Diary of a hopeful author: My top 10 writing scares this Halloween…Woooo!

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

Sometimes, I don’t know what to write. In fact, I’m sitting here now, and I haven’t a clue what to say. Well, okay, not exactly not a clue, but…Oh crap. See?

Not knowing what to write is something that scares me. Rather like used boxer shorts or two old people kissing, it’s something that gives me the heeby jeebies. It’s got me to thinking this week, therefore, about all things scary.

Today, of course, you lovely person you, is Halloween, that annual event where the expectation is that things scare you (as opposed to regular day scary stuff like, I don’t know, selfish politicians or iceberg lettuce) on a normalised scale. And so, I ask, what scares you? Indeed, let me take that one step further, if I may, and ask, what scares me?

In writing terms, I’d say everything scares the pants off me. I mean every-ruddy-thing. Not finishing a story. Not having any news ideas. Running out of ink. No juice left in my iPad when I need it TO EDIT!! You name it, there it is. And so, what I’ve decided to do this week, let’s say for fun, is compile a short, yet I like to think, comprehensive list of writing things that spook me right up. I may know what to do about them, I may not. You may have the same freak outs as me, you may not. But either way, it fills the page. Because, let’s face it, a blank page, writers, is the scariest thing of all…

My top ten scary writing things…

10. No pens – Yes, the laptop maybe the new pen, but no pens just scares me senseless. I need to feel the page, the glide of ink on paper. Call me old-fashioned. Or just call me old (my kids do…)

9. Being cold – Okay, I admit, an odd one this, but hear me out. I work at home. In the UK (one for the international folk. Hi!) In the winter it gets COLD. I mean shiver-to-your-bone-freezing. Trouble is, when you are sitting in one room in the house, it seems like a crime to put the heating on for just one person. So, I come armed with: a) a hot water bottle, b) furry slippers, and c) blankets. As I said, call me old…

8. Running out of coffee – Oh dear Lord, right. I ran out of coffee the other day and oh sweet Jesus, I couldn’t keep awake. It was 5 am and believe me, you don’t get much done when your eyes are clamping shut and your head is lolling on the key pad. My forehead, it turns out, can’t type that well. So coffee. Need it!

7. Running out of chocolate – as per above but in a different way. I don’t actually eat too much during the day as it sends me on a sleepy sugar low 20 mins later and all I want to do is crawl into bed and ignore everything. But, other times, chocolate is all you need. It can help me feel better! It has serotonins! It tastes so, so good! So if I’m out and I need it, well, god help me.

6. No internet access – What on earth did we do before the Internet? I mean, what? I cannot imagine researching my novel/column/where to go on holiday by library alone. The internet is so quick! So instant! And I don’t have to move. That gives me more time for chocolate.

5. Running out of ideas – Arrrggg! ARRRRRGGGG! Please! NEVER LET THIS HAPPEN OR I’M STUFFED! Enough said.

4. Writer’s block – Holy crap. Holy, holy crap. This scares us all, doesn’t it? Does it scare you? It scares the bejesus out of me. Usually, I can cut short a lull in writing by doing something else then coming back to the writing. Which leads me on to my next scare…

3. Not being able to run – It’s how I overcome a scribe’s blockage, if you will. Yup, got writer’s block? Go for a run. Or a walk. Or a cycle, whatever, just get out. Works for me so much that I cannot cope without it. And, it also means I can keep eating all that chocolate, so you know, every cloud…

2. My laptop breaking – Nope. Sorry. Just cannot contemplate this one. Uh-uh. No. NO!

1. Never getting a chance to write – It’s the number 1 and boy, what would I do without writing. I love writing. Love it. It’s my (cringe alert!) passion. It really, really is. It’s all I want to do for a job. It’s like a job that doesn’t feel like a job, and if you can achieve that, when you have to, as a grown up, work for a living, then you’re on to a winner, right? It might be hard at times, low paid for a looooong time – you may even start talking to yourself (hello, me!). Heck, people may say along the way that it’s a dream this writing lark, but I ain’t giving it up. Nope. No way. Because that really would scare me.

What scares you about writing? Or about, hey, anything else for that matter? Tell it to me.

 Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. This week I’m talking about the wrongness of the objection to the solar panels in Thornbury’s Castle Street…**

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My Citizen & Echo column: Why 2005 was my worst year ever…

Welcome to “Monday is the new Saturday” where I pop the link to my Weekend magazine column ‘The Last Word’ from the Gloucestershire Citizen and Echo… (PS the day-whole delay is due to a technical glitch.  Apologies…)

In my Weekend column on Saturday I get a bit deep and talk about how 2005 was my worst year ever – and why…

I’ve stuck the column on my Citizen column page here so you can have a read.

You can also catch me each week on the Citizen and Echo Weekend magazine website. There’s lots of other lovely weekend stuff on there, too. 

The Citizen & Echo Weekend magazine comes out every Saturday. 

What’s been your worst ever year and why? Let me know.

**Look out for Wednesday Wafflings on, um, Wednesday, where I post my weekly entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author**

Gazette column: Hey! Coalition! Stop privatisating the NHS

It’s “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my weekly Gazette newspaper column to my blog so you can have a read…

This week my column for the Gloucestershire Gazette is about the NHS and why any steps to privatise it should be halted. To read it, simply click to my Column page.

What do you think? Should the NHS remain in the public domain or is it a growing drain on resourses? Private or public ownership? Let me know.

**OUT THIS SATURDAY: My new column for  Gloucestershire Citizen and Echo newspaper. This Saturday it’s all about how 2005 really was my annus horribilis for reasons I’m only admiting to everyone now.  Catch the Weekend Magazine on their website link here**

**Look out for  Wednesday Wafflings next, um, Wednesday, where I post the latest entry in My Diary of a Hopeful Author**

Diary of a hopeful author: How to find more time to write…

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

 Time’s a devil, isn’t it? I mean, a right old devil. It’s rather like a teenager; one minute it loves you and gives you a kiss good night, the next it hates your guts and will do anything it can to sabotage your day.

Well folks, I’m here to tell you that rather like marmalade and ham, or a fleece with heels, say, writing and time do not always go together. Unless you’re my daughter, in which case, apparently marmalade and ham are as tasty as a chocolate covered marshmallow.

You see, as a writer, one of the things I find myself uttering is, ‘I haven’t got enough time.’ Sound familiar? Heck, if you’re a mum/dad/busy employee/avid House DVD box-set watcher, you’ll know exactly what I mean, too. Because we never have enough time, do we?

Our days are packed, stuffed, if you will, to the rafters. Like a cupboard that is rammed full of clothes we don’t want but haven’t yet sorted, our days are fit to burst with things to do. Work. Making dinner. Eating dinner. Having dinner flicked on you by child. Seeing friends. Phoning friends. Ebaying till the wee hours of the morning to win the all-wool blazer you’ve had your eye on (long story – it’s coming up to winter here…). Either way you split it, time ain’t on your side. And that’s before you even begin to do something as taxing as writing.

And this is the thing. Writing, if that’s your bag, is the job that gets shoved to the bottom of your to-do list. ‘I don’t have time!’ we wail, crawling into bed, our minds alert to the fact that in 6 hours we’ll be up and on that living treadmill again.

So what do we do? Well, apart from eating our body weight in chocolate and watching re-runs of Friends, we stop. Yup, you didn’t miss hear me. Stop. Go on, put those feet up. That’s it. Now  breathe. Because, halting what we do, you see, strangely, gives us – yes you’ve guessed it, you bright spark, you – time.

This time slot though, is different. It’s different because this time haven gives us time to think, and as writers our ability to think is one of our best assets. So, if we always fill our time and never stop, how will we ever, you know, think? You with me?

So, once you’ve let your brain loose on some free-range thinking, your next task is to be honest. No, I don’t mean fess up on the knock-a-door-run you used to play on your neighbours when you were 9 (it wasn’t me, honest), but be honest with yourself. Come on, get it out. How much time do you really waste? We’re talking honesty here, remember? I bet you my entire chocolate stash that, if you really thought about it, you could identify little pockets of time where you either : a) waste; b) take on too much; or c) procrastinate. Me, I can answer a safe ‘yes’ to all three. See? Me, being, you know, honest.  Virtual high fives.

Now, once you’ve been honest, take that thinking time you’ve stolen and get time slotting. When do you think you could snatch some writing time? Thought yet? I’ll help a little. You see me, I’m a morning gal. Sad, so sad, but true. So for years now, morning writing is my thing. When my kids were babies, I would rise at 5am to get a couple of hours writing under my belt before the day’s vomiting/feeding/bottom wiping/gurgling would commence, and that was just my husband (joke…).  Today, the girls are a tad older, but I still get up early where I can. My hubbie is not like me. He is a night owl, and while I fall asleep in front of the TV, mouth dribbling like a carp on a ship deck, his brain is just beginning to whirr into action. Me, I am useless to no one at that time.

So, that’s the next nugget – pick your time poison, so to speak. Are you a morning dude or a night rocker? And don’t forget those middle-of-the day snippets, too. 10 minutes of writing here, 20 minutes there. Grab a pen and write down whatever waffle comes into your head (or look! Write a waffle blog…!) And of course, folks – and here’s the silver lining – reading counts as time well spent when you’re a writer. I know! Yup, who knew that reading books was a job-ish. Dammit – it is! If you don’t read, you can’t write – and that is the joy (jammy sod element) of our craft

So go grab that time, people. Go! And when you get it, stick it between your teeth and don’t let it go until you’ve written something. And me? I’m releasing my jaw on this, my own sneaky little writing time slot…now.

Do you have enough time to write, or to do anything, for that matter? What are your time-snatching secrets? Share it with the people – come on! Let’s hear it.

Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. This week I’m talking about the NHS and how privatisation of it is wrong. So very, very wrong…**

My Citizen & Echo column: You ain’t gonna catch me with a Chanel Loop handbag this half-term…

Welcome to “Monday is the new Saturday” where I pop the link to my Weekend magazine column ‘The Last Word’ from the Gloucestershire Citizen and Echo…

In my Weekend column on Saturday was pitting Half-term week against Paris Fashion Week. never, ever shall the two weeks meet…

I’ve stuck the column on my Citizen column page here so you can have a read.

You can also catch me each week on the Citizen and Echo Weekend magazine website. There’s lots of other lovely weekend stuff on there, too. 

The Citizen & Echo Weekend magazine comes out every Saturday. 

What do you think? Is high-end fashion nothing like our day to day lives? Or should it be a bit of fun?

**Look out for Wednesday Wafflings on, um, Wednesday, where I post my weekly entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author**

Gazette column: Get ready – I’m talking about wind turbines again

It’s “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my weekly Gazette newspaper column to my blog so you can have a read…

This week my column for the Gloucestershire Gazette is about wind turbines again. Hold your breath.

To read it, simply click to my Column page.

What do you think? Are you for or against wind turbines? Let me know.

**OUT THIS SATURDAY: My new column for  Gloucestershire Citizen and Echo newspaper. This Saturday it’s all about how Half Term week laughs in the face of Paris Fashion week.  Catch the Weekend Magazine on their website link here**

**Look out for  Wednesday Wafflings next, um, Wednesday, where I post the latest entry in My Diary of a Hopeful Author**

Diary of a hopeful author: Hey! How an iPad can help you edit…

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

 These iPads are the thing aren’t they? I mean, really, they’re snazzy. Have you got one? Tap it. Go on. Hmm? You‘ve not got one? Okay, so reach over and tap someone else’s. What’s that? It’s the bloke’s next to you sat on the train? What the hell. Give that screen a little slide.

You see, as I write this, I have an iPad by my side all flat and sleek like washboard stomach at a gym. But, thing is, I haven’t used it much for writing. Well, I say much, not at all really. And the Love Film app, it turns out, doesn’t count. You see, if you follow this Wednesday Waffling/Diary blog (and MASSIVE thanks if you do) you’ll know from previous entries that I am in the throes of editing my second novel. It’s not been going so well.  Thankfully, I’ve figured out that editing a book is like painting a picture – it’s got to be done in layers, like the colours on canvas. I’ve also figured out that it takes time and patience. I know, doesn’t take Einstein to figure that one out. 

The tricky thing I’ve been finding this week though is that when I’m editing my novel, I’m not reading it, you know? I mean really reading it, like a reader. But woman! You may be saying. You are reading the thing, goddammit, you’re editing it! And yes, my friend, you’d be right. But, trouble is, I’ve not been reading my novel like I would if it wasn’t mine – and this is the nut at the centre of my issue. 

iPads- snazzy & handy for editing. Who knew?

You see, when you’re at stage one of editing a novel you have to look at the bigger picture issues. Does the plot make sense? How is the characterisation working? Is the POV – the point of view – right? All bullet-landing questions and ones, I’ve discovered via mild swear words muttered at my laptop in the small hours of the morning,  that I cannot fully answer when I’m pouring over every detail on the laptop screen, my eyes literally seeing double as I stumble jelly legged to the kettle in desperate need of more caffeine.  

So, imagine my surprise when I discover that the answer to all my problems lies not in a new foundation from Bobbi Brown (although, given my current caffeine complexion, that may also help), but in the iPad. My iPad. And, specifically, the Kindle app on my iPad. 

What I didn’t know that I do now is that you can send PDF files to a Kindle/Kindle app and then read it on said technology. Whoa! This is the gold nugget, people. Because, you see, reading on a Kindle is, you know, just like reading a book. Are you with me? And so, if I sent my draft novel as a PDF to the Kindle app on my iPad… yes! Do you see where I’m going here? Of course you do, you sharp tack in the box, you! By reading my novel on my iPad/Kindle, I can view it JUST LIKE A READER WOULD. Ta-da! Seriously, I cannot believe I didn’t think of this before. It’s like discovering that I actually do like dark chocolate all over again. 

So, what I am doing now is going through the 1st edit stage of my novel using my iPad/Kindle. I read my draft as I would any other book on the Kindle app and then, on the table, I have open my laptop on which is the novel as a word document. Then, when I read something that needs editing, I tap on the laptop and hey presto! Progress! You knew? It’s the ‘reading it like any other book’ bit that’s the key here. By reading my novel in this way I am more objective. I can see what readers might see, not just what I see, which is, let’s face it, coming from a highly critical stance. Yup, writers are their own worst critics, and, as it turns out, their own worst eyebrow pluckers, but that’s another story (why do tweezers hurt so much?).

So, for the rest of this week I shall be iPadding. I will be using my iPad Kindle app thingy to edit my book at this all-important big picture stage. Hopefully, it will help me steer the novel in the right direction. And if not, at the very least, it will mean that I am using my iPad. It has apps! It has games!  It has instant celebrity gossip magazine access! Oh yes, iPads really, really are the thing.

So what d’you think? Is the iPad really the thing? What’s your thing for editing or, hey, reading, you know, books? Let’s hear it.

Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. This week I’m going back to wind turbines and looking at the cold, hard data, people…**

My Weekend column: How I can never EVER be Nigella…

Welcome to “Monday is the new Saturday” where I pop the link to my Weekend magazine column ‘The Last Word’ from the Gloucestershire Citizen and Echo…

In my Weekend column on Saturday was about the lovely Nigella Lawson – how I can never be her, oh, and how they should maybe show her kitchen how it really is – utter chaos.

I’ve stuck the column on my Citizen column page here so you can have a read.

You can also catch me each week on the Citizen and Echo Weekend magazine website. There’s lots of other lovely weekend stuff on there, too. 

The Citizen & Echo Weekend magazine comes out every Saturday. 

What do you think? Should we all be like Nigella and glam it up in the kitchen? Or should TV show it how it really is in there?

**Look out for Wednesday Wafflings on, um, Wednesday, where I post my weekly entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author**