Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Continuing to learn is one of the five ways to wellbeing.  This term I’ve enrolled in two courses at the WEA.  This excellent adult education centre has a varied programme with many courses available during the daytime, and all at reasonable cost.  It takes me just twenty minutes to walk there so I’m getting exercise as well (being active is another way to wellbeing).

Yesterday was the first session of a seven week writing class titled Shaping an Identity, with Linda Hart.  There were fourteen students and I was pleased to find that two of them were people I know.  It’s likely that others will become new friends.  One of the other women is also a blogger and I look forward to discussing this form of writing with her.  For next week we’ve been asked to bring our writing goals.  Mine are to create interesting posts for my blog, and to improve my poetry writing.  I’m keen to get some constructive criticism on both of these.  Writing in a structured session is a good discipline for me.

In the first session we were given the beginning and ending of four novels and one short story.  We were asked to choose one of these, and write one page which gave the story in between.  This was a good challenge for me as only one of the writers was a woman and I don’t usually read books by men.  The one woman author was Margaret Atwood, and her piece didn’t appeal, so I chose the excerpts by Norman McLean, an American writer I’d never heard of, but his writing gave me some ideas I could continue.  It was satisfying to get out of my usual comfort zone.

I chose an author who was male
and wrote some words to fit his tale.

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I plan to make some changes to my posting on this blog.  Usually when I write here it’s because of something I’ve seen and photographed.  Readers tell me they appreciate my chronicle of what’s happening in central Christchurch.  If nothing inspires me I don’t write, and that’s okay.  My poetry group provides a fortnightly theme which sometimes gives me material for a blog post.  Lately I’ve felt my writing’s gone stale and needs a change.  For more than twelve years I’ve been writing mainly about what I’ve observed and experienced.  A very few of my 1495 followers leave comments (thank you!).  Often there is more reaction from friends on Facebook than on the blog.  My average daily views for the whole of 2018 is 38, compared to 49 in 2017, even though I’ve gained 70 new followers this year.  I enjoy blogging, especially the contact it gives me with those readers who respond.

My New Year resolution is to experiment with writing first, and illustrating afterwards, rather than starting with a photo.  Lately I’ve experimented with illustrating some posts with flat lay photos, which are creatively satisfying.  My writing in the last few months has been mainly poems, and I plan to try more prose, probably still ending with a rhyming couplet (because I enjoy them).  I also plan to write on paper first, rather than straight on computer, as I think that allows more creativity and thought.  I have a book of writing prompts 642 Things to Write About, which I sometimes use to spark ideas, and I have daringly decided that I will actually start writing on its pages.  This seems almost sacrilegious, but it’s what the book’s intended for.  I will try to follow one prompt every day.

It’s impossible difficult to take a selfie of me writing because I use my left hand for both pen and camera.

‘I trust my readers are agog
anticipating my changed blog.’

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Eight weeks of writing classes have taught me heaps, and stimulated all kinds of writing.  Fiction writing is a challenge for me, but we were given good questions to trigger this.  I found I love the Tanka format.

Tanka are similar to Haiku, but written from a subjective viewpoint, with a syllable count that goes 5,7,5,7,7.  The first two lines are an introduction.  The third changes the tone, gives a twist.  The last two lines should have a profound meaning and/or prompt reflection, and the whole should be able to be read as one sentence.   We were also introduced to Haiga, where the poem (which could be a Tanka) is combined with a picture.  I enjoyed being given a picture and asked to write an accompanying Tanka within ten minutes.  Here are a couple I wrote (sorry I don’t have the pictures they were intended to go with).

Your concentration
is focussed on one pathway
let your mind wander
there are other points of view
that may give a fresh outlook


Together apart
each of us on our own path
there is unity
with an agreed objective
reached by diff’rent processes


Have you come across Tanka poems before?  And do you know whether the plural of Tanka should have an ‘s’?

“After this course I now hanker
to be writing many Tanka.”



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Dropout Decision

Early this month I enrolled in a five week poetry course.  Advertised as being ‘Suitable for all levels’ I was soon aware that most of the 20 students were more serious poets than me.  The analysis of poems was interesting, though not something I particularly enjoyed.  The exercises were stimulating, but I found the homework a challenge and it tended to dominate my week leaving little creative energy for blogging and other pursuits.  I’m usually reliable and don’t give up easily, but today I decided to drop out of the course.  Instead of spending several hours in class I’ve been able to potter in the garden, lunch leisurely in the sunshine, and generally relax.  Dropping out was a good decision.  For now I will stick to my ongoing writing group, and if I have spare creative energy I have a couple of useful books I can work my way through.


“This is not the place or time
to attempt to improve my rhyme.”




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Saturday 5 March marks ten years since I started blogging.

tenth birthday cake

During that time I’ve published 2,882 posts, about earthquakes, cats, and other subjects.  It’s amazing to look back at all that’s happened during that time, to think that I’m still writing here, still enjoying it, and to know that some of you have been faithful readers for so many years.  Thank you for encouraging me to continue and especially for your comments.

“I’ve blogged here now for ten long years
shared ups and downs, my laughter, tears.”


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Creating ideas fast was the focus of a writing workshop hosted by the Canterbury Society of Authors, and facilitated by Kathryn Burnett.

Kathryn Burnett

Kathryn Burnett

During the morning she took us through a series of exercises designed to get those creative juices flowing.

Kathryn gave us “random provocations” to generate lists and sentences which could then lead into a story, or help to develop a character.  Longer ‘word clusters’ helped us to access the subconscious – moving from the external to the internal.  This encouraged us go deeper, rather than writing in a linear fashion.  My writing tends to be factual rather than creative, and the morning reminded me of the importance of writing physically in longhand, rather than always using a keyboard.

I feel inspired to go back to doing Morning Pages.  I’ve always found that stream of consciousness useful and, if I kept a highlighter handy I could mark any ideas that I want to take further.  The workshop was fun, I enjoyed meeting new people, and I have some ideas for updates for my Linkedin profile, which is my latest writing enterprise.

“The Morning Pages are the thing
to help creative thoughts take wing.”



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The local Society of Authors offered a great programme of workshops today.  There was nothing specifically about blogging, and I chose sessions that looked interesting and were promoted as being interactive.

The first was “Writing Historical Novels” with Maxine Alterio.  I didn’t remember her name at all, but once she started talking I remembered that I had read and enjoyed her “Lives we Leave Behind” a couple of years ago.  She told how she got published originally and spoke about her writing process.  It was very well done, plus she gave us some exercises to stir our creativity.

I then went to a session on poetry with Joanna Preston which was also stimulating. She asked us to write limericks to introduce ourselves to the group.  I had time to write three, and here they are:

I’m Ruth and I’m glad to be here
But speaking out loud can bring fear
I don’t want to say
Much about me today
If asked, I would not volunteer.

A limerick about me, forsooth
Must I really divulge all the truth?
There’s details, you see
You don’t know about me
So I’ll just say that my name is Ruth.

A doggerel writer, that’s me
I don’t create best poetry
But spend lots of time
Counting rhythm and rhyme
And finish like this, as you see.


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It’s seven years today since I started this blog.  Over those years I’ve developed a style and process that suits me and satisfies my creative urge.

Generally I use alliterative titles, finish with a rhyming couplet, and post something most days.  I write about my personal experiences, tending not to re-blog items written by others (although I’m thrilled when someone re-blogs my posts).  Most posts include photos I’ve taken – my camera is an invaluable blog asset.  I don’t write about anyone else unless I have their permission.  If I say “we” did something the reader is often not told who is the rest of “we”.  I don’t blog about my paid work, except as an aside.  I have plenty of other places to write about work matters.

Once positive outcome of the earthquakes is that they’ve given me lots of material.  They’ve also brought me new readers and commenters.  WordPress tells me I now have 198 followers, although 86 of those are Facebook “Friends” and I’m not sure they all actually read the blog.  At the moment my daily visitors average 73.

Seven years is a long time.  According to Stanford School of Medicine every single cell in our skeleton is replaced every seven years.  So from now on a completely new me will be writing this blog.  I wonder if I’ll still be doing it in another seven years?

Heartfelt thanks to those who are regular readers and commenters.  You inspire and encourage me in my creative expression.

“For seven years this blog and me
have kept each other company.”

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