Archive for May, 2010

Writers and public speaking

I would guess that writers are mostly introverted people, happy to sit in their office tapping away at their computer creating stories, novels, poems, articles and whatever. Many shy away from the spotlight of public speaking. I believe that this is a narrow view of the writer’s life, one that is potentially limiting to their success as writers.

Writers need to be public speakers

As much as some writers might want to run from this suggestion, in order to promote one’s work the writer today needs to e a good public speaker. I have done considerable public speaking in other areas but very little in relation to my writing. Over the last 5 years I have had many opportunities to speak about Australian birds as a direct result of another blog of mine, Trevor’s Birding.

Prepare to be a good speaker

Joanna Penn on her blog The Creative Penn has written an excellent article on this very topic. Her article How to prepare for public speaking covers the topic really well. I recommend that you flip over there and have a read – or listen to her video. Excellent stuff.

Good writing.

Backup copies of your writing

A few days ago my son transferred all of my computer files from a positively ancient six year old computer to my new laptop. The transition took a while and was relatively painless. It would have taken me days to do what my son did in hours.

One of the topics we discussed during this process was the importance of having secure backup copies of all computer files. I don’t have to tell you how devastated you would be if you experienced what happened to a friend of mine.

He had been writing a novel on his laptop and this computer contained the only copy of this story. It was almost finished. He didn’t even have a paper copy or draft on paper. Some low life stole his laptop from his office and it was never recovered. Needless to say, he was devastated and took several years to get back to writing the story from scratch.

Always have backups of your writing.

My son has set up automatic backup systems of all my files. In adition, I will have copies on my stand alone USB drive. I am thinking of using DVD copies of all files, as well as on flash drives. They are now cheap enough to buy several of them and store them in different locations. Several years ago I copied all my writing files on to a CD and left them at my daughter’s home, some two hours’ drive away. This might seem overkill, but we live in an area where there is bush fire potential. We nearly got burned out five years ago so we are no longer complacent.

Good writing.

Writing on a new computer

I have a new laptop computer. Yay!

My old laptop was just over six years old and was getting really, really slow.

I mean – r e a l l y  s l o w. There wasn’t much space left on the hard drive either, which was causing me a few headaches too.

That’s all in the past now that I have my new Lenovo T510. Plenty of space, some new features and a lovely new feel. Now I have no excuse – I should be very productive.

My son is the techno wizz in our family and he helped me transfer all of my files from the old computer to the new one. Everything seems to be working fine, though I am still getting used to using Windows 7. One of the things my son is very careful is making backups of all one’s computing files. I don’t do this often enough on the separate USB drive I have for this purpose. I did do a full backup of all files before leaving on my current holiday visiting my son in Sydney. He is also very careful about backups of all files and he has set up some safeguards for my files too.

All I have to do now is get on with my writing…

…but I am on holiday for another week.

Good writing.

Taking a short break from writing

I am currently taking a short break from my writing.

I am on a much needed holiday visiting my son and daughter in law in Sydney. It is also a great opportunity to get to know my grandson a little better too, and at 19 months he is cuteness personified – and that’s a completely unbiased opinion of course!

One of the things I did before leaving home last week was to write and pre-post a series of articles to appear on my other two blogs (see the side bar for the links to them). These will be appearing every few days while I am away, so I don’t have to worry and can relax. Unfortunately I didn’t get to write a complete series for this blog. I just ran out of time.

I tend to write blog posts in spurts, sometimes writing 5 to 10 or more in the one day and scheduling them to appear at later dates on a regular basis. In this way I get into a rhythm with my writing, totally focussed on the blog and the needs of readers. After I have several weeks’ worth of posts scheduled I can then get on with other writing – like my novel – and focus solely on that. Some people can attend to many different tasks in the one day. Others like the variety but I think I write best when I am totally focussed on the one task. I tend to be more productive that way.

Good writing.

Writing about hidden treasures

Some writers complain that although they want to write, they just don’t know what to write about. In another life (as a classroom teacher) I constantly heard this complaint.

I rarely have this problem. In fact, I usually have far too many things to write about. My problem is choosing which one to write about first.

There are hidden treasures lurking everywhere. You just have to open your eyes to see the possibilities for writing that can crowd in upon you every day.

Start with everyday objects and let your imagination soar:

  1. Make a list of twenty (or 50 or…) objects in your bedroom. Now think about one object and how it came into your life. Change this to a really bizarre story. For example, the photo on the dresser is not your mother; it is the photo of a distant relative who was married to a famous explorer or an infamous mass murderer.
  2. Describe three objects in the room where you are sitting now. Now pick just one of them and imagine you dug it up in the garden. How did it get into your garden, and how is it now influencing your life?
  3. Look in the refrigerator.  Take note of one thing and write about how it came to be there. Give it a life of its own, telling the story of it existence in its own voice.
  4. Go outside and sit in the garden. Write about the one thing in your garden you really like (or absolutely detest). Write a conversation (or argument) between you and the object.
  5. Walk to the nearest park with notebook and pencil. Describe one person you passed on the way. Note how they are dressed – and change their attire into something very usual, like a grandma wearing pirate clothing. Use you imagination and let her sit with you to tell her story.
  6. Visit your nearest shopping center with a notebook and pen and find a seat. Pick out two people in the crowd. Try to imagine what they are saying. Give them new lives, new identities. Let them tell you their story.
  7. Find an old  magazine or newspaper and open it at random, picking out a photo at random. Use the photo as a starting point to your story. For example, if it is a photo of a young man advertising deodorant, imagine him doing something adventurous, or heroic or courageous. Bring the photo – and the subject – to life.

Story ideas are lurking everywhere; you just have to have eyes to see them.

Good writing.