Word For the Year by Christine Duncan

I usually pick a word for the year right around now. I spend time thinking about it as I want it to be a word that will inspire me throughout the year. Resolutions? Eh.

Ny resolution this year is to sleep better– to try to schedule when I go to bed and when I wake. Hardly inspirational.

But the word for the year has to help me through the hard and still make me keep going. Let’s face it, we all have that challenge right now.

I thought of endure. But really? It makes me think of trudging through. And I don’t want to.

Persist? Um. No. Nevertheless she persisted? Inspirational but it’s been taken.

Show as in show up. Show you can. Show you will. hmm. Close.

Persevere? Resolute? Challenge! I accept the challenge of this year. I am up to the challenge.


Determined. As in– I am determined to stay the course. As in–the days of our lives are determined before we are born. Determined.

Still thinking.

I am determined to be up to this challenge.

Who’s the main character again?

This week I discovered that the main character in my book is not who I thought it was, and this is why I’ve been struggling.

All this could have been avoided if I’d done just one simple exercise: write an overview of the story from the point of view of each of the characters.

That’s a great way to see the story how they saw it, what part they think they played, how they contributed.

It doesn’t have to be long, just half a page. However, if you find you’ve written three pages for a minor, and can happily keep going, maybe that character should play a bigger role?

I wish I’d done that when I first started this book. It would have saved so much time and confusion.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad

The Magic Notebook

Get a notebook. A good one, you like to write in. And a decent pen. Now sit down, and while watching TV or listening to music just scribble down words and ideas. No form, no plan, just let it flow. While one part of your mind is occupied with something else, let your subconscious out to play.

You’d be amazed what comes out. Lots of it might be rubbish – and yet, there’ll be something there. A jewel in the dust heap. But don’t try for that. The entire point of the exercise is not to try, just to let your inner writer out to play.

I do it while watching TV – the kind of thing that’s easy to watch and I don’t need to pay too much attention to. It frees me up from the strain of sitting in front of a blank screen, waiting for inspiration to strike and lets my subconscious out to play.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad

It’s been a Week by Christine Duncan

I don’t think I need to tell anyone how this week has been. We’ve all been here, watching the news unfold. Covid deaths rising across the world and then the riots in our nation’s capital. I’m pretty sure I speak for many when I say the only writing I’ve done has been on social media as I reacted to it all. There is just about nothing that hasn’t been said. Much of what was said was said in anger. I won’t add to that.

I am an independent. Couldn’t bring myself to vote for either party for either of the last two elections. But I have friends and family who voted on each side of the aisle. Probably we all do.

The point is, maybe we all need to remember that before we speak.

Writing Quote for the New Year by Christine Duncan

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something. So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever. ~Neil Gaiman

Happy New Year?

Happy New Year! Now is the time to…

No. No it isn’t. Setting an arbitrary date on changing everything doesn’t really work, especially not when we’re stuck in the strangest times most of us have ever known.

What might be useful though is thinking about small changes. Don’t make a plan to read ten books every weekend – but perhaps make a plan of the books you’d like to read and decide to set aside to start the first one tomorrow. Don’t decide that this is the year you’ll finally get that novel published – but have a look at agents, or query letters or what you’ve got available.

And setting out an ambitious writing plan doesn’t work – if you say you’re going to write two hours every day and then never stick to it, you’ll be annoyed with yourself. A better plan, I find, it to say ‘in a month’s time, I’ll have got the book to this certain point’ – then you have something to aim for while allowing yourself some leeway for difficult days.

Good luck, and if you make one resolution for 2021 let it be ‘I will write what and how brings me most pleasure’

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad

Merry Christmas by Christine Duncan

This Damn Year

I’d love to write something thoughtful about the end of the year and achievements but the truth is, I’m just too tired.

I know that I, like a lot of other people, thought I’d get so much writing done in lockdown – but that wasn’t true. It was time off, but it wasn’t relaxing. We’ve all spent the year in a state of high alert, never able to fully relax, waiting for the next announcement, the next change of rules (often at the last minute) the next disaster. That, as it turns out, is not a good environment for writing.

So if you did write – well done. You should feel proud, no matter what you wrote. If you didn’t – that’s 2020 – it took so much energy just to get through it. No-one failed. No-one wasted time.

In a few years, all the things we learned and saw and felt in this year will come to fruition in our work, whether we directly reference 2020 or not. But this year – this year just breathe, and rest and take a break. You’ve earned it.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad

This December by Christine Duncan

Usually by this time in December, I’ve read a pile of Christmas themed books, tried to scribble out a Christmas themed short story and am singing Christmas songs under my breath as I scurry to get ready for the holiday.

This year …this year, well, we all know how different and how difficult this year has been. But I read, of all things a Christmas card that I am trying to keep in mind today.

It talked about the year, the tears, and the zoom meetings and then it congratulated us all for getting through it. That is the attitude I want to have. We are all a bit scared, a bit off balance and probably tired.

But we did it. One step at a time. Chistmas is coming and we CAN celebrate that.

Something New

We all settle into our styles of writing. We decide we write historical romance, or cyberpunk fantasy and that’s our genre, and that’s good, it is good to know who you are.

But it might also be interesting to dip your toe into another style everyone in a while. Try a little poetry, or write a short crime story.

I’m not saying it has to be publishable, or even good. I’m not saying you should write for anyone’s eyes but your own. But it can help when you go back to your main genre.

That break can allow you to play with different voices and different situations. It allows you to look at a story with whole new eyes. You can see a different angle, perhaps find a different way to tell the story you want to tell.

Try something new, even if only for an hour or two. It could make quite a difference.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad