Writer’s Work

After attending the Writer’s Workshop this month provided by the Peninsula Writers Club and facilitated by author Kate Mildenhall, I have been quietly contemplating… and not much actual writing.

Group picture – Peninsula Writer’s Club – 7 August 2022

The workshop on Pitching and Publishing was useful, but more so were the exercises and discussions with all of the writers in the room. It was interesting to hear about the progress of other writer’s projects, successes, and not so successful experiences.

I felt energised after the event and came home to prepare my own Annual Writing Work Plan. I am great at writing plans: work plans, project plans, communication plans, staff development plans, implementation plans. And I am happy with the personal creative writing plan that I prepared for myself.

I now have a year’s worth of relevant resources to work through in order to expand and deepen this skill of creative writing. I will list some of them below for reference.

Kate Mildenhall was an excellent facilitator for this workshop and her former career in the teaching profession was evident. I had already read and enjoyed her historical fiction Skylarking and after this workshop read The Mother Fault. I confessed to her that I could see many similarities between her novel Skylarking and my work-in-progress. We both had identified Anne of Green Gables as a story that was of a similar strain to our own works. So, yes, similarities, but totally different tales.

My own story sits idle. But I now have an idea about how to develop my story further. The ideas sit inside my head, as the main story did for years before I downloaded it from my brain through my fingers onto paper and computer and wove it into a comprehensible narrative. I am at the point where I need to sit and get these new ideas onto ‘paper’. I will need to prepare a storyboard like I did for the main part of the story, and then plot the scenes and weave the new scenes into the other part of the story that I have already completed. So, while the creative ideas continue to percolate in my head, I write lists of things to do, and read books about writing.

Here are some resources (in no particular order) that I have incorporated into my Annual Writing Work Plan (some I have read and listened to already*):

BOOKS ABOUT WRITING

  • Save the Cat! Writes A Novel by Jessica Brody*                                                  
  • The Artists Way by Julia Cameron*
  • The Vein of Gold by Julia Cameron*                                                        
  • Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark *                            
  • Use Your Words: A Myth-Busting, No-Fear Approach to Writing by Catherine Deveny       
  • Everything I Know About Writing by Annie Dillard                                                                              
  • Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert*                                
  • Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg*                               
  • Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg*                                                   
  • Searching for The Secret River by Kate Grenville                                 
  • Ten Things About Writing: Build Your Story One Word at A Time by Joanne Harris *
  • Night Fishing by Vicki Hastrich                                   
  • On Writing by Stephen King                                                        
  • Steal Like an Artist, Show Your Work, Keep Going by Austin Kleon                                              
  • The Writer Laid Bare by Lee Koffman                                                     
  • Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott                                                          
  • The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy                                                          
  • Before and After the Book Deal by Courtney Maum                                          
  • Writing Your Life by Patti Miller*                                                              
  • How to be an Artist by Jerry Saltz                                                              
  • A Swim in the Pond in the Rain by George Saunders                                                         
  • The Science of Storytelling by Will Storr                                                 
  • The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp                                                           
  • The Little Red Writing Book by Mark Tredinnick
  • The Luminous Solution by Charlotte Wood                                          
  • The Writer’s Room by Charlotte Wood                                                   
  • How Fiction Works by James Wood         

PODCASTS

  • Magic Lessons by Elizabeth Gilbert*
  • The First Time by Katherine Collette and Kate Mildenhall
  • The Garret: Writers on Writing by Astrid Edwards             
  • The Writers Room by Charlotte Wood
  • Ruts and Routines by Madeline Dore
  • How to Fail by Elizabeth Day
  • Keeping a Notebook by Nina LaCour
  • Writer’s Routine by Dan Simpson
  • Between the Covers: Conversations with Writers by David Naimon
  • So, You Want to Be a Writer by Valerie Khoo and Vic Writers Centre
  • First Draft: A Dialogue on Writing by Mitzi Rapkin
  • James and Ashley Stay at Home by James Watson and Ashley Blunt          
  • The Screenwriting Life by Meg LeFauve and Lorien McKenna       
  • Dead & Buried by Carly Godden and Lee Hooper*

SOME OTHER RESOURCES

Zero Draft

Melding into my Zero Draft I enjoy the gentle ebb and flow of the story unfolding. Just five chapters in, still setting the scene, I visit the world of my hero like a time travelling tourist. It is nostalgic even though I have never lived in this time or place.

Farm at the Cape. Copy of original painting by unknown artist, c. 1895

Helping this beginner writer to navigate my way I use the wisdom and assistance of the Writers’ HQ in the UK. They offer short online courses and this year I have done the Balance Your Writing Life Challenge and now I am completing Editing 101 in readiness for when I do eventually finish the Zero Draft.

I have also read Save The Cat! Writes A Novel by Jessica Brody and have applied the Beat Sheet to my plot, providing me with a more detailed understanding of my hero’s journey.

I feel freed to hear the quote by Terry Pratchett:

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.”

With no real deadline I have the luxury to enjoy the process as it unfolds. I do not aim to meet a certain number of words per day or sit at my desk at a certain time for a specific number of days. I find that if I try to force the creative process, I write uninspiring third-grade drivel.

What works well for me is to linger in the moment of the story, let it fill my soul, dream, and imagine. And I am discovering that when I take this gentle and unhurried approach, when I wake in the morning the details are revealed to me, and I have to get up, go to my desk, and write it down before it fades away.

And this is the very process of creativity that I am dwelling in and loving.

However, I know my hero is about to meet some life-changing and heart-breaking challenges.