Writers: using the right and left sides of your brain

The Creative Zone is a magical place – but when we deliberately set out to get back into The Zone – guess what? We can’t find our way back. And the more we try, the harder it seems. If only we knew where it was… Does The Zone really exist as an anatomical entity in our brains? Where is it?

The Creative Zone

For writers, the Creative Zone is a wonderful place to be. The Zone is where everything seems possible, our thoughts fly free and words just flow onto the page without any struggle or effort. ¬†Although the work we produce in The Zone will need to be shaped and edited at a later date, it is in The Zone – this magical place – that we weave and spin the raw material that forms the basis of our finished writing. Continue reading “Writers: using the right and left sides of your brain”

15K in May: final day of writing

15K in May writing challenge is completed! Yes. I have tapped out fifteen thousand words on my computer during the 31 days that make up the month of May.

Ruth Livingstone, drinking coffeeThe final day of the 15K in May writing challenge. I’ve done it! Just.

Yes. I have tapped out fifteen thousand words on my computer during the 31 days that make up the month of May. This does not include work related documents – only the creative writing projects that I have voluntarily embarked on. Continue reading “15K in May: final day of writing”

15K in May: Four writing days left.

Will I complete the writing challenge of 15k in May? My total word count so far comes as a surprise. I didn’t realise I was doing so well.

15K in May LogoWhere has this month gone? With four days left, I am struggling to complete my 15 thousand words by the end of May.

A long, glorious, bank holiday weekend interrupted the flow. I went down to Cornwall and continued my epic walk around the coast of the UK.

Today I have added another 1,150 words Continue reading “15K in May: Four writing days left.”

Metaphors – can you can have too many?

My journey through the furrows of a book, where literary gems lie strewn amid the tumbled weeds of a partially ploughed landscape, strewn with half collected crops of obtuse words, overworked adjectives and obfuscated prose ….

Tangled Jungle, photo by Ruth Livingstone.
Can’t see the wood
for the trees.

The use and abuse of metaphors

Just read a book of short stories (Dr Mukti and other tales of woe by Will Self) and found myself drowning in a sea of muddling metaphors, distracting similes and obscuring adjectives.

Here is an example of a metaphor used in the book: ‘this was only the lull before the storm hit the frail vessel of his foundering career’. This is not the greatest of metaphors but, compared to some in the book, it is reasonable in the context of the story. Why is this a reasonable metaphor? Because it conjures up a useful image for the reader and adds an element of suspense. From this metaphor, we are aware that the character is in difficulty at work and we are waiting, in anticipation, for the storm to strike. Continue reading “Metaphors – can you can have too many?”

More new words

Recently, as part of my Open University course, ‘Start Writing Fiction’, I have been encouraged to look out for – and look up the meaning of – new words.

DictionaryI used to read a great deal when I was young. And I mean, a great deal. Between the ages of 10 and 14, I probably read at least a book a week, and at one point I was reading a book a day. Having worked my way through the children’s section of the library, I started on the adult sections.

Admittedly, I often did not understand what I was reading. Rarely did I bother to look up new words. I just kept on reading and, eventually, through the context of their settings, I would get to understand what a word meant, including its various nuances of meaning.

Nowadays, when reading modern fiction, I rarely come across a word I have never met before. But recently, as part of my Open University course, ‘Start Writing Fiction’, I have been encouraged to look out for – and look up the meaning of – new words.

So here are two words I came across this morning while reading Solar by Ian McEwan:


  1. proscenium: originally meaning the area under the arch in front of a stage in the theatre, now meaning the space between the front curtain and the first backdrop curtain. The word comes from the Latin and means ‘in front of the scenery’.


  2. amanuensis: a scribe or copier of manuscripts, someone who copies writing by hand. Originally it comes from the Latin for hand servant or slave of the hand, depending how literally you translate it.