Saturday, 31 May 2008

Family writing day......


Today I hosted a writing day for some adult writer friends and their children. The challenge was for me to create writing activities that would keep both adults and children engaged. In addition I also wanted to be able to join in myself and write.
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There were five adults and five children. For the youngest children (aged 3 &4) I arranged some simple colouring and left them to play. The eldest three children were all six years old and impressed me with their standard of work. They created a fictional character using worksheets I designed and then made this character the hero of an adventure story. The end result was a handmade mini book with illustrations. We adults did exercises on the themes of obsessions, phobias and storytelling. Both adults and children got together to share their work; which for me was one of the most fun parts of the day.
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In between writing the children did quizzes and plenty of running around the garden. The adults did lots of chatting about books and writing. Everyone did plenty of eating!! It was a fun albeit exhausting day for me. However, despite the commitment of playing host and leading the writing activities; I actually managed to write a piece that I feel could end up being the basis for my next book.
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Whilst researching I found a couple of useful sites. A writing site with lots of tips and exercises that I did not get time to fully explore: http://fictionwriting.about.com . A site full of resources for children such as word searches, puzzles, colouring etc: www.abcteach.com . I also used a book called 'Get Writing' by Paul Johnson (ISBN 0-7136-7312-5) that has templates and instructions for making simple but effective books/booklets/cards.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Vision problems....


A couple of months ago I had a bad episode of optic neuritis. A few days ago I had a relapse that has left me with poor sight again. This is making it very difficult to work on a computer or read anything. I have to cover the bad eye and squint with the other. My kids suggested I should get a pirate eye patch!

My head is buzzing with ideas and my children's book characters are left suspended mid-action. It reminds me how much I rely on reading and writing. They are so much a part of my life that I feel as if a piece of me is missing when I am unable to give them attention. Time will heal but unfortunately time on the computer will delay this and aggravate the symptoms. I'm thankful for talking books as life without any story would be hell. Meanwhile, I'll keep scribbling down notes and hopefully be able to do more soon. Maybe I have to use this time for thinking, dreaming and incubating ideas.................................

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Workshop Inspiration

Today I attended a free workshop at Bodmin library. Part of a series of workshops entitled 'Words for Well-Being'; this morning course was facilitated by Moira Andrew and entitled 'Writing and Remembering'. This wonderful lady, author and poet inspired me with her practice of capturing everyday moments in her poems. She explained that where some people take photos, she instead writes a poem and this seems akin to my need to keep a journal. It was a real treat to spend a few hours writing, reading, listening and learning. I was encouraged to write out of my comfort zone and this in itself is important. Moira Andrew has a website: www.moiraandrew.com . If you are interested in the idea of using 'words for well-being' then also check out www.lapidus.org.uk an organisation that concentrates on exploring literary arts in personal development. Something healing, inspirational and magic can happen when we put into words our feelings and experiences.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Constructive Procrastination....

When I was meant to be working on my children's story I was instead writing a poem for inside a Birthday card. My only defense is that the card is for a dear friend and so this departure from my work shouldn't be classed as straightforward procrastination! Anyway, whilst trying to find a the right word to finish my little ditty, I came across a site called 'Rhyme Zone' that helps you find rhymes, definitions, synonyms and lots more. Of course I started to play with this neat tool and have now run out of time for writing! The web address is http://www.rhymezone.com.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

A place to write....



I have two favourite places to write. Top of my list is the small summer house (renamed my writing house) that is at the bottom of my garden. We moved to this cottage three months ago and the summer house has been one of the best things about this new home. After tiny, damp homes with no space to escape I feel lucky to have found a rental property with this hidden gem. Second on my list are cafes that sell excellent coffee and don’t mind me making one cup last an hour or more.

These two preferred writing spaces couldn’t be more different. The summer house is quiet and cost effective. Cafes, in contrast, can be noisy and a potentially expensive way to get your writing done. I love knowing I have a small place I can retreat to in my own garden; it is what I’ve always dreamed of. However, I find the busy energy in a cafe stimulating and sometimes inspirational. Oh and of course the caffeine and sugar helps! I’d go to cafes more often if I could afford to do so.

I have spent time writing in all sorts of places and I think it’s worth trying different locations. It’s also an idea to get used to being able to write anywhere. The hardest challenge for me is writing with young kids around, but its not impossible. Many writers talk of their favourite places to write. I recently came across a blog by Candy Gourlay called ‘Home Sweet Shed... the making of’. There is plenty of writing space inspiration to be had on this blog and there are plenty of great links as well. Take a look at http://homesweetshed.blogspot.com/

Friday, 16 May 2008

Living The Creative Life

There is no doubt that I feel happier when a good proportion of my day is spent engaged in creative activity. Oriah Mountain Dreamer, http://www.oriahmountaindreamer.com/ suggests that we need to fully incorporate our creative work into our daily life . Check out her book 'What we ache for'. Similarly Natalie Goldberg, http://www.nataliegoldberg.com/ , believes that the most important thing to do if we want to be a writer is to write, write, write!!! This may seem obvious but how many of us avoid doing the creative work we passionately crave? In all her books, especially the classics 'Wild Mind' & 'Writing Down the Bones' she offers help to get past the excuses and inner sabotage that is common to creative minds.

On that note I am trying hard to 'be' a writer and write daily. I also try to include other creative activity such as my card making and music. For me it's hard getting past the inner critic that reminds me that grammar is definitely not my strong point. Or the little voice that tells me I should be spending more time with my children and points out that my house looks filthy. However, I do know that I love to create stories and that I am bursting with ideas. So I intend to keep on writing and recognise that creative expression is an essential part of my happiness. So far this commitment is proving worthwhile and I'm enjoying the satisfaction of seeing my children's story take shape.
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