Creative Writing for health, well-being and fun!

Follow by Email

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Extending the family.

Yesterday, I heard of a grandmother whose son is behaving badly enough to encourage her daughter-in-law to leave. The son's mother is now faced with the fact that grandparents have no clear-cut rights to access their grandchildren. And, twenty years on, this sends a chill down my spine.

When my former husband was behaving badly enough to need divorcing, I made the decision to continue to include my mother-in-law in the family loop. Although she had little time for me, she loved the children absolutely and I felt that to cut off the whole of 'his' family would have been to give my children the sense that 'half' of them was hateful to me. It wasn't. So they grew up - in the company of an extended family from both sides - totally aware of what unconditional love means. I'm glad I did. We were enriched by the support.

Currently, grandparents are still having to wait and see - although courts are coming round to a more sympathetic view of their cases. So I advise keeping things as informal as possible with the parent in charge of the children's timetables. The trick is to communicate directly and non-judgementally - very important - your desire to remain part of the children's lives.

But, if the parent in charge seems to want to be difficult, take early legal advice so you can understand your options and avoid making a delicate situation worse.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Write a road-map for 2009!

However bad the Old Year – and for some of us 2008 was grim - New Year’s Day dawns and the spirits lift because New Year holds infinite possibility. It’s a time when we believe we can choose what we’ll write on the blank page of the year before us. We dare to hope for better.

For writers, this could mean the Year of Publication. Why should this be important enough to feature? Well, we’re not writing in a vacuum. We want someone, somewhere, to share what we put on the page and, as a result, to understand us better. That’s why we put so much effort into ploughing what can, at times, seem a lonely furrow!

But how can you make 2009 the Year of Publication?

Some writers start the New Year bristling with diaries, ‘road maps’ and post-it notes – lending a writing project the air of a military offensive. If you favour this style – and many do - your writing goals may benefit from the strong-minded application of management principles.

The SMART formula is currently popular. Begin by asking yourself:

1) Is my writing goal Specific? (What form(s) of writing do I want to work on? A novel? A radio play? The ultimate letter of complaint? )
2) How will I Measure my success? (Will I, for example, hold my published book in my hand by the second August Bank Holiday?)
3) Am I Able to produce this piece of writing? (Or do I need more training?)
4) Is this piece of writing Relevant to what I am and what I want from my life in 2009? (And does writing mesh well with my other hopes and aspirations at this time?)
5) What is my Time-line for this goal? (Deadlines work wonders for some.)

And, once you’ve shaped your 2009 writing goal, you have then consciously to commit to the process. Here the GROW model, taken from management, can act as a facilitating pattern - perhaps for a coaching session.

In this, you discover:

What is your Goal for 2009?
What is REALLY going on for you at the moment?
What OPTIONS have you?
Do you have the WILL to achieve your goal?

According to American Society of Training and Development, conscious commitment enhances your chances of success. And the probability of success, they say, ranges from 25% - if you decide to do something - to 50% if you plan how you will do it, to 95% if you ‘have a specific accountability appointment’ with an independent person. Sounds like another argument for coaching to me!

But keeping yourself on track – particularly during the long haul of writing a book - may take a little bit more magic. We all need a trick or two to overcome wobbles of confidence or energy. And some of these may be more hi-tech than others.

For instance, to inspire himself, one writer – admittedly a computer buff - created a mock-up of ‘the book’. Strongly responsive to the visual, he took special care over the choice of cover picture. And it works for him.

But, you don’t have to go to these lengths.

Take yourself to a book shop and indulge in a browse. Find the book which - in appearance, texture and smell – is closest to what you’d like your finished book to be. This is an image of your future success. You can now refer to it, giving yourself heart whenever your writing project hits the doldrums. Cherish your ‘book’. In NLP terms, anchor it.

Goal-setting may make you feel confident that 2009 will indeed be your Year of Publication. Thinking about cover pictures may sustain you through the first few weeks of the New Year. But later you may hit a seriously low patch. And - somewhere around the time when Hogmanay has paled in memory and the publication date of August Bank Holiday seems chimaeric – you may need a kick-start.

Now is the time to be bold. If you usually write articles on financial services, throw caution to the wind and write a poem. If you’ve been writing your novel through the eyes of the handsome hero, switch the viewpoint to that of an elderly aunt on a visit. Even if you don’t stay with it, the new perspective will refresh you.

Of course, you could choose not make any New Year resolutions at all - writing or otherwise. This approach has a New Age serendipity about it and seems - if nothing else - peaceful. Think of all that time, that release from pressure. . . But, there again . . .
Good luck with your project!