The MRWG wishes all our readership a very Happy Mother's Day. Perhaps you're in the mood to read something writerly during "The Voice' ad breaks or having got the little ones into bed are ready to fire up the lap top and have some me time in cyber space. Here's a lovely post from Ebony McKenna on enjoying a hobby, something all mothers need, an activity that is purely for their enjoyment. It's Fine To Have A Hobby
Hobbies are what give our lives simple joys and pleasure. Seeing the result of a finished project and admiring the work and love that went into it.
I love bonsai, I've been creating them and tending them for twenty years. Yet I've never exhibited. I do it because I enjoy it and it brings me pleasure. I also love model railway sets and adore building the model houses that go with them, but I hardly attend train fairs and I've never joined a club. Because it's a hobby, so I do it for me. Just because I can cook doesn't mean I will appear on Masterchef any time soon.
And yet, writing seems to be the one hobby where if you take it up, you're suddenly under pressure to do everything. Have a blog, be on twitter, write 10,000 words a day, send things to agents and editors, get those 90k novels done, have them reach the dizzying heights of the bestseller lists.
All because you had a little story noodling in your brain and you liked writing.
So perhaps it's time to step back for a moment and have a think. Do you write for fun? Excellent. Keep doing it. Does the thought of sending your story out into the world, to be ripped apart by critics kill you inside? Good then, don't do that. Do the bit you love, without the other stuff. The pressure stuff, that will suck all the joy from your hobby.
Of course, if you're rampantly ambitious, like me, and you want the pressure and in fact thrive on it, then by all means, turn your writing hobby into a full time pursuit and give it everything you've got. Write, write, and write some more. Then rewrite. Then put it in a drawer for a few months. Then rewrite it again. Then write something new (because that other thing will be so derivative you won't believe it) and keep on going.
But in the mean time, those who write as a hobby - ignore the pressure. Don't get drawn into the competitive nature of writing as a full time job. Write for the pure, simple joy it brings you. Write for yourself. Write to feed your heart.
Ebony McKenna, is published in Young Adult, Her first two Ondine novels, The Summer of Shambles and The Autumn Palace, are available in paperback from http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/search/advanced?searchAuthor=Ebony+McKenna
with free worldwide postage.
They are also available as ebooks in the UK and Australia from http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ebony-McKenna/e/B0057PRSL2/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1366672783&sr=8-1
and then the trequel and the conclusion release dates are:
Ondine: The Winter of Magic - worldwide ebook release December 6, 2013
Ondine: The Spring Revolution - worldwide ebook release March 6, 2014
We certainly have a wide range of genre writers at the MRWG. This week's author has recently released an Erotic, Hero/Hero Romance. Tamsin Baker read sexy romance for years, skipping the story to find the 'good bits'. When she found Erotic romance and Erotica, it was like coming home to people who understood what she needed in her books. When it was time to write, the world expanded and she knew this was what she wanted to do forever.
Tasmin's romance is definitely up there in heat level. In fact she had to send me a second excerpt after pulling the first one because she felt it was too hot for a blog post. Believe me it was!
Truth Be Told is about Patrick, a gorgeous, gay, corporate lawyer who wants to stay firmly in the closet. When he goes to a new club in search of a one-night stand, he is picked up by Liam.
Liam is big, beautiful, and also a Dom. A hot and heavy night ensues leaving them both thinking there could be more to their relationship than just sex. But Liam is an out and proud gay, and he finds it insulting not to accept who you are. Patrick disagrees...and major problems occur.
If you're interested in sampling this type of erotic romance we have an excerpt following.Truth Be Told Excerpt:Patrick took another long suck of his chocolate heaven andsighed. He hadn’t been this relaxed in a long time. “Hey Patrick, how are you?”So much for being relaxed.A familiar voice startled him, and he looked to his right and groaned, forcing a smile to his face. That would be so like her!“Milly! What are you doing here?”“Me?” She asked, a hand to her chest in disbelief. “I’m the one with flexible hours and long lunches. You’re the one chained to your desk who never sees the light of day. You do realize it’s Friday, don’t you?”He tried to laugh, but it came out choked. His sister then looked over at Liam with interest and he tensed. What could he say to get out of this?“Milly, this is a friend of mine, Liam. Liam, this is my baby sister, Milly. She’s an interior designer.”Liam smiled a blinding smile and pulled out a chair.“Won’t you join us Milly?”Patrick’s heart dropped into his belly, acid burning. Yuck. Milly sat quicker than a flash, her pupils dilating. How was hegoing to distract his sister? She was like a dog with a bone when her interest was peaked.“We just ordered. Do you want something to eat?” Liam asked her.Patrick couldn’t help the pleasure that spread through him. This guy was something special.“No, no. I’m just meeting someone for a coffee and thought I’d take the chance to say hi to my brother. Are you a lawyer too?”Liam smiled, but ignored the question. “Well, catch up. I’ve gotta hit the toilet. Back in a minute.”Liam left and Patrick exhaled. He had a lot of explaining to do.“Wow, he is so hot, Patrick.”He laughed. She had no idea.“Yeah, but not exactly your type, Milly.”She looked affronted then comprehension registered.“Oh, he’s ... gay?” she whispered.He had to laugh again. She said it like it was a state secret.“Yeah.”Milly’s face dropped in disappointment for a minute thenlooked straight back at him.“I’m really impressed with you big brother. Not many straightguys can be friends with gay ones.”Red heat scorched his cheeks. This was the time to tell her, tofinally open up to one person in his life.He opened his mouth, and paused, fear crippling him. Hecouldn’t do it. The door of opportunity slammed shut in his face and he exhaled as pain tightened his chest.“He’s a good guy,” he mumbled, embarrassment scorching his cheeks afresh.Liam slid back in his chair and gave him a quizzical grin.“So, interior design, Milly? Sounds much more interesting than being a lawyer.” Liam gave him a sideways grin and Patrick poked his tongue out before he could stop himself.Milly laughed. “You should take days off more often, Patrick. I can’t remember the last time you looked so happy.”She glanced over her shoulder and stood up. “Better go. Potential new client.” She bent to kiss him on the cheek, her mouth cool against his flushed face. “I’ll hopefully see you again, Liam.”Liam smiled politely. “Maybe.”They both watched her walk away and greet an older lady that must have been the client she was waiting to meet.Then Liam turned steely blue eyes on him, all amusement gone. “She doesn’t know you’re gay?”Thanks Tasmin for sharing your new book with us at the MRWG blog. If you or a friend would like to find out more about Tasmin and her books, we've included some links below.
Contact Links:Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgBlog: erotictamsinbaker.blogspot.com.auEmail: www.tamsinbakererotic.comBuy Link: http://www.evernightpublishing.com/truth-be-told-by-tamsin-baker/
At the MRWG's AGM we saw a new leadership step up as Louise (Coordinator) and Clare (Treasurer) stepped down. Elvina (new coordinator) and Angela (new treasurer) took up the roles. A huge thank you to those stepping down for their service and a big welcome to the new office bearers. One member, Neila Todd wrote the following account of her experience.
The doubts creep in as to where we are heading. Change is a silent blindfold; to make us all start shaking at the thought of being out of our comfort zone.
Meeting up with fellow members had the feelings warm and unit to a collective feeling from all, towards good.
As the as the meeting began the first few words were revising the past year which was looked on as a positive by all. The few blurs that may have marred the 100% were small, showing a positive year overall.
The voting had all new panel of members slip quickly into their seats and take charge of proceedings. Thanking those leaving their positions with true gratitude for their input by wonderful gifts mark the occasion; showing how they were truly treasured by all.
A new broom sweeps clean. So, after lunch the brain storming for a new format was put forward. The whiteboard being used as a collector of ideas; with the most popular being accountability for one’s self of your personnel game plan.
Further thoughts emerged that united the fellow members of The Melbourne Romance Writers Group community and showed that our organisation would continue working with us; to support romance, and all writers to publication and beyond for every individual member.
After a whip around for these ideas the enthusiasm in the room could be felt; lifting our dreams to succeed. Trepidation had slipped by the wayside; with feeling high that this will emerge as a very positive year for all members.
It was felt by all at the meeting that these changes, backed by each individual’s continual work will have us all putting forward pages for critiquing. This will bring us more positive outcomes and closer to our goals of publication.
We will all remain proud to be members of the community of the Melbourne Romance Writers Gould.
Thank you to all for such a positive outcome.
In the real world Georgiana Louis is happily married to her own hero, the mother of two beautiful little girls and a chiropractor. However, she has always loved to read which to her is escapism in its safest form. She wanted nothing more than to pick up one of Eloisa James' books, or relax with Julia Quinn.
One day though, she realized she had an idea, a series of friends that each
had their own story to tell. She jotted down a few ideas, sat at her computer
and The Spares was born! (As in the heir and a spare.)
She hasn’t looked back since.
She has three books published with Red Rose Publishing. “Nanny Wanted” and “Second Chances” but it’s her, recently released, third book “The Reluctant Duke” that is the first of her Spares series.
About The Reluctant Duke.
Colin Lyre, recently inherited 10th Duke of Lincoln, has been told his whole life that he is superfluous to his family.
When he must deal with the responsibility and stress that comes with his new title, he flounders rather badly. He is determined do his ‘duty’’ and marry an ‘appropriate Duchess.’
Life throws Colin’s plans wayward when he rescues the beautiful Annabelle from a ball. She makes him realize how much better his life could be, but he doesn’t know if he truly deserves such happiness.
Annabelle wants nothing to do with the responsibility of marrying a title. She simply wants to make a suitable match with a gentleman who can support her family.
Colin is Annabelle’s perfect prince until she realizes what life as his life would be like. However, making the rational decision to stay away from one another is much harder than either of them expects.
An Excerpt from “The Reluctant Duke”
Colin Lyre, the new tenth Duke of Lincoln could not believe he was attending a ton ball after he had sworn to himself that he would not attend another until he intended on marrying. If it was not for the ball in question being the birthday of Victoria Dunford—the little sister he had never had, he most definitely would not be here. Victoria was the younger sister of his best friend John. They’d grown up together and he had always loved Victoria for treating him like she treated her own brother—with unwaning, unconditional hatred one day and love the next. Colin had only an older brother for company and had often wished for the sisters that his friends had complained about. Victoria was his substitute little sister.
She had used every trick she possessed, including fake tears, pleading and even threats to get Colin to her 21st birthday, and he of course had succumbed. It would take a force of nature to stop Victoria when she had her mind set on something.
“Excuse me,” Colin politely bowed to the gentlemen he had been standing with and made his way across the room to Victoria. The crowd parted in front of him like Moses and the Red Sea, and Colin could not stop the sigh that escaped him. He missed being the second son, relatively unimportant and unnoticed by the haut ton. He’d give absolutely anything to have Gerald back. He knew how to behave, he knew how to be the esteemed holder of the title of Duke. He was raised for it, bred for it even. How he would have laughed to see Colin with the title. A wry smile crept onto Colin’s face as he thought about his older brother, and he drew up next to the now unoccupied Victoria.
“My lady,” Colin leaned closer than was proper and spoke directly into her ear.
“Colin,” Victoria spun around to face him and greeted him with a smile that was both warm and genuine. She would never be one to call him by his brother’s title.
“May I request a dance with the hostess?” Colin grinned at his surrogate sister, an action he knew caused the dimple in his right cheek to become pronounced.
“Of course,” Victoria smiled and took his arm for a waltz. Swinging Victoria into the perfect waltz position that included at least six inches between their bodies and no hands below the waist, he looked down at her laughing blue eyes and scowled at her.
“Having fun, are you?” He didn’t even attempt a polite start to the conversation.
“Of course I am, it’s my birthday party. How are you enjoying my night Colin? There are so many unmarried young ladies in this room that I expected you to have left screaming by now.” Victoria said, with her characteristic bluntness and a cheeky grin.
“You mean to torture me then?” Colin knew the question was rhetorical.
Victoria smiled slowly, appearing to be thinking about her answer.
“I have been hoping you may find a wife, yes. You need to spend more time consorting with ladies rather than the women I hear you and my brother are more accustomed to being with.”
“That is not any of your business scamp,” Colin hissed at Victoria through his teeth.
“Which part? The part where I said you should get married to a lady?” She emphasized the word lady with a cheeky smile. “Or the part where I mentioned the women of ill repute that you visit weekly?”
Colin gasped. Ladies of Victoria’s birth were not meant to even know about loose women, let alone talk to a gentleman about them. Was this really the same girl who had put worms under his pillow, and cried on his lap when she scrapped her knees running down a path?
We all know about the writer’s notebook. But since publication, I’ve come to realise I also need a writer’s diary. I’m not talking about a journal, a place to wander entranced through my subconscious. Nor am I’m talking about a diary that includes scribbled shopping lists, indecipherable recipes or doctor’s appointments. It won’t have anything to do with my day job. After all, those hours are already reserved and accounted for. I just need a place to put all the practical stuff that comes with being a published author.
I need something that tells me when I’m scheduled to submit a guest blog post and remind me to drop by and comment once it’s posted. I’ve also got a blog (link to: email@example.com) and need to diarise the guest authors scheduled on mine.
Revisions or edits come with strict deadlines and I’ll record those and flag some warning cues letting me know time is passing.
I need to create goals, tagged with definite dates. If I want to write two or three books a year I need a plan
and the diary is my roadmap.
Maybe I have a coffee date with a fellow writer, an important part of staying connected in the writing community. I don’t want to forget that because those relationships are precious.
And every month a diary reminder to email website updates to my website manager by the cut-off date makes sure I make the most of my investment.
I need to schedule stuff around my new releases, probably the trickiest thing to do; contact my publisher’s PR person, ask bloggers for a spot, request reviews. I need to hone a program that puts me out there but stops short of making people throw up.
When I go on holiday, and that holiday is really a thinly disguised research trip, I want a note of what I need to check and research each day. I may not pass that way again and if it’s related to the book I’m writing, I’d better make sure I diarise the things I need to research at each stop.
My diary will have a note about closing dates of interesting short story competitions I want to enter. Some of those will represent unrealised dreams. It’s so important to have these and record them.
I’ll also use it as a record of what I’ve done
not just what I plan to do. Dates of submissions, rejections received, short pieces I’ve written.
In short, I need something that helps me progress my career, keeps my head screwed on straight and stops me waking at 3am with that ‘uh-o’ moment about something I’d forgotten to do. The practical Lou, she of the day-job, reaches for a serviceable black Debden diary. But writer Lou wants Kikki K, something colourful and full of fun that reflects the sort of heroines I write.
What about you? Do you keep a writer’s diary? Or are all the things you need to do kept in your head?
Louise can be found at:
If an editor suggests writing things in active voice, what does this really mean?
In a nutshell, with sentences written in active voice, the subject performs the action that is expressed in the verb. It can sometimes be a strange concept to grasp, but with practice and repetition, you’ll start to notice it everywhere, especially on radio & TV news bulletins.
For our first example:
Active: The company ships the computers overseas.
In this instance, the company is the subject, and performs the action, which in this instance is the word ‘ships’.
However, in passive voice, the subject sometimes disappears, and the object – in this case the computers – have the action performed on them by the subject.
Passive: Computers are shipped overseas.
In this example, we don’t know the subject, so the reader is left to assume that the computers are shipped “by the company”
Active voice tells us who is doing what.
Active: The chef is preparing the food.
Compare this to the Passive: The food is being prepared.
The implication in the passive example is that someone is preparing food, but the writer hasn’t told us the subject. It could be a group of students, chefs, or even criminals keen to mend their ways.
They key “flag” to look for in passive voice is not past tense, but the implied “by whom”, usually left off the end of a sentence.
The boy kicked the ball – active
The ball was kicked by the boy – passive
The delivery man brought the package yesterday - active
The package was delivered yesterday – passive.
Implied “by whom” – you assume it was the postie. But it might have been a neighbour, a lover, or a carrier pigeon.
Passive voice is often indirect, whereas active voice makes things more direct. Use active voice when you want to pick up the pace and move things along.
There is nothing wrong with their passive or active voice, it’s more a matter of working out which works best for your situation. If you’re writing a non-fiction report or analysis, then passive voice can work well. If you’re writing a novel full of action and romance, (gee, really?) then active can keep things humming.
One of the drawbacks of passive voice is that it can let people off the hook.
We made mistakes – active. This means you’ve owned up to your mistakes.
Mistakes were made – passive – leading the reader to wonder, “yes, but who made them and who can I blame?”
So the key is to read a sentence and ask yourself if you know who’s doing it, or who’s done it. If you’re left wondering ‘by what or by whom’ then it’s passive voice.
Snares, traps and blunders:
Avoid starting a sentence in active voice and then shifting to passive, or vice versa.
Voice shift: Many customers in the restaurant found the coffee too bitter to drink, but it was still ordered frequently.
Revised: Many customers in the restaurant found the coffee too bitter to drink, but they still ordered it frequently.
Voice shift: He tried to act cool when he slipped in the puddle, but he was still laughed at by the other students.
Revised: He tried to act cool when he slipped in the puddle, but the other students still laughed at him.
Now that you’ve seen a few examples, you’ll find yourself noticing them more and more. It doesn’t mean passive is ‘wrong’ but when it’s overused, it makes things sound dull and lifeless. Listen to ABC 774 news and it’s full of passive voice. I’ll bet they haven’t noticed!
Where Passive voice works well.
There are often times when passive voice requires less text, because of the implied subject.
"Rules are made to be broken," he said defiantly. Is a great use of passive voice. To put this in active voice, would weaken the idea that some rules really are made to be broken. “I was made to break rules” makes me sound like I’m up myself
“Trespassers prosecuted”. Is a fine example of good passive. To write this in active, you’d need to say something like “We will prosecute trespassers”
For the comprehensive worksheet that accompanies this article, please visit the "Articles on Writing Craft Page of our website and you'll find the complete workshop.
Ebony McKenna is published in Young Adult fiction her webpage is http://www.ebonymckenna.com/
Happy Easter Everyone
Here I go, finally a blog about my hero. I’m being very severe with myself and am strictly limiting the word count so as your eyes don’t glaze over while I indulge myself dissecting each of her books. Having said that, as far as contemporary authors go, Jane Austen keeps me re-reading her books again and again. Wait a minute, isn't she a historical author? Not in my view. She lived during the regency period but didn't write historical novels. She wrote about her contemporaries.
The allure of the period costume drama aside. I read Pride and Prejudice thinking it was going to be some kind of intellectual read. I dare say Mills and Boon would have thought up a more romantic title which could have tempted me to open the cover a good five years earlier. Any who, as a self confessed fan, I guess at age 21 and just discovering J A is a bit lame. Most people I know read her as a teenager. I can only put it down to a distaste for the “Classics”, Dickens etc. I thought it meant the same as reading books for school.
After my coming of age birthday I felt it was time I bit the bullet and got on with improving my reading resume. OMG I LOVED P & P. I whipped through the rest of the novels and settled on Persuasion as my all time fave. For the last 30 years (eek, how many?) I've thought a great deal about J A. I’ve been to England to visit Chawton and various other J A historic spots so, you know, I mean slightly obsessed when I say thought a bit about her. What gets me fired up, nowadays, is how her writing style isn't in fashion and she’d probably not get a contract if she cold submitted around the traps. I know, a lot of you think she would. But we can agree, her books hold their own with current romance novelists and give us an emotional ride every time we read them, again and again. I still get anxious that Anne Elliot won’t meet up with Captain Wentworth after reading his marriage proposal. No I’m not pathetic, J A is that great. She can still intimately pull us in.
I believe one of the, too many to mention here, reasons is that at times she adopts a conversational style, not dissimilar to her letters to sister Cassandra. She wrote about what went on in her current time. She was a contemporary author taking the reader into her confidence, whether poking fun at her supporting cast or getting her heroine to notice if the hero wore a blue coat or not (very in at the time). In some respects it’s like modern Women’s Lit. In taking the almost insufferable circumstances of a woman’s lot and sharing a private joke with the reader and making fun of it. For example, when the poor (in more ways than one) Dashwood sisters are expected to enjoy playing with spoiled noisy children. J A has Eleanor make a comment that goes something like, when she is around her cousin’s children, she can never think of quiet children with any abhorrence. It carries so strongly with how we feel today, when the last vestiges of stereotypical gender types are sometimes still ill applied.
I admire J A as I would any brave woman, from any period of time, who chose to live as an author rather than marry someone she didn't love. Even the comfort of her sister and mother were not enough to induce her into a marriage of convenience. She wrote what love should be like. Not what her real experience of love had served up in her own life. The gradual awakening of her characters to their own faults, which have kept them from love, and the change in their attitude leading them finally into marriages of bliss, is totally relevant today. Mr Darcy admitting his faulty pride, to his dearest loveliest Elizabeth, has to be the most romantic scene ever written. If J A wrote that this year and it came out in paperback with that scene, my bet is that it would be a NYT bestseller.
The picture of the lady at the top of the page is officially not of Dora Bramden. It is however an unauthenticated portrait believed by some (including me) to be of Jane Austen. Photo sourced from http://worldbooktrade.blogspot.com.au
Someone recently asked me this question: how long does it take you to write a book? I paused for a moment before answering, because I was pretty sure the other person expected a pretty straightforward answer. Something like, “three months, two weeks and four days, give or take”.
Of course, as anyone who’s done any kind of fiction writing knows, the answer is way more complicated than that.
Every book is different
For a start, the answer is different for each book I’ve written. And in some cases it doesn’t even have anything to do with word count. Some books just write themselves – they come quickly and relatively easily (I’m cautious about using the word “easy” when it comes to writing!) and before you know it, you’re typing “The End”.
Other books make you struggle for every word. Or they start off fine, and then the muse up and disappears after chapter three. Then, six months later she’s back, whispering in your ear, “Hey, remember that story we abandoned? Well, how about...”
You can’t really count the time in between as writing time. Although obviously, somewhere in your subconscious, it’s still been kicking around, working itself out. So it still kind of counts!
What do you mean by “finished”?
As we know, there isn’t one finish line when it comes to writing. Typing “The End” on your first draft is really a beginning, just as much as a finishing. There’s editing, redrafting, rewriting, restructuring...
And then, when your story makes it into the hands of a publisher there’s a whole new finish line ahead. Editorial/structural edits. Then line edits. Then author alterations. Then, THEN, finally, your book is done and off to the printing presses (or equivalent e-book formatting!).
“I never finish anyway...”
I know a lot of writers who struggle with finishing their stories. A lot of agents and publishers only want the first three chapters for submission, so there is a temptation not to bother with writing the book much past that. And, let’s face it, the first part of a book is usually the easiest – we’re still in love with our characters and the novelty of our story is still fresh and exciting.
I’m a bit of a believer in the school of thought around the law of attraction. It basically says that your attitudes and behaviours have a lot to do with the kind of opportunities life sends your way. And I think if you only ever write three chapters, you’re kind of putting it out there that it’s okay that no one ever asks you for more than that. Not to mention the fact that you’re really not giving yourself the full experience of being a writer. Writing the opening of a story is relatively easy. Seeing it through to fruition, watching your conflicts play out, keeping the tension alive, avoiding the “saggy middle” – they’re all writing skills that you’ll never use if you never go past the first three chapters.
And, on a very practical level, when the right editor does hit upon your work and asks to see the rest, if you’ve already written it (or at least most of it) you’re in a fantastic position to do some polishing, some final writing and send it off quick-smart before they forget about you! Responding quickly as a writer is important (even if responding quickly as publishers and editors is practically unheard of!).
So what’s the answer?
How long is a piece of string? How long it takes is up to you. As with so much in writing, there’s no right or wrong answer. The only misstep you make, I think, is in not meeting the challenge to reach “The End”.
Emmie’s latest book is a novella, Spellbound. She thinks it probably took about three weeks to write, three months to polish, and three years to get published.
Spellbound link: http://www.destinyromance.com/products/9781743481035/spellbound
Find Emmie on the web:
As an author, I've discovered my creative process needs to be supported by a physically and mentally fit body. Occupational health and safety is as important to me, working alone on a laptop at the kitchen table, as it is to a construction worker.
A sore neck, a horrible ache between the shoulders, and other physical problems associated with poor posture, can bring my creative process to a halt. Also an all work and no play attitude can lead to fallow periods of creative and physical exhaustion. OH&S is, in my opinion, not so much a fear based be-careful-and-be-aware-process as much as it is a common sense approach that helps me to spend more productive time at the keyboard, doing what I love.
Construction workers learn how to bend and pick up heavy items. An author needs to be able to do that too. I'm getting ready for when the promo copies of my first published book arrives from the publisher (positive thinking at work here). Lift with the legs, keep your back straight and hold the precious box of books close to my body. When sitting and typing for long periods of time I need to be realistic. It can take a toll on my body and mind if we don’t observe some OH&S guidelines to keep me in the best condition for creativity.
There are many websites available on Google that will give you exact measurements for sitting at a computer and I advise you visit some and get the facts. I’ve done that, but if I need to get out the measuring tape I won’t bother. So here’s what works for me. I sit on an ergonomic chair that is adjusted so that my knees are at a right angle and both feet rest flat on the floor. If I weaken and cross my legs, I have to jump around on one foot when I get up because the other has fallen to sleep.
The small of my back is supported with a cushion and my shoulders are back and neck is erect so the keyboard placement reflects this, as does the screen height. The mouse is kept close as possible to my keyboard. It may sound obvious to make sure the keyboard and screen are directly in front of you and you aren't twisting your back or neck to view it, but I've often become out of alignment. I place my screen about an arm and a palms distance away and have special had reading glasses made up to focus at this distance.
I get up and take breaks. Wow, that can be so difficult. When I’m on a roll, I can sit and type until my bladder is as big as a fit ball and have to walk cross legged to the loo. So I have learned this is best avoided by keeping track of the time in the bottom right hand corner of the screen and taking a break every hour. Yep every hour. I go to the loo and then refill my glass of water. I've found my brain works so much better when it isn't resembling a prune.
I stop for lunch and weather permitting I eat it outside in the courtyard. I look at the trees far away and then at the flowers up close and I breath deep. This gives my eye muscles a work out and gets my heart pumping oxygen around, fabulous for the brain too. You should probably do this every half hour but I can’t honestly say that I do. I do however repeat this routine in the garden whenever I become stuck. It seems to clear the blockage for me. Two to five minutes contemplation in the garden and I usually get a breakthrough.
I go for a walk at least three times a week. My favorite walk, in the current Melbourne heat, is up and down the air-conditioned, local shopping mall. On pleasanter days I like to visit a nearby lake.
Remember the RDO the construction worker has? Yes? Well, I totally agree with this for authors. It’s different from the weekend. This is a day you’d normally be working on your writing or other job. You can still exercise what fab romance writer and tutor, Anne Gracie, calls the writing muscle and put some words down but just do half an hour or so. Keeping happy has to be the most important ingredient in the creative process. The passion for writing may feed your happiness but someone who is so depressed they can’t get out of bed, isn't going to write anything.
I began taking a day for myself once a week. I called it Dora Day. Dora Day now happens about once a month and it involves doing anything I fancy. A massage, visiting an art gallery, going on a boat cruise from Melbourne’s South Bank to Williamstown, a stroll along the St Kilda pier, or lunch at the Block Arcade followed by a long browse in a bookshop. These are just a few of the things that constitute a Dora Day.
You get the idea. It’s day you give to yourself, to be filled with anything you like. I’m always uplifted and refreshed after my RDO. So, if I’m a little jaded and it feels as though I’m swimming upstream, I prescribe myself a Dora Day. It always does the trick.
I invite you to have a think. What would you do on your (fill in your name) Day?