Roald Dahl’s 6 tips for every fiction writer

Lately I’ve been reading a lot sites and blogs that gives aspiring writers (like me) tips on how to become a better writer. It is a continual learning process and only practise makes perfect.

I also came across a list of 6 qualities Roald Dahl believes every fiction writer should have:

1. You should have a lively imagination.

I’ve been daydreaming all my life and my imagination has taken on a life of its own so this is an easy one for me.

2. You should be able to write well.

I would like to believe I get better every time I submit a new post or every time I manage to finish another chapter of my book.

3. You must have stamina.

This is something I can work as I tend to become bored easily and then just give up.

4. You must be a perfectionist.

I do set incredibly high standards and I tend to be too hard on myself as well.

5. It helps if you have a sense of humour.

This one should be easy but many times I take myself too seriously in fact I have been told I am too serious but when I let my guard down there is a sense of humour lurking there that just needs to be encouraged and nurtured.

And the most important rule of all…

6. You must have a degree of humility. The writer who thinks that his work is marvellous is heading for trouble.

I agree with this one the most because I absolutely hate every single word I write and I am always doubting myself. This means I am well on  my way to becoming a writer. The only tip that is not on the list is Do Not Procrastinate. I am a master procrastinator especially when it comes to writing, it really is amazing what you can get done when you’re busy avoiding doing something else.


Where do blogs go to die? It’s been a year and I’m still here.

There is a an old tale that says if an elephant dies of natural causes its remains are never found. There are legends and myths of elephant graveyards that no one can find. I’m sure there is a scientific reason for this, nature has a way of taking care of everything and I’m sure elephant remains return to the earth and so the circle of life continues.

The mystery of the lost sock still eludes us. Where do all the lost socks go?  You throw a pair in the wash but one of it mysteriously disappears. Well apparently they go to some Ibiza island and party up a storm. See, a logical explanation for everything.

But where do dying blogs go? I’ve followed blogs where for some reason the blogger ceases to submit any new posts. Bloggers who I not only found to be funny and entertaining but also really damn good writers. So where did they go? I can only speculate so I’ve come up with a list of what I think are reasonable enough reasons why these blogs plummeted into a sharp sudden death. So where did Blogger go?

  • Death. I know this seems dark but well if Blogger died then it stands to reason that s/he is not able to write anymore.
  • Vogue or Times magazine headhunted Blogger who now has his/her own column.
  • Blogger abducted and poked by aliens.
  • Blogger became a mormon.
  • Blogger finally found a publisher for their novel, promptly signed a 3 book deal and sold the movies rights to Warner Brothers.
  • Blogger joined a cult and had 11 children – having 11 children I am sure leaves little time for writing.

So you see there are loads of reasons including ones I am sure I have not even thought of. Yet somehow I stuck by it and I completely missed the fact that I have been blogging for more than a year now. I am quite proud of myself.


Hibernation and Inspiration

Winter is slowly creeping onto Cape Town. Days are becoming shorter and nights are longer and I am finally reaching for that second blanket to ward off the now ever-present chill in the air. The morning view from bedroom window has changed. Instead of a cloudless mountain and light streaming in early morning I now only see darkness and dark grey clouds hanging over Table Mountain promising rain. Soon there will be day after day of persistent rains.

I say the bears have the right idea. They sleep all throughout winter. Their heart rate and metabolic rate slows down  (that sounds right because I move less in winter anyway) and they get to eat a really huge meal before the big sleep. So imagine a feast and a really really really long nap, I think it’s that same comatose feeling after a huge Sunday lunch. I guess I could live without the extra fur though. Either way it’s not as if my legs will see sunlight until September.

The only good thing to come from these colder days is that I am writing more. I am forcing myself to write for half an hour everyday. I was feeling uninspired for so long that I was never sure what to write but by forcing myself I am amazed that I have managed to finish a chapter this week.

Enjoy your weekend my lovely readers!


10 reasons why I love summer and 10 reasons why I tolerate winter

10 reasons why I love summer

  1. Ice-cream
  2. Soaking up the sun and sun-kissed skin
  3. Late sunsets
  4. The beach
  5. Walking bare-foot (well not to work silly)
  6. Shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops
  7. Cool summer breezes
  8. Long floaty dresses
  9. Fruit salad
  10. Ice cold drinks

10 reasons why I tolerate winter

  1. Ice-cream (What? Who said you can’t have ice-cream in winter?)
  2. Snuggling under blankets and watching dvd’s
  3. Hot chocolate and marshmallows
  4. Rainbows
  5. Crisps winter air
  6. Watching the rain
  7. Finishing a tv series season in one weekend
  8. Wellingtons
  9. Chunky scarves
  10. Not needing a reason for wanting to stay indoors

Images: weheartit.com


Less is more…than enough

To tell you the truth I am exhausted. In my quest to keep busy until I leave has bit me in the ass as I knew it would. The past six months has seen me juggling motorbike lessons, learning how to swim, starting a new degree and finishing half of my 1st year subjects, mentoring a teenage girl who lives in a children’s home, continuing my Italian lessons and trying to find time to meet my Italian friend when I can so that I can practise.  All this and still working a 9 to 5, just writing it all down exhausts me.

So yes apparently I can’t do it all. Seeing as the past 6 months were so chaotic I’m going to take the next 6 very slowly. I’m going to eliminate  as much activity as possible. Taking on too much can be extremely stressful and detrimental to your health, trust me. I’ve been getting sick, spraining things and suffering from more headaches than I usually do.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to do absolutely nothing because I am addicted to learning. I’ve got a photography course that starts in a month that I am looking forward to with fast forward photography. So I’ve just got to figure out what to cut out of my life but for now I am just going to take it easy and watch Friends re-runs.

Books, movies

Books I wish they would make movies of

Sometimes I feel that there should never be film adaptations from books because too often they get it so wrong. However when they get it right they make the reader happy that the writers vision was honoured.

Tom Clancy – Without Remorse – The story of John Kelly  and how he avenges the death of the woman he loved by taking down a large drug and prostitution ring – I mean who doesn’t love all the action of a vigilante rampage?

Dalene Mathee – Kringe in ‘n bos – a 1984 Afrikaans novel based in the Knysna Forest about a young man named Saul and an old wise elephant Oupoot and how they have to fight to save their worlds.

A Bryce Courtenay Trilogy because not only are trilogies still all the rage but they are so normal these days that it’s weird when a movie isn’t a trilogy

  1. The Potato Factory – set in the early 19th century it is story about Ikey Solomons and Mary Abacus and their exile from England to Tasmania
  2. Tommo and Hawk – 2 brothers (Mary’s 2 sons) deals with their kidnapping and their trials and tribulations that follow.
  3. Solomon’s Song – the battle between the 2 Solomon’s families continue.

Roald Dahl – The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar – A greedy gambler who starts a yoga training program that will allow him to cheat at cards. However after 3 years of training he decides to use his powers for good and over a period of twenty years he travels to casinos all over the world and uses the money to set up orphanages in every country he visits.

Paulo Coelho – The Alchemist – I’m always going on and on about this book so would love to be able to see it on the big screen. A young man travels from Spain to Egypt in search of his treasure and destiny.


The waiting game – may the odds be ever in my favour

The month of May was kinda hectic, what with turning 30 and all that. There was also the stress of my exams, finding out I grind my teeth during my sleep causing pain and sensitivity. Sprained an ankle from a fall and then sprained the other one from doing a 10km big walk. To top it all off I was in be whole weekend recovering from the flu. On the plus side I finally booked my ticket to Bangkok, Thailand.

I’m sure the next 6 months are going to drag its feet just to spite me but then I came across this sentence in The Alchemist which I am reading (again) which resonated with me: “Because I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man” This is hard for me to do because I am a thinker (who tends to dwell on the past) and a daydreamer (always looking ahead to the future). So I forget to focus on all the things that still happens in between.

I am going to try to focus on the present and live in the ‘now’ and maybe do all those things I’ve been putting off like working on my book, taking my photography to the next level and finally mastering downward facing dog. The possibilities are limitless.