Inspiration for writers: Rebecca Miller Part two

Here’s the second installment of last week’s inspiring video.  This time Miller delves a little deeper into her process and refers to her delicious outlining wall.  Heaven.




Inspiration for Writers: Rebecca Miller

I find this video of Rebecca Miller, author of ‘The Secret Lives of Pippa Lee’ completely inspiring.  Not just for her eloquence and openness in talking about her creative process but also for the beguiling wall behind her in the video.

I confess to often watching police dramas and being captivated by their ‘crime board’ – you know the big board that onto which they haphazardly pin all sorts of intriguing pictures and clippings and other what-nots.  I love the way they stare at it for crime-busting inspiration and occasionally, if we are really lucky, get out bits of string and piece together the crime through the power of the thumb-tack.  As a stationery addict, it almost, nearly makes me want to apply to Detective School. But….  Then I remember that the uniform for a bobby on the beat is almost universally unflattering and that the thought of training school and – gulp – obstacle courses and morning runs, has me crawling under the duvet in horror at the sheer physical effort.  Inspector Morse I may be, but Cagney or Lacey, I most definitely am not.

Still, I digress.  So for writers wanting some inspiration into process, this should be right up your alley.



5 reasons why writing is good for your health

5 reasons why writing is good for your health

As I was walking along the beach this morning between slot one and slot two of my writing for the day, I began to think about the health benefits of writing. I mean, I get it – it is true that we writers are not the most athletic of demographics.  Out art is, after all,  sedentary – bum on seat, fingers on keyboard or pen.  Even painters get to stand for hours which is apparently much better for you than sitting down to work ( – though of course they are all alcoholics so the benefits are probably cancelled out.)

But I maintain that writing is actually marvelous for your health and here are my top 5 reasons why writing is good for you:

1: Writers are more likely to take themselves on long walks

When  in the middle of a hefty chapter, or having written your hero into an inescapable cul-de-sac, there is nothing that clears the cobwebs better than a good walk.  Take away the pain of running and the annoyance of having to get changed to leave the house, a good walk allows you to lose yourself in your body’s natural rhythms and think about your story in a leisurely and clear-headed way.  With the added advantage of doing some exercise too which gets your juices flowing again.

2: Meeting your writing goals enhances self esteem

Ask any writer and they will probably tell you that they go a little bit mad if they don’t get their daily writing done.  From personal experience, I know that once I have done my word count, I feel much more positive about my day.  By keeping a record of my writing for the day, I am able to really feel that I am working towards my goals, which is an essential element of self-esteem.

3:  Expressing yourself improves your blood pressure

If you keep things bottled up, your poor ticker starts to feel the pressure.  Whether it be ideas, thoughts, characters, or stories, keeping things locked inside your mind rather than giving them a  manifested form on the page, is actually a form of repression that can lead to all sorts of problems in the human body.  We are designed to find a means of expressing ourselves in order to release tension.  If writing is your means of expression then practice daily.  See it as a healthy means of decreasing pressure build-up in the body.

4: Writing develops your brain power and can help treat Alzheimer’s

Did you know that there are those who treat Alzheimer patients with Memoir writing classes?  The theory is that by using the brain’s linguistic function and bridging the gap between memory and language, we create stronger neural pathways and keep those parts of our brains functioning in a healthier and more revitalized way.  So when you are using your brain and searching for the right word or phrase, you are actually giving your brain a really great, personalized work-out, that is just as good as doing crosswords, or logic puzzles.

5: Writing is fun and so brings a renewed sense of positivity to our day

Yes, you heard it right, my dear!  Writing is … FUN.  Capital letters fun. I know, I know –   we would love to think that writing is hard work and that we are all suffering for our art, but the reality is that writers have inordinate amounts of fun in their work.  They get to play God, make up whole worlds, and tell stories for a living.  When things get a bit tough, why not remind yourself of this essential fact and find the fun in what you do.  Play with your story.  Throw in a curve ball.  Do something completely outlandish just to remind yourself that this is fun.  That mind shift will be just the thing to kick-start the story once again.

Or at least, these are the five things that I am telling myself as I go through my month long writing challenge.

Update on the Pantster challenge: 

Another 3000 words today which brings my up to about 12 000 words so far this month.  If you don’t know what I am on about then you can hop back to the first post here, where I explain the challenge and why the blinking heck I am doing it anyway.

I am having a lot of fun with this.  It is amazing what reveals itself when you start to write.  I hesitate to say that the Muse is with me but…. The Muse Is With Me.  I can feel her.


 Leave a comment to tell me why you think that writing is good for your health… or not!  How are you nurturing your Muse?

In fact that, my friends, may well be the title of tomorrow’s blog post.

Until then, my lovelies, have a write good day!





One Month, One Novel – No Plan

This is the month that I write a novel – with no plan.  I am officially joining the Pantster tribe and throwing myself into this one with my eyes wide shut and my fingers crossed.

Let me be clear – this is not my natural modus operandi.  I am most definately, by nature, a Planner.  I am a Virgo with a stationery fetish and a stack of notebooks just crying to be filled with dreams and ideas.

Why write a novel with no plan?

However, I had a terrible epiphany last month.  And it was this:  I am often so thorough in my planning that by the time I come to write I am completely over it.  It has become like entering into a romantic liaison having already watched the whole disaster panning out ahead of me.  By the time I have planned those darlings, I couldn’t care less about the main character, and tension?…. meh, not happening.

You see I have a sneaky suspicion that planning had become, for me, a very subtle form of what I term, Productive Procrastination.  You know, the type of procrastinative activity at the end of which you have something, and nothing, to show for your time.  And I wanted to try something different.

So, what is the alternative?  Pantsting.  Literally writing by the seats of my pants.  No outline.  No scene by scene plot arcs.  No orchestrated tension.  I was just going to throw myself into it and hope for the best.

The scene was set.  I had made the trailer.  It was scheduled in my Filofax.  Systems were go, go, go.

Day One

But somewhere in between deciding to do it and actually doing it, I found myself in a maelstrom of self-doubt.  What should I write?  What genre should I write in?  Was I writing to sell, or writing for me?  Should I finish the other novels first?  Should I revive my very brief foray into erotica?  Should I? Should I?  Should I?

So Day One was, in sporting terms, a No Show.  Rain Stopped Play, and all that.  Not that I wasn’t thinking about the whole thing.  Not that I wasn’t beating myself up like a gangland boss, and reprimanding myself for my lack of action.  But words on page?  Nada.  Nothing.  Sweeeeet FA.

Day Two

So Monday arrived.  Which was kind of like Day One, only it was by now, Day Two (are you still with me?)  The scene was set.  Kids were at school, I was heading home to write, but blow me, if a sneaky new novel idea hadn’t crawled into my brain overnight.  Like an earwig, this idea was gnawing away – munchie, munchie, munchie – and to cap it all, the blinking sun was shining.

Well, I ask you, what’s a woman to do but take herself to the beach to ‘live in the moment’ for a little while.  Well, an hour and a half later, I was back at the car and ready to return to my post.  I was Ready To Write.

Or so I thought.  Because then something very strange happened.  I had laptop freeze, which for those who don’t know is when I go to turn on my laptop but I just cannot do it.  Something stops me.  I don’t want to be tied to the keyboard.  This frolicking little pony in my mind says, ‘don’t do it!  stay free, my beauty, stay free, neighhhh, prrrrr’.

Which is, quite evidently, a problem.

Or is it?  Because my answer to this conundrum was pretty darned radical.  I have gone…. ANALOGUE, my friends.  We are talking notebook, pen, armchair.  Old School Portability.

“Paper and pen?”  you cry.  “Are you nuts?”

Well, it would appear that yes I am.  But here’s the thing.  It is working.

First session of the novel with no plan: 2400 words.

Which I think can officially be called – A START!

So what say you?  Fancy joining me?  Fancy freeing yourself up from the orthodoxy of planning and venturing into the crazy unknown.  Want to pick up a pen and just start writing?

Let’s do this thing.

All comments gratefully received.  Show me I am not alone in this.  Please….


When the creative muse strikes…. a printable gift

Look it's a free printable.  Click the image to download your very own muse catcher.

Look it’s a free printable. Click the image to download your very own muse catcher.

Even though I am currently immersing myself in the editing process, I am finding that the Creative Muse will just not leave me alone.  Something about spending hours picking my own writing to pieces, makes her insistent.  She pokes me in the middle of the night.  She whispers in my ear when I am doing the school run.  She prods me on the shoulder when I am trying to meditate.  She’s an insistent little minx…

Sometimes it’s as if I am being reminded of why I am self publishing in the first place.  It is because I am a Creative.  I am not satisfied with getting by.  I want to flourish and mould my world actively and intentionally.  On a daily basis.  I am the queen of good ideas.  I can’t make a cake without going off into a reverie about creating a video series on the life lessons of baking.  I can’t write a paragraph on self hypnosis without thinking of a million tie-in MP3s that I could record.

So what do I do when the muse strikes?  I have learned over the years, not to ignore her. When she calls my name, I grab a journal and write it down.  There and then, wherever I am.  As I have gathered more and more ideas, I outgrew my Big Ideas book.  Sure I could have gone down the computer route but as a stationery addict, where is the fun in that?  So now, I have a Big Ideas lever arch file.

Then I took it one step further.  I became dissatisfied with scribbly notes that no longer made sense two weeks later.  I craved an order in my scribblings.  I wanted “printables”.  I googled and pinterested “Printables for Writers”.  If I was 10 years old and still at school, I would have had a ball.  If I was still teaching, my printer would have taken a hammering.  But could I find much for authors or entrepreneurs?  Not really.  The ones for writers were woefully wordy.  You know, I love language.  But I am also a sucker for pretty paper and pastel colours.  I wanted my printables to look good so that when I got out my Big Ideas folder I felt all cupcakey and feminine.

So I created my own.  My first sheet is called “Capturing the Muse”.  It’s designed to help you nab an idea when it strikes, do some exploratory drilling and record your thoughts on paper.  I suppose it’s more geared towards entrepreneurial activity but what self publisher has not thought about spin off products that you can also sell online? If you are writing a novel in which your heroine owns a cupcake store, why not use your research to create a spin off cookbook pdf?  If your book is on The Secrets to Having a Beautiful Lawn why not create a monetised blog pointing people to where they can buy the right products online?  If you are writing a book on self hypnosis, why not create an e-course to go with it???  At the moment, you may only be secretly dreaming about spin off products and film deals, dream away my friend.  But why not just capture that muse for a second, put it on paper and file it away for a rainy day?  What do you have to lose?

So here’s my little gift to you.  A free printable on Capturing The Muse.  It’s a PDF.  No need to sign up.  Just print it off and enjoy.  How’s that for generous?

You can just download it  by clicking right……… HERE

It might be, you know, kind of useful.  Perhaps…

my signature