Wild Moon

Yesterday was a funny sort of day.

Everything felt a bit edgy and I found it difficult to focus, but couldn’t work out why.

Then, in the evening, I took the gorgeous girl to her dance class and there it was. The Super Blue Blood Moon, sailing above the trees like a golden lantern. It was beautiful. I took a couple of photos, but my phone really couldn’t do it justice.

I don’t know if any of you subscribe to the theory that the moon and its phases somehow influence our mood. Personally, I find that the full moon pulls at me, sending me a little bit wild. Maybe it’s just my imagination, maybe I’m part werewolf, or maybe it’s some long dormant part of us that responds to nature and its cycles, no matter how divorced from the land we’ve become.

I really don’t know. All I know is, yesterday was a funny sort of day.

Hope the moon was good to you. Oh, and Happy Imbolc!


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Cleaning House

img_1322I don’t like cleaning. I really don’t. I can think of about a million things I’d rather do than dust and scrub and sweep. However, I do like a clean house, so, until I start selling loads and loads of books and can afford to hire a cleaner, for now the job falls (mostly) to me.

Today I had a free day, a rare beast at this time of year. And I chose, among other things, to do some cleaning. I know, right?! Have I gone mad?? But it was rather specific cleaning. I decided that it was time to tackle the piles of paper taking on rather alarming proportions on my desk. In fact, they had expanded to the windowsill and even the floor, and it was all feeling a bit crowded and cluttered in my tiny study. I know I’ve written previously about the chaotic way I take notes and manage my plans, but every so often I do like to get things in order, otherwise I think my family might find me one day buried under a fluttering piles of paper scraps and sticky notes, whimpering softly. So I moved everything out of the study and started to sort through it.

And what did I find?

A couple of short story notes, a page of Ambeth ideas, some scribbles about Silver and Black. An email from a friend that I’d missed, some drawings from my daughter plus a poem she’d written about me (the best!), three notebooks, some empty file sleeves (now put to use holding those story ideas), a couple of photographs, and some reference notes about publications looking for short stories. I also found dust and picture hooks and pens and sharpeners, a nail file and some (clean) tissues. Papers that should have gone in the bin ages ago, plus more papers that needed to be filed. A reminder to do my taxes, an invitation needing a reply, and a couple of receipts.

img_3731So I filed and sorted and threw away, and now I have a desk much cleaner and clearer than before, a nice space in which to get back to work. I’ve been trying to sort out my next Ambeth book and am hoping this will create the space for me to do so, both physically and mentally.

Which leads to the one sort of cleaning I don’t mind doing. Meditation. For me it’s the mental equivalent of clearing out my desk. I realise it’s not for everyone – it’s just something that happens to work for me. I miss it when I don’t do it, and I feel calmer when I do. Even just a few minutes each day makes a difference. I find when I sit and let thoughts tumble through my mind I can then decide, in a space of calmness, whether to keep them, file them, or let them go. And then, once things are clear and sorted, I’m free to focus elsewhere.

img_0938It’s evening now. I wasn’t planning on writing a blog post, yet here I am, sitting at my nice clean desk, words appearing on the page. I think, despite my aversion, doing a little cleaning can sometimes be a good thing.

Happy weekend, everyone!

You can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ, and check our my Facebook Page, Instagram and Pinterest Page for book info, photos, blogs and more.

Plus check out my latest release, A Thousand Rooms, now available on Amazon.

Breaking Blocks


Writer’s block.

I get a tremor just writing the words, as though I need to cross my fingers or turn around three times to ward off bad fortune.

I’ve been fortunate in this regard but then, when you’re getting paid to write for other people and have a deadline, writer’s block is an affliction you can’t afford to have. I’ve posted previously about how I’ve had to write about things that lie outside  my sphere of interest, and how I’ve had to work out the angle – I also have a little trick I employ to get myself going. I set a timer, either 15, 30 or 45 minutes and, once it starts, all I’m allowed to do in that time is write. I can’t check Facebook or emails, make a cup of tea or do any of the other things I might faff around doing to avoid writing. If something unavoidable happens like the phone ringing or a knock at the door, I pause the timer and then come back to it. I’ve found this remarkably effective and on several occasions find myself still writing once the timer is finished, the words in full flow.

So I wonder if the same would work if I had *whispers* writer’s block. Sure, I’ve had times when ideas are at a lull, where I’m not sure what my next blog topic will be or when certain scenes need a few days to gestate before I can get them on paper. But it hasn’t stopped me from writing. I try to write something every single day. There are loads of excellent writing prompts and challenges out there in blogland – if I’m stuck, I find one of those and give it a go. Or you could write about something that interests you, a hobby, something you saw on TV, or even about how you’re feeling at that exact moment – the important thing is to set the little timer and focus on writing and writing alone.

I’ve trained in martial arts for many years, and in my youth did try breaking blocks of wood with my hands and feet. I say try – I actually did break the blocks, except for one kick that went astray and led to me running outside to stick my bare foot in the snow, the sting from my flesh hitting wood intense like fire. Because the key to breaking blocks, you see, is to think yourself past them. To visualise your foot or fist on the other side of the board and hold that image in your mind – your body takes care of the rest.

And so perhaps the same holds true for *shh* writer’s block. If you think yourself past the block, rather than focusing on the block, you’ll break through it to a place where you can write again. And, instead of using your foot or fist, use your words. Start writing about anything, just pick a topic and write, focusing through to the other side.

So what do you think, fellow writers? Have you any experience with *crosses fingers* writer’s block you’d like to share?