#IWSG: Drawing the Line

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. It’s an opportunity to talk about doubts and fears you have conquered. To discuss your struggles and triumphs and to offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.


October 6 question – In your writing, where do you draw the line, with either topics or language?

In real life, I swear a fair bit – yet I don’t when I write. I could suggest that’s because writing is a more thoughtful process and so there’s time to come up with a wider vocabulary to express myself – but, in truth, I’ve made a conscious choice not to. There are many things which can take a reader out of the story, so why not exclude something which is known to cause offence and is easy to avoid. I’ve read books – mostly set in the future – where words are clearly used in the same way as I swear. The difference is those words have no meaning to us in the here and now, and so are unlikely to cause offence. I have to say, I particularly admire this technique 😉

In terms of subject matter, we made a decision on this website to exclude anything which would be regarded as NSFW (not safe for work). In my off-site writing, I’d not made a similar decision but, when working on a series of short stories about love based upon one-liners sent in to a competition, I’ve found myself skipping over the one which would be overtly sexual in nature – even though my intended take on the prompt is light-hearted and humorous. The Bad Sex in Fiction award is enough to make me extremely cautious and so likely to avoid that particular genre… unless using a nom de plume 😉 I’m also not drawn to anything containing depictions of extreme violence or abuse – either as a writer or a reader. That said, one of the best books I’ve read contained both, but as they’re not topics I seek out, I feel I’m unlikely to write anything where they feature.

Finally, can I put in a plea to the large number of you using the Blogger platform. Please consider setting your comments to include Name/URL, otherwise the demise of Google+ means those not on Blogger are unable to fully participate in this blog hop with you.

The awesome co-hosts this month are are Jemima Pitt, J Lenni Dorner, Cathrina Constantine, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, and Mary Aalgaard – do take a moment to visit them.


While you’re here, can I tempt you with a #FlashFiction prompt?

Every month, we run a different #FF prompt and this month it’s about a hitman for hire, but with one twist – your clients are all supernatural. Your business motto is “… because ghosts need revenge too.” Tell us your story, or tell us their story.

If you’re inspired to give this a go, you can get full details here.


© Debra Carey, 2021

#IWSG: Writerly Success

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. It’s an opportunity to talk about doubts and fears you have conquered. To discuss your struggles and triumphs and to offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.


September 1 question – How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?

Interesting question, as I know I’ll celebrate each and every step along the road, however small. Finishing the book was great and gave me a huge sense of achievement. Carrying out the edits has been hard, and I’ll celebrate once more when we get to a point of being ready to pitch and query. Getting an agent, let alone a deal would have me dancing, but I’d be proud to self-publish if that’s the route we end up taking.

All that said, if I’m being wholly honest, success to me is being paid an advance on the next book. I’d be pleased as punch to hold my book in my hand, really happy to receive good feedback/reviews, tickled pink to have a regular readership, and absolutely delighted to make an income from writing – however modest. But success, genuine success, for me is to be a real player on the field of publishing.

I don’t make this statement with any arrogance or expectation as I know the chances of achieving it are tiny, infinitesimal even – but I see no point in setting my goal low… what kind of Life Coach would I be if I did otherwise! 😀

The awesome co-hosts for this month are Rebecca Douglass, T. Powell Coltrin @Journaling Woman, Natalie Aguirre, Karen Lynn, and C. Lee McKenzie – do join me in taking a moment to visit them.


While you’re here, can I tempt you with a #FlashFiction prompt?

Every month, we run a different #FF prompt and this month it’s Journal on a Train. Journals have become ubiquitous – so many of us keep one, whether that be as a device for managing our time better, for downloading our thoughts, for keeping notes for an on-going project, for development of our ideas …

But what happens if you leave it behind? What caused you to forget something so important? What might it mean to a stranger who finds it? Tell us the story from whichever point of view you choose – the loser or the finder, in the genre of your choice.

If you’re inspired to give this a go, check back here on Sunday for full details.


© Debra Carey, 2021

#IWSG: What would make you quit writing?

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. It’s an opportunity to talk about doubts and fears you have conquered. To discuss your struggles and triumphs and to offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.


July 7 question – What would make you quit writing?

Honestly? Nothing short of physical impairment.

While I’m no different to any other writer in my hopes and dreams, I’m not sure I could stop writing, even if I knew those hopes and dreams were never to be fulfilled. It’s now such a huge part of my life, of who I am, I’d almost say of my DNA… all this despite having only started to write in my 6th decade.

I write not only because it gives me pleasure – I write to express myself, to work out feelings, to expel negative emotions, to engage with other lovers of the written word, to keep my brain sharp, to tell stories, to pull together an idea from spark to fruition.

Writing forms a massively important part of the process by which I support my mental health. If I didn’t write, I’m confident I’d cope with the tribulations of life less well. As well as giving me an outlet, it engages the creative side of my brain, providing a great form of relaxation and balance to my life, as my day job mostly involves almost entirely left-brain activity – not my favourite sort.

In short, I believe I will always write – even if only for myself.

Does writing play more than one role in your life?

The awesome co-hosts this month are Pat Garcia, Victoria Marie Lees, and Louise – Fundy Blue! – do take a moment to visit them.


While you’re here, can I tempt you with a #FlashFiction prompt?

Every month, we run a different #FF prompt and this month it’s based on a brilliant idea from fellow IWSG member James Pailly. A couple of years ago, James wrote a wonderful piece for us, which spawned both a new series for us, as well as a writing prompt.

We had great fun with this prompt last year and decided to reprise it. The basic premise is to take a story and simply #AddMoreSciFi. Whether it’s a new story you write in a SciFi environment, a twist in a seemingly non-SciFi tale, or a re-working of an old story in a new environment – work the prompt any way you like. If you fancy giving this a go, you’ll find the details here.


© Debra Carey, 2021

#IWSG: Re-drafting – how long is long enough?

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. It’s an opportunity to talk about doubts and fears you have conquered. To discuss your struggles and triumphs and to offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.


June 2 question – For how long do you shelve your first draft, before reading it and re-drafting? Is this dependent on your writing experience and the number of stories/books under your belt?

I’ve very little experience in having any form of pattern or process to my writing or editing. Generally there’s little spare between my finding the time to write and the need to publish, but I do like to have some time between the first draft and what finally goes out. In practice, that can be anything from just overnight to days/weeks.

On those occasions when I’ve left a draft for months, the time I spend getting back into the story can either be terribly useful at picking up issues I’d not seen at the time, or just downright depressing as I can’t remember where I was going. I know this relates to my being a natural pantser rather than a plotter, and is something I’m working to address. Still… it does mean I’ve a tendency not to leave anything for too long.

The only complete piece of full length fiction I’ve written has been in progress since April 2018, when the first 40,000 words were written. Getting fully back into the voice(s) of the story after any longer break does take me a while and a fair bit of reading. But getting away from the story – even when unplanned – has been helpful in getting a fresh perspective, and has been when duplications and inconsistencies suddenly became glaring and obvious.

What isn’t clear yet is how long is long enough. But the more I write – and re-write – the clearer that will become (I hope).

The awesome co-hosts for the  J Lenni Dorner, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, Lee Lowery, and Rachna Chhabria– do take a moment to visit them.


While you’re here, can I tempt you with a #FlashFiction prompt?

Every month, we run a different #FF prompt and this month it’s a Fiction Can Be Fun’s USP – Project Gutenberg. This is a deceptively simple #FlashFiction prompt but it does require some active choice on your part…

To select your prompt, go to the Recent Books section of the Project Gutenberg website. Pick a book whose title makes you go ‘ooooh I know what I want to write about …’ and there you have it – your #FlashFiction prompt for this month.

If you’re inspired to give this a go, full details will be on our post going live Sunday morning.


© Debra Carey, 2021

#IWSG: What throws you out of a story?

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. It’s an opportunity to talk about doubts and fears you have conquered. To discuss your struggles and triumphs and to offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.


January 6 question – Being a writer, when you’re reading someone else’s work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people’s books?

In one word – inaccuracies. I’ve heard of people giving up on books because they’re written in the present, or due to being written from too many points of view, because of an unusual writing style, or an incomprehensible dialect. Personally, I can (usually) accommodate all of the above, but inaccuracies are like nails on a blackboard.

Even before I became a writer, an inaccuracy would bring me up short, especially when a somewhat fantastical tale (if not actually fantasy), it’s important that a reader believes… and when any single inaccuracy can start the process of doubt, the entire story can be poisoned by that one inaccuracy.

As a writer, I do try to be understanding of how easy it is to make a mistake. For example, if it’s an arcane fact, I can persuade myself to forgive it, but when it’s something widely known and/or easily available to check, it smacks of… well, let’s just say unflattering adjectives.

My co-written WIP takes place in relatively recent history (post WWII). We’re not attempting to include historical figures in any significant manner, but we do refer to real people from time-to-time, and to historical events. While our tale does have elements of fantasy, we both feel it’s critical that we don’t get the factual aspects wrong, or it’ll sow that seed of doubt and so lose our readers.

What throws you? Do you share my view, or is it something else entirely for you?

The awesome co-hosts for the January 6th posting of the IWSG are Ronel Janse van Vuuren , J Lenni Dorner, Gwen Gardner Sandra Cox, and Louise – Fundy Blue – do take a moment to visit them.


While you’re here, can I tempt you with a #FlashFiction prompt?

Every month, we run a different #FF prompt and this month it’s Food Glorious Food! With the festive season just behind us, there should be inspiration aplenty. Write a story, any story, but include in it a description of the most satisfying meal you’ve ever eaten, in glorious detail.

If you’re inspired to give this a go, you can get full details here.


© Debra Carey, 2021

#IWSG: Are some months more productive for writing?

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. It’s an opportunity to talk about doubts and fears you have conquered. To discuss your struggles and triumphs and to offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.


December 2 question – Are there months or times of the year that you are more productive with your writing than other months, and why?

Yes, without a shadow of a doubt. I recently took leave for two periods each a fortnight long in order to finish an important writing project. The first period in October went OK, but the second period in November was a total washout.

During the second period, an unexpected family medical issue raised it’s head, but if I’m honest, I was already struggling. I’ve never considered taking part in NaNoWriMo because the final months of the year get swept up in a frenzy of Christmas and family birthdays. I’ve long been the family organizer, and although I am now sharing out those duties, when it comes to this time of year, the people I share the duties with are busy celebrating their birthdays.

But what’s become clear is that’s it’s not just a matter of the time available, keeping my head in the game also becomes unaccountably difficult. With the coming of the year’s end, my mind strays without any prompting to the process of reviewing the year against any hopes or goals I may have set, be that formally or informally. Of course, part of that process is the building of plans for the year to come, which is daft when I’ve not had a chance to finish the old one yet.

So, for me, November – January (inclusive) are bad writing months. I can blog, I even get brief flashes of the story, but despite sitting down immediately to capture it, I find it’s drifted away. It’s enormously frustrating, I’ve decided it’s time I turn to my professional NLP and coaching network for their help to change it.

The awesome co-hosts for the October 7 posting of the IWSG areare Pat Garcia,  Sylvia Ney,  Liesbet @ Roaming About,  Cathrina Constantine and Natalie Aguirre – do take a moment to visit them.


While you’re here, can I tempt you with a #FlashFiction prompt?

Every month, we run a different #FF prompt. This month it’s time for one of our regular features when we celebrate the anniversary of Project Gutenberg being unleashed on the world on 1st December. The aim of Project Gutenberg is to help people access books that they might not otherwise be able to get hold of.  This can get a bit tricky because of copyright issues, but in some ways it becomes easier, because there are some fantastic books that are now out of copyright which would get lost forever if it weren’t for PG.

The prompt goes live on 6th December, for this month’s #FlashFiction prompt, head on over to Project Gutenberg, trying not to get distracted by the 50,000 or so books on the site!  Take a look at the Recent Books section and pick one that you like the look of – the title of the book is the title/prompt of your story.

Tell us your tale – any style any genre, just nothing NSFW.

Word limit: 500-750 words
Deadline : Sunday 13th December @ 7am GMT

If you miss the deadline, you can always post your story to our #TortoiseFlashFiction page


A reminder to new readers/writers, please post on your own site and add a link to the prompt page once it’s published. If you don’t have your own blog or similar outlet, do send us your story via the contact form on the About page and we’ll post for you, with an appropriate by-line.  

Two caveats if you want to go down this route: if you want to retain the copyright, then you will need to state this, and this is a family show, so we reserve the right not to post anything that strays into NSFW or offends against ‘common decency’.


© Debra Carey, 2020

#IWSG: What does being a Working Writer look like to you?

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. It’s an opportunity to talk about doubts and fears you have conquered. To discuss your struggles and triumphs and to offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.


October 7 question: When you think of the term working writer, what does that look like to you? What do you think it is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer or aspiring or hobbyist, and if latter two, what does that look like?

Aarrgghh! My first instinct was to say that a working writer is one who writes for a living, but when re-visiting the dictionary definition of “work”, it is simply an activity that is done to achieve a purpose or result – no mention whatsoever of monetary reward. So, if a working writing is one who writes for a purpose or to achieve an end result – I’m a working writer.

But …

I also know that I have two jobs. One I class as my day job because it pays the bills. The second being a developing business as an NLP Coach which I intend will become my primary income stream as soon as is possible. If I’m honest, the writing has to get fitted in around those two.

I’m also a hobbyist photographer. Now, I’ve no problem at all categorising myself as hobbyist there, because I don’t have any hope or expectation of earning a living via photography, so I do it simply for enjoyment. I don’t describe my writing thus, as I have a purpose in writing, which is to achieve both publication and receive a monetary reward. Of course I enjoy writing, but I also have dreams.

In truth, there’s no simple black & white about this question, for so much of it is down to the perception of not only the writer themselves, but of those around them, and of society in general. As always an interesting question – and I’m much looking forward to the responses of my fellow #IWSG members.

The awesome co-hosts for the October 7 posting of the IWSG are Jemima Pett, Beth Camp, Beverly Stowe McClure, and Gwen Gardner and I encourage you to take a moment to visit them.


While you’re here, can I tempt you with a #FlashFiction photo prompt? Every month, we run a different #FF prompt – sometimes a photo, sometimes a saying, sometimes just a word …

Just your ordinary everyday commuter …

If you’re inspired to give this a go, you can get full details here.


© Debra Carey, 2020