I have completed the challenge that I set for myself – to complete a short story for entry in The Bridport Prize competition. As I mentioned in my previous post, when I read the instructions properly, I discovered that the word count was a maximum of 5000, not a compulsory amount of 5000 words. I trimmed some superfluous details from the story and it comes in at 4015 words now. I’m quite proud of that. I know this won’t be the best work I will ever do. I know it’s only the beginning but I’m glad I achieved what I set out to do. Now to move onto the next project – publish an e-book this year. Onwards and upwards!
I have previously mentioned that I was taking up a challenge to write a 5000 word short story within 4 weeks for a competition. I started off with 1500 words and I have been adding to it, with the target word count of 5000 words in mind. Tonight, I realised I was wrong. Reading the rules on the Bridport Prize webpage, I discovered that it is a MAXIMUM of 5000 words. I’m not going to lie, I could have bulked up my story to 5000 words but I doubt it would be the best version of the story. The version I have now is better than it was at 1500 words but I think that with a little bit of editing, I can make my story the best version yet.
I don’t know why I didn’t read the competition rules before I began but I have learned a lesson tonight – read and read thoroughly!
I’m just glad I realised it with a week to spare 🙂
I no longer believe in writer’s block.
I have mentioned recently that I had a 5000 word short story to write within a few weeks (1168 words and 13 days, 1 hour and 34 minutes to go!) and I have been struggling a bit in the last few days. I started with a short short story that I had thought was complete. It had a beginning, middle and an end. I liked it as it was but it was only 1500 words. So, I set myself the challenge of bulking it up to 5000 words for The Bridport Prize competition. I didn’t want to simply insert flowery language with a view to increasing the word count. I knew I would be rumbled instantly. Judges aren’t stupid. I knew I had to add to the story. I had to build in some more twists and turns. However, over the last couple of days, I have been struggling with a slight blockage. I say slight because some words trickled through but nothing of any significance. Rather than giving up, I have found a way to dislodge the blockage for good.
Here’s what I did:
* I opened a new Word document and summarised what had happened so far in the three sections; beginning, middle and end. While I was doing this, questions popped into my head, leading to new ideas. Blockage dislodged. Ta-da!
* The other thing that helped was to completely remove myself from the computer and do something else. I went to make sandwiches for my husband and kids’ lunch tomorrow. While my focus was away from staring at a computer screen I got another idea.
I have read that last piece of advice before somewhere and I’m pleased to report that it is true. I recommend that you try the Word document summary though. It worked for me 🙂
I haven’t tried this suggestion yet but I will if I ever experience a severe blockage:
Take the ‘create crap’ challenge:
Despite the name, the ‘create crap’ challenge is not about lowering the quality of what you’ll do it’s about UPPING the quality of what you have in the world by actually releasing something rather than drowning what you have to share in a giant shroud of blockedness.
The first step in the create crap challenge is to remember that you do NOT have to release your crap attempts to the world. It’s an unblocking technique to use for yourself.
After only writing 100 words tonight, I realised that I have taken on a mammoth task. Trying to fit writing around a full-time job and raising a family is not easy. I still have around 1800 words to go to reach the required 5000 and of course, there is still editing to do. In the past, I would have been scared off. Now, I invite the challenge. I am trying to invent ways of gaining time to write. Let’s just say, I may be a hermit for the next couple of weekends. I WILL COMPLETE THIS CHALLENGE! I will be entering the competition. I am loving my positive outlook on this and I hope I can maintain it. Watch this space!
The link for the competition, should you require it – Bridport Prize.
Brenda Berry of Jimsonberry nominated me for a Liebster Award which I have to confess (with slight embarrassment) I had never heard of until today. However, a quick Google search revealed that it is a way to promote both my blog and the blogs of others. With that in mind, I am happy to join in and do my bit. Thank you Brenda for giving me a nudge in this direction and I hope in turn I am able to help others.
The Liebster Award is passed to bloggers who have under 200 followers and the idea is to create a network of bloggers. As I said above, it’s a chain of promotion both for self and others.
The rules are:
1) The nominated person must link back to the person that nominated them. Done – thanks again Brenda Berry!
2) Provide 11 facts about yourself
3) Answer 11 questions set by the person who nominated you
4) Choose 11 more people (with under 200 followers) and ask them 11 questions
11 Facts About Me:
1) I dabbled with writing from about the age of 9 using my Grandad’s computer which used green MS-dos. This was exciting at the time because nobody really had home computers. I remember writing a story about lost jewellery. I suspect it would be worth a laugh now.
2) I turned my attention to writing songs when I was 13 up until I was around 24. I overcame shyness to sing and play guitar in a band, singing my own songs.
3) I dabbled with writing stories on and off since I quit the band in 2007. I wrote stories in my head while I was pushing my baby son in his pram but anything I wrote down, I scrapped. This was the same process I followed when I was writing songs in previous years – I set my standards too high and expected my writing to be perfect. I now feel had I focused on productivity rather than perfection, I would have written a lot more by now.
4) I re-sat my exam for Higher English last year to improve on the C pass I received in 2000. I knew I should have done better because I enjoyed English at school but I didn’t apply myself. I paid too much attention to boys and my friends. I was determined to get an A second time round and I did.
5) My determination to improve my grade and the fact that I succeeded spurred me on to take writing more seriously. This is where I am now, writing more and fighting procrastination each day.
6) I gave birth to my daughter at home. Alone.
7) I have a slight obsession with Volkswagen camper vans despite never having been in one.
8) I am interested in self-improvement, meditation and yoga.
9) I am currently learning Spanish in preparation for our holiday to Spain later this year.
10) I like to watch fish swimming underwater but seeing them jumping out of the water or flapping gives me the heebie jeebies.
11) Writing this list has made me realise that I need to do a lot more interesting things!
Questions from Jimsonberry:
1) What is one trait you attribute to one or both of your parents (biological or adopted) My mum is a worrier. My Dad is very chilled out. They compliment each other perfectly and I have inherited each of these traits which compete with each other constantly 🙂 Combined, I would say this leads to my occasional contrariness.
2) What kind of pet would you like or do you like if any? I don’t have any pets at the moment but I would like a dog eventually.
3) Who would you like to meet living or dead, famous or not that you have not yet met? John Lennon. He was a musician and author and fought for peace. I think he would have been an interesting man.
4) If you had your choice would you prefer to live in City, Forest, Desert or next to Ocean? It was difficult to choose between a forest and the ocean. I love greenery but I love the sound of water more. If it was possible, I would choose to live near an ocean that had a forest within walking distance. Cheating I know!
5) What is a wisdom you’d like to share with the world in less than 5 sentences? People can change and with each passing day comes the opportunity to better yourself. I have not had to overcome any great difficulties but I know that there is always room for improvement. I don’t mean that in an I-hate-myself kind of way, I mean that people can become who they want to become if they work hard at it. It is never too late to become the best person you can be.
6) Is peace more important than idealism? Yes. Idealism is unattainable because everybody has a different point of view. Idealism can only lead to more conflict. Acceptance of each other and respect for one another should lead to peace.
7) What was your best childhood moment? Playing Monopoly on a wet and wild day in a caravan during a holiday to Wales.
8) What touched your heart most in life (moved you emotionally)? When my son spent the first week of his life in a children’s hospital due to a bowel blockage at birth. It was heartbreaking not being able to take him home, I couldn’t hold him often and my husband had to drive home each day – 40 miles away. Thankfully my son is healthy now.
9) If you could direct a movie, what kind would it be, documentary, drama, romantic comedy, action, horror, science fiction or name your own category? I think it would be a dark comedy because life is about light and dark.
10) When did you first start writing? On and off since I was around 9. I wrote songs throughout my teens and early twenties. I dabbled with stories from around 24 until I turned 30 last year and then I took it more seriously. I’m taking it more and more seriously each day!
11) How would you describe your writing? Improving with each day. A work in progress.
The blogs I nominate:
3) C-E-M 21
4) Ally’s Desk
11) The Fickle Pen
Questions for my nominees:
1) At what age did you start writing?
2) What is your greatest writing success so far?
3) What is your favourite book?
4) What was the first book you bought?
5) What is your favourite song?
6) What is your favourite holiday destination?
7) If you only had 24 hours to live, what would you do?
8) If you were stranded on a desert island and could wish for one luxury item, what would it be?
9) If there was one thing about yourself you could change, what would it be? Physical or psychological.
10) What do you do to relax?
11) What writing project are you currently working on?
I haven’t read any of Hanif Kureishi’s work but I think that may change following this quote:
Great writing and great ideas are strange: their sorcery and magic are more like dreaming with intent than they are like descriptions of the world.
Following my last post about writing within a specific time frame, I am pleased to report it works wonders for me. I have been setting the timer for 30 minutes and working in 30 minute bursts. I have a small 5 – 10 minute break and then repeat the process. My procrastination is almost cured or at least excused in the form of a break 🙂
The amount of work I have done tonight is a major increase in comparison with my usual output. It is Saturday night and I am writing rather than drinking alcohol and watching rubbish television programmes. Progress indeed. I don’t have anything published yet but I have finally reached a point through dedication and persistence where I can say I AM A WRITER and feel worthy of it.