Last Sunday, we held our final BLPG meeting for the year. Once again, it was cosy and productive.
Nathan Hondros, FAWWA’s writer-in-residence for November, talked to us about his writing life and Regime Books. He also gave us a few useful tips
1. A helpful way to silence our internal critic is to keep a separate notebook with all the things the critic tells us. Sid Field did this while writing ‘Screenplay’ and when he re-read it later, he realised it was full of sayings like, ‘You’re no good at this …’, and that his critic was wrong and not worth listening to.
2. ‘Always turn up to work.’ (Jeanette Winterson) Writing every day and having a routine cues our subconscious before we start, so it prepares to create before we’ve even sat down at our desk.
3. Allow ourselves to write a ‘shitty’ first draft, as Hemingway put it, because we get a chance to polish it later.
4. Give ourselves permission to daydream. For example, taking public transport and using that daily commute to let our minds wander. Personally, I find this so true—I’ve lost count of the number of ideas I’ve come up with while walking the dogs. (It’s the reason they are well-exercised!) It seems to allow space for our subconscious thoughts to enter our consciousness, and the subconscious is the source of our creativity, after all.
5. We also talked about writer’s block and ways to overcome it, including reading, walking, journalling, starting another scene, and keeping a routine and letting ourselves daydream, as mentioned above.
We had a long discussion about plagiarism, and the difference between work that is ‘influenced by’ another author, and work that is copied word-for-word. It’s okay to be influenced by others’ works, and write ‘in the style of’—we are, as Nathan said, walking on the shoulders of those who’ve gone before. If we use direct quotes, we need to acknowledge our source. But these days, with so much writing freely available online, there is a danger of our work being poached, and it has happened.
We discussed the eternal problem of making a living out of writing. There is a lack of adequate remuneration, and it’s always been this way. No one knows how to solve it, so we plod on with our labour of love …
I draw your attention to a workshop Nathan is running at Mattie’s House on the 29th November, 1:30-4:30pm, called ‘Preparation for Publishing—What Editors Want and What Writers Need’. Should be good …
Lynne F. asked if anyone was interested in forming a Writers’ Group, to swap chapters and give feedback. I’m a member of a group of three/four, which is an ideal number—anymore gets a bit unwieldy. It’s not essential to write in the same genre, although it helps. I’d suggest you need to understand the style of that genre and enjoy reading it, otherwise it will become a chore.
I’m looking towards setting up a password protected page on this website where we can post excerpts of our work for feedback. I’ve also set up a page with links to handy writing websites. I particularly draw your attention to Natasha Lester’s, a local writer, whose tutorials are full of great tips.
Emily and I thank you all for your support since we took over co-ordinating the BLPG. It’s been great fun and I look forward to continuing next year. Let me know if there’s anything you would like to see changed or introduced for 2015.
Best wishes and don’t forget to write over the break!
PS. I almost forgot to thank Iris for the wonderful cake you can see in the photos!