Posted in Cafe musings

A formula for writing

A bit like that Julie Andrews song:

… libraries and cafes are a few of my favourite things. 

when it comes to a place to write.

There is however, one downside to libraries. It’s the sign at the entrance –

NO eating or drinking.

That’s okay for a short visit to browse or borrow a book, but not when you’re studying for an exam or writing a novel!

When you look at this formula, it’s obvious!

F + D –> E = LC –> LOW (I know – very similar to LOL)


F = Food – Like a plant with a blocked drip feeder, no food and I begin to wilt.

D = Drink – See ‘F’ above. Also stops one hand from getting stuck to the base of the keyboard.

E = Energy – Leads to ideas, motivation, inspiration…

LC = Lasting concentration – Can get immersed in writing for hours and hours.

LOW = Lots of Writing – I love productivity!

Now picture a super modern library. It sits above a bakery and numerous cafes. Each desk has a power plug.

There is no sign at the entrance.

It exists!

Posted in The Beach

Writing = Happiness

30th June has come and gone quietly on this blog and I’m enormously grateful that no one commented on it.

The second draft of The Beach continues…

It’s one of the many things I’ve got going on, competing for my attention.

Lessons learnt (in the race to meet my bold declaration of finishing this draft by 30 June):

  • Rushed writing leads to even more rewriting
  • Migraines don’t care about deadlines
  • Write, even if it’s only jotting down ideas

And the biggest lesson:

Out of the entire writing process, it’s the act of writing which brings me the most happiness.

Posted in Life

Between posts

The space between is


The quiet rocked by

a brittle ache.

The first sign,

if any

before the vice


crushing creativity.

Shards of intention


The letters,

fragments of words,


Posted in Cafe musings

Wanted: One Cafe for Writing

I no longer have a writing ‘office’.

Déjà vu you’re thinking? Yes I’ve been there and blogged about it before.

But this time… OMG!

What possesses a popular café to do a refurb downgrade?

Rustic menu board above the counter gone. Digital menu in its place. Plastic greenery everywhere like an unpleasant rash.

I could try ignore all that (after all I’m writing, not gazing at the décor) but I can’t. What’s more: the menu is now a shadow of its glorious past and I can only refer to the chilled staff in the past tense.

Atmosphere nil.

So I’m café hunting… again.

And this is where I’m torn.

A writing friend told me the name of the café she goes to write. So on the weekend, I popped by this café to write and oh, it was so right.

Low-key, similar layout to my old café (in its better days). Great soy chai. Perfect writing atmosphere.

But I feel so guilty! It feels like stealing.


Posted in Inspiring writers, Life

Podcasting it

I have a new love. Listening to podcasts.

For years I’ve been one of those people who only had a vague idea of what podcasts were. Now I’m addicted!

It all started with my never ending quest to free up time to write. I was running out of ideas and despairing of being able to achieve my second draft deadline.

A close friend had mentioned (several times) the Mama Mia series of podcasts called I Don’t Know How She Does It! and had given me some examples of time saving tips she’d learnt.

So finally I downloaded the App and began listening…

OMG how fantastic are they! Bite sized, fascinating one-on-one interviews with well-known women juggling so many balls and how they do (or don’t) do it. So many great ideas, shortcuts and what they call ‘hacks’.

What I was most surprised at was their honesty.

So now that I’m plugged in to the ‘podcast world’ I downloaded an American podcast, recommended in the NSW Writers Centre’s Newswrite Magazine, called Writing Excuses.

Each podcast is 15-20 mins long (great for listening in the car), is hosted by a small panel of authors and discusses a specific aspect of writing.

Loving it! Already has helped hugely in my current rewrite.

Go podcasts!

Posted in The Beach, What I'm writing

Writers Retreat for One

I’m on a writers retreat for one – me.

The planning involved was minimal. The ‘retreat’ (a motel room) needed to tick three boxes:

  • A relaxing destination
  • Driving distance from Sydney
  • Plenty of cafes.

So I’m in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains.

In retrospect, an odd choice given that the story is set on a beach. But this landscape is channelling my writing efforts differently, in a good way.

The aim is to maximise writing time, get a good chunk of the second draft ticked off and a way forward mapped out.

My hit list is as follows:

  • Update my chapter summary
  • Complete a chapter summary of the ‘romance’ thread
  • Complete a chapter summary of the ‘author’ thread
  • Insert feedback from Writers Group (I’m always behind on this!)
  • Address the ‘red’ notes (this is the second draft stuff – accumulated feedback and notes)

The lengthy task of once again updating my chapter summary table – makes my eyes water. So my solution is what I call a ‘chapter pictorial’ that fits to one A4 page. An at-a-glance summary of the manuscript. This is what I did:

  • Inserted a small square onto the page.
  • Made it a text box, so I could write in it.
  • Wrote 1. The Beach (the location of my first chapter)
  • Copied this square 26 times, spacing each out evenly like a grid.
  • I skimmed through each chapter and wrote 2-3 plot points in each square
  • Onto the next box, 2. …

Along the way, it throws up gaps, solutions and extraneous characters. I scribble notes in an exercise book, so as not to distract me from the task.

I copied the A4 page and did the same for the romance thread running through the book. It made me focus only on ‘the romance’.

I plan to do the same for the ‘writer’s thread’ which includes my story-in-a-story bits.

Every minute of the weekend is about writing. And this opportunity is like a good book. So I’m immersing myself in it!

If I’m not on my laptop, I’m scribbling in an exercise book or taking a walk to clear any clutter in my head.

And of course, as I drive out of Katoomba, I’ll stop and soak up the beauty of the gorgeous Blue Mountains.

Posted in The Beach

A story in a story

The female protaganist in my current manuscript is a writer.

Small details of her book appear in the first few chapters. I was going to keep it like that – small details.

But these details grew and one idea tumbled into another. Next thing I was thinking was that I should bring more of this ‘other’ story in. Make it a larger part of The Beach.

Now I’ve skidded to a halt. It’s distracting me.

A second draft is about fixing up, smoothing out, sorting relationships, continuity, clunky writing, repetition and much more.

But is it about inserting in another significant storyline?

Writing this book has been all about enjoying the writing and ‘keeping it simple’. So at this stage of the second draft, I think not. As fascinating as this departure from the main story has been, I’ve decided it’s not going to fight its way to the front row just yet.

If it needs to be written, I’ll have a go at writing it separately.


A ‘spin off’ maybe.