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

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

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

A Bolthole for Writers

Retreat. The word conjures images of battle-bashed battalions backing off, or of a cowed religious heading for the caves of a hermit life. Or even tea-and-dry-toast navel-gazing and prayer on an island for a weekend. But a writer’s retreat? Well, that’s different. Think stylish, distraction-free space and time to write. So, in need of just that, some creative headspace away from home, I headed for County Down in Northern Ireland last week. I could have chosen a remote seaside cottage from Booking.com, but it is unlikely I’d have enjoyed it as much as my stay in the River Mill Reading … Continue reading A Bolthole for Writers

Writers’ Groups? What’s the Point?

I’ll cut to the chase here and tell you I attend four different writers’ groups. I also turn up at workshops, seminars, lectures, readings, any event with writing as the theme. Some are fun, some aren’t, but I invariably learn something – or more pertinently, I write something I wouldn’t have done otherwise. You might wonder how I have time, but two of the groups are fortnightly, and only one of the others meets weekly. For me, this is all about mixing with ‘my people’, the ones who get it, the ones I don’t have to explain the writing compulsion … Continue reading Writers’ Groups? What’s the Point?