Inspirations 2

Jane Friedman is one of my favourite writing bloggers out there, not to mention one of my biggest inspirations in starting this blog to begin with. On her website, she writes about everything from networking to building characters to finding a publisher. She also quotes The Smiths in her About section which is a surefire way to win my heart.

Recently I read an article of hers that I found really useful. It’s all about creating a believable chain of events in your novels, and how to create a believable universe for your characters to live in.

I highly encourage all of you to check it out!

https://janefriedman.com/believable-events/

Do you have trouble establishing causality when you’re mapping out a plot? How do you get around it? I’d love to know.

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Jane just being a generally cool lady. Photo credit: http://www.janefriedman.com

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Dealing With Writer’s Block

“Writing about a writer’s block is better than no writing at all.”

– Charles Bukowski

 

Every writer has experienced it. Regardless of whether you’re a Uni student trying to finish an assignment or a professional author with a book deal and an audience of millions, sometimes the words just won’t come. You can’t concentrate, your brain is falling to pieces and everything you write is rubbish.

So what do you do about it? Unfortunately deadlines don’t wait for us to feel like it, and there’s nothing worse than feeling creatively blocked. Everyone has their own unique strategies, but here are some of the ones that have worked for me:

  • Write stream-of-consciousness style for ten minutes as a warm up
  • Close down the computer and write by hand (this one has got me through more than one essay alive)
  • Exercise! Take a walk, dance around your room or do some quick yoga poses
  • Speak your words out loud before you write them
  • Read something that really inspires you, whether it be a passage from your favourite book or a post from your favourite blogger
  • Do something childish and playful (swinging on a swing is my personal favourite)
  • Call your best friend and laugh with them for half an hour
  • Change up your environment

Do not engage in any of the following behaviours:

  • Wallowing in an ocean of self-pity
  • Deciding not to write until you feel like it
  • Watching TV – this will just turn your brain even more into mush
  • Waste your precious time reading too many articles about how to overcome writer’s block (except this one, of course)

So there we have it! You should be producing Tolstoy-like amounts of work before you know it.

What are your favourite tips for overcoming writer’s block? Do you agree or disagree with anything on my list? Let me know in the comments below, and happy writing.

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Just relax and think of pretty things… Like flowers. Mmmmmmm, flowers. 

Writing Tips from Famous Authors

 

All good writers know that breaking the rules is sometimes vital. But to break the rules, first you have to know them.

So what do the world’s greatest wordsmiths have to say about their craft? I’ve collected 20 of my favourite quotes from famous writers about the art of putting pen to paper.

1) “I try to leave out the parts that people skip.” – Elmore Leonard

2) “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway

3) “Work on a computer that is disconnected from the internet.” – Zadie Smith

4) “In the planning stage of a book, don’t plan the ending. It has to be earned by all that will go before it.” – Rose Tremain

5) “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” – Anton Chekhov

6) “Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” – Stephen King

7) “Always carry a note-book. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever.” – Will Self

8) “What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.'” – Maya Angelou

9) “Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting.” – Jonathan Franzen

10) “Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.” – Neil Gaiman

11) “I’m always pretending that I’m sitting across from somebody. I’m telling them a story, and I don’t want them to get up until it’s finished.” – James Patterson

12) “A short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build towards it.” – Edgar Allen Poe

13)  “If you are using dialogue – say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.” – John Steinbeck

14) “The nearest I have to a rule is a Post-it on the wall in front of my desk saying ‘Faire et se taire’ (Flaubert), which I translate for myself as ‘Shut up and get on with it.’” – Helen Simpson

15) “Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed.” – Ray Bradbury

16) ” You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” – Saul Bellow

17) “Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

18) “Laugh at your own jokes.” -Neil Gaiman

19) “I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.” – G.K. Chesterton

20) “”You know that sickening feeling of inadequacy and over-exposure you feel when you look upon your own empurpled prose? Relax into the awareness that this ghastly sensation will never, ever leave you, no matter how successful and publicly lauded you become. It is intrinsic to the real business of writing and should be cherished.” – Will Self

As you can see, there are as many different opinions about writing as there are writers. Take what you will and discard the rest.

Which was your favourite tip? Are there any that I’ve missed? Comment down below and let me know what you think.

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I don’t think “collect old postcards” was on the list, but that does nothing to stop my obsession. 

 

Writing Playlists For Every Mood

 

For me, writing and music are inexplicably bound. All my best writing occurs with a soundtrack behind it, and there’s nothing like a particularly emotive song to get those creative juices flowing.

Here are my ultimate writing playlists for every mood. If you try them out, let me know what you think in the comments below! I’d love to hear what your favourite music to write to is.

Romantic

Your characters are exchanging stolen glances, or maybe even phone numbers. Here are some sultry tunes to help a budding romance along.

  1. Angel Olsen – Acrobat
  2. Damien Rice – Delicate
  3. Warpaint – Billy Holiday
  4. Tallest Man On Earth – Thrown Right At Me
  5. Radiohead – Nude
  6. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Are You The One That I’ve Been Waiting For
  7. Lana Del Rey – Yayo
  8. Jesus and Mary Chain – Just Like Honey
  9. Etta James – Don’t Go To Strangers
  10. Ella Fitzgerald – These Foolish Things

Blue

Maybe it’s a love lost, a secret revealed or a bout of deep depression. Help your characters get in touch with their darker side by playing these tear jerkers.

  1. Annie Lennox – Dark Road
  2. Joanna Newsom – The Things I Say
  3. Tegan and Sara – Soil, Soil
  4. Soko – I’ve Been Alone Too Long
  5. The National – England
  6. The Smiths – Asleep
  7. Lana Del Rey – The Other Woman
  8. Glasvegas – Daddy’s Gone
  9. Fleetwood Mac – Storms
  10. Cat Stevens – Sad Lisa

Upbeat

These are the kinds of songs that play in the movie montage of a character finally getting their life together. Maybe they’re running down the street dramatically after a raise. Maybe they’ve had a life changing epiphany. Or maybe they’re working on something they’re really, really passionate about. Either way, this playlist is sure to have you feeling on top of the world.

  1. Hall & Oates – You Make My Dreams Come True
  2. Diana Ross – Chain Reaction
  3. The Clash – We Are The Clash
  4. Billy Joel – Uptown Girl
  5. The Jackson 5 – ABC
  6. Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now
  7. Marina and the Diamonds – Can’t Pin Me Down
  8. Lorde – Team
  9. Joanna Newsom – Bridges and Balloons
  10. Jay Z & Kanye West – Otis (feat. Otis Redding)

Nostalgic 

If there was ever a playlist reserved for flashbacks and sentimental inner monologues, this would be it. Put on these sweet sounds for sepia-soaked visions of the past and journeys back in time.

  1. Beirut – Elephant Gun
  2. Alex Turner – Glass In The Park
  3. Trentemoller – Miss You
  4. The Strokes – I’ll Try Anything Once
  5. Air – Ce Matin La
  6. Sharon Van Etten – Keep
  7. Ray LaMontagne – All The Wild Horses
  8. Nico – These Days
  9. Magnetic Fields – The Things We Did and Didn’t Do
  10. The National – Pink Rabbits

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Any writing playlist is best complimented by a writing view… This was mine in Hertfordshire. Not bad, huh? 

Book Review: White Teeth by Zadie Smith

 

I first came across Zadie Smith when I was leafing through a bookshop in Gatwick Airport, London. I was en route to Austria and needed something to read on the plane. Her title NW stood out to me with the bright colour and enticing blurb, and so I bought it without so much as a second thought. Little did I know I would be so enticed by her voice that I’d soon vow to pick up everything she’d ever written.

Despite my convictions, it took me years to finally open her debut novel White Teeth. A story about history, family, identity and home, Zadie wrote this book while she was still a student at Cambridge University.

It traces the lives of three families living in London: the Joneses, the Iqbals and the Chalfens. Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal met when they shared a tank in World War II. What they fail to tell others about their wartime story, however, is that they never once saw action. Years later and their lives are still intertwined. Their wives, Jamaican Jehovah’s Witness runaway Clara and devout Muslim Alsana, bond over what can only be called mutual dissatisfaction. And their children, Irie Jones, Magid Iqbal and (younger by a few minutes) Millat Iqbal grow up together in more ways than one.

My favourite character was undoubtedly Irie. Intelligent but with confidence issues, it’s hard not to feel for Irie as she navigates her own identity straddled between two worlds: the lukewarm English ideals of her father and the lost Jamaican history of her mother. Neither feels quite like home. She also struggles with her feelings towards her lifelong friend, rebellious bad boy Millat, as he stumbles down his own path of womanising and drug use and eventually gets caught up in a  radical fundamentalist Muslim group with murky intentions.

The story really begins to take shape when the Chalfens, a snobby academic family who revere science the way Samad reveres religion, take Irie and the twins under their wing. This gives them glimpses into a world beyond immigrant parents and conflicted identities. But as they embrace “Chalfenism” what are they really giving up?

Although it took me a few chapters to really get into it, by the end I was positively addicted to this book. I honestly felt like I was walking the streets of London with the characters, watching the action play out in front of me. Zadie Smith writes electrically, and my determination to read everything with her name on it is stronger than ever.

What are you reading at the moment? Let me know in the comments.

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This book made me feel nostalgic for the days I visited London every weekend and took arty photos like this one of all the monuments. 

Inspirations 1

To those who know me well, it is no secret how inspired I am by the Australian artist Nirrimi Joy Firebrace. Although she is predominantly a photographer, it is her words that captivate me the most.

She tells the story of her life so beautifully on her blog Fire and Joy. Sometimes her posts are bursting with happiness and love. However, she never shies away from talking about the darker times with courage and honesty.

Yesterday, I read the most deeply moving post of hers yet (in my humble opinion). It is the story of her little brother, who she tragically lost a few months ago. To read the post, click here.

What do you think about Nirrimi’s stories? Do her blog posts feel like chapters from a book to you as well? Let me know in the comments section.

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Photo credit: fireandjoy.com

Beginnings

 

Hello, and welcome to Spilled Ink Chronicles. The inspiration for my blog name comes from the #spilledink hashtag on Tumblr, a way that young and upcoming writers would label their creative work in order to be found by other likeminded users. I used to spend hours trawling through these posts, falling in love with writing over and over again.

Now I don’t use that website so much anymore. But even though I felt like I’d outgrown that particular space, I did miss having a platform where I could talk freely about the things that interested me, as well as connect with other creatives. Then one day it hit me. Why not create my own space instead?

I hope this blog will become both a creative outlet and a way to connect with other storytellers. Won’t you join me?

katharinefilm

Things I love: books, coffee and looking away in photos.