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

 

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

Fly me to the moon or Mordor.

Not Mordor, St Michael’s Mount Marazion. Cornwall.

Location. It’s not just a place, it’s a character.

As a child did you have that special place where you hid out in a thunder storm? Or a place you returned to at every opportunity for adventure?

I did. Back in my hometown there is a man-made lake, with a wooden bridge that takes you over from one to the other.

Southport Marine Lake and the Victorian Venetian bridge.

It wasn’t the bridge but what I called the islands. Back in the late 70’s/ early 80’s these where overgrown with bushes and shrubs, that had natural hollow dens inside them. Perfect for the young girl seeking an adventure with her trusty bearded collie.

I convinced myself there were mine, collecting the rare piece of litter that had the audacity to spoil the landscape, hiding from adults and families in the summer, like some lost runaway, with a book under my arm.

I don’t have my own private island (maybe one day!) but the importance of that location is till with me.

We were partners in crime. It held my secrets. It was a huge part of my life every opportunity I had.

When writing location in your stories you need to add the relevance to the main characters., what is it and why are we here.

Make your place feel real, dynamic thinks of the great fiction canon’s, from Wuthering Heights and the moody moors reflecting that of Heathcliffe. The moors set the tone throughout.

The landscape of Modor and the Shire are at odds with each other as they should be because each one involves a different part of the hero’s journey.

Your characters need to react to their location, inhale their surroundings, watch how it challenges them and sense when it’s safe and able to protect them. Location is personal.

Like with every part of your story, flip it! Make it unique!

Not only will your setting change over distance but the same one will change over time.

Has the place you grew up in remained the same? I know mine hasn’t, parts that were important to me have disappeared become shops and fast-food restaurants.

Southport sea bathing lake then.
Southport now.

Research an area, notice the changes and think how has this affected your character? What stories do they have to tell. Has it changed their opinions, their outlook?

Most importantly see the landscape through their eyes.

It doesn’t matter if your place is real or totally made-up. The attention to detail needs to be there. Take a page from Tolkien, and draw out a map for your setting. Add important features or prominent places.

For the August challenge Day Two, think of a place that holds a special meaning to you. Write it down in great detail. Now do the same with your story location, through the eyes of your character.

Whether it’s the moon or Mordor make it memorable.

For more tips on writing go to The Coffeehouse Writer.

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

How’s the ‘big plan’ going?i

Woooh we’re halfway there!

Can you believe it’s June already? It seems like it was only last week I was putting the Christmas decorations away and desperately searching for the perfect year planner.

Now it’s halfway through the year.

So how are those targets coming along?

I’m happy to hold my hand up and admit life got in the way. My health took a priority for the first few months, and now I seem to be getting back to my ‘old’ self, I realise that my best laid plans for the year are far behind.

Time to evaluate. I still have my goals that are achievable I just need to re-jig the timeframe a bit, set smaller goals. Chunks are more manageable then big bites after all. Cutting back on extra projects and time doing what I enjoy is always tough. There will never be enough time in five lifetimes for me to achieve and do everything I want to.

Do I feel guilty? Hell yes! But I’m getting better at that too.

My writing is coming along nicely, I’m reaching new daily goals, the podcast will be out next week and I love my writing classes and all the WiP’s and weekly writing prompts.

Plan what you can when you can, be happy, keep it balanced and DON’T feel guilty!

M x

Words can Kill – The use of Dialogue

For this review, time was of an essence, so I watched a short ( and for those who are not aware sign up to http://www.shortoftheweek.com for some amazing short films.

https://www.shortoftheweek.com/2018/04/18/writers-workshop/

Writer’s Workshop (2018) is an 11 minute dark comedy written and directed by Ryan Frances Johnson about Jeremy an aspiring writer attending a writers class.  Having attending many of these, I can relate. Though I have been writing into the decades now, it was only recently at a writer’s workshop was my first piece made ‘public’. Awaiting the response is nail biting it’s your baby, a part of you, that you are putting put there. And it doesn’t matter who comments if they are negative it hurts, and yes despite all the advice you will take it personally and believe you have failed at life! Fact!

At the end of the day write how you want to if it’s for your benefit, writing can be therapeutic, and if you are aiming for loft ‘Rowling’ heights, be aware of what you are writing, take a class of two learn structure, character development, story arc, etc learn to give and take criticism.

FAIL. FAIL AGAIN. FAIL MORE.

Don’t get comfy be knocked back, but use it to learn from and develop, re-read your work whether it’s an aspiring novel or script and ask if the feedback was deserved.

Be critical of your own work,  make a template tick box for what your writing project should contain and tick it off when each part has been achieved.

The best advice given to me, was read it aloud, just to yourself, and if you can record it. Listen. Does it flow?

Have faith, you will get there.

So getting on to my 200 word max review of dialogue (the morning coffee has kicked in); * Spoiler Alert*

Writer’s workshop (2018) is heavily dialogued. Jeremy himself doesn’t have too much to say after reading his words, but just to sit back, grin and bear it.

The realism throughout the dialogue is obviously helped with the actor’s playing it straight.   The opening after Jeremy’s reading is an actual question that will need actual responses from, that are more than one liners. The extended dialogue has been set up with this.

Add drama and dark humour with in each line, and the characters personality is already being developed, Although we get told not to repeat information, it is repeated here and often. It builds a dramatic momentum until Clark is smothered at his own request.

Clarity and context is evident, we know that each critic means it metaphorically (or do they?), and as writer’s we relate, each character has expressed, as requested their viewpoint, the initial question has been answered.

Jeremey nodding and smiling understands when they welcome Clark and his poetry, that it wasn’t personal and that they will all repeat their constructive criticism again.

Sometimes dialogue is just that words, but here they have been used perfectly in keeping with what I remember from writer’s workshops.

 

 

Keep writing! M.

 

Redefining that Sinking Feeling

Image result for get out

 

Get Out.   Dir. Jordan Peel (2017)

Multiple award-winning film, Get Out is marketed as a horror. Immediately I felt like I knew this film. It had the ring of a 70’s B movie, you knew what was coming, the tone was set.

A black man walking a quiet suburban street in the dark of night, distracted on his phone, looking lost. A classic white sports car kerb creeps alongside him, forcing the man to change directions, the car radio is blasting out ‘run rabbit run’. A signal the game is on.

From there it changed and got confusing, it was light-hearted, romantic, a banter existed with his buddy. This section of the film felt like you should be hearing canned laughter and a sign reading ‘filmed in front of a live audience’. Then you twig, this is a satirical take on the expected horror genre, from then on everything that happens falls firmly into this routine of satire.

From the start I had high expectations of this film, that was collecting awards like Rose Armitage had been collecting black boyfriends. Until you realise the true tone throughout, then you will be the one having that sinking feeling of wasting your time. When the light-bulb moment arrives sit back, ‘Get Out’ of your expectations and enjoy!

Draft 4.0

Covet final draft

Well here it is and for anyone who read the last one, you will notice quite a few changes to layout, but also I hope conveys the character arc better.

I have also after some advice tried to offer instead of a standard straight forward look but inserted some of the scenes In form of interviews.

One of the major issues I had with my previous drafts was the length, and I am hoping that the method I have chosen here, still gets the same story across clearer, and shorter.

I have really enjoyed this once I thought outside the box I am used to, I used techniques I have learn on the course so far to question myself each step of the way and my office wall is covered in small index cards and post-its. This actually helped the visualising process.

I can sit back and feel like I have earned my glass of red tonight, now just for the critical essay.

 

Leaving-

So we had to write an opening about two people leaving each other. Immediately I thought like most people would, of a relationship ending. But then I thought, what if the leaving was only temporary, who would hurt the most? I came up with this…

INT. KITCHEN- TABLE -MORNING

A young girl, MACY, 6,  sits at the dining table, her head in her hands, elbows resting on the table, while her legs swing faster and faster as her dad talks to her. The radio is on in the background.

PETE

I have to go to work

MACY

but I don’t want you to!

Her father PETE, bends down at the table, sitting on his heels, he moves her cereal bowl away, and copies her actions, head in his hand, elbows on the table.

PETE

darling, I really don’t want to travel either

 

Macy doesn’t move, she refuses to look at him

Pete sticks out his tongue at her. She moves her head to face the other way, but peeks through her fingers at him.

Pete pulls a funny face, Macy lets a small giggle escape, then pulls herself tighter. Pete is not giving up, he checks his watch then catch’s a tune on the radio.

He starts to dance around the kitchen table, arms wafting in the air, he scoops the mop up in his arms continuing to dance with his new mop partner. He dips and waltzes on, he keeps watching his daughter for a reaction.

Still not ‘watching’ she moves around the table, peering through her fingers. Her legs swing slower.

Pete starts to jive, then dancing like Beyonce her reaches for Macy’s hand.

She pulls it away, but drops her hands now to watch him. A smile sneaking up on her face. Her legs have stopped swinging.

Pete puts the mop down, spins like Michael Jackson, and goes in for her chair. Struggling he picks up Macy still in the chair, and lifts in on to the table.

She is now giggling at him.

PETE

ouch!

he rubs his back, this makes her laugh out.

Pete stands up straight, he holds his hand out for her again

PETE

My princess Macy, would you care to dance?

 

Macy giggles, her eyes already dancing, accepts his hand.

 

MACY

Yes, silly daddy

 

She jumps off the table into his arms as he whirls her around the kitchen table. He pretends to trip over the mop, and apologises to ‘her’. Father and daughter continue their waltz.

After the song has finished Pete puts Macy down standing, and kneels in front of her.

PETE

I know you don’t like it princess, but it’s only two nights this time

 

Macy nods.

MACY

I know daddy, it’s just I miss you when you’re gone

 

PETE

how about next time, you come with me, and we can dance on the beach?

 

Macy nods again, tears and snot falling, she wipes them all away with her sleeve.

Pete gives her a hug, she wipes more snot and tears on his shoulder

 PETE

c’mon, then let’s get you ready for school then

Holding hands they leave together.