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This Week On WA 31st March
Category: Site News
Tags: site news Writers' Abroad

The clocks jumped forward an hour in Britain this weekend to Daylight Savings Time and I’m feeling slightly dazed this morning (no alcohol was involved, honestly!). So I’ll take this gently.

Blog: Chris Nedahl has written a blog post entitled Commitment, inspired by an article, Climbing Your Family Tree, in Writing Magazine. In it she considers how to overcome her reluctance to commit the huge amount of time required to tackle researching her own family and turn it into a story. The post is good inspiration and motivation for those of us hesitating to undertake a big writing project.

Monday Muse: Jo has given us a variety of prompts to work with including a line of dialogue, a plot scenario on the theme of Shame, a first line, five random words and a picture. There’s lots there to spark the imagination so why not see where your muse takes you?

Bragging Stool: We’re finishing the month quietly. No one has posted any news this week but I know several people are hard at work on novels that are due to be published soon so I doubt the stool will be empty for long.

April Challenge: This seems to be a good time of year for contests and there are several on our list to choose from, including a couple prestigious ones. Have a peek at the list and get your entries in.

We’re trying to organise a WA get together this year and we have a thread under Bits and Pieces to discuss the where and when. Everyone get your thinking caps on to see if we can get it organised. Have a good writing week!

Category: Writing

My Blog this week is about something which has been close to my heart for many years – family history.

I have a wealth of information filed away but to date, have not proceeded any further.

I took an online course with Maureen Vincent-Northam, author of Trace Your Roots, a few years ago and for months I worked at collating data, writing up handed-down family tales and recording more recent anecdotes. Then, along came something to distract me and the family tree was put on the back burner.

When I came to Spain to live, I discovered a local genealogy group and joined. We meet once a month and I have learnt much from the trials and errors of other members. Some have taken their ancestry back to the 14th. Century and I am in awe of their success. One thing stands out however, and that is, commitment to their research. As much as I respect their achievements, I don’t think I could ever spend that amount of my time on just one of the many things I enjoy doing.

Is that a personal fault? Will it stop me committing to any one thing and therefore failing to complete the larger task?

I am prompted to write this having read ‘Climbing the family tree’ in the April issue of Writing Magazine. It’s an interesting and informative piece for the totally uninitiated but it also added to my knowledge of how to structure one’s approach – the Darwinian Study, direct bloodlines; the Single Name Study, detailed information on one family name; the Microcosmic Study, very detailed research on one or two people or several branches of a family, living in the same place over a set period of time.

Most importantly, family history expert and writer of the article, Nicci Fletcher, pens the words, ‘As writers, what better way than to write a book?’

This is music to my ears as it removes the almost mathematical methodology of family tree building. The names, dates, events, will still require cataloguing but I can tell a story and that appeals to me.

This is the first in a series and I shall follow the subsequent articles with interest. Perhaps that lurking inability to commit can be beaten once and for all.

Category: Writing

Just as some footballers follow a routine and feel compelled to eat spaghetti  or put their left sock on first lest the game may be lost, it is said many writers adhere to a routine.

As a young mum I was told that babies find security in routine and to some extent I think adults do too – e.g. we brush our teeth at night before going to bed and we like our tea or coffee a certain way. So for the purposes of this blog, I began to look at routines.

Dr Heidi Grant Halvorsen, a social scientist and psychologist has written a book called 'Succeed' and  in it she explains, "Routines remove the need to deliberate over what you should do (which takes time and energy) because once you've established a routine you have already made those decisions."    

She has some interesting things to say about motivation and the- not- feeling- like-doing- something-syndrome such as,  not feeling like finishing that novel or not feeling like redrafting that chapter.  The link to her website is here.

Returning to writers and their routines, there is myriad information on the often quirky practices.

Consider, Anthony Trollope who wrote from 5-30am – 8-30am and believed that he must write 250 words per quarter hour. This exactitude worked as he completed  49 novels in 35 years whilst working in a post office during the day.

John Grisham, at the beginning of his writing career would set his alarm for 5am. He tells how he had to shower and be seated at his desk no later than 5-30am. With his first cup of coffee and a legal pad to hand, the first word had to be written at exactly 5-30am. It was fortunate his office was only five minutes away as this is where he spent the remainder of the day working as a lawyer.

The strangest routine I came across and one that as a nurse causes me to shake my head in horror is that of W.H Auden. It said he took Benzedrine every day for twenty years to stimulate his writing brain and barbiturates (Seconal) to sleep. He was not alone in this practise according to the article linked below.

All of this makes my routine of waking early, doing the mandatory jobs of feeding dogs, cat, children & husband – not necessarily in that order, seem very tame!  Once the tribe has left for the day and the house is quiet, I can begin. Radios and televisions are turned off, my laptop is turned on and the coffee is made.

I was told many years ago that three games of solitaire will stimulate the creative brain and I admit to being ever hopeful and following this practise. Then, if the muse is with me, off I go and the wonderful transition into the writing world begins.

Please share your routines here- don't be shy!  Let's see what we do or don't have in common as a group.

Happy Writing!

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