MANY FINGERS MANY PIES Or How to create multiple income streams to support your writing habit.

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 We all know the dream – write a fabulous book and start a bidding war, preferably in American dollars. Sell gazillions of copies worldwide and become an international bestseller. Do book tours with mile-long signing queues in New York. Sell the movie rights. Go bigger than JK Rowling and Liane Moriarty combined. Wonder if it should be Meryl Streep or Cher who plays you in the bio pic of your life; and if you really want plastic dolls of yourself.

But wait! You’ve written your fabulous book, you know it’s fabulous because many people have told you so, just not the right ones. Not the ones who could start your high-flying trajectory. You’ve sent your book out to every publisher in the known world, and it still hasn’t found a home. Or maybe it has, just not with a big publisher. Your book has done its best, but the massive royalty cheques have failed to materialise. You feel as if it’s all been for nothing. But the thought of only doing your day job for the rest of your life makes you feel like running off the nearest cliff. You just want to write stories.

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Don’t despair. You’re not alone. You’re a writer.

Unfortunately, the dream is only a reality for a miniscule percentage of writers – the few who shoot up like lucky stars. For the rest of us the trajectory is much slower and not nearly as dramatic. It doesn’t make us lesser writers than those who become overnight successes.

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The trick is to keep writing, no matter what. And to find ways to make money related to writing. It’s extremely difficult to do a full-time job, cook dinner, put the kids to bed and want to do anything except stare at the telly. It’s vital to find ways to pay the bills without draining all your energy and creativity. But how?

Writers and creative thinkers are in demand. People will pay good money for your skills. You can spend each day writing or talking about writing and be paid for it. This also takes time and effort, but it’s worth it if your days are filled with words and the fun of playing in your imagination.

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Recently, I was talking to an artist friend who’s been painting since his teens. Even though he’s not famous, he’s making a living too – the same way I do— Many Fingers Many Pies! We each have a number of small contract jobs. He teaches art; I teach writing. He does people’s gardens and runs design courses. I write for online magazines, do blogs, run retreats, edit other people’s work and rework every story idea of my own across multiple genres.

In a recent interview on Oprah’s podcast channel, Liz Gilbert referred to people who thrive on working this way as hummingbirds. I like the idea of flitting between lots of different flowers, cross-pollinating and fertilising, all while filling up my own tank.

So, if the old 9 to 5 isn’t for you and you’d love to discover many ways to make money doing what you love, then join me at my Building a Career as Writer workshop at QWC on July 13. Making money from your creativity skills can be easy and fun!

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Come along and find out how.

Contact me if you’d like more hints and tips and advice on the writing life and if a writing retreat on beautiful Magnetic Island sounds like just the ticket, then HURRY and CONTACT ME NOW to secure one of the last available spots .

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Put yourself in this picture : )

Lots of love

Edwina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Sentence Story Starter

The other day I dug through my creative writing files – the old fashioned sort –preparing for a workshop I was presenting for the Brisbane Writers Group, and found this fun exercise. It  took me a long time to find, I have a lot of files!woman with endless files

I first did the exercise at a workshop by the respected Australian author Rodney Hall (he won the Miles Franklin twice!) at the QLD Writers Centre well over a decade ago now. It was one of the best I’ve ever attended.

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This exercise is a simple way to start a story.

But more that, it demonstrates just how useful setting and description can be when developing the tone of a piece and even in developing character. It’s also great for showing how much impact a little repetition can have in your writing. Sound good?

Let’s do it! Get your writing tools ready!

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FIRST – Envision a scene about two people (Person A and Person B) meeting again after a long period. Anywhere, any time, any people.

For each of the following prompts write one sentence without deliberately connecting them.

  1. Weather – describe the weather

 

  1. Object – describe an object in the environment – a non-living thing

 

  1. Person A – focus on an item of clothing they’re wearing – does it do something?

 

  1. Weather – describe the weather again

 

  1. A sound – not speech

 

  1. Mood – return to the object and show it reflecting the mood of the scene

 

  1. Person A has first glimpse of Person B

 

  1. Look at 5 and repeat the sound

 

  1. Look at 3 – what is the item of clothing doing now?

 

  1. Person A says something surprising

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How did you go? Did you come up with something you weren’t expecting that was even just a little bit poetic? I hope so! It’s a great way to start a story or just get those writing juices flowing for the day.

Have you got a favourite writing prompt? I’m always looking for new ideas for my workshops so please do share in the comments.

Always looking for prompts and writing hints and tips yourself? JOIN MY LIST.

The last two spots are still available for my upcoming Magnetic Island Relax and Write Retreat June 21 -23. CONTACT ME for more information.

And last of all, I have a couple of new workshops coming up.

7 JULY at the CYA CONFERENCE which is now including a special day – WRITING FOR ALL THE MARKETS – for writers of crossover fiction and/or adults in its program. Join me for an action-packed life writing workshop!

13 JULY at the QLD WRITERS CENTRE – come along to BUILDING YOUR CAREER AS A WRITER – or as I like to call it, Many Fingers, Many Pies. This is a fun-filled creative exploration of ways to make money as a writer. We all need to make a living and finding ways to pay the bills that align with our writing dreams isn’t as hard as you may think. Come along for some brainstorming, planning and creative collaging on ways to make money from your writing skills. This afternoon workshop is being live-streamed for regional writers. Check it out.

Good luck with all your writing projects. Let me know how you go with the 10 Sentence Story starter. Hope you have fun with it!

Lots of love,

Edwina xx

RELAX AND WRITE IN PARADISE!

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Escape the winter blues! Come and join us at the next Relax and Write Retreat on MAGNETIC ISLAND! Yes!! JUNE 21 – 23 2019

Just off the coast of Townsville in tropical far north Queensland we’re practically guaranteed sunshine and warmth and turquoise waters, just like these.

I’ve stayed on Magnetic Island – or Maggie as the locals call her – a few times over the past few years. It’s a magical place with giant boulders, pine trees, coral reef to explore and glorious unspoilt beaches.

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That’s not me in the picture by the way : )

We’ll be staying in air-conditioned comfort at Amaroo on Mandalay – a whole lot comfier than the dorms we’ve been used to! Air-conditioned twin share or a room to yourself, balconies and kitchenettes, beautiful tropical gardens and even a magnesium swimming pool and a bar!

Not that you’ll need your kitchenettes much, as all meals except lunches are catered for, including a fabulous Saturday night Indian feast by the beach.

Most exciting of all, my fabulous Creative Dance teacher, the lovely Lalita Lakshmi, is joining us for the morning yoga and movement classes and a special dance session on the beach on Saturday night!LALITA PHOTO la swirly

Four writing workshops are included, covering all the basics of creative writing, whether you want to write fiction, memoir, poetry or for the screen or stage. So be ready to get stuck into your stories. Let me help you get them out of your head and onto the page.

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Brian at Amaroo has offered retreaters fantastic rates on extra nights, so extend your stay and relax into writing after all the workshops.

Enjoy the sun and the beaches and the company of all the wonderful new friends you’ll make on retreat.

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Treat yourself to this weekend away in the sun to write and swim and rediscover your creativity and sense of joy.

All this fun and learning for only $550 pp twin share or $660 for a room of your own!

Or if you pay before 31 May

BOOK AND PAY HERE for $520 twin share (just contact me to tell me who you’re sharing with)

AND HERE for $630 for a room of your own.

Find more information HERE at the Facebook event page.

Or get in touch with me HERE for all the details and to book.

Don’t miss out! Places ares strictly limited to only 15 participants and they’re filling up fast.

We always have a wonderful time. Hope to see you there!

lots of love,

Edwina xx

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Put yourself in this picture! : D

REVIEWS FOR RELAX AND WRITE IN THE MOUNTAINS

I-3DMqhQReviews just in from some of my very loveliest repeat retreaters, Jude and Kathy and a freshly minted newbie, Gina.

Here’s what they have to say about the Relax and Write Experience .

Kathy Ewers – May 2019 Participant at retreats in September 2018 and April 2019

Both Wood Nymph and Mermaid!

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“Both Relax and Write Retreats I have been to have been cathartic experiences. On both occasions my expectations of spending a few days immersing myself in writing while being surrounded by the fellowship of like-minded writers were met.

Both Retreats offered a sense of camaraderie , kindness, positivity and warmth. The new friends and connections made, soon became supports added to my network.

Coming to the last retreat quite stressed about my current project and unsure of which direction to take, I left feeling energised, rejuvenated and excited about my writing.

Edwina’s writing tips, exercises and guided meditations all helped me to convey the imagery I’d been having difficulty with. Thank you, Edwina!” Kathy Ewers May 2019

Gina Wall – Participant April 2019 – Proud new Wood Nymph!

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“A wonderful balance of relaxation and mental stimulation. Edwina is a generous host, giving valuable advice and insight based on her own success in this intriguing industry. Her weekend writer’s retreat is nurturing for body and creativity in a non- judgemental environment with like- minded people. I’m looking forward to indulging again. ”

Gina Wall, May 2019

Judith Russel Kors – Participant at both September 2018 and April 2019 Retreats

Mermaid, Wood Nymph and champion bawdy joke teller : )

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“When you sign up for a Relax and Write weekend, don’t imagine it’s going to be a walk in the park, (although there are invariably some beautiful bush or beach wanders to be had, if so desired.)  It’s not. It’s a lot of writing and that can be challenging.

But neither is it a bootcamp. It’s a nurturing and encouraging environment, a safe space, an exploratory place. Nothing you write is wrong. You can read out what you have written, or not, as you choose.  There’s no pressure.

And the yoga – and free dance if you’re lucky – is for the experienced yogi as well as the yoga virgin, and everyone in between. The company of other women writers is a delight and there is so much to be gained, mentally, physically and spiritually from these few days away from everyday life.

All in all, it’s a magical and thoroughly worthwhile experience – highly recommended. Namaste, nymphs and mermaids.”  Judith Russel Kors – May 2019

Many thanks to Jude, Gina and Kathy.

The retreats are only as wonderful as the women who attend who all encourage and support each other. I love watching it happen like magic every time.

Come along and join the fun.

Next retreat is on Magnetic Island in tropical Far North Queensland! Post coming soon.

Contact me HERE for more information or to join my email list for writing hints and tips, publishing opportunities and retreat updates. HERE

 

FREE MEMOIR WORKSHOP IN TOWNSVILLE! YAY!

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Yes! Not long now and I’m flying up to Townsville for the Queensland Writers Centre to facilitate a day-long workshop on using the techniques of fiction to bring your memoir to life. And best of all, it’s FREE!

My father’s family is from far north Queensland, so I always enjoy travelling up to the cane fields, tropical sunshine and reef. Such a beautiful part of the world where wonderful people somehow manage to thrive in all that heat.

You can register HERE

WHEN?

Sat., 11 May 2019

10:30 am – 4:30 pm AEST

WHERE?

Aitkinvale Library

4 Petunia Street

Aikenvale

Townsville, QLD 4814

See the map HERE

So if you have a story from your life you’re itching to tell, come along and write up a storm!

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A full day workshop for FREE! YIPPEE!

Keen writers and beginners all welcome.

Book HERE

Hope to see you there 🙂

Edwina x

WOOD NYMPHS AND STORIES FROM THE FOREST!

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A wonderful time was had by all at the latest Relax and Write Retreat up in the hills and among the trees at Highfields.

Fourteen women feasted and rested, stretched, danced, laughed, relaxed and wrote in good company.

The lovely folk at Camp Koojarewon took really good care of us, providing delicious vegetarian meals and treats. Everything was spotlessly clean and they built fires to keep us warm, making sure we were all well fed and comfy.

We had the whole camp to ourselves so even though we were in dorms we were able to spread out and have lots of space to ourselves. The ground were beautiful with lots of walks to explore.

Highlights for me were the crazy fun of scarf dancing and all the great writing that was done in the workshops. I especially loved our workshop out on the verandah where it felt like we were in a tree house.

Monique provided glorious healing massages, we ate like queens, and enjoyed the company of other writers, learning from each other and being inspired.

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Come along and join the fun at the next one.

RELAX AND WRITE ON MAGNETIC ISLAND – tropical far north Queensland. June 21 – 23 2019.

More information about that coming soon!

Contact me HERE if you’d like to be kept in the loop for retreat news and for writing hints and tips and publishing opportunities.

Until then – HAPPY WRITING! May the joy of the retreat wood nymphs be with you!

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lots of love

Edwina xx

 

 

 

NEW STORIES OUT!!

Very excited to announce that two of my stories have recently been published in international journals. YAY!!!!

“Something No One Else Can See” is available to read for free HERE

It’s set in the cane fields of far north QLD where I spent a lot of time as a child.

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And my story “Against the Roaring of the Fire” has been published by Third Flatiron in its Hidden Histories anthology. This story was inspired by my recent trip to Scotland and its dark history of witch hunts.

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YAY! Two stories out in one day!! Won’t mention the pile of rejections that accompanied these two. But it’s all worth it for the ones that make it and get read.

Let me know what you think!

Lots of love

Edwina xx

 

LAST CHANCE TO RELAX AND WRITE IN THE MOUNTAINS!

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Only two more weeks until we’re up in the hills running and dancing, arms spread wide, singing and laughing! Well, maybe it’ll be more like walking and writing and enjoying some gentle stretches and deep relaxation, but you get the idea.

If you’ve been um-ing and ah-ing about whether to come, now’s your chance. This is the sign you’ve been waiting for.

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The weekend starts with welcome drinks and nibbles, then dinner and our first writing session, getting to know each other and exploring what stories we really want – or need –  to write.

Saturday is jam-packed with yoga first thing, then two writing workshops.

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After dinner it’s bonfire time with marshmallows and singalongs and whatever special talents everyone would like to share. Jude is famous for her bawdy jokes so watch out!

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Sunday finishes with more yoga and another writing workshop which includes advice on editing your own work and then developing a plan to follow up on all the new story ideas you’ll have in progress by then.

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Amy the Camp Koojarewon cook is creating a fantastic vegetarian menu especially for us.

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We have the whole retreat centre to ourselves. So even though we’re in dorms we can spread right out and make ourselves cubby-house rooms within them. The grounds are lovely with giant trees and fantastic views, lots of places to walk and write and relax. Coffee shops are nearby for those who need a strong brew in the mornings.

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koojarewon view

Not only that, my friend Monique is joining us to provide massages! Yes, go the whole hog and book yourself in for an hour-long pampering and healing massage. Contact Monique HERE to book your spot.

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I’m so excited to be hosting this wonderful weekend of writing, yoga and fun. Come along and join our merry band of mermaids, scribes and wood-sprites.

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Contact me HERE to book or for more information. But hurry. Places are strictly limited to no more than 15 participants. Only two spots left! $400 for the whole weekend including accomodation and all meals. Special deals for locals who want to sleep in their own beds. BOOK NOW!

Treat yourself to a weekend of creative fun with like-minded women in beautiful surroundings.

We all deserve some time out now and then.

Lots of love

Edwina x

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SUSPENSE = HOPE + FEAR

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As far back as Aristotle and the very first plays, story tellers have known that the secret to keeping your audience on the edge of their seats, or readers turning pages, is to keep them in a state of tension.

As story tellers it’s our job to manipulate our audience’s emotions. To keep them moving between hope and fear, relief and anxiety, joy and despair.

Writers can learn from sports, yes, even football! The best games have suspense in buckets – that’s why watching footy on a Friday night is so appealing to most people. Audiences and readers want in story what they avoid at all cost in life – conflict, anxiety, opposition and tension.

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However, the battle for the win is even more gratifying when the game is close. Games won by one point in the final minute keep us on the edge, enduring and enjoying a tension that is almost uncomfortable, right up until the end. So much better than a game where right from the first ten minutes we know it’s a walk over.

It’s the same with story. If a protagonist too easily achieves their goals, then where’s the drama? Where’s the fun of all those uncomfortable emotions?

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The opposition to a character’s goals have to be almost insurmountable. The protagonist needs to do her very best, make plans and execute them, but then fail or be thwarted until that very last minute – maybe even just as the final bell is ringing. Maybe all her attempts will only make things worse. Maybe self-sabotage will undermine her at a key point, when finally everything seemed to be flowing her way.

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As writers we want the reader to call out “No!” then turn the page to see what happens next, hoping against hope that she’ll somehow dig herself out of the hole she’s created.

It’s that movement between hope and fear that writers need to keep in mind as they shape their stories. If not in the first draft, then definitely in the second.

Check each scene. Is there some sort of conflict? What is the outcome of this conflict? Are we led to believe the character can achieve her goal, which seems or paramount importance to her whether it’s life-threatening or not? Or are we terrified that she’ll never get what she wants?

Does it seem like she’ll finally find her missing child? Or does it appear obvious that all she’ll ever find is bones?

Will that boil in the middle of her forehead heal before the big date? Or will boils spread all over her face and make her a leper?

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Every scene, if not every page, should play its part in this dance between hope and fear, keeping readers anxiously turning pages, even in the bath.

Examine stories you love. How has the writer choreographed this dance? Look for conflict. In the very best novels and screenplays, conflict will be evident in almost every page, in every interaction between characters. Even a character’s inner dialogue can involve conflict, the fight between desire and better judgement.

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Manchester by the Sea  by Kenneth Lonergan is a harrowing and deeply moving film that is a wonderful example of how conflict can be used to intensify every scene. In a scene already filled with drama when a young mother is being put into an ambulance the trolley doesn’t work properly, making an already unbearable moment excruciating.

Conflict can come from others, ourselves, the environment, government or police, even furniture. Throw it in wherever you can and watch your story bloom. Manage the readers’ emotions, keep them swinging between hope and fear and you’re on your way to writing something no reader can put down.

Keep them up at night, make them laugh and make them cry. Have fun doing it J

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How do you ramp up conflict in your stories? How do you move readers between hope and fear? I’d love to hear your ideas!

If you found these tips useful you can sign up to my newsletter for regular hints and tips and opportunities HERE

And if you’d like a whole weekend of writing exercises and advice then check out my next retreat HERE – but hurry only two places still available!

Lots of love,

Edwina xx

 

 

 

 

 

PROCRASTINATION, PERFECTIONISM AND A HARSH INNER CRITIC: The Enemies of Writing and How to Defeat Them!

 

 

Do you put off writing until after the whole house is cleaned, including sorting out those kitchen cupboards and scrubbing the bathroom tiles with a toothbrush

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Do you start writing but then never get very far past the first paragraph because you can’t get it quite right and that first sentence is so sucky? Do you feel too inadequate to even start writing, even though you’ve secretly wanted to all your life? Or do you finally write something, but then tear it to shreds and bin it before it’s even had a chance to breathe?

Don’t worry, you’re certainly not alone. Every writer faces these demons – the holy trinity of FEAR. That’s really what these deadly (well to your writing anyway) sins boil down to – plain old boring fear

 Procrastination

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Procrastination is a protective device. If you put something off long enough, you’ll never have to write it, or you’ll have being rushed as an excuse for when you decide that it’s utter crap and that you’re as talentless as you thought. If that sounds like you, then your procrastination is really harsh inner critic lurking in the background just waiting for you to finish the housework and probably complaining about how you’re doing it too – look there’s a spot you missed!

But hang on a minute, what if it’s not crap? What if actually for a first draft it’s pretty damned good? What if writing it was the most fun you’ve had in ages? Certainly a whole lot more fun than cleaning the bathroom.

Perfectionism

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Perfectionism won’t ever let you finish anything. Because if it’s not perfect, and how actually can anything be, then it’s not any good at all. That first sentence demands to be rewritten a hundred times, so you never get any further into your story. Even if you do get all the way through, perfectionism won’t ever let you submit it anywhere because it’s never quite right. Never quite good enough.

Guess what? Perfectionism is just another protection device – protecting you from the criticism of others while you beat yourself up with your own, much harsher, criticism. It’s another face of that horrid inner critic trying to stop you making a fool of yourself.

Well thanks, but no thanks. Because nothing is ever really perfect. Ask any writer, any artist. There’s always something you can fix or change, even with published work. At some point though, you just have to let it go. Step back and send it out into the world.

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“Feel the fear and do it anyway,” as Susan Jeffers famously said in her book of the same name.

 

Fear used to serve us well. When we lived in caves, fear told us to stay away from that cave where the beast lived and not to eat that berry that made Aunty so sick. But these days most of our fears have become internalised and turn into anxiety. It’s not really our friend any more.

Fear has many faces. Most horribly it is the face of our harsh inner critic.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, Mary Philbin, Lon Chaney, 1925

Your Inner Critic and how to tame it.

Like fire, inner critics are wonderful servants but terrible masters. To write successfully, critics must be tamed and trained and forced to play nicely with our delicate creator selves in order to make our writing the best it can be. The craft of writing demands a domesticated critic to edit our messy first drafts, but that’s later. First, we have to get that messy first draft written.

Inner critics can be fatal to writing. First drafts need freedom – when we create we’re playing and mucking around, making stuff up. We don’t need a nasty critic hanging over our shoulder whispering abuse. I like to send mine from the room!

It helps to know the face of your enemy.

rabid_squirrel_postcard-r5105695b7151488c9754e7b5013d2197_vgbaq_8byvr_307One writer described her critic as rabid squirrels in camouflage gear. Another described his as a giant, grumpy, old geezer. It could be a mean older sister, or a stern father who thinks doing anything creative is a waste of time. Mine looks like my third-grade teacher. A nun in a habit. With a ruler. She always liked to pull me down a peg or two

Following is a writing exercise to help you pull your inner critic a peg or two – or three or four (or more.)

 

WRITE: Your Inner Critic

Set your timer for ten minutes and write about your inner critic.

Was it your mum who was always finding fault, or was it that awful teacher in high school who tore your short story to pieces in front of the class?

Whether your critic is based on a real person or is a monster from nightmares, a dragon with gnashing teeth dripping with blood, get it down on paper. If there is a specific incident you remember, or a particularly bad attack from your critic, then write that down too. Get into the meaty details. Take more time if you need to. If you’d like to, draw a picture. What you do with this picture is up to you. You can burn it, or shred it, or put a big red cross through it, but perhaps if it’s your mum maybe just stick a bit of plaster over her mouth!

smoking nunsOnce you have this clear picture in mind you can begin to train your critic. You can train them to leave the room. Trick the squirrels with some peanuts and tempt them into another room while you get a first draft done. Tell the old fart you’ll let him have his turn in a while, after you’ve written your five hundred words for the day. Take the ruler out of the nun’s hand and send her to confession (or out for a smoke) for the few hours you have available for writing. If they know they’ll be allowed back later, they will, most likely, go happily. If they start skulking back, however, then gently remind them that this time is yours, they’ll be welcome in a while.

In my workshops, retreats and even at the creative writing classes I teach at university, I always start with a guided relaxation to help participants send that critic from the room. I’ve found the results to be outstanding.

Try it for yourself!

RELAX: Meditation for removing your inner critic

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Sit and breathe deeply, bringing your attention inwards, then slowly relax your whole body. Once you’re relaxed, visualise your critic and imagine sending them from the room. I like to send them to the nearest body of water and drop them in there. Don’t worry they always find their way back in time for the next draft!

I’m working on a recording of the guided meditation I use in workshops. If you’d like to be kept in the loop and be one of the first to use it then click HERE.

Once you’ve sent your critic away, then I like to set a timer. 10 minutes, half an hour. It helps give me that sense of urgency procrastinators thrive on (procrastinator – who me?). Then WRITE! Write like a fury. Write like you’ve only got 10 minutes until the world ends and you’ve just got to get your story down. Spelling and punctuation don’t matter. Just go where your brain flow takes you. Follow tangents, explore weird things that pop up. Let the story show you where it wants to go.

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Nothing matters in that first draft except being in the flow and trusting your own creativity. Remember – Writing is fun! Creating is playing. Take all the pressure off and enjoy yourself mucking around with words and making up stories.

 Let go and let the words flow!

Let me know how you go. Did these techniques work for you? What other tricks do you know forgetting those first drafts done? Are you a procrastinator or a perfectionist – or both. What does your inner critic look like?

If you’d like to experience just how freeing doing a guided relaxation and meditation can be for liberating your creativity and getting you writing, then please contact me HERE for information about my upcoming RETREATS.

Or sign on HERE to get regular updates and hints and tips for your writing.

GOOD LUCK taming those critics.

Happy writing!

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Lots of love,

Edwina xx