Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Setting Your Own Deadlines

One reason I've never done any serious studying after I finished school is that deadlines set by other people really stress me out, to the point I get sick and can't sleep.

I prefer to set my own deadlines and goals. People tell me "oh, you must be so disciplined". Perhaps I am ... Or perhaps I'm just a control freak.

When I was in Sweden at the beginning of August, and got into working on my new novel project, I decided that I'd write 10 000 words a month. 10 000 okay or good words, not just any words which seem to be the case if you are a NaNoWriMo-Writer.

If I stick to 10 000 words a month, I should have a first draft of 90 000 words in 9 months time (yes, I like comparing writing to pregnancy even if I don't have any experience in this field ...)

Today is the last day of August and I've got 10 616 words. They are okay/good words, but by no means perfect words. Because at the same time I'm sticking to the advice on my post-it note: SHITTY FIRST DRAFTS ARE ALLOWED.

Seems like I'm contradicting myself, but this is how it works: I write as much rubbish as I can in a month, then I go back and edit, making sure I've got at least 10 000 words of connected paragraphs that make-up a continuous story.

Funnily enough I've been off sick from my part time job for two days ... I feel exhausted, as if some kind of bug is gnawing away on my body. Perhaps my own deadlines stress me out as much as other peoples' deadlines after all ...

(the photo was taken by Mimmi on a walk to Rottingdean the week before last, so no I haven't spent by days off sick on the beach, I've spent them in bed!)

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Story Scavenging in Brighton

If you're stuck for ideas, bored with writing in general or just want to have fun I can recommend going to one of Wendy Greenhalgh's Story Scavenger Workshops.

It's a bit like a treasure hunt, but instead of just collecting impressions/people/objects you write about your finds after. Exercises involved spying on people at Brighton Station, picking an odd object in Snooper's Paradise, and photographing as many blue things you could find in fifteen minutes, hence the blue guitar in the above photo ...

I came home with my head filled with North Laine impressions and a notebook full of half-finished stories and ideas (to hopefully be developed into finished pieces at some point). Even though I was knackered when I came home, I still felt inspired to sit down and write some more in the evening - the playful workshop really opened up my writing energy.

Check out Wendy's blog , for the latest news on story scavenging and other similar workshops.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Read My Story on Your Phone

One of my short stories has been published by Ether Books, and can be downloaded to your phone for free! (If you have a fancy phone that is ...)

Just click here, and then search for "Louise Halvardsson".

My story is called "A Girl Who Just Wants to Come" and was originally accepted for the Are you sitting comfortably? story night where it was read by an actor.

WARNING: Explicit content. 18 + only!


Monday, 15 August 2011

The Weekend Novelist

I spent the weekend as the Novelist I keep reminding myself that I am. Working on a novel makes me happy, makes me feel I'm part of something bigger than myself. When I'm actually writing it feels like meditation. It's the worrying about writing that makes me unhappy. I wish I would remember this ...

Saturday I wrote my morning pages (3 pages of A4 in longhand as prescribed in the Artist's Way) in bed; had breakfast in the garden, reading a Virginia Woolf biography; spent time with my novel,doing exercises from The Weekend Novelist; went jogging; had dinner; spent a couple of hours working on the novel; went for a walk on the seafront to look at the full moon, contemplating my characters.

Sunday followed the same kind of pattern, but in the evening I went to Ace Stories at Hotel Pelirocco in Brighton to let myself get inspired by other writers (Cathi Unsworth, Danny Bowman, Stefania Mastrorosa)and outstanding musician & singer Sandy Dillon.

It's not only me who am The Weekend Novelist. It's also the title of a really good book. I previously worked through The Weekend Novelist Redrafts the Novel when I revised UNDER THE LIP, so I thought I'd give The Weekend Novelist a go. Unlike other creative writing books that tell you how to make believable characters and how to make a setting come alive etc. this books is very straight-forward and simple with exercises that gets you going.

I'm not following the book slavishly or anything, but I claim that The Weekend Novelist unblocked me when I was in Sweden. Just by doing exercises like finishing the sentence "This is a story about a character who ..." and then speed writing for ten minutes I really got a sense for where I'm going with my novel.

I'm still struggling with finding the right voice and the right structure, but at least I've started from the beginning again, trusting that things will work out, knowing that I can change things later. For now I'll just focus on getting the story down, staring at the post-it note on my wall saying SHITTY FIRST DRAFTS ARE ALLOWED. Today is Monday and I'm still a novelist. I know I'm on the right track when I do something else and ideas or thoughts about the characters and/or plot pop up in my head.

Monday, 8 August 2011

What I Miss about Sweden:

CINNAMON BUNS made by my friend and author Sara Starkström aka GameGirl

PIZZA. You might find it strange ... but the best pizza is to be found in Sweden! Not in restaurants, but in special cheap pizza places that are more common than pubs ... My favourite is the banana and pineapple topping. My brother prefers kebab on his pizza.

LAKE SWIMMING. I still don't know if I prefer lake swimming to sea swimming, but the advantage with lakes is that they are still, so you can actually swim without having to fight for your life against waves and currents.

FORESTS. One morning I woke up early and went down to one of my favourite spots on this planet: Isåsadammen - a lake in the forest, 15 min walk from my parents place. I brought my breakfast and sprinkled the muesli with raspberries and blueberries that I found in the woods just behind me. (And apart from breakfast I brought my notebook and did some random writing.)

FOREST. Yes I do miss the forest. The above mentioned lake at sunset.

As I "feared" the weather distracted me from doing as much writing as I hoped, but my main mission was to find a new way to begin my new novel project and I think I found that way ...

When I'm at the beginning of a new project I can't get enough of just "being" and walking and thinking. It's not the actual time spent in front of the screen.

Now I'm back by the sea in Hove, and at the moment this feels like home. I just need to fill myself up with buns, pizza, lakes and forests now and again ...

More about my new novel project in the next blog post.

Friday, 5 August 2011


Sky who made my website has developed a cool new app for iPhone and iPod that is available on the App store.

The app is called dbug and you can use it to "examine CSS, selected HTML, doctype and header information on nearly any website, using a unique mobile interface".

Even if I'm not a computer geek myself I'm impressed by how it works, the possibility to see all the coding behind a specific part of a website etc.

Visit the dbug website!