Happy birthday to this blog
Trevor’s Writing is three years old today.
Three years, almost 800 articles about writing, reading and blogging and nearly a thousand comments has been a challenge. In the middle of that I’ve had some serious health issues and I’ve taken on full time study. I must be a little crazy. The journey has been exhilarating.
To celebrate I’d like to highlight a few features of my blog, especially for newer readers. Here are some links for further reading.
- About me – some background about me as a writer.
- My poetry – some samples of the many hundreds of poems I have written, some of which have been published.
- Short fiction – some of my short fiction that I’ve published here for you to read.
- Writing hints – just what it says – hints to help you with your writing.
- Short story starters – stuck for an idea for a short story? Check out these very popular story starters.
- Writing a Novel – links to the journal I am writing about writing a novel in 2009.
- Archives – a complete list of every article ever to appear here on this blog – all 800 and counting.
There you have a veritable smorgasbord of reading to help you with your writing.
Writing prompt #8
It has been quite a few months since I gave my last writing prompt, so it’s time for another one.
This time I thought I’d do something different. Instead of just one idea, I’m going to give a list of writing ideas. Use these ideas however you want. You might get an idea for a story, or a magazine article or a blog post. Or you might just use it as a warmup activity before the main writing project for the day.
20 Writing Prompts:
- Write about the Teddy Bears’ Picnic from the ant’s point of view.
- Write a list of things that are white.
- Explain why your character is afraid to go into the shadows.
- Write about a librarian who discourages people from borrowing books.
- Describe the most vivid dream you ever had.
- Make a list of things that make you laugh.
- Describe the last time you had a really good cry.
- Write about the joys of moving house.
- Write a conversation between a tree and a bird.
- Describe the most exotic place you’ve ever visited.
- Write the transcript of an interview you did with the character of a book.
- Make a list of the ten major events in your life.
- Write about the worst smell you have ever experienced.
- List the attributes of the most evil character you can imagine.
- Tell your life story in 50 words or less.
- Write a story about a cat in exactly 50 words. It must have a beginning, middle and end.
- What would you most like to change about your life – either in the past or the present.
- Imagine what it would be like living in a palace and write about it.
- Write a list of the ten things you would never do.
- Imagine being in your mother’s womb. Write about your feelings.
- Writing prompts – an archives of articles in this series of articles.
Universal Writing Rules
- There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
That was a somewhat cynical view of the craft of writing. Sometimes I feel like they are not too far off the mark.
Despite that, we can but try to work out what this writing game is all about, and how to achieve with a moderate amount of success. In another life I was a classroom teacher for 35 years; near the end of that career I often said that I’d finally worked what this teaching thing is all about. I’m convinced that writing is the same; many years of practice is what it takes to discover what this writing thing is all about, and how it works.
Despite Somerset Maugham’s cynicism, there are some basic universal rules one can apply to all writing in order to improve it. An article appeared on ProBlogger a few days ago which addresses this very issue, with some commonsense rules to apply to every piece of writing to make it better – or even the best you can do. A worthy aim with all your writing after all.
You can read the article here: 5 Universal Writing Rules
You can read more on this topic by clicking on the links below.
What I learned from mowing grass
My home is situated on five acres (2 hectares) on the outskirts of a country town in South Australia. We have a small orchard, about two acres of bushland scrub and the remainder is open grassland. Many years ago it was used for grazing sheep.
We used to have five sheep, but they had an accident and ended up in the freezer. The sheep did a good job in keeping the grass down and mowing was unnecessary. It’s a different story now. In spring and early summer the grass and weeds grow quickly, sometimes up to waist high, depending on the winter rains. Of necessity I bought a ride-on mower a few years ago. It was a good move.
What has this to do with writing?
I learned a great deal about writing from mowing the grass.
Get a spark of an idea
Last spring the grass needed mowing. It was becoming a fire hazard as it dried in the warm sun. I went to start the mower – nothing.
Not a spark. The battery was flat. It wasn’t going anywhere.
Our writing can be like that. It seems to be going nowhere; in fact, some days it just won’t even start. Sometimes it needs a jump start to get it going. Take a break. Make a cup of tea or coffee. Go for a walk. Read a book for ten minutes. Then come back refreshed and ready to get it going again.
Get some outside help
Even though I charged the battery of my ride on mower, it still wouldn’t start. I tried everything I know about mowers and motors and batteries (which isn’t much – more of a short, short story actually). It needed professional help. I loaded it up on the trailer and took it to the dealer, a specialist in mower maintenance. That did the trick. He knew exactly how to solve the problem, giving me a few maintenance hints as well. Get some professional help with your writing. This is where networking and writers’ groups can be so beneficial. If necessary you may even need to pay to have your manuscript professionally assessed.
Eliminate the rubbish
When the mower was home again I got busy. There was plenty of grass that needed mowing before the summer fire danger season. Round and round I went mowing happily until… until the mower stopped mowing efficiently. What the… ? I stopped and looked down: the cutting area was clogged up with matted dry grass. The blades couldn’t do their job properly.
Is your writing clogged with rubbish? Words that don’t fit, or redundant sentences. Paragraphs that are really run-on sentences going nowhere. Wordy descriptions that “tell and don’t show.” Spelling and grammatical errors that readers – not to mention editors – will trip over and curse you for their sore knees.
Shed some light on your work
Sometimes I was enjoying the mowing so much the sun set on me and it started getting dark. The mower has two headlights but they don’t shed much light on the path ahead. I had to shut down, put the mower away and start again the next day.
Sometimes with our writing we get eyes that are dimmed through tiredness or trying too hard for too long. Put it away over night, or for a few days, and come back in the light of a new day. Instantly you will see where you were having troubles with a piece of writing and be able to correct it and move on.
Be sure to top up the fuel tank
My mower sometimes runs out of fuel. The gauge is on the side of the tank where I can’t see it from where I sit. It leaves me in no doubt about what is happening. It splutters to a stop with no warning. Sometimes it is a long walk back to the shed to get fuel.
Has your writing ever sputtered to a sudden stop, going nowhere? It is then time to refuel. Take a short holiday completely away from the work that is bogging you down. Go for a long walk every day. Set aside a day or two just for reading a novel. Stop and refuel by listening to music. Walk on the beach. Let the wind blow through your hair. See a movie or two or three. Visit a friend and have a good yarn about anything except your writing. Then come back fully refueled and ready to go on with your writing.