Writing Ideas

 by Ashley Lister
They say that one of the most frightening things a writer can encounter is a blank page. I’m not sure this is 100% true.  I’m a writer and, given the choice between a dark cellar full of spiders or a blank page, I’m happy to have that blank page every time. It would be the same answer if someone asked me if I’d like to stare at a blank page or listen to someone dragging their fingernails down a chalkboard. I would happily opt for the blank page.
However, I do know that the blank page can be intimidating to a lot of writers and in an effort to make it less daunting, I thought it might be useful to share a handful of ideas that might inspire creativity.
Please don’t think this is altruistic behaviour on my part. I’ve written a book, How to Write Short Stories and Get Them Publishedand, if you’re interested in writing short fiction, I’d dearly love you to buy a copy.  The book is based on knowledge and experience I’ve accrued from fifteen years of teaching creative writing, and from twenty-five years of being a published author, and from the research I conducted whilst acquiring my PhD in creative writing. If you want to write short fiction, I want you to buy a copy of the book.
One way I find useful for breaking the spell of the blank page is to write a simple haiku. For those unfamiliar with the form, a haiku is a three-line poem, based loosely on our interpretation of the Japanese form which contains seventeen ‘on’ or ‘morae’. Here in the West we’ve interpreted that to translate as syllables and the lines are split into a syllable count of 5-7-5. For example:
a new story world
sits beyond the white screen of
each new document
The values of writing a haiku are immeasurable as a warm-up exercise prior to writing something longer. This is like a runner stretching before a marathon, or a musician going through scales before performing with an orchestra. No one expects other professional artists to jump straight into being creative, so why should it be different for writers?
Write a haiku before you start each morning. It could be something fun to describe the weather (it’s raining again / just like it did yesterday / and the day before) or you could use it summarise the plot you’re working on or a particular character you want to write about or just say something about the environment in which you’re working (a fat little dog / sits heavily on my lap / his head on my arm).
When I get students to write haikus in class, I get a genuine pleasure from watching them count on their fingers as they deliberately shape the words to confirm that they’ve identified each syllable correctly. This is not a normal way for anyone to interact with words, and it’s one of the reasons why I think it works so well as a warm-up exercise for every writer.
So, before you start writing, take a couple of minutes to create a haiku, just to loosen your writing muscles. It gets you thinking about words in a different way, it helps diminish the dread of the blank page, and it helps to keep the blade of your creativity razor sharp. And remember, if you want even more useful advice on How to Write Short Stories and Get Them Published, don’t forget to order a copy of my book.

Eroticon 2017

It’s a little over two weeks until Eroticon 2017. It’s an Eroticon tradition to have an online ‘Meet and Greet’ with rules laid out on the Eroticon webpage. Because I write a lot of poetry, I thought I’d write my responses as a series of haiku. (I clearly have too much spare time on my hands).
NAME (and Twitter if you have one)
Ashley R Lister
And, if you say ‘at’ for @:
@ashleylister

What are you hoping to get out of Eroticon 2017?
Learning some new skills
And meeting old and new friends
At Eroticon
This year’s schedule at Eroticon is pretty full on but which 4 sessions do you already have marked down as ones you want to attend?
I’m only there for
the Saturday. And there’s still
too much choice for me
DJFet’s rope work?
Kate Lister? Ms Blisse? Malin
James? Girl on the Net?
For me, the main thing
Is the chance to talk writing
With those who get it
Tell us one thing about yourself that not many people know?
I once spent six months
on antibiotics aft-
er a spider bite
If you made the papers, what would the headline be?
Writer arrested
For being too handsome and
too full of himself
If you could have one skill for free (I.e. without practice/time/effort) what would it be?
A foreign language
I know no foreign words and
my English sounds gauche.
Complete the sentence: I love it when…
I love it when I
Finish a stupid challenge
That I set myself

To see who else has responded, go to the Eroticon webpage and visit the others. 

Writing Exercise – Haiku and Senryu

As some of you may be aware, I’m currently compiling an anthology of poetry, Coming Together: In Verse.  The call for submissions is listed here: http://ashleylisterauthor.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/call-for-submissions-coming-together-in.html
For those of you wanting to submit, but lacking inspiration or ideas, below you’ll find one of the poetry writing exercises I’ve previously shared on the blog for the Erotic Readers and Writers Association (http://erotica-readers.blogspot.co.uk). I’m going to try and share them here on a weekly basis until we reach the deadline date.


 Two naked bodies
Intertwined twixt midnight sheets
Slick silvered shadows

I can’t believe we’ve gone almost a year on this blog without discussing haiku as a writing exercise. The haiku is one of the most accessible forms of syllable based poetry. When used as a warm up device before writing, it’s a form of poetry that can help a writer focus on the essence of the words in her or his vocabulary.

As most people know, the traditional haiku is a three line poem based on a strict syllable count. Obviously there are some variations.

·         There’s the pop haiku, characterised by Jack Kerouac’s interpretation of the form.
·         There are senryu, identical to haiku in form, but with a content that is wry, ironic or whimsical.

But today we’re looking at the traditional haiku with its rigid format:

1st line = 5 syllables
2nd line = 7 syllables
3rd line = 5 syllables

It’s worth noting here the definition of a syllable. The definition below is taken verbatim from the trusty dictionary sitting on my desk.

syllable ►noun a unit of pronunciation having one vowel sound, with or without surrounding consonants, forming the whole or a part of a word; for example, there are two syllables in water and three in inferno.
Pearsall, J., Hanks, P., (2005), Oxford Dictionary of English, 2nd Edition, Revised, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

However, even with such an authoritative definition, there will obviously be anomalies in the words we select. We hit words like sure, fire and wheel and can’t decide whether the word includes one or two syllables. Is it ‘shoor’ or ‘shoe-er’? Is it ‘fire’ or ‘fie-arr’? Is it ‘wheel’ or ‘wee-ell’? My usual response to such observations is: How do you pronounce the word? It’s your poem. Own the word.

And that’s all there is to this form. Obviously haiku can be studied in greater depth. There are some forms that demand the author should mention a season or kigo. There are some forms that require a break at the end of the first line and insist on the juxtaposition of two images in the whole poem. But, for the purposes of this warm-up exercise, it’s enough to craft seventeen syllables of serious sensuality into a single haiku.

After the climax:
Glossy flesh lacquered with sweat
Heartbeats race-racing
If you do want to submit to the current anthology, information can be found on: http://ashleylisterauthor.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/call-for-submissions-coming-together-in.html