Finding The Joy Of Writing

Over recent months, I’ve found myself fighting with the first major writer’s block of my short time as a blogger. My enthusiasm for writing in itself hasn’t diminished so it’s been a very confusing time in all honesty. A number of stories still swim through my head and I hold onto them as best I can but when it comes to putting them into words the way I’m used to, something always stops me.

I’ve written about writer’s block before but this has, by far, been the most mind boggling situation to find myself in. At first, I just tried to break through it and began experimenting with methods that would take me outside of my usual routine in order to stimulate a change in my mentality. From repainting my home to spending a weekend camping alone in the middle of nowhere, I was willing to try anything to break the block. Often I would think it was working but when the time came to write, even logging my experiences felt like a struggle.

For those who don’t know, I was a full time carer for someone when I first began blogging. I spent a lot of my time housebound and in a way, writing probably saved my sanity through that period of my life. I didn’t discuss my life as a carer but it gave me a focus other than what was right in front of me. I had no expectations for myself other than to love the very process of writing. The recognition and feedback of others was surprising but gratifying and over time, I began to hope that I could make something of this. Writing has been a passion unlike any other for me so finding myself unable to write has been infuriating and at times, even depressing.

Then I stopped being a carer shortly after the block began. I got a full time job and started to wonder if writing had just been an outlet to get me through a difficult phase of my life. I wondered if I’d be happier just stopping. And for a while, I did. Not once since then have I stopped wanting to write but it’s always ended the same way – with frustration, anger and usually a hasty surrender.

This post, on the other hand – and hopefully all future posts – is different. I’ve dwelt on the reason for these difficulties constantly and asked myself time and time again “How do I beat this?” with no answer in sight… That changed when I started asking a different question.

Why Do You Want To Beat This?

A creator is someone who makes something that starts as nothing but a mere thought. Through the creator that thought takes shape and with a bit of time, commitment and sometimes a little luck, it becomes something more. The end result can be whatever the creator decides they want it to be and because of that, the possibilities are limitless. A few words can be more powerful than a thousand and there will never be too many stories or songs in the world because the process in itself can take any shape or form.

There’s a joy in that process which can’t be clearly described. That may seem pretty rich coming from someone claiming to be a writer but that’s exactly the point. Creation isn’t definable, there’s no rule book to it but more often than not, we try to write the rules. It doesn’t take muck to see from my past posts that I’ve attempted just that.

When you focus more on defining the process than just enjoying the process itself, you stop creating. My theories on writing are just theories but I began to see them differently. They became rules that I had to abide by and through sharing those rules I put pressure on myself to get it right every time which goes against the very nature of a writer. I don’t want to be right all the time, but I want to write all the time. Forgetting that is what stopped me in my tracks for this long.

I’m writing publicly today with confidence for the first time in a long time because I’ve let go of those imaginary rules. I’m not going to get it right every time and neither are you. Writing isn’t about getting it right, it’s about expressing your passion and turning your thoughts into something you can take pride and joy in. If it gives that same joy to others then it’s a bonus, nothing more.

Don’t prioritise your work succeeding over the work itself. The creative industry as a whole is an amazing industry that all creators want to be a part of, we just don’t need to be. Love the process and hope that others around will enjoy it. If you create something with true love, chances are they will.

I think this post is written with love and I know it’s been written for me. I want that to be the case with everything I post going forward.

I’ll still hope you all enjoy it though.

A Prologue On The Importance Of Prologues.

To me, job titles don’t matter. Everyone is in sales. It’s the only way we stay in business. – Harvey Mackay

There are few aspiring writers who write only for themselves. It doesn’t matter if you have the confidence to share your work or not, when we write a captivating story it’s always in the hopes that it may reach the standard of those writers who inspire us. Whether you want to turn writing into a career or you just want someone to dive into the worlds you create and never come out, our stories are undoubtedly made to be shared…and in many cases, sold.

We “creative types” have a tendency to convince ourselves that what we do stands apart from other businesses due to the diversity of our final products. The artist, the musician, the writer, they all have the freedom to express themselves in an infinite number of ways that will always result in the creation of something new. We’re surely world’s apart from those who have to follow the rules in the non-creative business community, right?

Wrong. The truth is that if you’ve ever considered sharing your work and hoped for others to enjoy it, you’re selling a product whether you charge for it or not. The pivotal point in any sale is the pitch. Without a pitch, there’s no hook. If you don’t have a hook, then how do you expect to catch any fish? You can’t expect a product to be successful if you can’t draw an audience to it and the initial pitch is key to that; In the case of writing, that pitch is most often our prologue.

Unsurprisingly, there’s a wide range of opinions within the writing community on how a prologue should be structured in order to provide the best experience possible to readers. We’re all looking for that ultimate method of storytelling that can drag a newcomer into the worlds we build in a way that makes them never want to leave but everyone has a different idea on the means to achieve it.

Do our readers enter these worlds with all the answers laid out before them or let curiosity drive them forward through a fog of mystery? Are they plunged headfirst into action or tortured with tension? What do we offer our audience and what do we withhold from them? What do you want your prologue to achieve?

In future posts, I intend to look at several common methods in prologues that are used by both aspiring and professional writers. I’ll give my own outspoken opinions regarding their pros and cons but as always, I invite open discussion on the matter. What prologue styles do you commonly use and which methods have you struggled to master? Do you even think a prologue is necessary or would you prefer to jump straight into the story itself?

The next post on this subject will be discussing just one prologue style that is most commonly found in fantasy and sci-fi fiction – The Timeline Synopsis. This is mainly due to how commonly it’s used by aspiring writers but also because I have a ton to say about this one in particular!

Let me know how you like to start your stories and why! After all, there’s no better way to learn than to discuss.

The Productivity Experiment: Hermitage Part 1 – The Voyage

Born and raised in one of the largest cities in Scotland, I’ve grown accustomed to the convenience of the bustling city centre and the excitement of the thriving night life. The only time I’ve felt remotely at home anywhere else has been my infrequent visits to even larger cities. Simply put, I’m a city boy at heart.

When it comes to being productive however, there are times when it all becomes a little too noisy. I enjoy the city life but the city life is a constant distraction that can often tear my focus away from my dream to become a writer. No matter where you’re from or what kind of lifestyle you lead, it’s all too easy to fall into a standard routine. Do your time working or studying followed by the unproductive down time in a bar, in front of a computer screen or just sleeping the day away.

The very idea of a regular routine is contradictory to the ideals of what stimulates the creative mind. A writer is capable of opening up a whole new world to his or her readers through the power of words. Together with their readers they can explore new horizons and reveal the impossible with just their imagination. The flexibility to create something new and exciting simply cannot be nurtured if they themselves are unwilling to explore the new and exciting.

Therefore, I decided to expand my horizons by reaching out beyond my comfort zone and spending some time away from my regular routine. For just a few days, I decided to abandon my comfortable city life and take a camping trip alone to the sleepy western Isle of Arran. I had never ventured out of the city without friends or family accompanying me so I couldn’t help wondering: How would I fare without my comfortable bed, my drinking companions, my terabyte of computer games, my Netflix? I neglected to take a phone charger and removed the battery from my phone to stop myself from checking it every five minutes; Would I feel frustration or anxiety without the instant access to the infinite media and information provided by the internet that I’d grown so accustomed to?

The extent of my camping experience was limited to the music festivals of my teenage life where I was always surrounded by more experienced campers. The realization that I had never pitched a tent on my own was shocking and in its own way, a little saddening. Therefore, I pledged to learn it all the hard way. I packed up my tent and sleeping bag with some basic supplies and without much forward planning, set off on a train to the coastal town of Ardrossan where I would pay for passage off the Scottish mainland.

I’d love to say that I did all this with much bravado and confidence but in truth, I spent the hour long train journey with my heart trying to climb out of my throat. I’ve always had the willingness to jump into new situations so long as there was someone at my back but this was different. There was no point to prove, nobody watching that could judge my actions. This was a conscious decision made with no motive other than to explore the unknown and as simple as a typical camping trip may seem to some of you, in my eyes this truly was the unknown.

I arrived at the Ardrossan Harbour to see my next method of transport preparing to dock. The ferry was much larger than I’d anticipated which gave a realistic sense of the scale of my trip. From here, the ferry would travel directly to the Isle of Arran, a small isolated location that would likely escape the notice of most tourists on a map unless they were looking for it. The plan I had formed for this trip hadn’t developed any further than getting on that ferry; what would come after was a terrifying mystery to me. Even as I purchased my ticket and began to board, I considered the possibility of getting back on the train home and pretending the day thus far had never happened.

Nonetheless, I deposited my bags in the storage area, taking only a notepad and pen with me onto the main deck and began to write these very thoughts, though much less articulated. A stream of consciousness was scribbled onto the first few pages as if they would be the last words I would ever write. I believe it was along the lines of “I don’t know what I’m doing here, I’m going to get lost on a hill somewhere on a remote island so long as this boat doesn’t sink in which case I don’t know why I’m bothering to write on you because you’re made of paper and no one will see and…” You get the point.

Yet as the walkway was disconnected from the ferry and I resigned myself to the journey ahead, excitement began to overwrite the mild sense of panic within me. I watched the mainland grow further away and as we picked up speed, my writing changed with the new sensations I felt. For the first time, I felt like this trip was helping me to flex my creative muscles.

Each paragraph seemed to alternate as I went from describing the sights I saw to noting the ideas that the journey inspired for boat-related scenes in my own fictional writing projects. At the back of the ship I stared in awe at the foaming white path that the ferry cut into the water; in my mind’s eye it had been there the whole time, marking the way home and symbolizing just how far I had come already. At the front, my head snapped up from my notepad as children screamed, pointing excitedly at the porpoises that inhabited the waters, surfacing from time to time alongside the boat. When I read of similar scenes in fictional writing, the cynic in me often thought that these moments didn’t exist in reality. On those rare occasions however, a few simple moments can seem truly magical.

As the Isle of Arran came into clear view, doubt began to revisit me. Camping laws in Scotland are very flexible but I had no idea where to even begin in finding a spot to set up for the evening. I had only set out two rules for myself: It had to be somewhere beautiful and solitary.

As I scanned the coastline it seemed I would be spoiled for choice. Save for the small town where we would be docking, the scenery seemed almost completely untouched by human civilization. I collected my bags and stuffed my notepad away in preparation for the next step of the journey. Stepping off the ferry into the sleepy town of Brodick, I set off in search of the tourist centre in order to acquire a map. Within the hour I would be setting out north from the quaint little town and into the unknown.

The Productivity Experiment: Hermitage continues soon with Part 2: Into The Wilderness

Another Typical Life Update

Two weeks without a post, I really am the worst when it comes to scheduled blogging, huh? Don’t worry, I’m not dead! How are you all doing? I do apologize for the lack of content recently but for what it’s worth, it’s been a busy couple of weeks for me!

So first off, a few updates! I’m going to continue my silence for a short time, or my posting frequency will be much sparser at least. I’ve recently gained full time employment as well as being enlisted to provide content for a new project by the Millionaire’s Digest so the next two weeks will have me investing the majority of my time into that. Full details will be posted when it’s all finished up but in the meantime, thank you for your patience and for sticking around!

As for my regular posting material, I have a few things lined up that I plan to post up ASAP. Two more posts will be coming regarding the Productivity Experiment that I’ve already tried and tested as well as a few writing exercises that I plan to tear through over the course of a few days!

Still, I’d rather not be one to procrastinate on what’s coming too much so I’ll just work on getting it done and get it out there as quick as I can. Until then, a big thank you once again to anyone who’s stuck with this blog and it’s sporadic post frequency! I’ll be back real soon so stay tuned for whatever comes next!

Descriptive Writing: Sharing Your World.

The single most incredible thing about writing is the imagery it can produce from mere text. The power to translate the words of a story into a clearly envisioned scene within the minds of readers is, for me, a truly beautiful gift for a storyteller to have.

That being said, I’ve always hated descriptive writing.My comfort zone has always been deeply rooted in writing dialogue but when it comes to writing, – particularly in prose – descriptive text isn’t something that can be avoided. It’s an absolute essential to the creation of an engaging story yet there are so many ways it can be done wrong.

Shattering The Illusion

I wouldn’t presume that to be down to inferior writing though. Sure, some writers may simply need to refine their abilities so they can provide a clearer image of the world they’ve created with words alone but in my experience that’s rarely the real problem. The most common crime in descriptive text is actually the complete opposite.

I don’t know about you folks but for me, there is nothing more off-putting in a story than a large wall of descriptive text providing in-depth information on something that seems pretty much irrelevant to the bigger picture of the story. Entire cities and landscapes can be described with giant blocks of text when only a small portion of what’s described has any relevance to the story itself.

This is quite possibly the biggest problem for writers to watch out for, whether they be aspiring authors or professional scriptwriters. When somebody falls in love with a story, it’s because they aren’t just reading words, they’re partaking in a new journey. How many times have you been lost in the worlds created by others and imagined yourself there in that moment? Perhaps you’ve seen yourself as the protagonist who leads that journey, or maybe you believed yourself a simple spectator.

The second a story is disrupted by descriptive text that doesn’t engage you, that journey falls apart in your mind. The illusion dissolves and you find yourself once again sitting with a mere collection of words. I’m ashamed to say as a passionate reader that on more than one occasion I’ve found myself skimming through large portions of an otherwise wonderful story for that very reason but I know I’m not the only one.

So how do we stop moments like that from happening? Where is the line between fine writing and too much information?

In my opinion, the problem isn’t so much about the line as it’s about how you as a writer perceive your own story.

See The World As The Character, Not The Writer.

Writing a story you truly love is one of the most exciting things a writer can do and we feel the need to share as much of that world as possible, especially when they’re set in worlds of our own creation.We strive to be as clearly descriptive as possible so that the reader can vividly see the world in their mind and feel the same excitement and passion for it as we do.

There’s one slight hitch with that though: It’s easy to forget that the average reader isn’t interested in what YOU see in this world you’ve created.

Now I know that sounds a little strange but just hear me out! You are the author, true…but after you’ve completed your task of actually writing this unique piece of fiction, are you relevant to the story at all? Does your personal vision of this world have any importance to what takes place or to the reader?

Of course not! It doesn’t matter that you are this world’s creator! Just like your readers, you are an outsider. Even if you decided to fashion one of the characters after yourself, you are not that character! It doesn’t matter if you’re the one pulling the strings of fate in this story because in the reader’s mind, you’re not the one leading the journey. That task falls to the characters themselves.

They are the ones your readers wish to follow, to relate to and empathize with. After all, they are the ones dealing with the challenges you’ve put before them! And so, it’s up to you to look through the eyes of your characters, see the world exactly as they see it and describe their perception of things rather than your own. If you can only see the world as yourself, an outsider, then you make outsiders of your readers as well.

Relevance To The Character Is What Matters

How many characters are going to fixate on the designs of a town hall’s floor tiles, or the changing flight patterns of birds in the skies or what each individual stranger they pass is wearing? How many characters contemplate what the standard attire of winter is when the story is set in Summer? Who can give the fine details on the practices of a religious organization they have no desire to be associated with just by passing one of their churches?

That kind of descriptive text isn’t necessary unless it’s relevant to your character or your story! While I have no doubt that you’ve created a truly rich and vibrant world for this story to take place in, you can’t expect the typical reader to take interest in these walls of information! Sure, they may want to know more about your world but they don’t want it to be forced upon them when it only serves to delay the progression of the story itself!

If you entered a strange place, what would you take notice of? What would you inquire about and what would you already know of it? How do you describe your hometown to a stranger within a few minutes and what do they ask when you’re finished?

These are the questions you need to ask when writing descriptive text because the reader doesn’t want all the answers at once and the ones they do want need to be relevant! Each sentence should paint a new coat of detail on the image in the reader’s mind and every detail should be of some importance to the journey in question.

Always look through the character’s eyes, not the writer’s. Something should only be noted in descriptive text if a character notices it and a new process should only be explained if the character understands it themselves.

Be the character describing their vision of the world, not the writer who sees all. You’re writing a story, not an encyclopedia.

And if you find yourself writing those large blocks of descriptive text, just stop and ask yourself: How can your readers feel a sense of discovery if you do all the discovering for them?

Blog Update: With Renewed Focus Comes A New Look

When I began this blog, I never expected it to be anything more than a practice run at writing in public. My plan was simple: Post up as much content as possible and use WordPress as a temporary online portfolio rather than a public blog. While it can still be said that I’m able to use it as originally intended, this blog has been noticed by an unexpected amount of you lovely readers and writers in a fairly short amount of time.

Fifty followers probably doesn’t seem like much to the more experienced professional bloggers but to me, that’s more people reading my blog than I ever imagined! Seriously, thank you to every single one of you who has chosen to let WordPress spam your emails with my content, it really means a lot!

In my earlier days as a blogger I wanted to cover as many topics as possible; From writing game reviews and covering events like the Play Expo, all the way to discussing more serious issues in politics and, of course, life in general. Over time however, my motivation for blogging has altered and become much more focused on a single subject which happens to be the biggest passion I have: The art of writing itself.

While I may occasionally still provide a personal opinion or two on various subjects, I think it’s safe to say that the primary focus of this blog has been evident for a while now. Between that and my childish giddiness at the follower count, I figured it was time to give the blog a new look that matches with the renewed sense of focus and passion for my writing that I’ve recently acquired.

I suppose that was a very long-winded way of saying “Thank you for following me and I hope you enjoy the new look!” but if you’ve been keeping up with me then you should know by now that everything I do is long-winded.

So I’ll wrap things up by saying thank you once again for sticking around and I hope you stay tuned for whatever turns up next! Speak soon folks!

Stream Of Consciousness: It’s Fun To Write Dumb

Stream of Consciousness: To say or write the first thoughts that comes into your head without hesitation, no matter how disjointed, confusing or nonsensical they may be.

In celebration of writing about one of my favorite methods of brainstorming, I am going to perform this entire post using the tactic above. The only things I will edit afterwards are any spelling or grammar errors. If anything comes to mind, I will write it but because I myself can be a little disjointed, confusing and nonsensical, I apologize in advance for whatever God awful state this post becomes. Not that all my previous posts are particularly planned out, I’m a very disorganized individual at times and I swear often too so I’ll probably delete or censor any uses of the words “****, **** or *******.” Woops.


Anyway, onto the point of this drivel and that is what I like to call the “Stream of Consciousness.”

I first picked up this technique when I joined a community of writers and artists online. After spending several years without writing after losing a great deal of progress on a novel due to a PC breakdown, I was rusty and had no idea where to begin writing again. Luckily, this community was very active and had a lot of writing workshops going including what they call the “Writer’s Hot Seat.”

This involved a series of challenges or tasks which all amounted to writing 1000 or more words on a daily basis. Each session would have a particular theme and each day had a new objective. These typically lasted a week each Hot Seat.

The same week that I joined this community they were beginning a Hot Seat themed “Stream of Consciousness.” The challenge began with the first day being to write whatever the hell came to mind. The first thing I wrote amounted to “What the hell am I writing, why am I writing this, I don’t understand” and so on and so on until I just decided that it was too personal to put up publicly.

It essentially provided the ultimate outburst of every insecurity I had as a writer at the time. It outlined why I had stopped writing, how I felt stupid for letting a technical failure stop my passion and how I was concerned that I could quite possibly fail. Not at becoming a writer, I was concerned that I’d fail to even properly pursue it.

I read that stream and it gave me a surprising amount of insight into myself for speaking it. I could see where I’d hesitated to write and where the borderline was crossed into the “not give a ****” territory. That realization amused me and for some reason, it felt easier knowing that I didn’t have to hold back.

So rather than posting that personal block of text to the workshop, I wrote another 1000 words, this time beginning a story. I had no idea what I was writing about, all I can say just now is that it began with something about how worlds are created. As I wrote, I expected to be coming up with some rather typical fantasy plot. Until the first few sentences were finished and the story started to take form.

The second day was the same again with the general idea being that something new would be written but I broke the rules a little. Instead I continued the story I had worked on the day before, and I did this for the entire Hot Seat. In the case of this one, it was only five days long but those five days became the first draft of “Dream Lab.”

After the Hot Seat was completed, I looked at the results and felt completely refreshed. After years of discouragement from a single incident, I felt like I was a writer again. The fact that the spelling errors I’m going to have to correct later are at a minimum here is just a bigger boost in itself: Stream Of Consciousness saves the day again!

Seriously folks, you’ve probably heard the term “just write” a few times if you’re a writer seeking advice on how to churn out a story but I don’t think many of you will fully grasp what that means.

Just write really means just write. Put your fears and hopes and dreams in the middle of an important story narrative if they come to mind. Completely switch off from the fact that you’re typing and just type while you sit there staring into space like you’re on some kind of drug that I would never recommend for the creative process.


The brain is always active but it’s just like a muscle you regularly use. Imagine you’re punching a punchbag, if you pull your punches you won’t hit as hard. If you swing with all your might you aren’t as precise but you pack a mean punch when it connects.

That’s what your brain is doing when you let it loose with the stream. You miss so many times with the outbursts of self-doubt or what you think you’re going to watch on Netflix later (I prefer NowTv but can’t afford it, I’m still using my ex’s Netflix, if she doesn’t say anything why should I, right? Right?) (You see what I mean?) BUT when you connect with the target you started swinging for, you hit it hard!

Ignore your hesitant thoughts and your personal speculation about whether you’re writing anything of worth. THAT’S what “just write” means. It may feel like a fool’s errand when you start off but believe me, it’s worth putting in that extra force to each punch.

Because you could potentially hit gold at any moment.