When your imaginary friends won’t talk to you

writing imaginary friends

You know it’s bad when even your imaginary friends won’t talk to you!

Some writer’s swear that writer’s block affect them, other dismiss it with alarming ferocity. 

But as Gertrude Stein once wrote:

If you write a half-hour a day, it makes a lot of writing year by year

Even if three quarters of what you’ve written turns out to be total junk which you destroy, you have written something and on that foundation you can grow your word base, narrative and characters. Imagine if you wrote a thousand words a day, even if 750 of those words were not worth keeping, by the end of the month you’d have 7,500 words.

I’ve personally found the best way to combat writer’s block is to write anything – even if it’s just reproducing on paper an event or conversation that happened in real life – that allows my imagination to be sparked to create a fictional scene. Practise and consistency for me has been the best tool for keeping me writing and to keep my writing improving.

Of course this advice works for me but will not necessarily work for every writer.  You have to find the method of writing that works for you and then use it to its full potential. There is no ‘one’ right way to write, but there may be one right way for you. There may be several right ways for you depending on the time and circumstances. The most important thing is to try lots of different methods till you settle on what is most comfortable for you as an individual writer.

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Oh my Sweet Blog how I’ve missed you.

Well it’s been a while since I’ve blogged (almost three months in fact) and so much has changed that I’m not sure I know where to begin.

  • I completed a Management course at work.
  • I moved out of my rented house
  • I went on a glorious two week holiday to Rhodes
  • But more importantly I moved into my own house for the first time.

The last on my list was perhaps the hardest and most rewarding on my list of 2014 events, but as I sit in my new house with my new broadband whirling round at a speed I’d never imagined before typing these words there is a deep sense of serenity that blankets me from the rough and tumble of the world.

Death and taxes are the two sure things in life, but whatever the world throws at me, I feel  better knowing I have my castle as my refuge and perfect writing haven.

Anyway now we’ve caught up, normal blogging will resume shortly.

Best blessings to you one and all.


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Eat More Frogs – Eliminate procrastination and be more effective

Frog. jpg www.jamiebooth.com wp-content uploads 2010 03 024

I don’t know about you, but it’s usually the things that I want to do the least that I put off for the longest time in both my professional and my personal life until I have no choice but to get the task completed. It’s something that I have struggled and failed with for a long time. Until very recently my ability to procrastinate was the stuff that legends are made off, I almost wore it as a badge of honour. Then, on a ‘Planning and Delegation’ workshop that I was taking as part of a Management Course I learnt some new skills to help me address this weakness.

Now, I’ve got to be honest with you I’m not the sort of person that holds much sway with management talk and ‘blue-sky thinking’, such jargon generally makes my skin crawl. However, one interesting approach I learnt about on the workshop was that to plan your time more effectively you should eat more frogs. So what does that mean?

Well, it’s a natural human reaction that we often put off the things that are difficult or that we don’t want to do. Who wants to be in an uncomfortable place or doing something that takes them out of their comfort zone? So we tend to put off those things until we have no choice but to complete them. These are your big fat juicy frogs and by putting them off you’re simply delaying getting them done and out of the way. So rather than delay, eat that frog (or frogs) first and once they are out of the way, you’ll feel energised and empowered that the worst has already been completed and that goal achieved.

Mark twain eat more frogs

I think writing can be like that. Editing, marketing, sending off query letters, even the act of writing itself can make some writers writhe in discomfort, so instead they go do something that they’re more comfortable with. Networking is my procrastination destination and it has cost me hours of time that I could have used more productively. Sure It’s important to meet other writers, to build up your online profile as a writer but not at the cost of doing the actual writing, editing, plot planning itself. If these are you frogs then pucker up, ball up your courage and eat more of them.

Whether you are writing, carrying out a project, or simply putting off a chore that you know needs doing, eat that frog. In fact, eat more frogs and once you have you’ll find that the energy you would normally use procrastinating can be used to be more effective and efficient.

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Cats are Weeping Angels – Video test, part two

OK, so I’m just getting the hang of this blogging malarkey and thought I’d release a second test post to understand the parameters of uploading videos here on vcwillow.wordpress.com

Of course being a huge Dr Who fan, I couldn’t resist uploading this video of a Weeping Angel cat. Remember whatever you do:

‘Don’t blink.
Blink and you’re dead.
Don’t turn your back.
Don’t look away.
And don’t blink.
Good Luck.’

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Test video post – This cat is really a Weeping angel

OK, so I’m just getting the hang of this blogging malarkey and thought I’d release a test post to understand the parameters of uploading videos here on vcwillow.wordpress.com

Of course being a huge Dr Who fan, I couldn’t resist uploading this video of a Weeping Angel cat. Remember whatever you do: 

‘Don’t blink, Don’t blink. 
Blink and you’re dead. 
Don’t turn your back. 
Don’t look away. 
And don’t blink. 
Good Luck.’


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Writing feels like…

Sometimes writing feels like you’re doing too much of this:

waiting for the words 30.1.14


and not enough of this:

Shakespeare in love giphy



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All you are writing is a Variation on a theme

When I first saw this picture I giggled gently to myself and couldn’t resist finding a blog post to slot it into. 

It got me thinking about whether there is any such thing as a new idea any more. Is every story now written merely a variation on an already well trodden theme?

Peter Pan

O.K. so you’ve changed the location, the girl is now spunky rather than fainting helplessly into the strong arms of the masculine hero, your protagonist and antagonist are battling their wits against one another for the computer hack of all time rather than stealing hard copies of documents from the central spying organisation but is anything in your novel truly original? Does it matter if it is original?

I think the second question is probably the more interesting one to approach and here’s why. We could argue back and forth for a month of Sundays about whether my novel or yours is truly original or merely stands on the shoulders of great authors (giants) who have come before us. However, I’m not sure how productive and helpful that discussion is? What does that discussion or any conclusion that comes from it actually achieve for established and new writers? What does it achieve in providing engaging novels for readers?

So does it really matter if our stories are original? I’m not talking about fan Fiction that almost wholly relies on the concept created by another writer or plagiarism which in layman’s terms is just stealing. If Twilight is an extension of the Peter Pan idea, is Castaway simply a variation of Robinson Crusoe or Lord of the Flies? Arguably these examples are simply variations on a theme – how do humans survive and thrive when cut off from the society and culture they originate from – but they tell two very different stories even when the themes and ideas underlying the plots converge.

If you were to write a blurb of Robinson Crusoe and Lord of the Flies, how different would that blurb be? To my mind there would be no strong probability that if you read both out to the ordinary man on the street he would think that it was for the same book.  But does it matter? Well I think it does, because so often, in certain genres anyway, you find that the themes, plots, imagery and characters are so alike as to be easily interchanable between an author’s books and books within that genre. The romance novel so often has a tanned, muscley hero and a heroine beautiful and scheming. The boy meets the girl, some inevitable (and normally univentive) conflict arisese that prevents them being together, but in the end the boy always gets the girl and has a happy ending. This is an oversimplification of course, but the scenery, the characters, setting and ideas undeneath are cardboard cutouts one plot for the next and you could simply insert the name of your heroine and hero from one novel to the next and not feel that the blurb from one novel is so far removed from the blurb of the next. Now don’t think me unfair, Fantasy and Science Fiction the two genres that I write the most frequently within are also guilty of broadly relying on such similar world building and character types that you can’t help but despair knowing the next book you pick up in that genre will fulfil your expectations but not much else.

There are exceptions of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. So many authors however forget that to be original so your novel is distinguishable from others in the genre and for it to stand the test of time even if it does stand on the broad concepts and ideas of great authors that have gone before, it must either have something unique to say or be an original variation on a well traversed theme. So what added value does your novel bring to the reading public? If it doesn’t bring some original content, concept or variation to the all ready bulging bookshelves in the history of literature, then what are you offering readers that hasn’t been offered to them before?

Be bold, be innovative and be original. You may be writing a variation on a theme, but if you add value through the uniqueness of your writing, plot, characterisation and theme perhaps in 300 years time you too will be remembered as a great author.

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