Want to Write More in the New Year? Just Show Up.


by @Annie Daylon

PIANIST by author/artist, Ben Nuttall-Smith.

PIANIST by author/artist, Ben Nuttall-Smith.

My 2015 calendar from the Federation of British Columbia Writers arrived the other day and, from all of Ben Nuttall-Smith’s stunning illustrations, one jumped  at me– Pianist. It triggered memories of my beginnings at a keyboard: the Leila-Fletcher-on-staff-Middle-C-approach to the piano, taught  by Sister Mary John Hughes and her trusty pointer. Ouch!

Over the years, I worked my way from Fletcher’s C-D-E to Debussy’s Reverie. I never mastered the art of sight-reading (the ability to pick up a piece and play it as you would pick up a book and read it.) Once, when I was a student of music at Mount Allison University, a friend suggested we partner up and plunge into the world of sight-reading, an attempt to conquer the beast. I started, half-heartedly, and fell away from it: for me there was a gaping hole where passion, drive, and above all, confidence should be.  My friend persevered and became a long-time professional musician. (Thank you, T: I never did excel in sight-reading but I did learn from watching you gain mastery.) My piano, except for the annual Christmas carol, is now a silent shadow in the hallway of my home.

However, another keyboard has replaced it.

My passion is writing. I dipped my toe in the water seven years ago and I stayed. In that time, I have written three novels, each better than its predecessor, and I have a fourth awaiting editing. I have also penned forty+ short stories, sixty-five blog posts, and a few articles. Apparently, what I could not apply to music–commitment and perseverance– I can apply to writing.  Doubt may knock once in a while but I don’t let it in. I just show up and write, daily. My routine: coffee, crossword, computer. Three hour minimum.

In the coming year, whatever your passion,  just have at it. If writing is your passion,  park yourself at that keyboard and plunk away. One letter, one word, one sentence, one paragraph, one page… eventually becomes one book.

shutterstock_110397353 (2) Happy New YearJust show up and you will create a wonderfully accomplished, well-written new year. One key at a time.


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My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue

Reflections on Writers’ Retreat


by @AnnieDaylon


This past weekend, I took part in the 2nd Annual Federation of British Columbia Writers’ Retreat at the Rosemary Heights Retreat Centre in South Surrey, BC . Such a welcoming venue! The staff was friendly and accommodating and the food was delicious and nutritious. Each attendee had a single room with ensuite bath. The wing assigned to the group had a meeting room, a living room, a dining area, and a kitchen.  In addition, there were quiet places (both inside and out) for reflection.

So what did I do there?

I wrote. I chose the tactile approach this weekend, meaning that I printed out my three-hundred-page manuscript and took it with me. I read through it, looking for plot holes and character blips, liberally marking it up as I went along.

I attended workshops. There were three excellent presenters (Lois Peterson, Ben Nuttall-Smith, and George Opacic) and a smorgasbord of workshops: Character, Point of View, Voice, Show vs Tell, Oral Reading, Query Letters, Writing to View, and Digital Publishing.

I had a Blue Pencil Session.  I greatly appreciated seeing my manuscript through the eyes of another author: strengths glowed; weaknesses glared. (These insightful sessions were available daily. Thank you, Ben and Lois!)

I met other writers. In between sessions and at meals, we shared life experiences, suggested great reads, and tossed around writing ideas.

I reflected. I abandoned the grid in favor of a time free of distraction, a time to focus, a time to create ‘white space’ in my overworked brain. I frequented the chapel to meditate, found space to do Tai Chi, and wandered the wood path  (nothing like nature— a symphony of chickadees, the scent of pine and cedar, the sponge of mossy carpet, the vibrant green of ferns, the rustle of autumn leaves—to  bring stillness to the soul.)

This was my first writers’ retreat. I returned home with a better handle on my manuscript and new avenues to improve it.  Oh, yes. And inner peace.

Overall, a fabulous experience, one that I highly recommend!

My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue