn’t have anything!

If you want to feel better about your imperfect draft, then acknowledge that it’s incomplete and know you will shape it later on. It will take time and hard work. It won’t always be fun, but if it was just crap, would you want to put that kind of effort into it? I wouldn’t. What if you stopped calling it crap and started calling it by its true value? Would that change your perspective and increase the emotional value you place in your work?

Let’s be honest here, just for a moment. Between you and me, in the real world, what do you do with crap? You flush it or bin it. You’re too good for that and your first draft is too! No matter how imperfect it might be and no matter how much work must still be done.

With respect and admiration for Ernest Hemingway, I prefer this quote by Michael Lee:

“The first draft reveals the art, revision reveals the artist.”

One Easy Path to Respecting What You Write in Your First Draft

Starting a new writing project is an exciting, mysterious, and sometimes nerve-racking adventure, so try not to limit your process. I have several ways I use to get myself started. One very effective method is talking to myself.

Do you ever talk to yourself? When you’re alone (I think you’ll really want to be alone for this one), go ahead and start talking to yourself. Talk about anything: how the day has been, why you didn’t do something you should have done, a situation at work, or whatever happens to be on your mind.

Here, I’ll help you with a couple of questions: What do you really want to write about? Is there a special story that you want to tell? Talk out loud to yourself about that story, tell yourself openly and honestly why you want to write it.

Now here’s the key to this exercise: while you’re talking, make sure you have a word processor open. Type everything that you say, every single word. Don’t look at the monitor. No, don’t do that! Carry on your conversation with yourself until you’ve said everything you need to. Try not to hold anything back. When you’re finished talking, then, and only then, look at the monitor. There’s your first draft ready to be fashioned into your story. It might not be perfect, it might not be exactly what you wanted to write, but it certainly isn’t crap. It is a start, and it’s your very own personal invitation to continue writing.

Like I said, writing is about writing and sometimes it’s not what we write, but the actual process of writing itself that matters the most.

Via: http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/what-we-write/

On Depression and Writing | A Reprise

depression-and-writing-large

A little while ago, I published the article On Depression and Writing by Derek Haines on Writer’s Blog, as I found it quite an interesting piece and thought others might like it too.

Since publishing it though it has played on my mind – how this writer has found depression so enabling with his writing process – and I have been thinking: lucky him.

Now, before I get in to this I need to say I love talking about writing, and books, stories, the writing process, etc etc, but I do not talk publicly about my own struggles. However, in order to discuss my thoughts on this topic I have to open up about myself – so here goes:

I have struggled with depression for years. I don’t talk about it, most people don’t know about it, in fact, some of my friends and acquaintances reading this will be shocked to find out about it, because when I’m out and about I plaster on a smile and be as helpful and as enthusiastic as I can possibly be. But behind closed doors I am in a lot of pain. I don’t want to burden people with it or bring them down, so I generally keep it all completely to myself. Posting this is therefore the most un-like-me thing to do. But, I want to talk about depression and writing, of which I have an awful amount of experience, so I can hardly discuss it and not mention my own experiences.

For me, depression is completely debilitating. Amongst other things, I have been writing a novel now for some time. The thing that stops me finishing it – apart from the editor living in my head who won’t allow me to just “write a crap first draft” – is depression. It’s not just “feeling a little bit low” and something I can easily “snap out-of”, like turning off a lightbulb, it is a constant everyday battle with myself.

Every writer goes through that “I’m shit and no one will want to read this trollop” stage. But with depression, that stage takes on a whole new life of its own. It becomes “I’m shit, and worthless, and useless, and maybe I should just kill myself” and “no-one is going to want to read this trollop because who am I kidding, I should just give up right now!”.

Depression has been the one biggest obstacle to my writing above anything and everything else. Money is an issue, of course, but you can always do a bit of extra work or beg and borrow it from somewhere. No one else can save you from the games your mind plays on you when you are depressed. I can sit in a room with nothing to do but write, and depression will pop up its head, and I will just sit there and cry, or procrastinate by doing anything else to distract myself from myself that I can – music, TV, social media – you name it, but can I manage to write a single word: no.

And then what happens? I feel even worse because I’ve done nothing, achieved nothing. And so the downward spiral continues. I have endless amounts of both respect and awe for the writer Matt Haig, who has famously and openly suffered with depression for a long time and still been a successful published author. I just wish I knew how he did it. I’m guessing sheer determination and resilience, because I know personally that it takes a massive amount of inner strength to battle depression everyday and still keep writing.

It is my hope that one day I will make it, both as a writer and as a happy individual. But for now, I will keep on struggling forward a day at a time. If any of you reading this are saying – yes, this is me too, she gets it – then I hope this post encourages you to keep writing too, and to know that although it feels like it, you are not alone.

17 Books That Should Be On Your Radar: May 2017

books-radar-may2017

Every month, the Writer’s Bone crew reviews or previews books they’ve read or want to read. This series may or may not also serve as a confessional for guilty pleasures and hipster novels only the brave would attempt. Here are their recommendations for May 2017:

  1. Salt Houses by Hala Alyan
  2. The Wrong Side Of Goodbye by Michael Connelly
  3. Marlena by Julie Buntin
  4. Janesville, An American Story by Amy Goldstein
  5. Little Victories by Jason Gay
  6. The River Of Kings by Taylor Brown
  7. American War by Omar El Akkad
  8. A Brutal Bunch Of Heartbroken Saps by Nick Kolakowski
  9. The Dinner Party by Joshua Ferris
  10. Tell Me How It Ends by Valeria Luiselli
  11. The One-Eyed Man by Ron Currie
  12. Recitation by Bae Suah
  13. The Warren by Brian Evenson
  14. Unbearable Splendor by Sun Yung Shin
  15. Hothouse by Karyna Mcglynn
  16. Make: A Decade Of Literary Art
  17. Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar

Click on the links above for a detailed synopsis of each book, or follow the following link to see what the Writer’s Bone crew had to say: http://www.writersbone.com/book-recommendations/books-that-should-be-on-your-radar-may-2017

The Bath Novel Award: 2017 Longlist

BATH NOVEL AWARD: 2017 LONGLIST ANNOUNCEMENT

This year a record 1,163 novels were submitted by writers in 48 countries.

Of the 33 novels selected for this year’s longlist, one third are by writers based outside the UK, including Canada, New Zealand, Netherlands, Switzerland and the USA. Novel settings range from the UK to Ukraine, time travel in Wales, earthquakes in El Salvador,  deadly Norwegian forests, even a sunless future Birmingham. Two thirds of the novels are by women writers and one male writer has two novels listed. Six writers have been longlisted by us before, either for an earlier draft or a different book. In terms of genre, literary, psychological suspense, thrillers, YA, women’s and crime lead our 2017 longlist, followed by historical, comedy, fantasy and speculative novels. Notable trends amongst the final 33 include the rise of the immigrant hero, activist lit and a distinct upswing in novels with themes about deception – by those in power and of ourselves – and the search for love, light and life in the darkest of days.

As our judges read “blind” we’ll be keeping the longlisted writers’ identities under wraps until the winner, as chosen by literary agent Laura Williams of Peters, Fraser Dunlop is announced on July 6th. Shortlisted titles will be announced on June 14th.

In the meantime, huge congratulations to the writers of these 33 standout titles:

  • After the Lunch
  • Alt
  • Brave Girls
  • Complicity
  • Enemies at the Gate
  • Finding Freedom
  • Forget Me Not
  • Hollow
  • Honeysuckle
  • In a Rushdie Winter
  • Iraqnia
  • Jacob’s Ladder
  • Jonathon Fairfax Must Be Destroyed
  • Lost Journals at Sundown
  • Lucas
  • Mountainous Regions of the Heart
  • One of Us
  • Over the Coconut Trees
  • Service
  • Start Wearing Purple for Me Now
  • Strangers on a Bridge
  • The Binding Frame
  • The History of You
  • The Light Factory
  • The Lost Sister
  • The Pact
  • The Pear Drum
  • The Proof of the Outside
  • The Silence of Shannon
  • The Still Gate
  • Translations
  • What Was Left Behind
  • Yet Wilderness Grew in My Heart

Via: 2017 Longlist: The Bath Novel Award

Unleash Your Creativity With Freewriting

freewriting

If you have ever been to a writing class, group, retreat or similar, you will most likely have heard the term “freewriting”.

In freewriting, you write just fast enough so that your hand moves faster than your brain can defend itself. The results are sometimes unpredictable, but the most surprising images, characters, memories and stories can pour out onto the page.

How to Freewrite

What exactly is freewriting?

  • Freewriting is a practice that helps to liberate your writer’s voice and connects you to the vibrant stream of creativity that lies just under the surface of our ordinary thinking.
  • Freewriting can be used to launch you over a writer’s block, to explore painful emotional memories, and to work out problems in a longer work. It can be used for making contact with one’s own unconscious.
  • Freewriting is a simple, structured practice that is flexible and forgiving. It can be used as the base of a writing practice, or spontaneously whenever you want to go deeper into a subject.

A good way to learn freewriting is through a 10-minute timed write.

When we freewrite, we try as much as possible to suspend judgment about what we are writing. It is an exercise in getting out of our own way. You may notice you are writing in a way that is unacceptable or foreign to what you are accustomed to. Try to simply observe the process rather than interrupt it.

Here are some freewriting guidelines, although in the spirit of freewriting freedom, feel free to not follow any that don’t feel right.

  • Use a prompt. If you run out of ideas before the time is up, start writing the prompt and see if a new thought arises. Go with it.
  • Set a timer. Having a reliable timer will free you from being drawn away from what you are writing. If you are moved to, feel free to continue writing after the time has expired until you complete your thought.
  • Keep your pen moving. Don’t stop writing until the timer goes off.
  • Write quickly. Write a little bit faster than your thought formation, even if it’s a little uncomfortable. Messy handwriting is welcome.
  • Use the first word. Don’t try to think of the perfect word, just use the first word that comes to mind and go with it. Don’t worry about paragraphing, subject-verb agreement or even if what you are writing makes sense. Just write.
  • Write crap. Give yourself permission to write a really bad first draft. You can always edit it later, but this permission allows you to do something new. Try to avoid any thoughts about what you are writing. You are just there to propel the pen. Telling yourself it’s okay to write crappy first drafts is incredibly liberating. Try it.
  • Go for it. If the first thing that pops into your mind is ridiculous, go for it. If it’s violent, see where it goes. Be open to the unexpected. After all, you didn’t create these thoughts, did you? Our job is to honour them, allow them to come to light.

Going Longer With Your Freewrites

You can also use a meta-freewrite technique to explore longer works. Look at what you’ve written. If a question is generated when you read it, or you are looking for a solution to a problem you see, use it as a prompt for your freewrite. Keep using it, and the questions it generates, to ask yourself to go deeper into the subject. Be open to what comes up.

Crafting prompts can be good fun, and the simplest prompts sometimes reveal the deepest veins of meaning in our stories. If you’ve written something you would like to explore, use a prompt like “What does this story really mean…” or “What I really want to say is…” to get at a deeper meaning.

For instance: A prompt from Natalie Goldberg that can help with your personal history explorations is “I remember…” Continue to write what comes to your memory and every time you hesitate, write again “I remember …” and start again.

Prospect for stories using prompts like “The most scared I ever got was when…” or “The first time I met…” or “The most momentous trip of my life was…” or “When I was a kid we…”

If you want to develop something you’re writing, look for prompts within the writing itself. What jumps out at you? What has “juice” for you when you read it? There’s your next prompt. Put it at the top of your page and go for it.

Happy writing!

Via: https://www.thebookdesigner.com/unleash-your-creativity-now-how-to-freewrite/