Tag Archives: Writers Resources

A Simple Request

Yes it’s me again! IMG_0719

It appears, having swapped to self-hosting, I have lost all of my followers and I would so like to keep you!

If you could just take a minute to visit the new site and subscribe via email it would make me very happy 🙂

Hope to see you soon,

Gemma Hawdon (Rolleman)

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Filed under Getting Published, Uncategorized, WritingTips

First Drafts And Thick Skins

Hello again and Happy 2013!

As I write this blog, I’m sitting under the shade of a Gum tree. Its leaves are shaking in a light breeze, rustling like a distant stream. I’ve no phone reception. No Internet connection. The children have vanished to some remote corner of the park. My husband is floating out at sea on his surfboard, feet dangling to the sharks.

This must be heaven.

To post this blog, I’ll need to hike up the hill to the tower, stretch the laptop above my head and plead for a signal. I haven’t figured out how I’ll navigate the keyboard yet, so it could be a miracle if this even gets to you.

I’m so close to finishing the first draft of my novel my fingers are tingling. I say first draft but, to be honest with you, I’ve already revisited many parts (secretly, soundlessly, tail between legs), for many writers will tell you to keep pushing ahead with your first draft and don’t look back until it’s finished. Whilst I’ve kept this advice close, I haven’t followed it entirely. As the book’s evolved, I’ve changed much of the plot and even wiped out one of the major characters, so I’ve found myself drafting and redrafting as new things come to light and major elements change.

Now, I’m really excited. I have a clear understanding of what the story is about and who the characters are. The framework feels strong, I just have to breath the magic inside – to shape it, colour it and make it whole.

Sometimes, reading over what might have taken months if not years to write can be daunting to say the least. We have to prepare ourselves for the parts that are bad – really bad. When we wrote them we were probably in full swing, basking in our creative genius, smelling the imminence of our success (perhaps enjoying a glass or two…). Yet we shouldn’t get disheartened. Ernest Hemingway once said, ‘The first draft of anything is shit’.  James Michener, ‘I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.’

So perhaps we have to give ourselves permission to let the first draft stink. Forget about what people will think – we don’t have to show it to anyone until we’re ready – and let our fingers flow on our keyboards like pianists’.

Elizabeth Sims mentions in a piece she wrote,Why does a coherent first draft give birth to a stilted finished product? Because it means you haven’t let it flow. You haven’t given yourself permission to make mistakes because you haven’t forgiven yourself for past ones. Admit it: Unless your throttle’s wide open, you’re not giving it everything you’ve got.’ I found the article helpful – to read it in full click here

Right now, I’m feeling proud and excited about what I’ve achieved so far – It’s a liberating stage of writing. Soon, I’ll be ready for a professional edit and I’ve no doubt that what comes back will peel another layer of my skin away – but it’s tougher and thicker than it used to be…

How do you get through your first draft?

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Filed under Editing, First Drafts, Getting Published, The Publishing Industry, WritingTips

Finding Stillness

A friend sent me an inspiring article yesterday, ‘The Art of Being Still’ by Silas House.  ‘The problem is, too many writers today are afraid to be still.  I’m not talking about the kind of stillness that involves locking yourself in a room with a laptop, while you wait for the words to come. We writers must learn how to become still in our heads, to achieve the sort of stillness that allows our senses to become heightened,’ he writes.

 It’s a wonderful thing when you read something that wakes you up like a cold slab of ice to the back of your neck.  This week, having flurried the kids away to school, I dashed back to my desk, rotated my neck, clicked my knuckles and began the final scene to my children’s novel.   I managed two sentences before the bleeping of emails distracted me.  Five sentences and the doorbell rang: my weekly fruit delivery.  Eight sentences and the revving of the postman’s motorbike delivering my mail.

 Three hours later, I had achieved ten sentences of my book, five email responses including agreeing to host a couple’s cooking class and, completely side-tracked, listening to a radio scam involving a prank phone call to Kate Middleton in hospital.   

Silas goes on to say, ‘I am nearly always in motion, but those who know me best realize that I am being still even in my most active moments.’  He is talking about using the world for our writing by observing the details around us.  We are constantly on the move, flitting from one appointment to the next: the vet, the accountant, the school principal, the kinesiologist.  Each appointment bringing its own new and varied headache of worries.  Yet to find the stillness Silas is talking about, we have to block all these distracting, mundane thoughts and focus on our writing.  The school principal could bring inspiration for a character, the kinesiologist an idea for a scene.  It’s about keeping our heads clear and our notebooks close.

This stillness should also be present when we do find the time to write.  In this fast, technical era, we are easily distracted.  I know of friends who cast their laptops aside, pick up their pencils and notebooks and take themselves to some tranquil corner of the house.  The soft movement of lead on paper, away from the tap tapping of the keyboard, enables them to think more clearly.  

There is a place I sometimes retreat to.  Just me and my laptop.  No Internet access.  No fruit deliveries.  A café, hidden within the grounds of a local plant nursery.  I hide under the shade of a young Maple tree surrounded by Snow Maidens and Magnolias, tapping away and lost to my novel, coffee after coffee.

Tip for the day – find that place that enables you to find your stillness.  Soak in the sounds and scents around you.  And write.

How do you find your stillness?

(To read Silas’ full article click here)

 

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Filed under Inspiring Articles, WritingTips