My title 

Writing with all the Senses

by: Jennifer Richardson on

That is just one of the fun things we will be doing on our upcoming Come to your Senses retreat with Shelley Kenigsberg in Italy this year.

The dates are confirmed for the 17th -29th September, 2018

Beginning the journey in Florence, we'll be workshopping with Shelley and spending time writing each day. We'll be exploring the fascinating literary sub culture and meeting with some local authors; there will be evenings spent enjoying aperitivo in a building which has been through many ‘edits’. First it was a monastery, then a prison, and then — the most important for us this tour — into a Literary Cafe. 

After a few days in Florence, we will go on to Mercatello sul Metauro, a little village in Le Marche. We’ve selected this region for its connection to the master writer, Dante Aligheiri who was inspired here to compose his most recognised work: Dante’s Divine Comedy  — a superb introduction to new thinking coming out of the Middle Ages, and was a significant contribution to Italian poetry of the Late Middle Ages/Early Renaissance.

Luisa Donati is opening the doors of her delightful family Palazzo (Palazzo Donati) for our guests and introducing us to her friends in the village. Can you imagine getting a banquet cooked and served to you by 9 passionate foodies from the village? Yes it's true, you will get that!

You can read a little about what Barbara Weible has to say about this little village in her blog 'Hole in the Donut' or what Annette White from 'Bucket List' says about the village and Palazzo Donati by clicking on the links here. 'Hole in the Donut' and 'Bucket List'

More about Shelley Kenigsberg here>> editinginparadise.com/

Contact us for more information >> contact


Wordstruck - Claire Scobie, Why successful authors write into a structure

by: Jennifer Richardson on

Are you a planner or a pantser — a fly-by-the-pants writer? Either way if you write your stories or books into a structure you’re more likely to finish them.
People often worry about structure. They worry that it will hamper their plot or stifle their style. Actually structure does the opposite. It gives you a framework in which to write. It stops a story becoming unwieldy.

Imagine trying to build a house without a plan? Or without a foundation. It wouldn’t hold up.

Structure gives you the form and then you can play with the content. There’s a rule of thumb. Anything over about 2 – 3,000 words requires storytelling craft in order to keep the reader reading. So for those short blog posts, you can be a pantser. But doing long form, planning and structure are your best friends.

Here are 5 structures to make your writing more compelling

Chronological — the most straightforward for a memoir piece or a life story (fiction or non-fiction). Also works for a history of a place or an autbiography. If you’re new to writing, start chronologically and then you can always move scenes around later.

Thematic— often evolves as you are writing. Or you can decide on the themes as a way to tie loose strands together. In Sarah Macdonald’s Holy Cow she used the many faiths of India as way to organise her narrative.

Three act structure — follows a traditional formula that dates back to the Greeks and has been adapted to Hollywood by Syd Field. You have the set up, an inciting incident or catalyst that leads to the first major turning point. This pushes the story to the second act and the climax, a second major turning point and ultimately a resolution.

Hero’s Journey — another version of the ‘three act’ based around the work of mythologist Josesph Campbell, author of A Hero with a Thousand Faces. Campbell studied 100s of myths from around the world and realised that they follow the same pattern. Now widely used in Hollywood following Christopher Vogler’s The Writers Journey, you can simplify it and adapt for fiction. It can also be applicable to memoir if any of the stages of the Hero’s Journey — often a form of coming of age story — are applicable to your life.

Collage – takes its cue from visual art. This structure works well for disparate subjects that you are weaving together. It’s not right for a story with a beginning, middle and end. The entries are often short – separated by a ‘#’ or a gap or in numbered sections. Michael Ondaatje does collage very well in Running in the Family.


There are others… but that’s a post for later.

If you’re planning ahead and the idea of a writing retreat in Italy sounds utterly gorgeous, my dates for Writing in a Palace are now confirmed: 19 – 26 September, 2015.  

Best, Claire Scobie


10 ways to complete your writing goals. By Claire Scobie

by: Jennifer Richardson on

1. Put together a plan on what you still want to achieve. Doesn’t matter if it’s handwritten or a spreadsheet, a mindmap or a bunch of sticky post-its. Goals are much more achievable if they’re written down.

2. Prioritise. Realistically you probably aren’t going to complete the final draft of your novel, write the synopsis AND get a publishing deal before the clock strikes midnight on December 31. But there’s time to add another 15,000 words to your manuscript if you aim to write 1,500 words a week for the next 10 weeks (c'mon that’s do-able).

3. Make a date to meet up with your writing buddy or writing group. Do this now before everyone’s diaries get filled up. Ensure that you give each other a task. Then celebrate afterwards and schedule your next meet-up in the new year.

4. Spring clean your desk. Honestly, clearing your physical space helps remove psychic clutter. Take 2 hours to sift through your stack of papers, chuck out obsolete drafts & make space for the new. Wipe down your desk, pick some flowers, make it a pleasant place to sit.

5. Go through all the work you have done this year. You’ve probably forgotten that short story you wrote on the train to work. Compile it – either in print-outs or digitally – and feel good about what you’ve already achieved. See where the gaps are and what you want to plug before the end of 2014.

6. Block out a writing day (half-a-day if that’s all you have) between now and Christmas. Diarise this. Make it yours. Give yourself one thing to complete and when you’ve done that, send it to a writing buddy you trust.

7. Book yourself in for a writing workshop. This is especially for those of you who made it a 2014 New Year Resolution and haven’t yet signed up. Join us in Italy for 'Writing in a Palace'. It’s amazing how in the presence of others (and a great teacher!) you can re-focus on your writing.

8. Start reading that book you keep promising yourself you’ll read… and never do. Start tonight. I find that reading is a great way to re-invigorate my writing.

9. And lastly… Map out your writing strategy for the last quarter AND for the next quarter. It’s important to end the year on a high so you start 2015 with a bang.

10. Contact us to tell us how you going with your writing and what support you need.


If you’re taking a break over Christmas, make sure you end your current writing project at a suitable juncture – and before you finish up, write a list of what you’re going to do next. That way, when you come back after your holiday, you have an instant starting point & waste less time.
Let us know how you go!

The gift of writing

by: Jennifer Richardson on

When you make a book you are making a gift for the world. A gift is a talking point, a gesture, the beginning of a conversation, an opening. When you doubt yourself, you close down, you contract, the light can’t get in. Plenty of doubt and fear goes into writing a book, a poem, a song; the biggest being that you will make a complete fool of yourself, and believe me, along the way you will. Yes, there will be moments when you feel so foolish you want to crawl back in your hole and never come out AND there will be moments of total euphoria, as you revel in your audacity and daring to reach for the heights only you know you are capable of.

I’m a bit of a cliff leaper so I’m used to landing flat on my face. It comes with the territory.

________

You can join Jan on Moroccan Caravan, a 14 day writing journey on the 1st November, 2014 <Read more>

Check out a recent interview with Jan by Georgie Walsh on the style journal <Wearona.com>

Jan was guest blogger last month on Lee Kofmans blog.To read this great article <click here>

Claire Scobie gives us 5 ways to be accountable in writing a story

by: Jennifer Richardson on

As a journalist I’m used to deadlines. If I didn’t have them, I wouldn’t always finish stories. Or even start them.

When you’re working on a book or a bigger writing project you need to create your own deadlines. If you know you won’t stick to them, find someone you can be accountable to.

Here are 5 ways to be accountable

  1. Find a friend you trust or a writing buddy or a group of writers. Tell them to give you a deadline.
  2. Write out your goals – research suggests you’re more likely to succeed if you do so.
  3. Be time specific with your goals – so set a realistic date to finish your story or first draft.
  4. If you’re writing book, break down your goals. Make a commitment to write 5,000 words every month or whatever.
  5. Email all of this to your friend / buddy / group. You are now accountable to them and if you don’t meet your goals you need a VERY good excuse. (Or you may set yourself a fine.)

This works better if there is an exchange. So if you say you’re going to finish your first chapter and your friend is an artist, she needs to have done the first sketch of her watercolour.

How do you ensure you finish your stories?

Claire Scobie will be teaching at our Writing in a Palace in 2015, held at Palazzo Donati in Marche, Italy. Details to be updated soon.

Jan Cornall's Ten Top Tips

by: Jennifer Richardson on

From the revised edition of Jan’s best seller – Write Your Book On A Weekend   -  coming soon in the Online Shop

  1. Read, Read, Read! Everything and anything all the time – feed on the classics, modern literature, experimental writing.  Devour it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Keep yourself in a state of perpetual inspiration.
  2. Write, Write, Write! Everyday as much as you can. Copy, imitate, beg, borrow, steal until you find your writers’ voice. If you only write for ten minutes a day, that’s 300 words which over a year adds up to 109,500 words. That’s a book!
  3. Write as if your life depended on it. If your idea doesn’t involve daring, forget it and come up with one that does. If you feel scared to write what you want to write, you know you are on the right track.
  4. Make a Commitment. If you are not committed to your idea forget it! It has to be something you would trade your life for – well almost! Sell your house, hock your dog. Make a list of the things you are willing to give up for your writing.
  5. Trust You Can. To write a book you have to trust in yourself, in the process, in the unknown. It’s another reason we don’t do it. It’s too scary! What if I can’t do it? What if I fail? What if I succeed? Then what? You have to trust that your every bit of scribbling will one day all add up to something.
  6. Have Faith. It’s like trust, but is more about believing you really can do it – that you have what it takes to be a writer, that you believe you really will do it. In the times when you don’t have faith just act ‘as if.’ Tell people you are writing a book and then you will have to do it! Don’t give them too much information, just enough to keep them intrigued.
  7. Cultivate the Art of Dreaming. You can do it anywhere, any time. Suddenly your favorite (antisocial) pastime becomes useful. Cultivate the art of dreaming on your bed, in an armchair, in the garden, in the traffic jam, but always make sure you have your notebook close by to catch the ideas as they start to fall.
  8. Marry Creativity! People, partnerships, marriages may come and go but the creative process will never abandon you. From the moment you wake ‘til the moment you go to sleep if you give yourself over to creativity you will never be unhappy again.
  9. Write From a Place of Emotional Truth. It doesn’t mean you have to tell all your secrets but if you can harness the power of your unique emotional truth your writing will have a powerful impact.
  10. Always Come Back To The Writing. There’s no need to get impatient or rush to the end product. As in meditation when we simply come back to the breath, each day all you have to do is come back to the writing and watch the writing will write itself.

One of the best ways to  get your writing flowing is to join a writers retreat. Check out Moroccan Caravan with Jan Cornall

Pitching your book

by: Jennifer Richardson on

An interview with PYBA and Jan Cornall.


Pitch Your Book Australia (PYBA):  What do you think about the Pitch Your Book competition?

Jan Cornall (Jan): It’s a good way of getting writers to think about presenting their idea in a visual way. Bringing it down to the central question, describing the story arc and identifying the elements that will draw the reader in - these are all useful exercises for writers at any stage of their writing.

(PYBA): Through Writer’s Journey you come in contact with many writers. What are some tips you can give about generating marketable novel ideas?

Jan: I think you have to write the story you are really burning to write, then see where it fits in the market.  Somehow writing for the market without a level of emotional truth doesn’t seem to work, unless you are very clever. It is always good to be aware of the market, to see what’s out there, and where the gaps are. When it comes to pitching your book this information is essential. If you can compare your work to a best seller and at the same time show how it is different, it will help the publisher place your work and assess its market potential.

(PYBA): How does going to a foreign place help with your writing and idea generation?

Jan: Many of the great writers have done their best writing in exile from their home countries. Travel gives you the perfect distance you need for contemplation, looking back, dreaming - all of which are important for writing.

(PYBA): How much should social trends influence your book idea?

Jan: Again I think you have to write the story you really want to write regardless of social trends. That said, there are lots of new genres and sub genres giving voice to new writers due to social trend. So if you can ride one of these waves and situate your work in the right place at the right time, it could be most helpful.

Claire Scobie - Writing between Jobs

by: Jennifer Richardson on

I was talking to a friend recently who was struggling to find time to write a book whilst holding down a job and a busy life, then that same day I stumbled across this old post by Claire Scobie written in 2011 on the same subject. I love it when that happens! 

I think this article is just a relevant today as it was back in 2011 so I decided to share it with you today. I hope you find it helpful.  

_______________

Writing between Jobs by Claire Scobie

A question often raised in my workshops is how to find time to write when you already have a full-time job. As writing is such an insular profession, I always enjoy hearing how other writers do it. Last week I went to some inspiring sessions at Sydney Writers' Festival. The weather was balmy, the queues were long—and good-humoured—and writers from around the globe shared their tips to packed audiences.

In one session entitled Au Pairs, two writing couples—James Bradley and Mardi McConnochie, and Mandy Sayer and Louis Nowra—discussed how they live (or not) with each other and their work. James and Mardi juggle their writing careers with two young children under five; Mandy and Louis live 100 metres apart and spend their days feverishly writing apart, and their evenings at the local Fitzroy Hotel in King’s Cross.

But it was when Mardie discussed her latest novel, The Voyagers, that I was intrigued. Mardie has worked as a playwright, written a clutch of novels and works three days a week writing advertising copy. I’m paraphrasing here, but she said that once she’d conceptualised and planned out her latest novel (and she’s a self-described ‘great planner), she then wrote it one day a week, with a sprint of several weeks at the end to finish it, and it took four years.

I’ve heard another writer say that he cut his working week down to four days and took every Wednesday off to write. He preferred taking a day off mid-week, so his colleagues didn’t think he was just taking a long weekend. Another writer friend carves out blocks of time (2 or 3 hours) to write her book in cafes and juggles that with a part-time legal job.

Of course, if you’re an early riser you can do what Bryce Courtenay did, and get up at 5 am and write for three hours before going to work. Or if you burn the midnight candle, like Téa Obreht, whose novel The Tiger’s Wife was named on the New Yorker’s list of Top 20 Writers under 40, you can write all night. During one chilly New York spring, 25-year-old Obreht would start at 9 pm and write til 6 am.

Whatever your bio-rhythms, it you only have small parcels of time to write, it helps to break down your project. Set yourself tasks (for 20 minutes or one-hour) and stick to them.

These days it is such a luxury to be able to write full time. But it’s heartening to know that you can do it in between everything else. Sure, it takes longer, but if you have a book at the end, it’s worth the effort.

So how about you, when do you fit it in?

Finding a voice by Claire Scobie

by: Jennifer Richardson on

Travel articles are often seen as easy but they’re surprisingly difficult to write. You need to balance practical information, anecdotes and a few facts and figures, with literary description. The voice is generally more informal than for a feature article because it’s personal and written from the first-person point of view.

For a travel memoir, there are many more voices to choose from. Yes, everyone’s written about the cafes of Paris or the beaches of Bali, but how you tell the story—how you choose to narrate it—can make an old tale sound new. Simply put, the narrator is the voice of your story.

Voice is the combination of:

    Style – what words you choose, how you structure your sentences and paragraphs

    Personality of the author

    Tone – this includes mind-set, opinions, feelings and attitude behind the words.

It often takes time to find your own voice (and if you want to explore it further, sign up for my upcoming 7 day travel writing course. While there is a cross over between styles, it helps to ask, is it conversational or formal, intimate or lyrical? If you’re genuinely funny, write humorous prose. If you’re reflective, go for depth. It’s much easier to write in a way that is natural and aim for consistency to give your narrative a smoother feel.

At the moment I’m reading (and loving) Geoff Dyer’s Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi. It’s a novel but the second half, set in Varanasi, reads like travelogue. Dyer’s tone and language reflects the narrator which he has cultivated to tell this story. In another book, he may have a very different voice. The narrator is funny, outrageous, dark and occasionally, sublime. His voice crackles with energy and slips between poetic phrases, conversation and personal revelation. Swearing, slang and informal patter are all fair game, so too are invented words, repetition and colloquialisms for used for emphasis.

Here he is talking about Varanasi.

‘The action on the road was first matched and then exceeded by what was happening on either side of it, by the blare and frenzy of display, of frantic buying and selling, loading and unloading… Everything was piled up. Everything was excessive. Everything was brightly coloured and loud, so everything had to be even brighter and louder than everything else. So everything blared. There was so much of it all, blaring so loud and bright, that it was impossible to tell exactly what this everything was made up of, what it comprised. It was a totality of bright, noisy, blaringness…’

Like, dislike? Let us know— how did you find your voice?

If you wish to fully immerse yourself in a writing course this year, Claire Scobie will be our teacher for Travel Writing in a Palace in August. Palazzo Donati has now made it possible for us to extend the Early Bird past our cut off date and we will be able to offer single rooms without having to pay a single supplement but you better hurry and book now.

Click the link button here to read up and book your place.