Archive for September, 2009



I’ve just tried some Freewriting and it’s breathtaking. I love it.

I set a timer for five minutes, and used the prompts from p23 in the BRB. I found myself typing a lot of rubbish, typing the same word over and over until I took a thought and ran with it. And these thoughts blossomed.

Don’t get me wrong, 80% of what I wrote was utter tripe.

But what also came out of the three Freewrites I just did were countless interesting images, an idea for a poem and an idea for a short story, not to mention other potential prompts which I probably haven’t picked up on yet. These things are Inspiration Stations!

I’m so excited.

To illustrate the madness which comes out of a Freewrite, here’s the first sentence of one of them, of which the ‘prompt’ is “I need proof…”:

I need proof. proof of what proof of the pudding is in the eating eating rice pudding. Every day for lunch at school they served rice pudding.

Now don’t steal that because it’s genius.

To make the most out of Freewrites, for me, will be going through them at the end and picking out any potentially interesting images, phrases, ideas or characters which emerge. I’m then taking these (which generally number 2/3 bullet points per 5-minute Freewrite) and writing them in a notebook, as a big list. My intention is to use the results of the Freewrites almost as an inspiration bank.


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Passive Voice

Creative writing literature often advises writers to avoid using the passive voice.

Luckily, WordPress has a feature, part of the spell check, which recognises passive voice and underlines it so you can change your language.

I hope this will help, as I was never taught the difference between passive and active voice. I still don’t understand what it is and how to avoid being passive.

Does anyone else understand this and / or could recommend any resources which could help me?

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Flora And Fora


I’ve finally been given access to the A215 Course Forums, which I was very excited about reading. Better late than never! Everyone else seems to have been there for a while, but the link has only just appeared on my StudentHome.

Unfortunately, the forum design seems to take some getting used to. I’ve used forums in the past and found them good to use, but this one seems slightly incomprehensible in comparison. We’ll see if it gets easier as I use it more.

Update, 25th September: I’ve just discovered FirstClass (better late than never, eh?) which makes the forums a lot more comprehensible. For information and download, go to http://www.open.ac.uk/lts/software/firstclass.html.


I’m wondering about computer software. There’s a facility where we can download computer software we might need, but nowhere can I find information about what we will need to download and use on a regular basis. Maybe that will all become clear as time passes.

Tutor and Tutorials

I’ve finally been allocated a tutor, although he hasn’t contacted me yet. I think it’s the tutors who should contact their tutees first. So far there is no Day School arranged. Things are happening slowly in my region. Some people in other regions seem to have already had Day Schools! Eek. And the course hasn’t even started yet.


Getting an NUS Card again is exciting, as it’s really handy for discounted entry fees for museums, plays, and lots of other things, not to mention discounts at places like Amazon and HMV. I was silly though, and didn’t add £1 for an additional ISIC card, which I really should have done, as that’s the internationally recognised student card. Now, if I want an ISIC card, I need to buy a Replacement NUS Card for £4 and add a £1 ISIC card onto that order. I think I’ll see whether I really need an ISIC card first.

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Isabella Black has just encompassed everything I meant to say in my post about procrastination worries a couple of days ago. I’m glad I’m not the only one worrying about this.

If any of you have any tips on concentration and staying focused, please let us know!

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BRBI’ve been trying to be systematic.

This means that I am going through the OU material in an ordered way, so as not to miss anything and to avoid feeling overwhelmed with all the different sources of information we’re being presented with, all at once.

I like being systematic.

I’ve read the Course Guide (white A4 booklet) and the Assessment Booklet (also white A4 booklet). I’ve been through as much of the OU website as I can, and am in the middle of reading all the “New to the OU” section, adding everything to my online “To-Do List” so I can tick it off later, once I’ve finished being systematic about everything.

But systematic might not always work.

Reading the forums and the Facebook group, many people have already started on the TMAs, and are getting into freewriting and the prompts. This doesn’t gel with my ‘systematic’ approach, as I decided I’m not allowed to open the red books until I’ve read the other material we’ve been given.

Systematic means setting yourself rules.

I’d almost, subconsciously, decided I wouldn’t start officially working on things until October 3rd, when the course  starts. But I’m quite excited, and everyone else seems to have started. The course hasn’t started yet and I’m on the verge of feeling like I’m falling behind already.

I’ve started being systematic, so I’ll finish.

Tonight I get to open the thin red book and look at our first week. Then I might try some freewriting. I’m quite excited.

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while i’m free

I work full-time, 9-5. In theory. In actuality, I sit behind a desk 9-5, but you can frequently find me scouring the internet for interesting and amusing websites, procrastinating.

I like to maintain as many interests outside of my job as possible, because, like many people, my job doesn’t particularly interest me.

At the moment I am training for the Birmingham Half Marathon. I’m not a fitness fanatic in any way. In fact, I’m not particularly physically fit. But I realised recently that I’m 23 years old and in perfect health: why would I waste such a glorious, fabulous potential by being unfit and not making the most of my youth while I can? The Half Marathon is on October 11th 2009, so not too far away now. I’m running 4-5 times a week, about 4 miles each time with a long run on a Sunday. I don’t like to sacrifice my Sundays, but sometimes it’s got to be done. Don’t get me wrong, I hate running most of the time. I am looking forward to the Half Marathon being over, so I can begin to take part in sport or excercise which is fun and enjoyable. I hope to continue undertaking physical activity at least weekly, even after the Half Marathon is over. Also, exercising means that you can eat whatever you like, within reason. Excellent!

I volunteer for Birmingham Conservation Trust, which is a lovely little charity taking an interest in the conservation of historic buildings in the Birmingham area. I haven’t yet had a particularly active role in the trust, but I hope to become more involved in the future. Unfortunately, one of their projects, the Newman Brothers Coffin Works, in which I was partially involved, has been denied funding by its owner, Advantage West Midlands. This is a shame because it means funding can’t be found from other sources (because AWM own it), and the longer it takes, the further into disrepair the building falls. If you’re interested in supporting the trust, particularly their effort to obtain funding for the Coffin Works, here is some information on how you can help.

old booksI’m an avid reader, particularly fiction, and am rarely to be found without a book in my hand. For the past few months I have been concentrating on reading classics and cult literature, mainly so I can talk to other people about books. I occasionally write book reviews on my other blog, and maybe I will begin posting some here, too. I’ve started reading more short stories of late, as I’ve been advised a number of times that they are valuable for developing your own writing. I’m particulaly enamoured of Richard Yates, and would greatly recommend his short story collections: Liars in Love, and Eleven Kinds of Loneliness.

Another of my interests, which I have yet to follow up in Birmingham, is the theatre, and I am thinking of getting involved in local amateur dramatics once I have established how much time will be needed for the A215. I’m a little experienced with backstage functions, particularly lighting and a little sound operation, but I’m also interested in auditioning for some roles, so we’ll see what happens there!

And, rather obviously, I enjoy to write, when I can apply myself. I’m a member of a Writers’ Group in Birmingham, and find that interacting with other writers is immensley helpful. We meet twice a month, which motivates me to get something down on paper occasionally, and I have met some very nice, likeminded people, which is always a good thing.

Other interests of mine include cycling, music, travelling and photography. Unfortunately, it definitely feels like I have avoided working for long enough, so I will end this post here. x

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I love Sundays. I am so happy on a Sunday: coffee, newspapers and a lie-in. I like the sacred feeling of a Sunday afternoon with a film and a duvet on the sofa.

I don’t want to give that up, so I intend to work hard during the week (in the evenings after work) and on Saturdays if necessary, intending to leave Sundays sacred and free. They are My Time. I hope I can keep it that way.

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