Claire Scobie gives us 5 ways to be accountable in writing a story

by: Jennifer Richardson on

As a journalist I’m used to deadlines. If I didn’t have them, I wouldn’t always finish stories. Or even start them.

When you’re working on a book or a bigger writing project you need to create your own deadlines. If you know you won’t stick to them, find someone you can be accountable to.

Here are 5 ways to be accountable

  1. Find a friend you trust or a writing buddy or a group of writers. Tell them to give you a deadline.
  2. Write out your goals – research suggests you’re more likely to succeed if you do so.
  3. Be time specific with your goals – so set a realistic date to finish your story or first draft.
  4. If you’re writing book, break down your goals. Make a commitment to write 5,000 words every month or whatever.
  5. Email all of this to your friend / buddy / group. You are now accountable to them and if you don’t meet your goals you need a VERY good excuse. (Or you may set yourself a fine.)

This works better if there is an exchange. So if you say you’re going to finish your first chapter and your friend is an artist, she needs to have done the first sketch of her watercolour.

How do you ensure you finish your stories?

Claire Scobie will be teaching at our Writing in a Palace in 2015, held at Palazzo Donati in Marche, Italy. Details to be updated soon.

Jan Cornall's Ten Top Tips

by: Jennifer Richardson on

From the revised edition of Jan’s best seller – Write Your Book On A Weekend   -  coming soon in the Online Shop

  1. Read, Read, Read! Everything and anything all the time – feed on the classics, modern literature, experimental writing.  Devour it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Keep yourself in a state of perpetual inspiration.
  2. Write, Write, Write! Everyday as much as you can. Copy, imitate, beg, borrow, steal until you find your writers’ voice. If you only write for ten minutes a day, that’s 300 words which over a year adds up to 109,500 words. That’s a book!
  3. Write as if your life depended on it. If your idea doesn’t involve daring, forget it and come up with one that does. If you feel scared to write what you want to write, you know you are on the right track.
  4. Make a Commitment. If you are not committed to your idea forget it! It has to be something you would trade your life for – well almost! Sell your house, hock your dog. Make a list of the things you are willing to give up for your writing.
  5. Trust You Can. To write a book you have to trust in yourself, in the process, in the unknown. It’s another reason we don’t do it. It’s too scary! What if I can’t do it? What if I fail? What if I succeed? Then what? You have to trust that your every bit of scribbling will one day all add up to something.
  6. Have Faith. It’s like trust, but is more about believing you really can do it – that you have what it takes to be a writer, that you believe you really will do it. In the times when you don’t have faith just act ‘as if.’ Tell people you are writing a book and then you will have to do it! Don’t give them too much information, just enough to keep them intrigued.
  7. Cultivate the Art of Dreaming. You can do it anywhere, any time. Suddenly your favorite (antisocial) pastime becomes useful. Cultivate the art of dreaming on your bed, in an armchair, in the garden, in the traffic jam, but always make sure you have your notebook close by to catch the ideas as they start to fall.
  8. Marry Creativity! People, partnerships, marriages may come and go but the creative process will never abandon you. From the moment you wake ‘til the moment you go to sleep if you give yourself over to creativity you will never be unhappy again.
  9. Write From a Place of Emotional Truth. It doesn’t mean you have to tell all your secrets but if you can harness the power of your unique emotional truth your writing will have a powerful impact.
  10. Always Come Back To The Writing. There’s no need to get impatient or rush to the end product. As in meditation when we simply come back to the breath, each day all you have to do is come back to the writing and watch the writing will write itself.

One of the best ways to  get your writing flowing is to join a writers retreat. Check out Moroccan Caravan with Jan Cornall

Elizabeth Gilbert reflects on why success can be as disorienting as failure

by: Jennifer Richardson on

I am sharing another wonderful and very inspiring TED talk here that I watched last night that I think will be of interest to you.

Elizabeth Gilbert was once an "unpublished diner waitress," devastated by rejection letters. And yet, in the wake of the success of 'Eat, Pray, Love,' she found herself identifying strongly with her former self.

With beautiful insight, Gilbert reflects on why success can be as disorienting as failure and offers a simple — though hard — way to carry on, regardless of outcomes.


Sting tells how he overcame a severe case of writers block

by: Jennifer Richardson on

I stumbled across this inspiring talk on TED last night. I hope you enjoy seeing it as much as I did.

Sting’s early life was dominated by a shipyard—and he dreamed of nothing more than escaping the industrial drudgery. But after a nasty bout of writer’s block that stretched on for years, Sting found himself channeling the stories of the shipyard workers he knew in his youth for song material. In a lyrical, confessional talk, Sting treats us to songs from his upcoming musical, and to an encore of “Message in a Bottle.”