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Regular news and insight from our many poets, writers, educators and facilitators

15 October 2019

Posted by Hazel Orriss


House moves, decorating, buying too many notebooks, work in progress, work that should be in progress (ahem)…

It seems we do prevarication very well. In fact, it would appear that we are all pretty skilled in the art of putting things off. Sometimes this can’t be helped, life gets in the way and the best laid plans can be kiboshed. What’s a girl to do? Well, I’m sure many So:Write regulars will have heard Joanna say that we can always make time to write, and we know this is true, don’t we? So maybe, the trick to getting our writing mojo working is to invest a little in the things that help motivate us. What exactly do we want to achieve in our writing? Are we doing this for the positive mental health benefits that come from regular creative practice? Are we doing this to leave a little history for our children to read? Are we doing this to get published and move somewhere with a hot beach and cold Mojitos?

Tapping into the things that inspire us is the key to motivating the writer in you.  Here are some ideas that were discussed during the last session:

Research your history. So:Write regular Madeleine found a rich seam of creativity in visiting places that have significance for her family. Although places change and cities are redeveloped, there can be something incredibly evocative in visiting places that figure in the history of our families. Learn who we are, get to know our ancestors and tell the story of your family.

Writing flash fiction. Okay, so a really good piece of flash fiction can take a long time to write. That perfect distillation of a story into the briefest space is a rare skill indeed. If you lack the gift of time, then working on flash may just be the form for you. The briefest most pared down lines that can be carried in your head as you go about your daily grind, worked on as you navigate your commute to work and chewed over as you drift off to sleep: it sounds manageable, doesn’t it? Imagine a micro writing session that, when added to day after day, will culminate in something polished and astonishing. It can be done.

NaNoWriMo. Love it or loathe it - and for me, this has always been like freshers ‘flu or hayfever; it happens once a year and grinds you down until the nasty little irritation has worn itself out. And yet… listening to the group I realise that you don’t have to ‘buy in’ to the whole competitive thing, chasing the word count like you have money riding on it and spending valuable writing time looking for a cute and absurdly flattering profile avatar. Publish my daily word count on line? No thank you. Get involved in an online spat with someone called Keith who wants you to critique his erotic war stories? I’ll pass, ta. I will just use NaNoWriMo as a motivational tool to get me writing regularly, okay?

Read. “If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” Thank you for this Mr Stephen King. We have found ourselves embracing this quite naturally in the group. It began with the occasional book that was deemed worth sharing and has escalated to a kind of informal book swap. We argue about the books that divide us and nod enthusiastically over the books we have read and loved. We are reading, and it is good.

So:Write Women meet on the first Thursday of the month (11.15 – 1.15pm at The Art House) and on the third Saturday of the month (10.15 – 12.15pm at Southampton City Library). New writers, experienced writers and everyone in between, no need to book and a warm writerly welcome awaits.


Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft


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