Posts Tagged writing advice

To Study or Not To Study?

Goals setting for year resolution and new project

A Masters degree in creative writing.

Advice on whether to study this is mixed at best. The verdict is that people simply don’t know whether you need some formal study to become a writer or better writer.

A nice piece I found on the Guardian.com describes what a lot of writers think about writing courses, that

A. That is cannot be taught

AND

B. That a course can only enhance what talent the writer naturally has, to begin with.

This might be so but there are other merits I believe to studying a writing course, whether it be taken in a University or otherwise. Firstly a formal course will expose you to other forms of writing and teach you how to work with a variation of the craft. By this, I mean writing poetry or script writing or non-fiction. Using the course I plan on taking with the Open University in Ireland as an example, I have the option to choose two different styles of writing. The choices are fiction, script, poetry, and non-fiction. Having the choice to tackle two styles teaches new techniques and perspectives on the craft itself. Pushing one’s skills into another area may change their writing, in general, for the better.

Another benefit to studying a course is the access you gain to not only a community of like minded people but experts in the area too, in the form of lecturers and tutors. Using the resources at hand on a writing course can only help when it comes to shaping the craft of writing and pushing it to the next level. Critical analysis and critique of your work can be tough to take. It can be even harder to find people to do it sometimes. Having assignments and people paid to read and work through them in depth can only help a writer become an even better writer.

There are other benefits to studying regardless of the subject. It can be liberating to feel you are gaining knowledge about a particular subject and bettering yourself in the process. I, myself am a life long learner and would happily study anything but, from now and for the next two years it’ll be the Masters of Creative Writing (o;

Two preparatory books I’ve been working through are recommended for the course I’m about to start. The first is Creative Writing: A Workbook with Readings and the second is Creative Writing: A Workbook with Readings . I’ve found both books to be very comprehensive and the readings in each are excellent pieces to teach with. I’d recommend them to anyone who writes or is thinking about writing.

So, that’s it on the Masters in Creative Writing. I’ll update on how it is going but as always let me know what you think about writing courses below.

Until next time (o:

 

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500 a Day and Kicking My Own Ass

Goals word on note pad stick on blank colorful paper notebook at workspace, year resolution concepts

With my writing goals I have to drag them back to basics.

No longer am I going to aim for the 2k words a day that I was because in reality the 2k a day was more 0 to 10 words a day word count. Re-reading Stephen Kings ‘On Writing’ I’ve taken away from it a sense of enthusiasm that I lost with writing. The ridiculous thing is my one and only book couldn’t be performing any better. It still maintains a decent Amazon ranking, reviews have been mainly positive and the money I’m earning from it is something I truly appreciate. This should be motivation enough… Anyway, before I go on and on, I’ll get down to business and it goes like this.

1. I’ll aim for 500 words written and 500 words edited a day.
2. This blog and something tangible to chart my progress on tools I will use to document my daily count as a form of accountability. (unfortunately I need this (o; )
3. A second book published by March 2016 and a novelette by April. (I’ll announce what I’m working on soon.)
4. Third book by July/August and fourth by November/December.

Four goals, although the third and fourth are kind of double goals but either way they will be 2016’s goals. I know this is kind of New Years resolution type stuff but I thought I’d do it a little early this year. I’ll let it settle into my mushy brain for a bit before I dive into New Years resolution mode.

So feel free to share your writing goals below or anything else you’d like to discuss. It’s an open book here.

 

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Wow… haven’t written in 5 months!!

Blank notepad over laptop and coffee cup on office wooden table

So… while checking through my writing after a very long time I realised that it’s been a very long 5 months since I’ve written anything on WriterBabble. The very short synopsis of why is this… life got in the way, laziness ensued and things got pretty crappy but I think the other side of it all is in plain sight.

Anyway, back to writing on here again. I’ve decided to write about my current writing projects specifically and the trial and tribulations that crop up. I’ve learned a lot writing my first book and am finding that there have been changes and new challenges with my writing as a result. This blog is going to be a platform for writing about and discussing those aspects of writing.

Let me know if there is anything that has changed for you and that you’d like to discuss on here. I’d like my posts to highlight topics and spark conversations around those.

So, it’s on again. Version 2.0 minus the lazy with a fresh dose of renewed enthusiasm for writing.

See you in a couple of days (o;

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The week that was: Writing and Reading Review

Power of Words

The last week has been a good writing week. Much better then my previous couple of months.

I’ve finally committed words to screen once again. My goal has been to complete a couple of short stories which I have in my ‘short stories in progress’ section. They are both horror as I’d like to slot them into a horror anthology or magazine at some stage… hopefully anyway. I’ve put the finishing touches to the first draft of one called ‘Christmas Tree’. It’s far too long, at over 9 thousands words but I plan to whittle it down to under 7 over the next week. My second short story ‘New Species’ is coming alone nicely. Its the first time I’ve tried to write scenes similar to ‘Aliens’. Soldiers facing unimaginable odds, a healthy dash of testosterone with a lot of guns and fighting. It’s fun to write but difficult to know for sure if what I write will translate the way I imagine. I suppose that’s writing all over (o:

I’ve also been thinking about competitions. Short story competitions specifically. I wrote a 1500 word story (not horror, much to my amazement) called ‘A moment to change all’ which I’d like to place in the running for a competition somewhere. I was looking at the Reader’s digest short story competition but I figure it’ll be bursting with applicants. Really amazing writers too going on previous winners. I think a little more research is needed before I enter one but I’m excited to see what happens.

On the reading front, it’s also been a good week. I still have a bit of time off before I start my new job so I plowed through books I started whilst away on holiday but never finished. First was the second season of ‘Yesterdays Gone’. It’s a brilliant read and if you are into apocalyptic stories that is heavily character driven then you’ll love this. The self published authors Sean Platt and David Wright have a really good grasp on easy reading, easy to follow story lines but just enough mystery and suspense to keep you turning those pages. The other book I’ve been reading is Usain Bolt’s autobiography. The man really is a legend. He’s funny, humble and a dedicated athlete. Reading it makes you want to be the man’s buddy, as I’m sure many people around the world want to be. If your a fan of running or athletics then you’ve got to read about the current fastest man in the world.

I’ve received a few recommendations for writing craft books which I’ve added to the ever growing list of things to read. It’s going to be like ‘skynet’ soon and gain self awareness if it keeps growing (I apologize for the attempt at terminator humor here). One book is ‘Eats, shoots and leaves; by Lynn Truss and another is ‘Write Tight’ by William Brohaugh. Both books will benefit me greatly as I have issues with my writing in regards to nailing punctuation as well as overwriting. Blathering on too much is an issue in written and spoken work for me.

Another book comes from a lady named Dorothy Davies. She has a craft book on the market called ‘How many miles to Babylon?’. It’s a guide for writers, so again something I’ll benefit from at this early stage in my writing career.

I recently submitted a short story to Dorothy but unfortunately I completely messed up. I either didn’t edit my story properly, throwing spelling or grammar to the wind or I submitted the wrong file. When I went to find a cleaner copy of my short story I came up blank?? Well, I was embarrassed when I received an email back from Dorothy pointing out how rough my story was but she’d let me fix it up and resubmit. I was delighted and very grateful so I went about the task of tearing it apart and putting it back together, a lot more carefully this time. I resubmitted and it was accepted. There were still issues but Dorothy was kind enough to give me some invaluable feedback and the craft book recommendations you see above.

Anyway, that was my busy week of writing. Next week will be a shorter post I’m sure as a new job beckons but I’ve tasked myself to get through 1000 to 2000 words a day. Half new words for a new stories and the other half editing old works.

I’ll let you know how I go with it.

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Writing and exercise

runningNow before I start, this is not a lecture… promise, but it does talk about exercise. Sorry (o;

I’m a runner or at least I’ve just graduated from jogging to running. My athletic ability and body shape is a very very very long way from the likes of Usain Bolt but I hit the pavements and park anyway.

Inspiration for this post has come about for two reasons; 1. I’ve been training for a half marathon, which I’ll do on Sunday and 2. I’ve cracked some story problems I’ve been having while out on these training runs. Exercising to help your writing has been recommended my many writers both famous and not. It’s only recently that I started thinking about my writing projects while out on a run and I’m so glad I did.

I work as a Registered Nurse by day (and prolific author by night, Yeah right… I wish it were true) and I spend a good chunk of my time telling people the benefits of exercise for optimal health and wellbeing. The problem is though, you don’t always practice what you preach. Now, I’m certainly not going to harp on about physiological benefits here, of which there are so so many, but I’d like to explore how it can benefit your creativity.

Firstly (OK, just a little physiological stuff), exercise allows for better and more effecting oxygenation of the blood, improves cardiovascular functioning and allows your your body to adapt more effectively to situations of stress. For m,e this is where exercise can help. Writing can be a stressful endeavor. There is a sea of wonderful writers out there and you are just one of them. Trying to stand shoulder to should with them can be tough. Standing out from the crowd can be tougher. Then you want to be signed up to an agency or publishing or self publish your work. Throw on top of that deadlines and the creative process itself, it’s clear that writing comes with it’s fair share of stresses. Adapting to stress physiologically and mentally can be a great release. Going out on a long walk or a run or whatever form of exercise you fancy can really change how you view and problem and help you deal with whatever is on your mind.

Here’s an article I came across while researching this post. It’s called ‘Run To Write’ and is written for lawyers but the main points are how exercise can benefit your writing. It’s really good and well worth a read. There’s plenty more online of how exercise has benefited other writers but I can only attest to my own experience and for me it’s one of the best activities I do to better my creativity.

If exercise isn’t your thing then that’s fine but everyone walks. Grab a book and walk 20 minutes to a cafe or park. Once you’ve had a sit down and a read you’ve got 20 minutes back. 40 minutes of exercise has taken place and you’ll feel much better for it if you do it regularly.

I hope this helps… (o:

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My first Oz Comic-con

oz comic con

Oz Comic-con was a blast. Such a fantastic eclectic gathering of people and pop culture under one roof.

My day started off passing the myriad of Cosplay attendees outside the convention center who are naturally drawn to such an event. It’s amazing how much effort people put into their costumes as well as the pride they take in wearing them. They looked fantastic and it really is a credit to the creators of the shows, games, novels and comics.

The crowds were heavy and growing steadily but the atmosphere was pretty light and friendly. People were there to celebrate what they enjoy and it could be felt through out the event. Stalls upon stalls selling their wares lay everywhere to see. Not being able to help myself I had to buy up a couple books and a few collectibles, but hey you only live once or YOLO (I only found out what ‘YOLO’ meant two days ago, I’m such a Grandad).

There was a few panel discussions I wanted to go see, the first of which was Jason Momoa, who played Khal Grogo in the first Season of Game of Thrones and Conan the Barbarian in the recent remake. Listening to his experiences from the set of his many shows and movies was interesting. He was candid about his disappointment with leaving Game of Thrones but seemed extremely appreciative of the opportunity to be part of such a behemoth of a show. The second panel discussion I went to was a Stargate SG1 special with Chris Judge AKA Teal’c and Coren Nemec AKA Jonas Quinn. The guys were extremely funny while being really informative. One tidbit from the discussion was how Chris Judge had to have botox injected into two thirds of his forehead to stop his forehead from wrinkling and dislodging his characters well recognised gold tattoo. After the two guys finished up the stage was set ready for Nicholas Brendon… Xander from Buffy. Many of my teenage years were spent glued to the TV watching Buffy, The Vampire slayer. Nicolas was animated on stage while recanting the highlights of his days on the set of Buffy. He mentioned his memorable moments with with the actors from Buffy as well as giving insight into the creative genius and processes of Joss Whedon. One story spoke of surprised me. Joss Whedon’s fabulous but ill fated show ‘Firefly’ was written with Nicholas in mind. Before Nathan Fillion filled the boots of Captain Malcolm Reynolds, Nicholas was penned to play the role. It’s only when Season 7 of Buffy began filming that Joss decided to keep Nicolas as Xander while offering Nathan the role in Firefly.

The main draw card for me though was to meet and speak with author Kylie Chan. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed. I was surprised to see Kylie alone on her allocated table but silently I was delighted. With a copy of her new novel, ‘Demon Child’ in hand I timidly approached. She was pleasant and down to earth, happily signing my book and telling me to come along to her panel discussion later that day. She also handed me a coupon for a free copy of ‘The Gravity Engine’, a book that fills in the story line between the second and third trilogies of her 9 book saga. Beside Kylie’s desk sat a lady names Queenie Chan, an illustrator and graphic novelist. I first came across Queenie’s work in a graphic novel called ‘Small Shen’. Kylie Chan wrote the prose for this book while Queenie produced the illustrations. Her anime style works perfectly in Kylie’s story world of fantasy and martial arts. While speaking to Queenie she told me about her ork with Dean Koontz. I’m a huge Koontz fan and when she said Dean had hired her to create a graphic novel for his ‘Odd Thomas’ series I knew I would have to grab a copy. Not only am I a Koontz fan but I started reading him through his Odd Thomas series. Queenie’s created a series of prequels to the Odd Thomas series with Dean writing the story while Queenie illustrated afterward. I picked up the first of the three book series and will let you know how I go with it some time in the future.

So to the panel discussion held by Kylie and Queenie together. Again to my surprise but delight, their was only 8 of us in the audience. Give the size of the crowd it was decided bunch up closer and create a semi circle around the two novelists. It was much more intimate and relaxing than being spread out. The 8 of us asked our questions and the women were only happy to answer. Kylie described her creative process telling us that it took her at least three months to write her rough copy and how the most difficult part for her was the beginning. Queenie told us that she also takes a similar length of time to create her rough copy but seems to wane in enthusiasm in the middle of a project. When asked about what advice they would give someone starting out in the industry, they both said that editing it a must regardless of experience. A good edit or series of edits will raise your work to a much higher caliber. Going hand in hand with a good edit is a good cover. To hook a reader initially, you first need a killer cover. Kylie went on to talk about how she didn’t have an agent and still doesn’t, instead having a representative take her place in contract negotiations. She also told us about sending in her initial manuscript, unsolicited and being rejected by many publishers. They told her she wasn’t what the market needed or that their books were full. Eventually she was signed up to Harper Collins. It was only until book 4 that things really took off for her. She began creeping up the ladder of the best sellers list both at home and overseas. Queenie told us of her success with her first graphic novel ’The Dreaming’, which she sold the rights of to a publisher without knowing exactly what she was signing up to. She was so delighted to finally get a contract offer after many rejections that she didn’t ensure the rights reverted back to the artist should the publishing house go under. Unfortunately the publishing house did go under and she is still trying to win the rights back for her breakout success. Her advice was to think ahead and not jump into something that looks too good to be true. Both Kylie and Queenie advocated the benefits to self publishing. Both said it was a superb was to break into the industry and would recommend it over going down the traditional route first.

Here’s a photo of me with Kylie Chan and Queenie Chan.

Kylie Chan, Queenie Chan and David J Delaney

Overall, I loved my first Oz Comic-con experience and meeting an author who I have enjoyed reading for many years was definitely the highlight. Kylie and Queenie were both so lovely and a wealth of knowledge.

Oh, and I also met Chewbacca. He must be getting on in years as he needed the guiding hand of an Oz Comic-con volunteer (o:

Chewbacca at Oz Comic Con

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