Worth vs Pay

Last week we had National Writers Day and we all congratulated and praised and supported each other, the way writers do. It was a day for us to feel special and noticed.

However, last week there was also a report that most writers earn less than than the minimum wage. Our profits from writing are falling, whilst those of publishers are soaring. It’s now almost impossible to make a living from writing. The result is – only the favoured few have time to write. As the others try and squeeze in an hours writing between the day job and other responsibilities, for a pathetically small amount of money, they give up, tired and dispirited, and we lose yet another voice. We are losing diversity and new voices.

So, what’s to be done? Many people are turning to e-publishing and smaller publisher as the big ones cut back on marketing and promoting. And if you do feel like giving up – don’t. Take a break, but come back to it. Your stories need to be heard, and there is a movement towards paying writers – soon, it could change in our favour.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad


Summer Writing and Reading Quotes by Christine Duncan

It’s summer and I’m super busy with other stuff like weeding, lawn mowing, and my day job which is in the process of moving to another location. Writing is way down on the list which just inspires a lot of guilt.

So I thought I’d look up some quotes about summer and reading and writing. The first two quotes are my ideal of summer–long lazy days where you can do what you want.
“One benefit of summer was that each day, we had more light to read by.” Jeannete Walls
“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.” Sam Keen

The second set of quotes are probably more accurate. In my life at least, writing needs to be carved in among the other things on the To Do list.

“I know white clothing is supposed to enhance that summer glow, but writers don’t tan.” Diablo Cody

And this quote too, sums up my life in summer: “It’s a cruel season that makes you get ready for bed while it’s light out.”

And finally, the quote that helps me get rid of the guilt, because it is advice I can take right now.

“Write about summer in winter.” Annie Dillard

That one, I can probably do.

Two heads etc….

I’ve been told I need to make the plot of my latest book more complex and for about ten minutes I had no idea how to do that. Then it all came flooding in – how to do it, what to do, where to put it.

Writing is a solitary occupation but input from other people is needed to stimulate our minds. We need an agent or an editor or a friend to say ‘well, what about this?’ or ‘You’ve left a plot hole there.’

Recently, a rather well-known writer announced that they had asked their editor not to edit as they felt it destroyed their vision. Well, I see their point but however, I find that every book this author has written without an editor is messy, rambling, quite dull and just not up to the standard of their earlier work.

It can feel horrible when you write something you think is quite good but get asked to make changes. A suggestion of improvements translates itself into our heads as ‘this is not good enough and you’re not good enough!’ That’s not what’s happening. We just need that moment of outside input to make our work better.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad

Happy Father’s Day by Christine Duncan

Getting Words On The Page

It’s all very well having that clever idea, or lots of clever ideas, but how do you get them on the page? Sometimes, writing a whole book seems like a daunting task. Here are a few tricks I use to get writing.
0. A really nice notebook and pen. We all know the type. A book with smooth pages and a pen that just rolls across the page. Writing just feels so rewarding.
0. Do it in ten minutes bursts in between doing something else. Read a chapter of another book, then set a timer for ten minutes and just write, then read, then write.
0. Don’t start at the beginning. Start somewhere in the middle. Write a random scene. Write an ending. Write blocks of text than put them together.
0. Take a notepad with you. Write on the bus, write in the doctors waiting room. Anywhere that you’re usually bored.
0. Write a plan of what you’re going to do and stick it up on the wall where you can see it all the time. It’ll prompt you and show you what you’ve done already and what’s left to do. Just remember the plan is not concrete, you can change whatever you want whenever you want.
0. Rewards! One chapter – one chocolate. 1000 words – watch some TV. 10000 words – have a long lie in. You’re going to need it!

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad

Eavesdropping by Christine Duncan

I loved Michelle’s last post about listening in to people on the bus. I have done this!]
Sometimes, I’ve listened to just get a certain dialect down in my head. The last time I visited the East Coast, I tried to pick out all the people from Philly. It didn’t matter that I was in Washington, or Florida. I was listening for a South Philly accent, and I found it as I traveled through. So it was easier to write the then work in progress, set at the Jersey shore. I had grown up on the East coast, but years out West made me lose the accent, unless, as my kids tell me, I am talking to my sisters. So I tried to isolate what I was hearing.
I have listened to people who sat at nearby tables at restaurants. (Admit it! You’ve done this!) and made up whole stories about them in my head. “Poor Janice, she put up with him for years! She deserved better!” I’ve used this stuff as writing prompts sometimes. You have to try that one. It can really get you going on those days when you just don’t know what to write.

It’s Not Being Nosy If You’re A Writer

See that woman in a blue dress over there? Why do you think she bought it? Was it a special occasion? Is it her favourite dress, or her comfy dress (we all have clothes for those days we can’t be bothered to dress up)? Why did she choose that colour?

Plug your headphones in so everyone on the bus thinks you’re listening to music. Don’t switch the music on. Instead, listen to the conversations around you. Who’s lying? Who’s bored? Who’s in love? Who has a secret?

Sit in the park and watch the dogs. Those dogs really like each other but the owners won’t even talk. Why not? What happened? Will the dogs bring them together?

You got post delivered to the person who lived there before you. What an intriguing name. Why are they getting post from that company? Why haven’t they told them they’ve moved.

In anyone else, all this is nosiness. But for writers, it’s research.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad