Writing Life week five

This post should have been written last week, but  life got in the way.

It was a very busy week, with the usual drama of escaping ponies, rats at the stables and hyperactive dogs. But despite its many trials and tribulations, it was the kind of week where I got stuff done. Not my blog post obviously, but other writing stuff.

I’m organising a short story competition for Wakefield District Sight Aid, a local charity for people with sight loss, and was delighted to secure a judge, a very successful and popular Yorkshire writer, who I am very much looking forward to working with. Apologies for being slightly vague. Details haven’t yet been announced, so I have to keep quiet.

In my own writing, I spent most of the week working on an awards entry. It took days to complete the application process. I wrote around 1,600 words, which seemed to take longer to write than the 6,000 creative piece that went with it. Anyway, I entered and will keep my fingers crossed. That said, I’ve just heard they had 1,004 entries, so I’ll probably need more of a miracle really.

As soon as I’d pressed send, I had to turn my attention to a short story I’m writing for a Comma Press course. Our homework had been to write a short story of between 2,000 and 6,000 words. I managed about 2,500. I had a frantic few days trying to get it finished, before sending it to the other members of the group. We had a few stories to read and I also had to read and comment on the stories of my peers. I love reading short stories, so this wasn’t a problem at all.

Towards the final part of the week, I managed to look at my novel. I went over the plot, characters and research. I wrote a sentence describing what the book is actually about. The idea of having a one-sentence pitch is that if I am ever in a lift with a publishing bod, I can – in the time it takes to get from the ground to the first floor – tell them exactly what makes my novel so great. Before I step out of the lift, they will offer me a six-figure publishing deal and I will live happily ever after.

It took me a while to get the sentence just right. This was all before I attended a planning and plotting workshop with novelist, Susan Elliot Wright. The workshop was last Saturday. It was great to spend a full day thinking of my novel, and how I want to develop it. Plus, Chris fed, watered and mucked-out the horses, so I got a day off from that.

In other news, I ran the fastest 10km of my life, which I blogged about. And finally, after looking at lots of potential wedding venues, Chris and I found the one we wanted. My plan is to launch my wedding blog very soon.

So there you have it. My hectic week five. Things are certainly picking up pace. Creative writing work is being completed and awards are being entered. It’s just the blog I let slide!

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Writing Life week four – writing is a lonely business

Writing is a lonely business. You spend hours creating and crafting your words, shaping your story, getting things just right. Then it’s time for the editing and proofreading. It can be a very isolating process. To help, I think it’s important to keep in touch with other like-minded people. You could join a writing or book group, or attend workshops, events or conferences. Whatever you decide to do, I think having some support is an important part of a writer’s life.

It’s nice to have a support network. It’s a chance to talk to other people who understand what it’s like to be a writer. You’ll meet people who know about the highs and lows of writing. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll be able to help, give you a boost when you’re wading through that first draft of your novel. Perhaps they’ll give you feedback, help with the editing, or maybe they will just be there to support and motivate.

This week, I met up with my friend, Lucy, who is also a writer. We worked together as teachers for a few years, before both choosing to pursue writing careers. I love to meet up with Lucy. Not only is she a good friend, but she is also a writer. She understands what it’s like. We always have lunch and spend a few hours talking about life and writing. After every meeting, I always leave feeling much more positive than when I arrived.

Take yesterday, for example,  I’d been mid-way through writing a short story when there was a power cut. The house was plunged into darkness. which made it difficult to get things done. There is, after all, only so much battery in a laptop. Then when I was at the stables, I had a close encounter with a rat. It was a big rat, huge. And it was making itself quite at home in my horse’s stable. The day hadn’t got off to a good start.

By lunchtime, I was feeling a little annoyed, possibly a bit grumpy. I hoped meeting my friend for lunch would help. I spent a few hours with Lucy talking about writing and our ambitions. We were also celebrating as Lucy’s just come second in a short story competition! I left feeling very excited about both of our writing projects. We’ve got lots of new work coming up, so it’s great to talk things through and offer advice and support.

While we were enjoying our lunch, we decided it would be a great idea to meet up to write. What’s stopping us taking our laptops to a local café or hotel and setting up for the day? We booked time in the diary. We will be meeting on Fridays, so we’re calling it Friday Fiction. It won’t be every Friday, but I hope it becomes a regular thing. Having the support of a friend and fellow writer, really can make a big difference.

As well as meeting with Lucy, last week I also wrote quite a lot. I started working on a synopsis for my running memoir, and completed the first draft of a short story for my Comma Press short story course. On my running blog I wrote about taking part in my first track race in fifteen years, where, despite being an average runner, I managed to get a UK number one ranking!

Finally, I’ve also decided to change the name of this blog from Writing Resolutions to Writing Life. I’d like the blog to be more than just me banging on about what I have, or haven’t achieved in a particular week. Yes, I’m using it as a motivator, to make sure I keep the momentum going, but I also want it to be more than that. I want it to reflect the writing life. I want to share the highs and lows of being a writer, both a freelance writer and an aspiring author. I hope you enjoy reading it.

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Writing resolutions – week three

Week three in January is when many New Year’s resolutions fall by the wayside. Thankfully, my writing resolution is still intact.

It’s been a really busy, but fantastic week at work. I’ve had a few events, which went really well. I also submitted (and passed) an assignment on Middlemarch as part of my Open University degree in English Literature, and I submitted the first of my workbooks towards qualifying as a running coach.

With so much going on, the danger for me is that work and study, as much as I enjoy it, takes over from my writing time. My resolution was to make sure that this doesn’t happen. The idea is that even when things are really hectic, I will still find time to write. Even if it’s just a few minutes. I WILL WRITE! My freelance writing and journalism does not count, as I do that every day anyway.

This week was a test. I obviously didn’t get as much writing time as I would have liked, but I did do something every day. On Monday I started an online course with the Open University. The focus is on creating characters. I worked my way through the online resources, and created a few new characters. One of the characters came quite by accident when I was making resources for my English class. I teach for Crisis UK, a charity for single homeless people. I was writing a model answer to discuss with the students. She went down really well. ‘I like her,’ one student said. ‘She sounds interesting,’ another said. It made me want to do more with her. I want to tell her story. Another character started from a name. Once I had the name, the ideas for the story soon followed.

I haven’t done much on my novel this week, and my main character, Cathy, is nagging to be written. She’s a great character and I’ve worked hard to develop her voice. She’s a child, so creating her voice has been difficult. I think it’s time to focus on Cathy. I’ve got the structure in place, I’ve started planning, I’ve written around 40,000 in total. I need to get my novel moving again.

I’ve been discussing my progress with my friend, Lucy. We decided that all the work I’ve done so far is part of what we’re calling the zero draft. It comes before the first draft, when you’re still figuring out the characters and events. Lucy is also working on her zero draft. It’s great that we can share our ideas and progress.

Finally, I’ve also been plodding on with my short story for Comma Press. I’ve decided to have the weekend focusing on this, so I’m really looking forward to that. Hopefully, this time next week, I will have a completed first (or is it zero) draft to be pleased with.

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Writing resolutions – week two

This week I handed in my MA life writing assessment. It was a 6,000 word piece about running the London Marathon. I used the race as the structure of the story, with present tense for the race and past tense for flashbacks to childhood. I wanted to explore the connection between the overweight child I once was and the keen runner I am today. The story also included scenes from the recent past, with the death of my grandfather. It’s been a very emotional piece to write, but I’m really pleased with the end result.

When I finished writing mid-December I had more than 10,000 words. For the past few weeks I’ve been spending my time editing, editing and editing some more.

Deadline day arrived (Wednesday), and I was still editing. I could have gone on forever, but there is a time when enough is enough, plus I needed to submit for the MA. I finally uploaded my submission and pressed send!

On Thursday evening, I turned my attention to short stories. I’ve enrolled on a six-month short story writing course with Comma Press. The course is run by Jude Brown, a Sheffield based short story writer. Jude has won many awards including the Raymond Williams Community Publishing Award, the Fish Microfiction Prize and in 2013 she won a New Writing North Award. Her short stories have been published in a range of anthologies and magazines. She’s also completed the MA Writing at Sheffield Hallam.

The short story course is held at Bank Street Arts in Sheffield. We meet once a month. The idea is that we’ll get a handle on the predominant narrative structures used by short story writers, so that we can implement them in our own work. At last night’s session we read a couple of short stories and completed some writing exercises. I really enjoyed it. And, we had chocolate biscuits and hot chocolate, which was lovely.

The aim of the course is to complete three short stories to a polished and professional standard. Our homework for this month is to write the first of these. I’ve had an idea for a story for a while, so I was up this morning to start the planning and writing process.

I know it’s only week two of my writing resolutions, but things are going well. In fact, I’m very excited about the way things are progressing.

 

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Writing resolutions

As well as my freelance writing and copywriting, I also write fiction and nonfiction. I squeeze this in before and after work, and in between running, walking the dogs and looking after the horses. Needless to say, life sometimes gets in the way. This year I’ve decided that I will find time for my creative projects NO MATTER WHAT!

My resolution is to work on at least one of my creative projects every day. This could include researching, planning, writing or editing. There may be times when I only have a few minutes, but it’s better than nothing. Doing something every day keeps the momentum going.

As I work on my novel, short stories, life writing and blogs, I want to share my experiences and writing journey with you. I will be writing a blog post every Friday, updating on my progress. No doubt there will be highs and lows, but I’m hoping the hard work pays off. I’m determined to make 2016 a successful creative writing year.

Here’s what I achieved in week one.

Blogging is something that I absolutely love. I write two blogs: Cosy Corner Books and Champion Running. Cosy Corner is a small corner of the web where I write about all things books. Champion Running is for runners of all ages and abilities, and currently has around 700 followers.

After a few months away from blogging, I decided to get back to it. The week has been filled with planning and researching content for new blog posts. I wrote a piece about New Year’s Day parkrun and returning to training. On the Cosy Corner, I published a blog about my Christmas in books, the death of my grandmother in Life and Loss, and something for the New Year. On both blogs I made a few technical changes, which were quite fiddly and time consuming.

After getting engaged at Christmas, people are starting to ask what our wedding plans are. At the moment we don’t have any. To be honest, we’re rather overwhelmed by the whole organising a wedding thing. To help, I found a number of wedding blogs and websites, which got me thinking. Why not set up my own blog? Everyone is telling us to enjoy the planning process. Writing a blog will give us a record of exactly that. I bought a new domain name, started designing the blog and writing content. The blog will be launching soon!

A lot of my work this week has involved editing my MA life writing assignment, which is due on Wednesday. I’ve spent most mornings before work editing. I’ve really enjoyed the process. The assignment is a 7,000 word piece about running a marathon, but also deals with themes of loss. It’s been difficult to write. At times I’ve been laughing out loud, other times I’ve cried. The good thing is that I’m proud of this piece of work.

In my novel I finally decided on the structure of the book, which is something I’ve been thinking about for ages. It’s nice to have this sorted. I started planning chapter one. I’m looking forward to focusing on the novel once the life writing assignment is handed in.

And last, but not least, I did some marketing research into running books. I’m writing a beginners guide to running, which will be used as part of my running club’s Walk to Run programme.

So that’s the first week of my writing campaign. All in all, I’m quite pleased. I also seem to have found a routine. Mornings are for life writing or fiction, whereas the evenings tend to be more blogging focused.

My writing year has started well.

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Blogging with Crisis Skylight

The World of Blogging was the theme of a workshop I delivered this week for Crisis Skylight in Sheffield.

Crisis is a charity for single homeless people

Crisis is a charity for single homeless people

Crisis Skylight South Yorkshire is an outreach service for homeless and vulnerably housed people. The charity delivers courses and activities within hostels, day centres and community venues. It was my first session with the team, and I loved it.

The course focused on how to set up and start a blog. As I write a book and running blog it seemed a great course for me to deliver. I always enjoy meeting a new group. In fact, having the opportunity to work with lots of people is one of the most rewarding things about being a freelance tutor.

The group worked incredibly hard and by the end of the day everyone had created a blog they were proud of. We had many different subjects including football, family, fashion and being transgender.

As well as introducing the group to blogging and creating a blog, my course included training on how to write a blog post, build an audience and use social networks to support your blogging. In a few hours we covered a lot. At the end of the day the group were determined to continue blogging. I’m very much looking forward to working with them again to see how their blogs develop.

In the meantime I am writing a guide to blogging. This will be useful for anyone who is thinking about setting up a blog. More details to follow.

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Finding inspiration in Whitby

When I’m looking for inspiration or have a writing-related problem, going for a run or walk helps me to think clearly.  Sometimes I start thinking of lines for my writing, other times I think about the structure of a piece of writing. The process of walking and running has become an important part of my creative practice. Basically, it helps me think and get new ideas.

As part of my MA in writing at Sheffield Hallam University, I’m exploring the link between creativity and movement, particularly running and walking. I’ve been doing some reading recently which suggests that place and where you walk or run has a big impact on writing. When you think about the work of Charles Dickens who walked in the city, and William Wordsworth who walked in the country this makes perfect sense.

I like to run and walk in the country. I like to explore new places. But this winter I’ve only been able to train at night which means my possibilities for exploration were limited. Things weren’t helped by the fact that the Yorkshire village where I live doesn’t have any street lights. In terms of creativity and inspiration, pounding the pavements in the dark hasn’t been great.

My partner, Chris, and I decided it was time for a day out. We headed to the seaside town of Whitby, North Yorkshire. I was hoping to find some inspiration for my writing not to mention visiting a few bookshops and enjoying fish and chips.

whitby abbey

Whitby Abbey

 

with chris at the abbey

With Chris after climbing the 199 steps to the abbey

It was cold but we walked around the town and climbed the 199 steps to the abbey, stopping to take some photographs along the way. Just the process of strolling seems to help with creativity and relaxation. I think it’s a combination of the change of scenery and the rhythm of movement. Whatever the reason, it definitely helps. I returned home that evening and wrote the next chapter of my novel. The words just poured out. I couldn’t stop. The problems I’d been having with structure seemed to fade away. It seems that a day out in Whitby can work wonders for creativity and inspiration.

Many writers say walking or exercise helps with their creativity and writing. I completely agree, but I’m also trying to explore why it helps and investigate the impact it has on my writing and my writing practice. Does walking help you to write? Are you a runner? Do you think about your writing, or even compose on the run? I would love to hear your thoughts. You can email me at copy@lizchampion.co.uk or contact me through the blog.

About me: I’m a freelance writer and copywriter in Yorkshire. I’ve recently become a full-time freelance writer, which you can read about here.

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Welcome to my blog and website

My name is Liz and I am a freelance writer and copywriter living and working in Yorkshire.

After more than 15 years of working as a copywriter and communications specialist for a variety of organisations, I’m delighted to be launching my copywriting business. I’ve been a part-time freelancer for a while, so I’m very excited to be making it a full-time venture.

Words are my business. I write copy for online and print publications. I have experience of writing blogs, news articles, features, advertorials, website content, annual reports, letters, brochures, and marketing materials. I’m happy to get involved in any writing project.

I have launched and edited in-house magazines for national charities, the NHS, and private sector companies. My journalism has been published in a variety of publications, and I’m also a regular contributor to two magazines based in Singapore.

I provide clear, effective and engaging copy tailored to the needs of the audience. As well as copywriting, I offer a copy editing and proofreading service. Whatever your project, I can help your business by providing excellent copywriting services at a competitive price.

Writing is my passion, so I will be blogging about writing, creativity and life. I hope you enjoy reading it. In the meantime, if you would like to know more about my copywriting services, or have a project you’d like to discuss please do get in touch. Email copy@lizchampion.co.uk or visit my contact page.

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