Ten Tips for Becoming a Better Writer

Apologies if you’ve already seen this on Facebook! Park your bum on a chair and WRITE! Pen and paper or keyboard, your choice Read a lot: magazines, books, journals, books, cereal packets, books, Join a friendly, supportive creative writing group (see below) Do more writing (ahem, that’s what writers do) Read some more: books, newspapers, books, filmscripts, books, stories on-line, books Mix with people who get it – ignore the detractors (what do they know anyway?) Keep going, write every day if you can. Get good by practicing If you want to be a writer but you’re not enjoying the … Continue reading Ten Tips for Becoming a Better Writer

On the Making of New Writers

It is no secret that I enjoy running Creative Writing workshops for newbies. I love the challenge of working with people who may not have written anything more than a greetings card or a shopping list since their schooldays. The best bit is when they realise writing for pleasure is just that – fun with words! Some of these new writers may start off being reluctant to put pen to paper, thinking they ‘can’t do it’. It’s my job to show them ANYONE can write if they really want to. Often, tuition is arranged through the local ETB (Education and … Continue reading On the Making of New Writers

The Good, the Bad and the Indifferent

I was asked recently what makes ‘good’ writing? Someone who describes themselves as a ‘novice writer’ wanted to know how she could recognise good, better, best. Ha! She probably wished she hadn’t lit that particular touchpaper as I launched into a major rant. Let me tell you what makes good writing – personal taste. It really is that simple. If you want to get published, there’s the need to swallow a zeitgeist tablet, too. But really, if you are a writer enjoying the process of writing, you should not to be bullied by literary snobs or talked down from the … Continue reading The Good, the Bad and the Indifferent

Time to get real

In the last 48 hours, I thought the Universe was going all out to get me to give up the writing. I’m a little shame-faced to admit why: I hadn’t backed-up a number of important files, thinking my trusted old laptop was invincible. But guess what? Gasp of outrage that this could happen to ME! I used to laugh at people that happened to. Didn’t back-up? Ha, ha, ha! (Spoiler alert, my story has a happy ending). Of course, I did a major back-up of all my laptop files recently. I’m very particular about that, do it regularly. It is … Continue reading Time to get real

The Walking Unread

I’m not usually looking for something to read – my bedside table groans under the weight of many  books, and I’ve often my nose in several tomes at once (I’ve the right shaped nose for such feats). And I admit to being swayed by the hype from social media when there’s something new everyone’s talking about (hello Booker longlist), so the to-be-read pile is ever-growing. But one day last week I plucked from the heap of unreads an anthology I have a story in. Not a recent one, but one from last year which I hadn’t bothered to finish before. … Continue reading The Walking Unread

Concerning the Chopping of Onions

You might know the ‘G’ in my name covers Giddy, Gush and Gabble? No wonder – I’m trying to decide which part of yesterday’s memorable birthday was the best. Maybe all of it? Coffee and a chat with legendary American poet Billy Collins, then being showered with wonderful gifts when I got home, one of which was a canvas print of a photo from last year’s Hennessy Award. Even if you don’t like poetry, you’ve gotta be impressed that I had a Dublin pub named after me, if only for a weekend! My lovely family had heard me claiming I … Continue reading Concerning the Chopping of Onions

Draft Dodging. Not.

I won a short story competition this week and now have some lovely comments about structure and style ringing in my ears. I’m flattered the judge, Dr Kevin Hora, liked ‘The Potential Pleasure of New Soft Furnishings’ enough to award me the 2019 *New Roscommon Writing Prize. It’s worth €500, which for 2,000 words is good payback! After the presentation, as everyone was scrambling to line up for the cameras, Kevin quietly asked me how many times I’d re-written the story. I owned up to many, many drafts, 10 wouldn’t be unusual, neither would 20. I’m always wanting to improve, … Continue reading Draft Dodging. Not.

A Gloom of One’s Own

Inspiration is a funny old thing – one minute it is there slapping you in the face, insisting you write, write and then write some more, next it has disappeared into the ether without a trace and you are left wondering what on earth to write about. And whatever made you (me) think writing for publication was a good idea? The secret is of course, to carry on regardless, ignoring the helpless feeling of being uninspired, and just empty your head onto paper. Messy, I know, but the muse often has a way of creeping back to take a look … Continue reading A Gloom of One’s Own

Filling in the Gaps

Trying to find new ways to say old things can be a bit wearing. In my case, wearing on the old computer keyboard. My laptop was bought with the winnings from a short story competition in…damn, was it really three years ago? Anyway, I’ve worn the face off some of the keys. A R E S T to be precise. I don’t touch-type, but I know my way around a keyboard, so it is no real bother for me. I’m even trying to squeeze a poem out of the scenario, all about naked keys, worn to the bone. I think … Continue reading Filling in the Gaps