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Writers' & Artists' Blog

The Magic of Writing

When I sat down to write this blog post, my intention was to write something else – a post about a different subject entirely. I had it all mapped out; scribbled notes, bullet points, the whole caboodle. But then something happened. I accidentally opened an old document on my desktop. At first, I didn’t recognise it. Then I read it. It was something I had completely forgotten I had written. And as soon as I read it once, I wanted to read it again. And I liked it. Enjoyed it, even. And then I couldn’t shake the giddiness and dreaminess I felt afterwards. Because it was grand, the whole discovering-words-you-forgot-you-wrote-and-finding-them-like-a-folded-fiver-in-an-old-pair-of-jeans thing – really bloody grand. And then I couldn’t help but think about all those other delicious moments in writing; the big things, the small things, and the smaller ones. Those little bursts of pleasure, excitement, victory, bliss, fulfilment. The magic. Because it is. Writing is magic. 

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NaNoWriMo: The Panic Jar, and Other Stories

NaNoWriMo

Be you freshman or veteran, plotter or pantser, aiming for 100,000 words or thrilled to make it to 50,000, there is one thing for me - 9 NaNoWriMos, 8 wins, 444,883 words and counting - that sums up National Novel Writing Month. It's become a bit of an institution in its own right here in my home region of Brighton, and I've carried the idea of it to the three other regions where I've participated in NaNoWriMo. Here in sunny Sussex it's affectionately known as the Panic Jar.

A literal jar (I think the third incarnation), it is filled with slips and scraps of paper bearing suggestions, prompts, and mimes on bicycles. As the name suggests, it's mainly for those moments during NaNoWrimo (and they are all but inevitable) when you grind to a halt, hit a wall or everything simply freezes - in short, the moments of panic. A lucky dip draw from the jar could have you killing off all of your characters, factoring in a German tongue twister, or perhaps simply switching to narrating from the …

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Greater Than The Fear of Failure

Books

I was particularly excited for NaNoWriMo last year. I had recently moved, and in this time of transition from hectic city life to the quiet green of my hometown, I decided that I would dedicate myself to writing full time. I knew that attempting the NaNoWriMo hurdle once more, and this time finally winning, would be a great way to catapult myself to official authorship.

While I mentally mapped my noveling adventure I also visited doctors' offices throughout September and October. Whenever a needle appeared I focused on the details of the bookstore where I imagined my main character working, and as a series of cold hands checked my throat, I plotted a potential meet-cute.

Halfway through October I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. 

It felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me, and my hopes of obtaining my NaNoWriMo winner status went with it when they scheduled my thyroidectomy for mid-November. 

It would have been all too easy to say to myself, “That’s ok, if …

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Did You Hear The One About?

All good jokes usually revolve around three people and, for reasons of balance, so should a good book. Not people in the sense of different nationalities or characteristics but in the sense of different facets of the writer.

The transition from creative chaos to coherent complexity demands three aspects of a writer’s persona to be in complete harmony. To illustrate the point I will term these facets The Creator, The Colourist and The Critic.

There is an inherent chaos about the creative process of writing. The flow of a good narrative often takes a more zigzag path than would be acknowledged by those writers who advocate a fixed structure. But this is The Creator at work and the creative process is, for the most part, an absolute joy. When new ideas come to the writer the writing just flows. Frequently it does not fit within the constraints of a rigid plan and nor should it.

But to create a three-dimensional plot the writer must also add depth through …

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What I Found Through NaNoWriMo

Books

As a novice writer and a complete beginner in the world of novel writing, NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – was a welcoming community and the boost I needed to complete my very first full-length draft.

I stumbled upon the idea of joining when I was lazily flicking through blogs and tweets online. Something clicked for me - I thought committing myself to writing every day for 30 days might help. I had in the past tried my hand a creative writing, getting 20,000 words or so into a story idea. Then returning to it a few months later, struggling to get back into the groove of writing and connecting with my characters again. So I resolved to join NaNoWriMo and write every single day for a month. The effects of that decision was so rewarding that I joined again the next year and why I am now planning for my 3rd stint with NaNo this year.

NaNoWriMo offers a community of friendly fellow writers who are there to help you. Suddenly there is a support system, there are friends to lean …

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