Monday, 1 August 2011


Evening people!

Ah bet this has surprised you, two posts within just days of each other? As I pointed out at the end of my last post there were a couple of other things I wanted to talk about, so thought it best to get on with putting them on the page while my writing mind is still willing to work!

The notebook is getting used, it's just not filling up as quickly as I thought. There's a few idea's for blog posts appearing, shards of a couple of stories, and fragments for a piece I want to, almost need to write but is currently still too raw, painful and distressing to focus on. Hopefully by keeping the pieces safe in my notebook, when the time is right, this piece can be written.

At the moment I really want to start pushing myself with my writing. As stated in my last post, very little writing got done over the last two months while I was working and not only do I want to make up for that downtime, I also want to make writing a more integral part of my life so it's more difficult to set it aside for such long periods.

The self-bribery idea never really worked. Well, it worked for a couple of weeks and then ... I don't know, like all my attempts to improve my writing habits it fell by the way side.
And I now have a kindle. It was my reward for making some money instead! But that means I have an unlimited supply of reading material to carry around with me without fear of my precious books getting beaten up in my bag. I have over 100 pirate stories on there that I'm dying to start reading, but I want to finish reading the final instalment of Robin Hobbs' The Liveship Trilogy first. I started reading this trilogy over 18 months ago, and got up to the last chapter of the book, but then jetted off to New Zealand and lent the books to my house-mate to keep her entertained in my absence. Upon agreement she kept those copies, and I never read the last chapter, and I'm so nearly there. Do you ever find you're desperate to finish a book to know what happens, but at the same time don't want to reach the end? As if by closing that book on the final page that magical world will disappear?

Anyway, I know that part of the reason I find it so difficult to focus on my writing, like so many writers, is the internet distraction. Certain sites, mostly social networking and email related constantly need to be checked just in case. I know it's neurotic. But I've found my god-send for this.
SelfControl is a brilliant (and free!) application that blocks websites you put on your blacklist for a period of time that you set. Once you've set the timer, there is no way to remove the block until the time runs out. You can restart the computer, even the delete the application, you've still got to wait. Steve Lambert only created this application for Mac and has no interest in creating a PC or Linux edition, but as it is free source, I'm sure these editions exist on the internet somewhere. I'm seriously considering downloading a similar application called Freedom, which is very similar but blocks all internet access for your set time.
Of course using these apps only works for me if I turn my phone off and hide it over the other side of the room, but typically once the FB updates stop pinging at me, I don't feel so driven to check the sites, and knowing I can't access them anyway stops me needing to check peoples profiles just because... you know... something might have happened since I checked it five minutes ago? There's currently a little red counter sitting in the bottom of my screen, unobtrusively letting me know that there's still a little while to go before I'm allowed back online. Sometimes I don't even notice the time has run out because I've finally managed to focus for a while.

So to make myself write, I'm trying to find places to submit my work. My aunt has always encouraged me to try writing competitions, but I know that at the moment with my aversion to deadlines it's not a particularly practical idea. With any luck the deadline aversion will become less and less of a problem and then maybe I'll start looking at the competitions.

One place I've found that I'm very interested in submitting to is Open Pen. This is "London’s first ‘open Literature’ bi-monthly magazine", publishing two stories each issue, a winner and runner-up of the open submissions the team has received in advance of the publication deadline. I'm also considering submitting my mum's story to these guys. Having read the two issues that currently exist, I think it would fit in quite happily.

Anyone else know of any similar types of publications that take open submissions?

In my attempts to avoid writing, I found a very interesting website, Fear Of Writing. This is run by a wonderful lady called Milli Thornton, who seems to love nothing more than helping writers find their love of writing again. One of my favourite parts of the blog attached to her website is the regular 10K days. Two of these days are scheduled every month, and the aim is for each participant to write 10,000 words in one day, or simply as many as they can manage. Though I haven't taken part in one yet, from reading the blog there is a great community feel to these days with participants posting updates on how their days are going and supporting each other through what can be a very gruelling day. I can't wait for the August dates to come around, and I'm hoping to use these days to help me progress my novel, which still doesn't even have a complete outline, at least not on the page. I'm even tempted to do one as a sponsored event once I start producing decent word counts.

Milli runs a couple of other blogs, including Millivers Travels. On Friday, a notice popped up in my Twitter feed about a travel writing crash course. I assumed that would be literally all it was, just another writing course, but no. Milli is offering to tutor people through writing a travel article to be published on her blog. As soon as I read the post I started thinking Tatapouri, Franz Josef, Rotorua ... then started thinking "Don't be daft! You can't write anything good enough for someone else to post on their site!" But I couldn't stop thinking about it. The post was open somewhere on my desktop all day and I kept coming back to it, until the evening when I read Milli's submission guidelines about 20 times before typing up a tremulous query to her. I read it back several times, let it sit for an hour, read it again and then hit send. Now I certainly wasn't expecting to hear back from her before the end of the weekend.
Milli emailed me back in an hour! And crikey was she excited! She'd been hoping that someone would offer her some New Zealand content for a while now and there I was offering her enough for a potential series of posts. After reading that email I literally bounced around the room cursing and swearing out the nerves and excitement before composing my reply.
And now I'm halfway through writing my first draft of my first article! Hopefully it'll be finished tomorrow evening, then I can send it to Milli and wait for her judgement. It's a scary experience, knowing you have the attention of someone who's work you've been reading from afar and come to think of as an expert in their field.
But despite being scared I'm very excited as well. I'm hoping this experience, while getting my work seen by a wider audience, will also kick start my other writing projects and allow me to work on them in a happier and more productive manner.

And on that note, I'd better take another crack at that article!

A pleasant evening to you all.


  1. Go Jo! I contacted Milli as well, about the 10k writing days, as I'm hoping to organise a group one here at Waikato. She seems really lovely. Will look forward to trading notes with you about 10k... :)

  2. I certainly understand the avoidance and fear of writing, as well as the distraction of the internet (here I sit...). Glad to find your blog via your comment on my recent post. Cheers, Julia

  3. Nice to see you here Julia, and thanks for taking the time to read. Really lovely keeping up with your content, there's always something smiley :-)
    Jo x


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