On Writing: It’s just you and the words

Unprecedented days. If you’re struggling, you’re not alone – and you know what – unless you are one of our magnificent and brave frontline/essential services workers, not afforded the option of self-isolating – staying safe, healthy and sane are all that most of us need to concentrate on right now.

For the writers among us, productivity may have waned, which may also have us feeling a strange kind of guilt, so I thought I’d share this Facebook post from 2011:

This was a much appreciated ‘break in the clouds’ at the time, and if it helps any emerging writer to go easy on themselves, I’m happy to share that it took me so many years to finish Lady Beth. It was always a marathon. It was never a sprint.

For most of that time, I was riddled with self-doubt. Convinced myself that no-one would want to read it. That no-one would be interested in what I had to say. Then it happened. I got a break – someone saw the potential. And it fired me up again. I kept at it – for another six years until I published it on 2017 – though I continued to struggle. (Still do!) But what I’ve learned is that if it’s in your blood to be a writer, you’ll be one.

It will and should take time. You will and should have difficult days when you question why and what for. You’ll be sticking your neck out, your ego out, your vulnerability. Not everyone will be kind and supportive. Those voices might even deafen you. Paralyse you.

Consider those battle scars as ammunition. Wear those nasty paper cuts with pride as you learn to push aside the negative forces. Shove them out of your way so that you can hear those others. The positive voices. The encouragers. The mentors. The enablers.

Take your time. You’ll be honing your craft ‘til the day you die. Be open to making mistakes, but also be open to learning from them. It’s not a competition. It’s just you and the words. Tell your stories. Take all the time you need to tell them in your unique voice.


A writer and filmmaker, Caroline is the author of the novel LADY BETH and the writer/director the short film FRAMED (2018). An award-winning screenwriter, she has also written the short films IN RIBBONS (2015) and ADAM (2013). 

On Writing: Breathing through the white space…

Memory makes history, and with time, the past becomes a collection of stories, some perhaps, better than others.

The bad ones – if you find a way to exorcise them – lose their power over you. Writing them down is one such way, breathing through that white space between the words.

Detachment – just enough to write in the third person – is looking outside of the experience, and hopefully, through a fresh pair of eyes, further embeds that stripping of power; seeing it play out from another perspective. Releasing.

Appreciate the white space – where you, your characters and your readers can breathe…






On Writing…all that you have

Writing is discovery. Discovery is inspiration. Inspiration leads to more writing.

Do yourself a favour today. Pull out one of those old notebooks that you treasure so much, yet haven’t looked into for an age. Click into a file folder that you haven’t opened for a while.

Rediscover that quote, note, concept, thought, script treatment or novel beginning that you find waiting there, and work on it.

Ideas have patience, but time does not.

Do it. Now.

Beyond the common eye…and being thankful for the writer’s ‘writing’ friends

I recently put out an SOS call to some writer buddies. A colourful, interesting bunch of talented scribes, men and women at varied stages of their own careers. Busy people, too busy to be putting hours aside to read my stuff.

And yet, for the most part, that is exactly what they took time to do.

You see, I had gotten stuck in the mire of whether to move forward with a project, a novel. A project that over the years, the writing of which could be likened to a long-term relationship of passion, nail-biting obsession, occasional bouts of frustration and even the odd period of apathy.

Until, that is, I lost it all. Every frigging word of approximately 45,000 so far written, non-retrievable in all its fledgling glory between the scratched layers of a burnt-out Hard Drive. [And that’s another story!]

Six months later, having finally made peace with my own stupidity [BACK UP YOUR FILES, PEOPLE!] and with a template from the screenplay drafts of the story, some retrieved from said writer friends, I set about starting from scratch, writing the first chapter, while my brain, all the while, niggled with thoughts akin to the words of W.C Fields.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.”

And as the chapter developed, between the lines, the doubts went back and forth as the nagging lefty DEVIL and righty ANGEL, each digging into weary, laptop-hunched shoulders, continued the schizophrenic debate…

You loved it enough to begin, so begin again.  Let it lie, and quit flogging the proverbial dead horse. It’s in your system still, write it out and purge! You’re wasting precious writing time on this. You should be working on the other half-dozen concepts vying for your attention. Finish the goddamn thing and see where it takes itself! Pointless trying to revive something that should now be laid to rest...

Much like the smoking, smashed Hard Drive, the brain was deeply fried from it all. The squabbling might continue forever. I needed help!  And I needed that help in the form of honest and solid feedback.

And the ‘writers’ rallied to the cause, with practical, sensible, encouraging, truthful opinions and feedback – and enough of a nudge to spur me on for one more try. What they gave me was indeed beyond the common eye,  each, in their own way, reminding me of the heart and soul stuff that just refuses to QUIT!



Image/ quote sourced from Google images: Not the copyright of the author.

On Writing: Don’t do it…unless…

I have no doubt that I am not alone in feeling that life in general seems to be getting more frantic, busier, louder and peppered with more stress than ever before. For those of us choosing to write, that quiet, creative time alone can literally become an elusive dream that reaches far off into next week, next month, and probably beyond.

So are you getting on with it?

And if you are finding a way to keep on top of it all,  how do you decide which projects to give your precious writing time to? Are you having trouble with that?

If so, check out this poem from Charles Bukowski — it’s definitely helping me to see the wood for the trees right now. Perhaps, it may even help me to make some crucial, life-changing career decisions in the not too distant future.

That’s the wonderful thing about good advice — there is no need to reinvent the wheel — just learn from the masters who’ve gone before, and heed the seasoned [and in this case, well-seasoned!] advice.

So you want to be a writer…

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

Poem sourced from : http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16549

Sifting through the madness for the Word, the line, the way by Charles Bukowski. Copyright © 2003 by the Estate of Charles Bukowski. All Rights Reserved.