Archive for March, 2007

Resolution #1: I want to be a better writer

How are your New Year’s Resolutions going?

What the…?

Haven’t you seen the calendar – it’s March! That’s right – I know.

So how are those resolutions made in January going? Did you write down that you want to be a better writer?

Becoming a better writer is something every writer, from the one just beginning to the well-published author wants to achieve. Weaving mesmerizing tales is what we want to do best. Nothing brings joy to our hearts faster than having a reader say “I couldn’t put it down!”

But what does becoming a better writer mean? The meaning varies from writer to writer.

Dawn Arkin.

The problem with resolutions is that they are often nice sounding words – but not really goals. You see, goals are measurable. “Becoming a better writer” is not really a goal. How do you measure it?

Becoming a better anything – writer, athlete, teacher, artist – whatever – is only realised by practising. Then practising some more, then more yet. There are many ways of improving your writing, and here is a list of some strategies that have worked for me:

Goals that will improve my writing:

  1. I will write for at least 30 minutes each day.
  2. I will write at least 200 words each day.
  3. I will read at least 3 books or magazines about writing this year.
  4. I will attend one writers’ conference this year.
  5. I will attend one seminar or workshop for writers this year.
  6. I will write one poem or story every week.

Don’t get too hung up about the numbers or examples I have used; they are just a guide. Change the numbers to suit your situation and experience. And stick at it. Keep going for at least three weeks; research has shown that it takes 21 days to develop a new habit, so stick at it.

Above all: just do it!

Related articles:

  • My writing goals for 2007 – yes, I’ll be honest: I’m doing really well on the first four and hopelessly on the last four. Time for a review I think.
  • Good blogging habits – this was written with blogging in mind but has much in common with writing habits.

Short Fiction #37 The Birthday Gift

The Birthday Gift

The small group of family and friends gathered around the table. The glow of the candles lit my face. One puff and they were out, to the cheers of everyone in the room. The flash of my daughter’s camera momentarily blinded me.

‘Happy Birthday!’ they all shouted and they launched into a shaky rendition of the traditional song.

‘C’mon, time to open your gifts.’

I took the first present. I knew it was from my wife. It had sat taunting me for days on one end of the coffee table. I ripped open the beautiful wrapping paper. I think my next expression said it all. It was not the birthday present I was expecting.

I had been giving solid hints for weeks about the latest best-selling novel I wanted to read. The wrapped up parcel looked exactly right. Surely she had heard my heavy hinting?

My gaping mouth said it all. This was most unexpected, and a little embarrassing. As I showed the title to all in the room, I heard a few gasps.

An Illustrated Guide to Pig Farming boasted the cover.

Totally bemused I flipped through a few pages. My puzzled look intensified. There seemed to be something wrong; no illustrations. I thumbed back to the title page. Now I understood. She had tricked me.

‘Thank you darling,’ I said as I kissed her cheek. She’d bought me the novel after all. ‘Nice trick to put on a false cover.’

All rights reserved.

Copyright 2007 Trevor W. Hampel.

The Birds of Shakespeare

Did you know that William Shakespeare included many different references to birds in his writing? In fact, according to one blog site, Shakespeare mentions at least 45 different species in his works. Now I’m going to trust this authority and not go and read every word that Shakespeare wrote in order to check out this fact.

Here is the full list. By clicking on the species name you will go to the article on that species with full references to where that species is mentioned in Shakespeare’s work.

The Birds of Shakespeare
by Sir Archibald Geikie

BlackbirdBuntingBuzzardChoughCock (Rooster)CormorantCrowCuckoo

Dive-dapperDove and PigeonDuck (Mallard)EagleFalcon and Sparrowhawk – Finch

GooseHedge Sparrow (Dunnock)House MartinJackdawJayKiteLapwingLark


PheasantQuailRavenRobin (Redbreast)SnipeSparrowStarlingSwallowSwan


After looking at those references you may want to wander over to Trevor’s Birding, my blog about Australian birds, including many photos.


Australian Writers’ Centres

Over the last two decades Writers’ Centres have been established throughout Australia. I am a long term member of the South Australian Writers’ Centre. I joined only a few years after it was established.

The South Australian Writers’ Centre was established in 1985. It was the first of its kind in Australia, providing resources and support for writers. Located in the heart of Adelaide, the SAWC is a non-profit organisation with over 1200 members.

The Centre acts as a resource centre for writers of all ages and experiences. We focus on writing activities and work with a wide range of organisations to promote and encourage writers and literature in society. We assist new and established writers on every aspect of writing, such as publishing, performing and presentation and have a vast range of useful reference books and a library with over 1600 books mainly donated by South Australian writers.

Since this centre opened other states have followed our example.

Links to Writers’ Centres in Australia:

I would have included the New South Wales site but the server was down when I tried to make the link.

Another useful site is the Australian Society of Authors. Some of the sites above have many other links to Australian organisations for writers and related activities. Some include links to author’s websites.

How to use your writing time productively

Many freelance writers and bloggers work for themselves. There are many benefits of course, independence being one of them. There are also some downsides; procrastination being just one of them. Using your time wisely and productively is essential.

Take Control of Your Time:

Kellie Campbell on the Writing World site has written an article called “Take Control of our Time!In this article she outlines a number of effective strategies to help the writer better manage time and in doing so become far more productive.

She covers topics like:

  • Using lists and setting priorities
  • Learning to say no
  • Tackling one task at a time
  • Cluster tasks together
  • Knowing your energy cycle
  • Automating computer tasks
  • Keeping track of Projects
  • Relaxation


Plenty there to read and think about.

Good writing.

Be productive.

I wanted to be a procrastinator, and I might get around to it when I have more time.