Tag Archives: creative process

writing, blogging and holding back – #WhatImWriting

Thanks for all your fab #WhatImWriting posts last week – we had the most linkers we’ve ever had! Chrissie is hosting this week so if you’d like to link up please head over to Muddled Manuscript.

In terms of my creative writing, this blog has been invaluable to me over the last year-and-a-bit. When I began it I had very little confidence in my own writing ability. Although I’d been writing on and off for years (and had been dedicating more time to writing while on maternity leave for the previous year) basically my work amounted to a few scribblings and a big, fat demon of self-doubt.cropped-friendly-pencils4.jpg

Starting the blog was a kind of leap of faith. I had a vague notion of ‘charting my writing journey’ and ‘finding a community’ but I didn’t really know how it was going to pan out. Turns out it was a great leap to take as over the past sixteen months I’ve found a wonderful writing community and have certainly used the blog as somewhere to write about my writing, set myself challenges, and build my confidence.

I’ve also published a lot of my own work here. I’ve just had a quick check and last year I posted fifteen short stories/pieces of flash fiction), twenty-five poems and over thirty limericks. With the occasional exception they were all written within days (or hours) of hitting ‘publish’ so that’s over seventy original creative pieces in less than a year. That’s a fair bit of my work that’s ‘out there’.

I don’t think it’s what I imagined doing when I set out. I think I intended to write about what I was writing rather than actually show people. I certainly remember the fear I felt when I hit the ‘publish’ button on my first poem. I was cringing as I waited to see if anyone would even comment and I wondered what on earth they might say. But the feedback was good (more because people were kind than because of the poem’s quality I suspect) so I published more. And the more I published the more confident I felt. I realised it didn’t matter if it wasn’t perfect and that the world wouldn’t end if people read what I’d written.

And now a year later I’m not scared to publish my work here. I also have the confidence to submit work and accept rejection. But I’ve also realised that I can’t keep putting so much work on my blog. I wanted to submit to a competition last week. I had a poem and a short story in mind that, with a bit of extra work, I would have been happy to send off. Only I couldn’t because I’d posted them here and that counts as ‘pre-published’ work which this particular press (and pretty much all others) won’t accept. Fair enough. But frustrating. And yes, I could have written something else but inspiration wasn’t flowing and I was concentrating on writing other things anyway. It felt like a missed opportunity.

So I’ve made a decision to publish less of my work on my blog. I’ll still be posting limericks and I suspect the odd story or poem but not at the rate I was before. I need to start holding work back. I want to start writing for competitions and in response to submission requests. Yes, it will mean more rejection but I feel more resilient now. I’m more up for the challenge. And this blog will still be here for me to cry and rant onto when the rejections get too much.

Oh and I’d love to know about other writers’ creative output and blogging- how much work do you publish on your blog? Do you hold a lot back for other submissions? Any advice?

writing picture books

I’m currently in the process of writing some picture books. I started writing them at different times and they’re at different stages of completion but this last week I’ve been working on all three of them at once. It’s been making me reflect on my creative process because although all three books are in rhyme and are a roughly similar length, writing each of them has been a very different experience.

frosted tree

The first book came at me out of nowhere. I wanted to write something for #ThePrompt over at MumTurnedMom and the theme that week was ‘Books’. When I sat down to write, the whole story appeared in a couple of hours. It just flowed and without any real effort I had a story about a girl who wouldn’t read. Of course, I’ve spent masses of time since editing it, re-editing it and editing it again but the entire story and structure basically happened in that first couple of hours of inspiration.

Book two actually came off the back of book one. There were a few lines (now edited out) where the girl read “Her latest book about a magic biscuit cook, whose fresh, enchanted custard creams were sure to give her sweetest dreams.” The lines didn’t make the cut but I rather liked the idea of a magic biscuit cook and decided to write a story about one.

This time round I had a reasonable idea of what the story would be before I started writing it. I also made a deliberate decision about the meter of the rhyme as I wanted it to be different from my first book. The story and the characters came into focus as I wrote it, but getting the first draft down was a lot harder work. I had to think about it and work it out and once I’d finished it I had several versions which were quite different in terms of length and story complexity. I’m currently trying to work out which version I prefer.

Book three is a whole different beast all together. The inspiration for this was my son responding to a question with “I’ve absolutely no idea”. For some reason this triggered in my head  the line “He’d absolutely no idea if aliens can even hear.” which in turn made me think ‘I know, I’ll write a book about a boy who meets some aliens!’ Of course the idea is hardly earth-shattering in originality so I then had a big think about what sort of book it would be (humorous but thoughtful) and what precisely would happen during the story in terms of key events and character development. At this point a few rhyming couplets popped into my head which gave the story its rhythm.

That was about two months ago and I’ve been writing it on and off ever since. It’s still nowhere near complete. It’s a very slow process (given the length that the finished piece will be) and I’m finding it really tricky. I’ve found myself wondering if it would be better in prose rather than verse… but then I’ve got little stretches of it that I love because of the rhythm and the pace the rhyme gives them. I have a funny feeling that if I can get this one right it will be the best of the three but I have no idea if I can pull it off at all.

So there you have it: three little stories with three very different creative processes.

Do you find your process differs between projects? What brings about the changes? Do you have a preferred way of working?

I’m sharing this with Friday Fiction as it’s the closest I’ll get to sharing extracts from any of these books! Also linking to the Wonderful World of Writing at Virtually All sorts.

Nikki Young Writes

what I’m writing – week seventeen

typewriter butterflies badgeWelcome to week seventeen of ‘What I’m Writing’. We had a great start to the new year over at Chrissie’s blog last week with more linkers than ever before! It was great to catch up with our regular linkers on what their plans for the new year were and we were also pleased to see new faces too. I’m really looking forward to seeing where this year takes you all – the only way is up, yes?

So, If you’re new here you might be wondering what #WhatImWriting is all about. You can find all the details here but the short version is Chrissie and I are both writers who love blogging about our writing processes and reading about those of others. Our linky is for all you fellow writers, poets, bloggers etc. out there to share posts about what you’re writing (and all your hopes and fears, triumphs and tears) with a group of people who understand what you’re going through. September’s and October’s round-up posts (we take turns to write them every month) give you a flavour of the sorts of things we chat about. I posted December’s Round-up last week.

We’d love you to join in and there are just a few suggestions (‘rules’ feels too strong a word) for taking part:

  • Link up any post (old or new) that is to do with writing/blogging etc. 
  • Please either use our badge on the post (copy and paste the HTML code below) or link to whichever one of our blogs is hosting that week. We will share your post on Twitter in return.
  • Read and comment on as many other posts in the linky as you can. What I’m Writing has developed a lovely, supportive community and we’d love you to join in :)
  • If you’d like to tweet your post feel free to use the hashtag #WhatImWriting. If you tweet us a link to your post @writingbubble or @rantybeast then we will RT.

Over to you – please link up below! I look forward to reading your posts (I’ll be linking up too of course)!

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fevered focus – #WhatImWriting

It wasn’t the week I had planned. I spent last Tuesday reading and commenting on all the wonderful #WhatImWriting posts and, having read all the inspiring comments on my own post, began Wednesday highly motivated to KICK-START MY WRITING YEAR!

On your marks, get set, WRITE

Then fate intervened and I instead spent all Wednesday afternoon holding my poor little vomiting youngest in my arms, kissing his fevered brow soothingly (what kind of fool kisses a vomiting baby’s brow? I mean, that was just asking for trouble… ). I then spent Thursday on a series of conference calls (rather than being able to attend in person due to nursery’s 48 hour vomit-exclusion rule) and playing catch up on all the things I’d failed to do the previous day).

But that was ok, these things happen, never mind, FRIDAY would be the day when I could KICK-START MY WRITING YEAR!

Oh, except my fond brow-kissing came back to haunt me when, you’ve guessed it, I started being sick too. Saturday I was mainly feeling flaky and sorry for myself and Sunday I was spending time with my kids which brings me to today. Monday night. Hmmm.

Still, it wasn’t a total washout as despite having failed to KICK-START etc. in the full-on, dedicated manner I had in mind, I did squeeze in a tiny bit of writing. And I found myself working on my picture books. All three of them simultaneously: re-writing book one, re-reading and tweaking (and self-doubitfying – that’s a word, right?) book two and still bashing out the first draft of book three. And the fact that I instinctively chose to spend my little bits of free time on those books told me something…

Last week I was wondering what on earth to focus on when there was so much I wanted to write. Now I know that – for the time being – I want to focus on my picture books. I’ve decided that my plan for between now and the end of February is to get all three to a stage where I am happy to submit them. I’m also going to work out precisely which agents I want to submit to and what those submissions will entail (Agent Hunter here I come) and then I’ll send them out. After that, it will be a case of waiting for the rejections responses to come back which is the ideal time to turn my focus elsewhere – to one or several of the other projects I’m keen to tackle.

So, I HAVE A PLAN! Not such a bad week after all, then.

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mumturnedmom

new year plans (or not) – #WhatImWriting

It’s time for the first #WhatImWriting of 2015! Chrissie is hosting this week so if you’re hoping to link up, please head to Muddled Manuscript for tea, cake and a good old chat.

jasper mountainSo, where to begin? Um… I have no idea. I took two weeks off blogging and writing over Christmas and it’s totally thrown me out of all my routines and I kind of feel like I’ve forgotten how to write.

It was great to have a break though and I have to admit, as far as blogging goes, it was a massive relief. I hadn’t quite realised how tied to blogging I feel – the need to post a couple of times a week, to join in linkies and read and comment on other blogs. I enjoy it, but having a proper break made me realise that I do kind of view it like work. Fun work I don’t get paid for (admittedly), but with that sort of ‘must do, can’t get out of’ ethic that I don’t associate with hobbies of any sort. Anyone else feel like this?

Then there’s the creative writing. The first week I really missed it, I ITCHED to write but, what with kids and present-wrapping and general build-up of festive activities, I literally didn’t have the time. Then we were away for a few days over Christmas and writing of any sort wasn’t on my mind at all. When we got back the itch seemed to have gone. I started blogging again a few days ago (this is my fourth post of the year which is a bit extreme for me!) but as far as creative writing goes, I haven’t written a single word.

I feel like there’s maybe some lesson for myself in all this but I’m not sure what. If it was a relief to stop blogging should I blog less? Should I make sure I don’t take too long off writing in the future since it’s brought me to a standstill? Should I transfer my energies from blogging to writing this year?

You see, I do feel like I should have a plan. I’ve read a fair few blogs over the past few days and everyone seems to be full of decisions and intentions for 2015. Meanwhile I haven’t made any decisions at all! I was hoping some goals would reveal themselves while writing this post but they haven’t really.

It’s not that I can’t think of anything I want to achieve. It’s more like there’s too much I want to do and I don’t know what to focus on this year. Do I write more picture books, work on the ones I’ve got and try and find an agent for them? Should I finish the novel that was a big focus of mine in the first half of last year (it’s at 55,000 words at the mo), finish my other novel (the one I only wrote 7000 words of before getting distracted by other things I wanted to write) or  do I start a whole new novel for kids that I’ve had an idea for bubbling away for months? And then there’s my old romance novel to consider too!

No wait, no time for that, I want to make more flash fiction submissions this year! I write so many pieces for my blog and I’d love to channel more energy into writing them for other publications instead – to try and get my work published elsewhere rather than just on my own little blog. But how would I fit that in with the fact that I’d also love to self-publish my own little book of limericks?

You see? A whole new year has arrived and I have no idea how to make the best of it! I don’t know what goals to set myself as I don’t know where my real (writing) priorities lie. But here’s a plan – this week I’ll do some kind of creative writing (whatever type leaps out at me), I’ll publish no more than one blog post between now and next Tuesday and I’ll take the time, now my older kids are back at school, to try and work out what I want to aim for this year.

And there’s one thing I’m certain of – no matter what form it takes, 2015 is going to be a year of writing.

what I’m writing – week thirteen

typewriter butterflies badgeWelcome to week thirteen of ‘What I’m Writing’. It’s December! Is everyone feeling festive?I was going to attempt to put a little sprig of holy or santa hat on our badge but then I realised that could easily take me hours and therefore wasn’t worth it… but you’re all creative types so please go ahead and imagine something suitable. Done it? Excellent, thanks, good work!

Before we go any further I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who linked up (over at Muddled Manuscript) last week. I loved reading your posts as always. Thanks also to Chrissie for being an excellent host. I can never compete with the excellent linky posts she writes – mine are just cut and paste jobs… on which note, I’ll now commence the pasting:

If you’re new here you might be wondering what #WhatImWriting is all about. You can find all the details here but the short version is Chrissie and I are both writers who love blogging about our writing processes and reading about those of others. Our linky is for all you fellow writers, poets, bloggers etc. out there to share posts about what you’re writing (and all your hopes and fears, triumphs and tears) with a group of people who understand what you’re going through. September’s and October’s round-up posts (we take turns to write them every month) give you a flavour of the sorts of things we chat about.

We’d love you to join in and there are just a few suggestions (‘rules’ feels too strong a word) for taking part:

  • Link up any post (old or new) that is to do with writing/blogging etc. 
  • Please either use our badge on the post (copy and paste the HTML code below) or link to whichever one of our blogs is hosting that week. We will share your post on Twitter in return.
  • Read and comment on as many other posts in the linky as you can. What I’m Writing has developed a lovely, supportive community and we’d love you to join in :)
  • If you’d like to tweet your post feel free to use the hashtag #WhatImWriting. If you tweet us a link to your post @writingbubble or @rantybeast then we will RT.

Over to you – please link up below! I look forward to reading your posts (I’ll be linking up too of course)!

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forgotten

walkDo you ever go through your files or notebooks (or wherever you keep your random bits of poetry/stories) and find something that you’ve completely forgotten writing? And then look at it and think, ‘what is this about? What was going on?’

I dug something up recently, and given the content, I was clearly quite stressed about a situation. But what was it? I don’t know – I don’t even know the context! And what did I do about it? Well, I don’t know that either. I assume it’s long since resolved but that’s pretty much all I know.

Anyway, I thought I would share it for #FridayFiction:

Dilemma

Crushing clarity,
A sudden certainty
And realisation
That words must be spoken
For ultimate good
Yet which, at first, could
Harm.
Separate.
Mutilate.

And I must find
The gentlest way
To wield the axe.

So there you have it. I assume I wrote it as some kind of catharsis or process of figuring things out. In which case it was quite successful… I guess. I wish I could remember, as finding a ‘gentle way to wield an axe’ sounds like a useful life skill. Ah well.

Tell me I’m not alone, tell me you write and forget too?

Nikki Young Writes

something significant – #WhatImWriting

Northumbrian sunriseAnother Tuesday dawns… probably quite literally as this post is published (I’m scheduling it for 7am) unless, of course, the world has been swallowed up overnight by our evil alien overlords.

*Clears throat*

Aaaaaaanyway, it’s time for ‘What I’m Writing’! Chrissie is hosting this week so if you’re looking to link up please head over to Muddled Manuscript. There’s a fresh pot of tea on, and I’m pretty sure I heard something about biscuits…

So, to business! What have I been writing this week? Well, again I didn’t have much time (this last month has been manic) but I did manage a piece of flash fiction to link up to #ThePrompt last Friday. And that was on such a sad subject that I then asked the boys to set me a limerick challenge just to cheer things up! Apart from that I’ve spent a bit of time tinkering about with my picture books and that was it.

BUT NO, WAIT! I did do something significant! I submitted my first picture book manuscript to an agent! I know it’s not the world’s most amazing news but it’s one of those little things that feels quite big. I’ve put myself out there. Although I’ve submitted work to publications and competitions before I’ve never sent anything to an agent, so this is new territory. This is also the most passionate I’ve felt about any submission I’ve made. This little book matters to me. So yes. There you have it. Eeeek.

This week is set to be a quieter one so I’m looking forward to spending some time on my latest picture book. I’m also planning on doing a bit more blog-surfing for poetry and prose for my first Brit Mums post in early December. I’ve already got my eye on some (last week’s Prompt was full of fab pieces) and it should be fun to hunt out more.

I’m also going to spend some quality time with my family. I have a hunch my husband is rather sick of the sight of the back of my laptop and the sound of me tap tapping away! So we’re planning a trip to the cinema and out for a meal. We used to go to the cinema (just the two of us) a lot but since having kids it’s something that happens so rarely I tend to get very excited about it. Wheeeee!

Happy weeks, all!

what I’m writing – week eleven

typewriter butterflies badgeWelcome to week eleven of ‘What I’m Writing’! Once again, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who linked up (over at Muddled Manuscript) last week. I loved reading your posts. Thanks also to Chrissie for hosting despite being the midst of a depressive episode – I’m impressed as always. I can never compete with the excellent linky posts she writes – mine are just cut and paste jobs… on which note, I’ll now commence the pasting:

If you’re new here you might be wondering what #WhatImWriting is all about. You can find all the details here but the short version is Chrissie and I are both writers who love blogging about our writing processes and reading about those of others. Our linky is for all you fellow writers, poets, bloggers etc. out there to share posts about what you’re writing (and all your hopes and fears, triumphs and tears) with a group of people who understand what you’re going through. September’s round-up post gives you a flavour of the sorts of things we chat about (and October’s round-up is on its way).

We’d love you to join in and there are just a few suggestions (‘rules’ feels too strong a word) for taking part:

  • Link up any post (old or new) that is to do with writing/blogging etc. 
  • Please either use our badge on the post (copy and paste the HTML code below) or link to whichever one of our blogs is hosting that week. We will share your post on Twitter in return.
  • Read and comment on as many other posts in the linky as you can. What I’m Writing has developed a lovely, supportive community and we’d love you to join in :)
  • If you’d like to tweet your post feel free to use the hashtag #WhatImWriting. If you tweet us a link to your post @writingbubble or @rantybeast then we will RT.

Over to you – please link up below! I look forward to reading your posts (I’ll be linking up too of course)!

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taking the leap – #WhatImWriting

Boat quote

It’s been another busy week in the Bubble household and I haven’t had much time to write, but in all the little gaps available I’ve been… ummm… very productively ripping apart my second picture book. And putting it back together again. And then deciding it was better to begin with! Argh! Luckily a wise friend stepped in and told me it that regardless of whether I felt I’d written the ‘final draft’ all the elements were there – engaging story, appealing characters, interesting rhymes, lovely imagery – and I should just leave it alone for a while. So I’m going to do that. I have a hunch if I return to it with fresh eyes (and perhaps some wise counsel from elsewhere) I’ll be able to knock it into shape quite fast. Fingers crossed.

So I’ve now started work on book number three! I’m already quite excited about this one. Of the three of them it has the most potential for comedy and I love a chuckle while reading to my kids. I know what the overall story is, and bits of description and dialogue keep leaping into my head at random times so that’s keeping me busy too.

Meanwhile I’ve shown my first picture book to more friends (all with kids so they are very much immersed in the world of picture books at the moment) and received a resounding thumbs up. I have to say I have a particular passion for this book. It kind of ‘has my heart’ if that makes sense? So the mere idea of seeing it illustrated and published and out there is just so exciting I can’t really think too hard about it!

But I’m just at the start of a long journey with it  – and indeed all my books – and I know that along the way I’ve got to accept all manner of rejections. Just because some friends of mine love what I’ve written doesn’t mean that others will. And even if others do, there’s still a big leap from someone liking it, to liking it enough to find an illustrator for it and actually publishing it.

These doubts have been nibbling at my toes this last week and stopping me from taking the next step. After all, if I don’t submit my work anywhere then it cant get rejected can it? How clever of me to protect myself in such a way. Or not.

So, no more! I’ve been on Agent Hunter (a really helpful website that I got a free subscription to – a blog post about it, is to follow) and have scoured through the profiles of masses of agents. I’m putting together a shortlist and have found someone in particular I really want to show my work to. So this week I’m going to do it: I am going to submit my first picture book manuscript.

Eeeep.

Writing Bubble