Catherine Vance, emerging writers

I write. I delete.

Uncomfy in my seat.

Procrastinate, gotta motivate.

Got an empty slate.





Friend gets a contract. Congratulate!

(A little hate)

Can we collaborate?

Caffeinate, caffeinate,

Fragment; consider revising. Am I literate?



Punctuate, hyphenate. Educate!

Grilled cheese on toast.

(Even though I just ate.)

Don’t hesitate, this is fate.

Or do I exaggerate?



Where did all the good time go?

by Jacob Henwood.

I’m not going to talk about how to write well. I don’t think I am the person to come to for that sort of thing. Not on account of my inability to string words together in a pleasing fashion, but because I’m yet  to present much evidence that it is something that I can do. If it’s what you’re looking for, there are lots of books on the subject by a great many people whose opinions on the matter are backed by the weight of this evidence.

Before quality though comes productivity. This is the first step. A blank page may hold infinite possibilities, but a full page holds the first step to not wasting them. I can talk about productivity. I have productively written for a number of years now. I can sit down and write a 2,000 to 5,000 word story outline in an hour. I do a lot of different types of writing, and I do it with both stealth and ease. If you’re looking for stealth, then you are going to need to invest in a quiet keyboard, or a pen. Pens are quiet. If you’re interested in ease, then keep reading.

Words aren’t always in the habit of being there when we want them. This isn’t really about the words though. It isn’t about writers block either. That’s just a name that we use. Despite all appearances, writing is like drawing, playing the cello, or anything else we need to train ourselves to do with ease. For the most part we tend to assume that however many years of school and university have prepared us for this, but think about the time we would put aside for 2,000 words, or 1,500. Where do we now find the time in our lives for 85,000 words? In reality you are more likely to need to find the time for whatever the actual number of words it is going to take you to write 85,000 good words. Words that carry with them everything that you need of them.

This isn’t something that I figured out. It is something I researched. It is something the authors that I respect discovered through necessity, because for them it was part of the trade. A skill that needed mastering in order that bills be paid. Tom Wolfe, Philip K. Dick, Agatha Christie, Edmond Hamilton, Ray Bradbury, Steven Moffet, and so many others relied on their ability to continue to write whenever it was needed of them.

My first step in understanding this process was the work of Philip K. Dick, whose prolific output and commitment to the concepts behind each of his works is, to my mind, without peer. Dick wrote when he was sleep deprived, discontent, depressed, detached, and, most importantly, when he made the time. Dick wrote a lot of material that he was not happy with (the majority of which was not published), but if you were to say that only 1 in 5 of Dick’s published stories is worth reading, that would still be 10 novels and 20 short stories.

Read more at United By Glue – Where did all the time go… 

Catching bird flu from Anne Lamott

The Emerging Writer

How naive I look…

22nd of July 2013 – So the two weeks of Editing did not exactly go as I planned and hoped.  Th two weeks of editing is now over and I spent the better part of that time taking pain killers and lying in bed with a terrible virus.  Dam you creative Jesus for smitting my plans!  I think it was bird flu.  I have been reading a lot of Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott and now we are living with three chickens.  I tried to turn my work into smaller more manageable tasks, but the chickens seem to peak crazily at each other as they run around.  I must be / they must be crazy.

Great house though.  Wonderful place to house sit, minus the bird flu.

What to do about The Reader and her expectations of receiving the novel on the 31st of July?  I am going to have to cancel, it is just far too stressful and impossible.

Check out this article if you are interested in saving some money and finding a quite house to write in for a while. A Quick Guide to House Sitting.

What will you do to avoid Editing?

6th July 2013 – You know you are in trouble when you are cutting the split ends out of your hair.

I am doing anything I possibly can right now to avoid reading through my most horrible first draft ever.  Not even Anne Lamott can help me.

The Emerging Writer, ProcrastinatingThe Emerging Writer, ProcrastinatingIn her book on writing, Bird by Bird, Lamott writes about a horrible fear that she will die before she gets to correct and read over her ‘shitty’ first drafts.  I have that fear right now, but far from encouraging me to rush in and correct the mistakes, I have been paralyzed by the god awful mess of it all.  The task is surely too huge to ever be finished.  I am doomed.

I am doing my nails and I have cleaned the house.  I am not busily re-reading my ‘shitty’ first draft. I am paniced and I am sitting on Facebook, I am reading posts by Sarah Wilson, I have started gardening.  I am emailing my family and I am planning dinner for tomorrow night.

I am meticulously sorting through my dry brown hair, cutting my split ends out.  ‘I’ll just get this finished’, I tell myself, ‘Then, I’ll get stuck straight into my draft.’ – Oh, that horrible 50 000 word piece of crap of a draft.  I am 100% sure that every single sentence and word needs to be written again.  Oh god – it is all in passive voice! – It is all told not shown!  I am so freaking out.  I am panicked.

The Writing Lifestyle; Working from Home

Working from Home

There is a lot to learn about working from home.  Weather you are working full time, part time or just stealing hours every now and again – Working from home is not all ice cream Sundays and foot rubs.  I have been doing it for a few months now and I am still just figuring out how it all works.  Working from home can be really hard.  I mean, harder than people expect.  There are studies online that actual state people working from home as working for 5 to 7 hours more than those in a traditional office.

Find Your Own Space

Doesn’t matter how often each day you come to this space to write, it should only ever be used for writing.  I see Space as such an important factor in creativity and productivity, that I have devoted a whole page to the matter.  Finding the Space, is an article about places and spaces that you can used to write.

Finding the Time

Finding the time to write, The Emerging Writer, Writing, Writers

Desktop Sticky Notes

You are in control, you have to motivate yourself.  You are the boss and you are the leader and you decide what happens when.  This can be really challenging, especially if you are coming from a job where you are sort of told what needs to be done all the time.  Organising your time is key.  I could not live without the Sticky Note Application on my computer.  People can think you are ‘free’ all the time, and you start to feel bad for not helping them out – After all, you don’t make any money form writing anyway, so you may as well help them out, Right??  Im sure JK Rowling was never pestered while she was writing at the Balmoral Hotel, but I am just at home.

Top five things that used to distract me at home.

  • Cleaning up and ‘just quickly chucking a load of washing on’.
  • Realising we needed to ‘Pop to the shops’ for a few things for dinner.
  • Catching up with friends if they took a day off work.
  • Going to the post office for other people.
  • Procrastinating by wandering from room to room.

Finding the Structure

You have to make up your own rules.  I have started to introduce rules as I need them.  I am bringing structure and rules in slowly – instead of making up a big list of rules at the start, I am seeing what is going wrong and then finding a structure to fix the problem.  Now I have Monday as the day to get organised and plan the week.  I also plan my tomorrow, before I go to bed, so when i wake up in the morning I know exactly what my first task is,  after my morning Ritual.  I go to the desk and open the day’s sticky note and begin.


Always have more than one project

09 February 2013– When I was a painter, one of the most important lessons I learnt was that you should never just work on one painting at a time.  My lecturers at art school where always talking about how over worked a painting will end up if it is the only thing in your studio.

The Emerging Writer

Old Studio Pic

With one at a time you will blow your whole load, over work it and ruin it.  With two, there was somewhere to turn when you were having a bad day.  With three going at once, there was room for the three stages of working – A fresh young idea, a half worked out brain storm, and something that just needed the final touches.  I like the idea of having somewhere to go, as the projects are finished.

  1. I have a novel to work on, which is quite huge in size and intricate and developed and needs a lot of work.
  2. I have this website, which is great for 10 minute tasks that can break up readings and proofing.
  3. I have another diary that I write ideas and nonsense and other thoughts, which is great to read over if I am having a sticky day.

This website has become a saviour for me in those times when I cannot seem to find anything else left in me to write So I come here, to keep my fingers going, to not break the beat of things,to debrief about my day, and think about what I have been doing for the last week.

10 January 2013

The emerging writer

An Unexpected Day

10th January 2013 – So my lover recently became my boyfriend and then in this story just became my Fiance.  Interesting turn of events, I think.  I wonder if he has any idea how poor I am going to be for the rest of my life – And that is if I am successful!! $11 000 here we come!!

Maybe I could sell the ring to fund my writing life.  Did I write that??


The Forgettable Idea

Act swiftly when a good idea strikes

It wasn’t until recently that I really understood how important it is to be prepared for a good idea.  It is amazing how forgettable a good idea is.

I woke up this morning with the most extraordinary images, idea and story in my head.

My heart was racing when I woke and I was struck with a feeling of wonder and owe.  In my dream, I had been on the most epic, emotional and vivid adventure of my life.  I was desperate to know what happened next.  There were new characters I had just met and we were sailing, or floating, charging towards some destiny, demanding the water to move with us.  I woke more motivated and excited than I have been in weeks.  I rolled towards the center of the bed, my partner smiled, said good morning and kissed me.

The stories disappeared.

They were gone.  I have one scene left – the last of the dream that I can half conjure.  Of a man, with the water moving through him, standing on the edge of life, his hands raised demanded to be let through.  I don’t know what to make it now.  The visions are gone.  The characters, gone.  I wasn’t prepared, there was no paper beside my bed, no pen, to lamp to switch on in the darkness.  I rolled towards my partner instead of towards my laptop.



The Moveable Feast; A Guide to Writing in Cafes

Writing in Cafes; The Ups and Downs

Sydney is a landscape of Cafes and coffee shops.  For most people in Sydney they will go to a cafe every single day.  But what are they for?  Are Cafes exclusively for people who are drinking coffee and nothing else?  Are Cafes just for the time wasters?  Are Cafes just for leisure?  I am writing this article right now in a café.  Which is only appropriate.  But am I being appropriate.

I am working right now, in a cafe, and many might want to roll down their windows as they drive past and yell at me to get an office!  But what if I were on Facebook right now – wasting time doing a leaisurely activity? Would I still be shunned for for laptop in a public recreational space?

Writing in Cafes, Emerging Writers, Writing in Australia

I work in a café now in Redfern, saving money as I continue to work on writing.  We have many writers and bloggers coming in and staying for a while.  They bring their laptops and their satchel bags and order a latte and settle in.  We don’t have free internet there and we know that people who bring there laptops tend to be doing ‘real’ work not just playing on the internet.  Not Facebook.  So should we kick them out, for being productive and abusing the privilege afforded the purchase of a single latte.

I say people should go for it.  As long as they are not taking up a table way too big for them.  They are no more a nucence then the mothers who buy one Baby chino and then have five people come and clean it up (how is that profitable??)  To say you cannot work in a cafe is to say that coffee is only for people with nothing better to do.  And who needs coffee more than writers??

How to turn your Café into your Office

The best approach to turning your local cafe into a part time office, is to just ask them.  Some cafes don’t mind if you work for a while and others do.  Don’t try and guess as to wether you are welcome or not, just ask.  Find out where you are going to be most welcome and head there to buy your coffee.

Tips from a waitress.

  • Always make sure you buy enough coffee to support the seat you are taking up.
  • Don’t ask if you can plug into the wall to charge up.  Its bad enough the cafe is not making very much money of us writers, we shouldn’t cost them anything.
  • Always be happy and smiley.
  • The best times to go are between the main meals.  Morning or afternoon tea times.
  • Understand that you might be moved, and be willing to move to a table with just one stool if you must.
I write at my work, and at a cafe called Cow and Moon at the moment.  They only sell coffee, so I know I am never taking up a lunch table.

Malcolm Gladwell, That Jerk at the Cafe?; The Problem with Writing in Coffee Shops 

17 December 2012

The Emerging Writer

My quiet hour

17th December 2012 – I am trying to write, but I can’t.  Beside me on my desk my phone is broken.  No reception and No Network, No calls,  No messages in or out.  I want to fix it right now – but this is the time I allocated to writing.  This is the hour I found to write, during the business to Christmas, with my three sisters all pregnant, (Two Biological and one sister in Law)  I am from a big family and so is my lover.  Christmas time is crazy.

I was so proud of myself that I could find this hour to myself.  I am sitting in the back yard, in the summer sunshine and in the first moments of this great hour – my phone stopped working and I am so compelled to fix it.

Why is it, that I can’t concentrate, relax or focus, knowing that my phone is broken?  It doesn’t need to be fixed right away.  I can wait an hour before getting messages?  Or can I?  It should be a good thing, having a broken phone, as I cant be interrupted for my hour of writing.

I am just using this broken phone situation as procrastination, something that needs to be solved immediately!! – Forgettting the long term plan I have made for myself to become a writer over the next five years.  Suddenly my long term writing plan is gone and I am wrapped up in another immediate distraction.I am forcing myself to work!!  Get back to it – The phone is fine.  It can wait.