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

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

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?

Fake Muse

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told I shouldn’t wait for inspiration to strike before I sit down to write. Successful writers just get on with it, regardless of how inspired they feel. Being precious about having the right pen, desk, light, music et al is all very well, but sometimes, good ideas can be genuinely hard to come by. And that has nothing to do with the so-called ‘Writers’ Block’. Which is why I’m often to be found in writers’ groups and workshops. As well as knowing I’m likely to come away with a new … Continue reading Fake Muse

May I?

So, what’s the best thing to do when you’re really, really busy? Yep, that’s it – find something else to do as well. So here I am, just surfacing after the head-wrecking weekend that was Strokestown International Poetry Festival, participating in a social media training course. (Don’t laugh. And no, I probably shouldn’t have responded to my terror of Facebook by deleting my page recently, but that’s another story.) While I’m at it, I could have a go at developing my memoir-writing skills with the legend that is Michael Harding, couldn’t I?  Roscommon Arts Centre’s Bealtaine course this year. And … Continue reading May I?

Reinventing the Wheel (or not)

I have kept my head down lately, trying to complete some half-finished writing projects, not least because there seems to have been an unusually high number of competitions and submission opportunities this month. I’m still out there, trying my luck with poetry, flash fiction and stories (and wondering if I’ll ever find time to finish my ‘prize-winning’ novel!). Proof that persistence pays off has been publication this month of my poem in literary magazine Skylight 47.   I went down to Galway for the launch with my friend *Jessamine O Connor,  who was representing the Hermit Collective, featured in this edition. We … Continue reading Reinventing the Wheel (or not)

Word Juicing For Scribes

It can be quite difficult to keep coming up with new writing ideas and ways of making those creative juices flow (yes, I agree, that sounds borderline disgusting), but if you are looking for some writing inspiration, read on. I run a lovely fortnightly creative writing group in the far reaches of County Mayo, Ireland, where we’re often looking for something to write about while we’re waiting for the kettle to boil (again). I thought I’d share some of our prompts and writing exercises, should you find yourself in a similar predicament. In our group, we have writers of all … Continue reading Word Juicing For Scribes

Fur Coat and No Knickers?

One of the best things that ever happened to me was becoming a mother. I can’t imagine what I would have found to do with my time without children to fill my every waking minute.  They still try do it, and they’re (allegedly) adults now. Although, these days I do sometimes manage to snatch a few hours free from them demanding what’s for dinner, or where are their socks/phone chargers/car keys (delete as appropriate). It sounds like there are dozens of them. It only feels like that sometimes – they are just two, one of each, as they say. A son … Continue reading Fur Coat and No Knickers?

A Beginner’s Guide to Procrastination

So. You are going to have a Writing Day. No appointments, no need to leave the house, no distractions – the kitchen floor doesn’t even need mopping – brilliant! Ahead, a whole day of writing . Here’s what you do: First, take a nice view, preferably one with a lovely comfy chair in front. Settle down to spend some time relaxing into the moment (mindfulness – it’s all the rage these days), watching the birds/clouds/treetops/passersby/traffic (delete as appropriate). Imagine what a wonderful poem you could write – a sonnet, perhaps, 14 lines of stunning verse with a twist in the … Continue reading A Beginner’s Guide to Procrastination

Spitting Nails and other Pointless Activities

I’ve been helping to get a new Creative Writing Group up and running in Charlestown Arts Centre, here in County Mayo. It is proving to be an interesting exercise in perseverance and determination – and of course, creativity. We’ve a core group of hardened scribes with significant publication credits to their names, alongside biro-wielding retired ladies looking for something interesting to pass the time on a Monday morning. Plus a few others who drop in and out, who aren’t quite sure if creative writing is their thing. Over the years, I’ve belonged to a number of different writing groups, some … Continue reading Spitting Nails and other Pointless Activities