Feeling the need to Write?

NO PRESSURE TO WRITE

It’s okay to not write.

Since the lockdown started, I have seen an increase in requests for 1-1 coaching, along with a rise in mailing list for courses. Great news for my business, but when I enquire as to why now, the answer has often been the same.

“I have the time now, so no excuses, right?”

Yes and no.

If it has always been your dream to write, perhaps you have already started and a work in progress. Then life got in the way. It does that, right?

You work all day, come home and are shattered, then you have family to catch up with, kids homework to help with and last minute art projects that require more than what you have in your recycle bin, the dogs need a walk, then the other half demands attention  (I mean that in a good way if he himself is reading this!)

And then when you finally do sit down your pc or laptop decides to update or you spill a teardrop of water over your keyboard (guilty) forcing complete shutdown for months.

Yes, now CAN be your time. But please do not feel pressurised!

There should be no guilt when you write, there is literally enough of that going round with everything else. Writing should be a pleasure.

If you are committed to finishing a novel or a script, then you will feel the pressure of a deadline, and words do not always come easy. Sometimes, I know this works for me,

But this blog is mainly for those who feel the need to write without the pressure, even relieving it.

Tips for writing for your well-being.

  • Keep a Journal. It doesn’t have to be daily, but spend 15 minutes writing about how you feel. Right now. Who cares if you write you feel like crap! Your are writing this journal for YOUR benefit. Use your senses. What do you hear, see, feel, taste or smell?  This exercise helps you to be aware of your own feelings.
  • Make a list. Look at what is around you. No, REALLY look. Can you remember why you have these items? What made you purchase them or were they a gift? How did you feel when you brought them home? Go round your room and list 5 objects and write about them. This helps you to focus on the reason you do things.
  • When did you last laugh? Was it recently? Think about where you were, who your were with, and what made you laugh? Was it a proper belly rumbling one or childish giggle? Write the story of that laugh down. This helps you to remember the good times.
  • The other side of the story. Think of a recent conversation you have had. Imagine you are the other person. Is the story the same as yours? What tone did you speak in? How did they feel after the conversation ended? This gives you an insight into what others are seeing and hearing.
  • Free write. This is when you write whatever comes into your head.  Has a calming effect and can inspire future writing projects, gives and insight into what you are thinking about.

These are just a few tips on what you could be writing now.

But it’s okay to watch tv, go for a walk, read a book, play Fortnite with the kids, sit in the garden and watch the world go by. It’s a pretty unusual time right now, just take each day as it comes and keep safe.

White & Black Modern Coffee Quote Photo Collage

If you want more ideas on what to do next check out here.

 

M x

 

Ready to Rise Again.

I’m a huge music fan. Normally it has to be LOUD, lots of guitar and drums. Occasionally, I need to take the time out and relax. I say occasionally, as I find this something very difficult to do.

He himself, exists like he is permanently hypnotised, in that way you say ‘sleep’ and he is, and ‘rest’ and he does. I find relaxing more stressful than working, it’s just how my brain works.

One of my go to music artists for relaxing is Gabrielle, I can close my eyes and delve deep into the simple lyrics.

When I listen to Rise it’s not a broken a relationship that has me thinking, but the end of a writing project. I won’t add the lyrics here, go and have a listen to the song yourself.

But time is great, so after every project I have forced myself to take time, for ME.

It’s taken me years, like all good therapy, to be able to say those words without feeling even a tinge of guilt. No, that’s a lie. There is still the odd moment I do.

Yet here I am as a writing coach telling you to take care of yourself. Let go.

To follow your dream you need to be of healthy mind and spirit. Mainly, because you will still be working 8-5 and writing in your ‘spare’ time.

Before the lockdown, I had my regular photoshoot booked with the wonderfully relaxing Maryanne Scott. Unsure what props to take, I decided in a mini hissy-fit that it shouldn’t be about always looking my best!

I am a writer for godsakes, not some catwalk model 😂😂 my working clothes are paint stained yoga pants, and my office is my front room. So, I decided to go au naturel, sans makeup and colour branded clothes.

Many years ago I trained as herbalist, nothing too ‘woohoo’ but I had health issues that conventional medicine was failing to help, I needed answers. Along that journey, I discovered Rosemary. I have since then kept a plant on my desk. A gentle squeeze and the aroma wakes me up, refreshes me. I learnt that is also helps with memory, in other words, the perfect writing companion!

Rosemary got me through writing my first novel.
Herbalicious!

My downtime is my garden, pre-virus it had sat in the backseat being engulfed in nettles (check out my other blog- Mandi’s potager garden) it was an understated apocalyptic example. The idea, this was my relaxation area, my go to studio. Without this I can’t relax. Well I now have no excuse.

The last few weeks have seen me keep busy, not relax, but this is MY WAY, and for the sake of yourself, you need to discover yours. WHATEVER IT IS.

Don’t let anyone tell you how to relax, we all do it differently. I actually find being busy my relaxation.

So the point of this post, is do not let ANYONE, make you feel guilty for who YOU are or how YOU look after YOURSELF, but to please make sure you do, guilt-free

Only you know what makes you feel good. Keep safe mentally and physically.

Mandi x

 

The First Novel.

I can honestly say, I had hoped I would get it done sooner.

despair and hoplessness fro writers is real.
Despair and hopelessness for writers is real.

But I didn’t. It wasn’t a total fail, after all I HAVE a finished novel, it’s just life got in the way, and you feel guilty. At least, I did.

I have nothing but great admiration for best-selling authors who can knock out top-selling amazing novels each month, pose for a pic looking awesome, while I struggle to achieve anything resembling human until at least midday. Okay, I have a long-term health issue to contend with, and I am completing a PhD, but I only have two kids at home now, so I should have more free-time for writing, most importantly, I have an incredibly supportive husband.

Finally, I have finished my novel, all in all, it has taken me the best the part of a year. The release date has been put back, but at last it’s ready to rock!

I found that having the right support has been vital to my process. Without that I would still be thrashing away at my very old and battered Mac, doubting my writing, in fact doubting my very existence. That is the effect being a writer has on you.

DOUBT.

Such a small word that will eat you from deep inside, and gnaw away at your self- worth and your time. When you write, it’s rare that you know others at the start who have been in your position, and who have shared experiences. Yet they exist. Take a look at all the writers memes available, or maybe don’t, save it for when you have time to procrastinate.

SUPPORT.

Who is your support network? Do you have one? You family, might be there for you for so long, but when you shove endless reams of paper at them, demanding their thoughts and approval, they might get bored. Having a group of people who know exactly what you need, how and when is so important. Take time to find the right support for you. These are not the people who agree with everything you say, but will challenge you to WHY you said it.

FINDING THE RIGHT PATH

After years of prior research, taking writing courses and reading as many ‘How to’ books on creative writing as I did novel’s I gathered it all up and formatted a plan of action.

Over the the last two years I have been teaching aspects of this course in ten week chunks. Now, as an author not just a writing coach, I feel confident that what I have been developing and refining is ready to roll as a one year experience. It’s more than just a course.

For the next twelve months, I will take a small group of individuals along on a journey of self discovery as they write their first novel. Support is paramount to achieving, along with motivation. I will be there with you each step of the way. I will guide you over hurdles, I have fallen at help; you are concerned of putting things off, don#t worry! I am the Queen of that and help you to avoid it by changing your mindset.

The EUPHORIA of finishing that first draft is what I want all of you to feel.

I am still smiling at the thought that I, little old me, completed a novel. WOW! Not only that but have started the next ones, and now have a list of more planned projects.

Even if you stop at one, you have completed something, A LOT of people give up on. It’s something to be proud of. I know I am.

Through His Eyes Amanda J. Allen out 2020

To join the ‘Novel in a Year’ course click here.

New Year New Challenge!

We all make resolutions , promises to ourselves to make changes for the better, whether its eat healthier, exercise more or change job. How about “start that novel I’ve been meaning to”. Sound familiar?

WHY WAIT UNTIL JANUARY?

Why not make that commitment now?

Yes, it’s a busy time of year, but if that is your excuse, then your story will NEVER get written. Life will always take priority.

By working with a mentor and coach on a one to one basis and in small groups you can set those goals and have someone hold you accountable. With the new NOVEL IN A YEAR one year course, you will be taken from the conception of an idea to a finished draft, as well as learn the tools needed to be an author

As a mentor and coach (yes there is a difference; a coach is a professional who can guide your through the process and a mentor is there to support your personal development), my job is to guide you through the process step by step. Starting with your idea.

Let’s see how much thought you have put into it. Do you know the ending? Like with any journey it’s always good to know where you want to end up. Having an assessment of your abilities will help to set your goals and see what I can do to help you personally.

It’s not just your characters who need to develop!

What’s the difference between going to university and learning with a writing coach?

Well to be honest, quite a lot of money and a certificate! I’m not talking anyone out of going to university to study creative writing, its a great degree that can be useful in numerous careers. But you need to look at why you want to go. Do you need the qualification or do you just want to learn HOW to write that first novel?

Check out your coach first and have a chat with them to make sure they are the right person for you. You will be spending some serious time with your mentor!

Want to know more about me, just ask.

I have a Masters in Writing for Script and Screen, and have been teaching English for nearly twenty years and creative writing for adults for two years. I’m currently completing my PhD in Screenwriting, working in adaptations and transmedia storytelling.

Express what you want to achieve clearly.

Your coach will ask you questions to understand clearly what you want to achieve and the best way to motivate you. They will work with you and set smaller goals, making your overall goal less daunting. The idea is to help you NOT scare you off!

Don’t be afraid to ASK QUESTIONS!

Ask away! Don’t be embarrassed, you can guarantee it has been asked before!

Most importantly, enjoy yourself, for now this might be a hobby, there are no guarantees you will become the next James Patterson or J.K. Rowling, just make sure you have fun on the way, meet new friends and develop new skills.

Click HERE to join the NOVEL IN YEAR COURSE.

5 Reasons Writers Should Read.

Keep reading as you write.

As a tutor, I always remind my students of the importance of reading. Whether you are writing novels, blogs, scripts for film, tv radio, game or theatre as well as non-fiction even for work, you should be reading what everyone else is doing. So I’ve put together some writing tips, 5 reasons why reasons is important as a writer.

Reason One.

Book stores know what sell.

It’s give you an idea what is out there. The chances are if you by your book from a store, it is more likely to be from a publishing house. Meaning a team of experts have deemed that this book fitted in with current trends of what the reading public want. If you intend to sell you book, then this is a huge help. Not just in knowing what is fashionable, but where you book could fit in and with which publisher.

Reason Two

Reading helps you to develop you own style. Like when as a child you watched a parent or adult cook, you learn how to do the basics. As an adult in your own kitchen you add your own twist to the recipe. That’s exactly what reading as a writer does.

When you start out writing, you just write what comes into your head. No thought is out into what ingredients you need and the quantity, , you simply throw is all in!

The more you read you will pick up on nuances of dialogue, delve deeper into characters, notice the plot turns and twists and where they start to develop. It improves you grammar and language skills. Never a bad thing!

Each writer has their own Writer’s DNA, it comes from who you are and how you got there, making it pretty unique stuff!

That same DNA, effects our interpretation of books. This is what makes up your writing style, so keeping reading!

Reason Three

This one is my favourite, RESEARCH.

The Long Room,Trinity College Library

For any writer, you SHOULD be researching. It doesn’t matter what you are writing there should be an element of looking stuff up.

Let’s start with location. You decide to set your story in a place you have never been. So how do you it’s suitable for your story? How will the characters react to their environment? How will it help your story progress? Science dictions writers haven’t been to the moon, but they can read about temperatures and conditions, they can read science and technology journals to understand what we can currently achieve and what we hope to achieve, with a writers imagination you can take this further!

I love to read up on psychology, I find it a great way of developing intriguing characters with realistic flaws, such as the habits of a stalker.

Don’t let NOT researching limit what you write!

Reason Four

Expand your horizons.

Reading is one of the best tools for doing this. Whether you want to learn a new skill such as writing for film or learn about Restoration Theatre (my current expansion project), there is always an expert on the subject who has already written the book. Not sure where to start? Your local library can help or try a social media group will probably have lots of recommendations or you.

And finally,

Reason Five.

Question Time.

Reading a novel as a writer should make you want to ask questions.

Did you enjoy the story and why?

Where all the characters believable? Did you empathise with them and their situation?

Where all the loose ends tied up when the story ended?

How did the story make you feel? Were you eager to turn the next page?

Would you recommend this book to someone else and why?

I’m sure you can think of lots more questions, your readers will.

So start thinking like a reader when you write and keep asking questions of your own work.

For more tips on writing visit https://thecoffeehousewriter.com/blogs/

For information on 1-1 mentoring https://thecoffeehousewriter.com/coaching/

For interest in writing courses in Beverley or starting one in your local area please get in touch at feedback@thecoffeehousewriter.com

The Writer’s Garden.

Have you ever wondered why you seem to be so busy yet you have nothing to show for all your hyperactivity?

Even a child will stop to smell the flowers.

As a writer, it’s easy to get way-laid with inspiration, this is what I believe is the REAL writers block. Not a lack of ideas but too many you loose focus. Each one bringing its own excitement and reason for going down that path.

By taking a minute to evaluate and ‘smell the roses’ see what you have accomplished so far, then stand back and look at the whole garden. You didn’t plant everything in a day, you focused on one area then moved on the next.

The same needs to happen with your writing projects.

Focus on one at a time. Set your goals to complete the project, then treat yourself.

You deserve it!

Then start on the next area, you can still go back and tend (edit and revise) your garden later.

Like all successful gardens it’s about the preparation work, and making sure you take the time to enjoy you achievements once finished.

This way you have a year round garden to enjoy, with completed projects blooming!

Finally, don’t forget gardeners look after themselves too, so take a leaf (sorry!) from their book, enjoy the process of writing, then sit back and relax.

Ps. If you want to remain focused trying sniffing fresh rosemary or rosemary oil, it works wonders!

For more information about 1-1 mentoring and goal setting email : feedback@thecoffeehousewriter.com

Fridge Characters.

(Alamy stock photo)

Finding inspiration to write can come from anywhere. Today I set my writing group the challenge to find it lurking in their fridge along with the half tin of baked beans and the over-soft grapefruit (that might just be my fridge). But something as simple as this can reveal a lot about a character. Do they live alone? Do they have simple tastes or adventurous and like to try something new (that reduced block of Italian sheep’s cheese you wouldn’t have bought at full price)? Are they organised, the shelves neat and tidy with the raw meat on the lower shelf and the dairy at the top or is it all just thrown in! What about junk food or ready meals? What would this tell you, is your character, lazy, always rushing or can they simply not cook?

What about the outside? Can you see the door or is it covered in kids artwork or magnet reminders of past events and to-do lists?

At first glance it’s just another kitchen appliance.

Yet with your writers cap on it’s a world of character building and engagement.

Have a go and let me know who you find lurking in your salad drawer!

M x

Why join a writing group?

The idea of sitting home alone, with just a cat for company is the image most people have of life as a writer.

Indeed this is my life! Juggling family life, teaching and time to write can be hard, but why do we feel the need to add to that by doing it on our own?

When I first started attending writing groups, it was hard to share my work, soon the feedback I was receiving from others encouraged me to dip a toe into sharing my private thoughts.

I got a mixture of love and suggestions to improve, some I took on board, others I felt were not right. After considering why a suggestion was made I understood better my weaknesses.

Motivated and encouraged I became a more confident writer and also I started to give feedback, improving my own writing as I understoof the processes better.

As a new writer, feedback from others is probably the best tool in our writers toolkit.

Belonging to a writing group is about taking strength from that group and giving it back.

Motivation, discussions on early drafts, putting heads together to solve character and plot difficulties, a shoulder to support the many rejections received and someone to celebrate the wins with.

Whatever you write, support of a good writing circle is priceless.

The Coffeehouse Writing Group starts on Wednesday 19th June 2019, 7pm at The Potting Shed, Beverley East Yorkshire. £5 on the door or £25 for a years membership. Includes an hours lesson, writing and an hour socialising with occasional Guest speakers.

For further details email: feedback@thecoffeehousewriter.com

 

Motivating new writers.

 




Helping Each Other.

This week is the last of the latest set of ten writing lessons in the beginner’s course I run. I deliberately have no more than six on each course. It’s enough to be intimate and works well when writers share their work with each other.

As a writer, I love hearing everyone idea’s on what they would do if they could write. When I ask why they don’t write themselves, they have a barrage of excuses. Intrigued I often push further asking if they have ever given writing a go. Most say no.

Excuses range from their reading is not good enough, or they didn’t do well at school. Some believe that no-one would want to read their story but most lack the confidence to show their work to others, even loved ones.

I started writing as a child, and apart from my high school English teacher, keeping it pretty much a secret until three years ago. I have not included the work I did as a copywriter or the odd articles I wrote, to me that was ‘professional writing’ I had a topic, I had a deadline, a word count and audience etc all chosen for me. All I had to do was string a few words together.

I taught in high schools yet I wanted to know the difference from writing academically to writing fiction.  So I joined a community writing class.

At first, the idea of reading my fiction aloud in a room of strangers was terrifying. This was personal, so far removed from my previous writing, that it never existed. This was me laying bare not only myself but my ideas, my private thoughts and processes. It was hard.

We started the with snippets and the odd sentence here and there before we finally built up to full short stories. Pages of my words being shared and reviews by others.

My confidence soon soared.  I wrote a novel and a collection of short stories, enough to enrol on a Masters program in writing for tv and film!

I’ve nearly finished but over the time I have written a feature film that has gained production interest. My short film is currently in production and I had a short play out.

I am currently working on my dissertation, a biopic about an inspiring woman, who believed a writing career was possible despite at of life’s struggles.

So what do I take from this, what do I give my students?  The inspiration that anything is possible if you work hard enough. Hope, that they will be a writer.  If I can then it’s never too late for anyone, and finally motivation. For when those days that hit that you want to give up, that you feel it isn’t going right or you just can’t seem to find the words. Carry on it will come eventually.  Have Faith in Yourself.

M x