Creativity's Workshop

Taming and Training Your Creativity to Write Abundantly


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Baverstock’s Allsorts Volume 1 is Now Available!

Cover for Baverstock's Allsorts Volume 1: A Collection of Short Stories The day has finally arrived! Baverstock’s Allsorts Volume 1 is now published on Amazon (and will be appearing on other online stores soon)!

If you’d like to see more details about the book, including the blurb, click here to see the release post on my author blog.

Speaking of which, take a look at the new layout of my Jessica Baverstock website. It’s guaranteed to make you start craving liquorice.

Seeing as this is my first release, there are a few things I need to cover in this post.

The Part Where I Get a Little Mushy

Firstly, I want to say a huge thank you to all of my readers who have been so supportive over the years, especially this month as I’ve prepared for this launch. I truly appreciate your beautiful e-mails, your encouragement, and the wonderful reviews some of you have already put up.

While reaching my childhood dream to publish my writing has been an amazing experience, an even more amazing experience has been witnessing the enthusiasm with which this book has been greeted by you all.

The Part Where I Explain the Cover

Now some of you will remember a few weeks back when I asked for your opinion on which cover I should use. Many of you offered very helpful suggestions via blog comments, the poll, e-mail, and Twitter. Thank you all for taking the time to do that! Your input was very valuable.

There were many persuasive comments for both covers, and Cover B (the cover without ‘Baverstock’s’) made the most logical sense. However, those who opted for Cover A described it as ‘unique’ and ‘intriguing.’ They saw the reasoning behind Cover B, but they were drawn to Cover A.

So in the end I decided to go with Cover A, because I’m interested in drawing readers who are curious, who are looking for something unique and intriguing.

Is that the right decision? I have no idea. But it’s a decision.

Over the years I’ve learned that there are very few right or wrong decisions in writing. There are often valid arguments and reasonings behind the different options you face. In the end the most important things are:

  • To actually make a decision, not allowing yourself to stall because you’re worried about making a mistake.
  • To make the decision based on a reason you can stand by.

As a self-publisher, decisions on cover art and blurbs are never permanent. Experimentation is a wonderful thing. You can try one cover, and then in a couple of years try something different. There will be plenty of time down the track to tweak and fiddle. The most important thing is to maintain momentum and learn as you go.

So is Cover A or Cover B the best one to go with? Ask me in a couple of years. I might have changed it by then.

The Part Where I Tell You What’s Coming Next

Cover for The Red Umbrella: A Short StoryThis release is just the beginning. After several years of setting up the infrastructure for my publishing plans and patiently working on my health problems, I’m finally at the point where I can start sharing my stories with you. The floodgates have opened!

Next on the agenda is the release of my next short story, The Red Umbrella. You’ll see more details about that on the Jessica Baverstock website. All going to plan, that should be available next month.

I’m also collaborating with another writer on a top secret writing project due to appear later on this year. I can’t tell you too many details about that yet, but we’re really excited at how it’s all coming together. It’ll be whacky, humorous and lots of fun. I’m really looking forward to letting you see what we’re doing in a few months’ time.

Of course, I have plenty of my own writing projects in the pipeline. They will continue to appear as they reach completion.

The Part Where You Make a Decision

There’s going to be lots of interesting news snippets and blog posts involved in my fiction releases, but they don’t really align with the goals of Creativity’s Workshop. This blog is for creative writers who want to read posts about writing and creativity. You may not be interested in the fiction titles I’m releasing.

Therefore, I will be running a blog over on my author website where I will post about my fiction stories, book releases and other things I think readers of my fiction will be interested in. I will probably only post there fortnightly, or as I have relevant news.

I may link from posts on Creativity’s Workshop to a few of the posts on my other blog from time to time, but if you’re interested in reading all of those posts then please follow the blog over on my author website so you don’t miss out on anything.

I’m also starting up a separate mailing list for those readers who would like to be kept informed of my fiction releases. That means I’ll have two mailing lists:

  • The Creativity’s Workshop Mailing List (No Longer Available), which is specifically for creative writers are interested in receiving weekly e-mails to help them maintain a creative and prolific writing life.
  • The Jessica Baverstock Mailing List, for readers of my fiction who would like to be kept up to date with my latest releases and special deals.

So if you’re interested on getting one of those newsletters, then click on the relevant list and sign yourself up. (Please note: If you’re following the Creativity’s Workshop blog or receiving the Creativity’s Workshop Newsletter, you won’t get all of the fiction updates.)

Phew! Okay, I think that’s everything you need to know at the moment. If you have any questions, just leave them in the comments below and I’ll answer them for you.

Oh, and don’t forget to pop over to Amazon and get yourself a copy of Baverstock’s Allsorts Volume 1!


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How Healthy is Your Reading Diet?

Someone heading to bed with a good book and a bowl of cereal

“Good Night” by Leo Hidalgo via Flickr

Last week I mentioned this quote by Ray Bradbury:

“Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.”

Now if you’re a writer it’s understandable that you must write (we covered the writing diet in last week’s post), but must you read?

Ray Bradbury and many other successful authors say you do. Why? Because the words you take in as you read affect the words you write.

The reading diet isn’t just about picking up a good book and flicking through the pages. Notice Bradbury said, “Read intensely.” What does that mean?

It means savouring what you read, chewing it over in the mind and noticing the details from word choice to character development. Do you see why it’s called a diet?

Today we’ll cover the three aspects of a reading diet:

  • How often we read,
  • How much we read, and
  • What kind of books we’re reading.

Remember, everyone is different. The books and reading methods that appeal to me might not appeal to you, and vice versa. I’ve tried to keep the suggestions here as general as possible so you can tailor them to your own personal tastes.

Shall we get started?

How Often?

So how often should you read? Well, remember your reading diet depends on your personal needs. Some writers read every morning before they write. Others read on the weekends or just before they go to bed.

Once again, regularity is key. It is very easy for the creative well to run dry if you are not topping it up with regular input.

How do you know if you’re not reading enough? Here are some signs:

  • Difficulty finding the word you’re looking for. Reading provides you with a continual stream of words and often enlarges your vocabulary. If the words you use are shrinking, then you need to top yourself up with some reading.
  • Reoccurring cliches in your writing. Reading widely shows you what has already been done in your genre and demonstrates the inventive and unique places stories can go.
  • Lack of new ideas. If your Creativity’s excitement and output are starting to wane, it’s likely you’re not providing enough ‘idea juice’ for her/him. Keep the creative will filled.

If any of the above signs are sounding familiar, then the solution is to increase your reading time.

How Much?

What about how much you read? To determine this you need to take into consideration how long you read for and how fast you read.

When it comes to reading intensely, you want to read less and read it slowly. Too often we find ourselves pulled into a good book, turning the pages faster and faster as the plot progresses. That’s great if the aim of the reading is to enjoy the story, but as a writer you need to see more than just the scenery whizzing by.

Sometimes all you need is a single paragraph and ten minutes to pick it apart. Read slowly, deliberately, questioning each word you come to. Why did the writer choose that word? How is the writer directing the reader’s attention? What is the writer building towards?

You may even choose to read the passage out loud, listening to the lilt of the words so you can absorb the music inherent in the sentences.

What Kind?

Now, what kind of books should you be reading? The choices before you are countless. Does it matter what you pick up to read? Well, if your purpose is the “read intensely” and slowly, then you want to make sure you’re reading the right stuff.

First and foremost you want to make sure you’re reading quality work. Think back to the diet analogy. Whole foods are recommended over fast food. Why? Because they provide your body with the high-quality fuel it needs to operate efficiently. So while your favourite comic book might have some great one liners, for this diet you want to be sinking your reading teeth into something more filling.

Now this doesn’t mean you should go out and find yourself a dry and dense tome of a book and spend years poring over every single sentence of it. Look for books you enjoy reading but books that will challenge you.

Find books that you can learn from, whether it be new subjects, new words, new genres, new writing forms or just new perspectives. But don’t think that means you can only grab the latest book hot off the presses. These are things that are new to you. There are plenty of classic books, reaching back hundreds of years, that contain fresh and interesting writing for you to experience.

So, to recap, the reading diet is as follows:

  • Read regularly.
  • Read slowly.
  • Read good quality books you enjoy and that will teach you something new.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me what’s on your reading list? What are your reading diet tips?