Choosing Advice

The thing about writing advice is – it only works if it suits you. One writer’s failsafe plan for writing book is completely opposite to another writer’s failsafe plan. One die-hard rule is completely contrary to another’s. And that’s not even getting into the advice from those who teach writing.

All that advice is a good jumping off point. It’s really good to try a lot of different methods and ways of writing. But don’t follow it to the point of stifling your creativity. Try a little bit here and a little bit there and if it suits you, keep it – but if it doesn’t, discard it – no matter how much you revere the person it came from. Use all that advice as vague guidelines only – much like, when you first learn to use pen and paper as a child, the lines are lightly drawn in until you learn to write in a straight line.

Only you know the best way for you to write.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad

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Escape Christmas


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It’s Christmas. The decorations are up, wrapping is taking place, we’re all tempted to have chocolate for breakfast and for half the world, it’s very cold (I see you, Australia, having Christmas sitting by the pool) so I have a challenge for you.

Write a summer story.

Instead of shivering, feel the sun on your skin. Long for iced water, not hit chocolate. Your characters may give a birthday present, but Christmas wrapping is nowhere to be seen. Write yourself far away from the time and place you are in. And when you put the pen down and look up, you should be surprised to see Christmas around you.

You all know what it’s like to be so lost in a story you lose the world around you. It’s possible to do that in writing too. I think now, at such a well-defined and almost stereotyped time of year, it’d be good for us all to escape to summer.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad

The Holidays by Christine Duncan

Right now, I’m betting your life is as crazy as mine. Presents to buy and wrap, house cleaning and decorating, cookies to bake, the list seems endless.

   But try to write down just little bit here and there of what you’re experiencing. Even if you never use it in your actual work, the memories it will evoke could help you write later. And give you a smile.

The Panto

Today I am going to see the pantomime. Now the thing with the pantomime is that it is rammed full of tradition – the story has to be told a certain way, certain characters must be played in a certain way, certain lines must be said every time. The whole point of the Panto is that it must be the same every time – and yet it must also be different enough that no one gets bored. Thousands of Pantos all over the country, for over a hundred years, all following the same format and yet different.

And it’s utterly engrained in the British national psyche. Grown ups swear they won’t join in – but they do. Children who have never been to the Panto before seem to know what’s expected of them and cheerfully call out ‘he’s behind you!’ on cue.

I know people who say they won’t write because it’s all been done before. Or they want to write a story but everyone knows it. It doesn’t matter. If the Panto can take something so well known and yet make it fun and new each year in each town, you can write an old beloved story and yet still make it shiny and new.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad

Writer’s Quote of the Week by Christine Duncan

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” Jack London

It must work. The guy died at 40 but he had already written over 50 books.

20 minutes a day.

Someone asked me today how I fit writing books inbetween a full time job and everything else. The answer is – 20 minutes a day.

Sometimes the 20 minutes stretches to a couple of hours. Sometimes the 20 minutes seem like a struggle. Sometimes 20 minutes is all I can squeeze in.

20 minutes is achievable. If you’re exhausted, 30 minutes just seems too long – but 20 minutes is just a bit of time. If all you squeeze in is 20 minutes between the other chores – well, you can get quite a lot done. If you’re having trouble getting motivated, 20 minutes can be enough to get you started again.

So if anyone asks how you can find the time to write a book in between work and family and housework, tell them all you need is 20 minutes.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad

Winter by Christine Duncan

It is only the beginning of December so it isn’t technically winter. But it is cold in the house and I’m expecting snow tonight. Tomorrow, I will have to clear the white stuff off the car’s windshield to get to work. So to me it is winter.
So I was cheered to read this quote by Bob Seger. “I write probably 80 percent of my stuff over winter.”
It does feel easier to be creative in winter. I can’t go garden. It’s hard to run outside and although, I run on the treadmill, I get bored and just get the miles over. There are less distractions.
So I hope that you too are seeing this season as a chance to catch up on your reading and writing.
But John Geddes said it better, “I pray this winter be gentle and kind–a season of rest from the wheel of the mind.”