Tag Archives: Writing

Positive Thoughts – Part 2

31 Mar

Less than a week into the lockdown and patience is beginning to wear thin. Zoom, Skype, Messenger, WhatsApp, House Party – all great ways to keep in touch but all groaning a bit under the weight of use. WordPress is also being a bit of a pain – I have been trying to load this post for the last two days.

I tried to Skype my family yesterday (Skype has subtitles, so it meant my mum could take part), but I couldn’t get my sound to work. ‘It was working earlier,’ I said, as three members of the crew here started clicking on my screen, pulling out cables, and telling me that I should try all things I had already tried.

Later, when it was working (I had switched it off and back on again, which solved the problem), one of my sisters couldn’t get online. By the time we had all sorted out the IT problems and discussed what had gone wrong, we were all too fed up to have much of a chat.

None of that is very positive, is it? But, we were able to see each other, wave, have a chat, catch up with how everyone is coping (my siblings all work in the public sector, so no one has been furlough yet, but some of their kids haven’t been as fortunate). As I work freelance and remotely, I’m still not sure how I will be affected, but my husband and daughter are still in work (fingers crossed).

Spring honeysuckle

Hope springs eternal

Hope springs eternal

It’s been dry since the lockdown started too, which is a big bonus when you live in Scotland, so we’ve been able to walk, have lunch outside and enjoy the first days of spring.

Another big plus point here, is that we have the space not to be tripping over each other, and three of us are working from home without having to restrict Netflix watching for the two that have had their formal education paused. Although, the garden does need a bit of attention, so Netflix might have to wait.

But, no matter how much space we have, we all need to take the occasional deep breath. And then tell them to stop foottering with my computer, thank you VERY MUCH.

I have been moving my office/desk almost every week – with my son coming back from uni, and then having two Australians to stay. I am now in my new semi-permanent position in the dining room, which has the bonus of a door out to the back garden. I had set things up in one corner last month, but that wasn’t working, so have moved things again. One of today’s jobs is to set up properly here and take the opportunity to sort through my muddle and complete a few tasks. Happy days.


To Journal or not to Journal?

23 Mar

Now that we’ve got all this time on our hands (although I’m not sure I’ve quite reached that stage) there is a temptation to pick up that notebook which has been languishing in the bottom of your cupboard, and begin a journal.

I woke up at 4 am the other morning (very unlike me), and wondered if I should be documenting all my thoughts and feelings about Covid-19 and the Social Isolating/Distancing/Lockdown.

While I found writing a journal really useful, (in fact it was how I morphed into being a writer of fiction), I have decided against it. I’ll tell you why.

I have suffered from depression in the past and know that I can easily spiral into negative thoughts. Writing down your thoughts can be a useful way to get them out of your head (you might even want to write down all your negativity, then scrunch it into a ball and chuck it away). But it can also get you into a rut or feed paranoia. ‘Day 5 of the the Lockdown and my family members are ganging up on me…’

I do, however, find taking myself off into a wee world where I can control what is happening, to be supremely therapeutic and fun.

So think carefully about what you want to get out of writing a journal and be conscious that it might not be the type of writing that is best for you at this time.

That said, you can’t flush notebooks, so you might as well give writing of some kind a go. I am going to try to post more flash fiction here, but also some writing tips and inspirations.

Take care, be kind and if you’ve been told not to go out: don’t go out.

Write Away by Colette Coen
Write Away by Colette Coen

Write Away – A New Project

6 Mar

What can I say, I’ve been busy, and here’s what I’ve been busy doing (or at least one of the things I’ve been busy doing). My new little book, filled with writing tips and available now on Amazon for the price of half an Americano (i.e. 99p).

Write Away: A Quick Guide to Get You Writing gives bite-sized pieces of wisdom (from Stephen King and Eeyore) with a a good dose of things I have learned in my years of writing and editing.

At the moment, there isn’t a cover showing on Amazon, but, since I did create one, it should magically appear soon.

As ever, it would be great if you could give me your support by buying a copy (or reading it for free if you have Kindle Unlimited) and leaving a wee review.


Colette’s Christmas Countdown – Day 23

23 Dec

Nearly there – wow this decision to do 24 days of blogging in a row has been a bit of an undertaking (and I’ve only slipped up once).

I was lying in my bed the other night trying to think of what to write about next, and I thought, well, I could write about ideas, where they come from and how to catch them. Then I remembered a piece I wrote a few years ago for a pamphlet produced by the G2 Writers. The piece On Reading made it in, but I rather like the piece On Writing too. Here they are – have a read and let me know what you think.

On Writing & Reading

Colette’s Christmas Countdown – Day 8

8 Dec

Ziggurat – Aah. Another of my favourite words, and while we’re at the end of the dictionary, how about zugzwang (no, I’ve never heard it before, but I certainly have experienced it) – it’s a move you’ve got to make in chess even when it’s going to put you at a disadvantage. It sounds like it should be Mandarin, but actually comes from German (which tells you a lot about how good I am at other languages!).

Back to ziggurat – my lovely Concise Oxford Dictionary tells me it is a rectangular stepped tower – but I’ve heard it used to describe any zig-zag stonework. I do have a joke about zig-zag, but I won’t tell it on three fronts – one, it might slightly offend, two, it would take too long and probably wouldn’t work when written down and three, it was my big move when I met my husband (hey, it worked). You’ll just have to content yourself with singing ‘Ziggurat, aah.’ (With insincere apologies to the Spice Girls).

Routines and Not Having Them

21 May

I’ve been talking to a couple of my creative friends about the value of having routines: that’s not strictly true, we’ve been moaning about not having them. One has had her routine disrupted by boomerang children; while the other has taken redundancy from a full-time job to pursue her passions. I should also say, now that I am officially self-employed/non-earning, that I am also looking for balance.

The life of a creative person is as varied as the number of creatives there are. Some crave routine, while others want to be free to see where the muse takes them. The routine folk are disciplined, but I also think, probably people who don’t have any other pressing commitments; while the free folk are in danger of the muse never taking them to their work table.

D said that she didn’t want to move out of the workplace only to be ruled by her own timetable of tasks. While M just wanted everyone to leave her in peace for long enough that she could get into the right mindset for writing.

A couple of weekends ago, or is it three, I was in Gatehouse of Fleet, and was really chuffed that I could spend time putting my novel in order and figuring out where the gaps were. So, I came home with great plans which up to the last couple of days have come to naught.

So, what happened a couple of days ago? Well, I spent quite a lot of time with my usual foottering, although I did have emails etc that I had to catch up with (as I’ve been visiting hospitals again). But then, I decided that I would write 1000 words, not of short stories, though there are a few half-written, but of my novel. I wrote 1000, or there abouts, but came to a natural stop at 19,000 words exactly. It was almost as though my writing genie was making a point. And so, 1000 words today have also been written (again of the novel). I know it takes a few weeks for things to become habits, but maybe if I really stick at the routine, then I will make headway, and stop wasting so much time figuring out what was happening when I last wrote the damn thing.

On a side note, I’ve also put a pedometer back on my phone, so am trying to make walking part of my routine again (take steps while the sun shines).

And another side note, is about my side bar: while I was foottering around the internet I came upon Ko-fi which allows you to buy virtual coffee. If you would like to support what I do, then you can click on the link. Ta.



Reaping Rewards

1 Oct

Sometimes as a writer all you receive are knock-backs and it is difficult to keep going. Self doubt comes easy and motivation leaves just as easily. BUT, I’ve been putting on my resilience flack jacket and sending out lots and lots of writing recently – I don’t believe you should have unpublished pieces languishing when there is maybe a market out there for them – and have been reaping the rewards.

Hot on the heels of my Writing District win is a long leet, which will possibly the most stressful ever. Reflex Fiction will publish the non-winners, one per day in November and December, and then the prizewinners on the last three days on the year. The good news is, even if I don’t win one of the prizes, my flash fiction will still be published in their anthology in the Spring of next year.

Might need to start biting my nails.

Back at the Writing Desk

7 Aug

So here I am back at the writing desk after a lovely summer of sunshine and almost three weeks away from home (one in Millport and two in Mallorca). Exam results arrived this morning, to cheers and sighs of relief, and while I don’t normally start my new year until the schools go back, I might as well ride this wave.

I felt a little displaced on holiday – what was I on holiday from? Carer’s Leave? No, definitely still on duty in that respect. Writing? I had my notebook with me, and lots of reading (although most of it for pleasure – Eligible/Curtis Sittenfeld, The Lie Tree/Frances Hardinge and Mr Mac and Me/Esther Freud) so was I really on holiday from that? My husband and friends (who we were with) couldn’t understand my existential angst, after all, they were very clear that they were on holiday from their stressful jobs. But there are blurry lines about what constitutes work when you are a writer. Does reading the paper count, if I am looking for inspiration? Does reading a novel, if I am examining style? What about watching TV to look at story and character arcs? I suppose they can only be classed as work if there is an output from them, as well as an input. So on with the output.

But where to start?

Sunshine Days

15 May

I know my blog can sometimes read like a misery memoir, so here are my cheerier reflections. I am just back from a long weekend spent in  Woodstock Lodge with 5 of my dearest friends, celebrating a significant birthday (which we will pretend is 40, but isn’t)IMG-20180512-WA0037 We got together as our eldest kids are all the same age (and went to school together), and now we are living through their second year at university.

The sun shone, and while we were on the Clyde Coast, we could have easily been on Lake Garda. Sunshine, prosecco,  hot tub, the works. And we talked, and we talked, telling stories, entertaining ones, heartbreaking ones, inconsequential ones. What struck me today, as I recover from the booze, is that even though we meet regularly, and talk, it is only when you have real time to speak and listen that you form deeper connections. I feel as though I understand my friends so much better from hearing more about their past, and their plans and dreams for the future (especially when our lottery wins cover more than the weekend’s food shopping).

So, it’s back to reality now: the shopping and the washing done, the house pulled back together, tomorrow the creative stuff starts again.


It’s Here

11 Jan

Chroma has arrived.

Not the best photo I’ve ever taken, but probably the smartest magazine I’ve ever been in.