Thursday, 31 December 2009

Your New Year's writing resolutions

Why wait until tomorrow - create your 2010 writing resolutions today.

Make SMART writing resolutions; Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely.


Not someday I'll write a book but - I'll write 2 chapters of my how to book on...(whatever is your topic).


Not I'll write 2 chapters but - I'll write 2 chapters of 2,000 words each.


Not I'll write 2,000 words by 2pm this afternoon but - I'll write 500 words each day for the next 8 days.


Not I'll write a world beating novel but - I'll write 2 chapters about something I really understand and can pass on.


Not someday I'll write a book but - in 10 days I will write 2 chapters.

So instead of some unconsidered dream of writing a book someday you'll have

By the end of January 2010 I will have written 2 chapters of 2,000 words each on how to create a stuffed toy.

Or whatever is your skill or subject.

As has been said many times a goal is a dream with a time frame attached.

If you want to write then stop making excuses, not to me, not to your family or friends but to yourself. That's the only person you're cheating on.

Until you begin, you have no idea where your writing road will lead you. Take your first step now and you'll go into the New Year of 2010 already primed and in gear.

Good luck and may the writing angels be with you.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

How to write - creating the environment

The aim is to enable you to write anywhere. The more focused you are on your writing, the less the surroundings should matter. Creating the mood in your mind is far more important than creating a perfect setting. That can be the thin end of the wedge to letting yourself off the hook.

If your words fizz inside your head, the back of an envelope is as effective a writing tablet as the most beautiful journal.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

How to write

"Writing is like any other learned process. You need to develop and strengthen your writing muscles by writing every day." Eileen Parr

Monday, 28 December 2009

How to write exercise

Shaking up your writing

Too often we write the same thing because we write in the same way. If you write fiction then try writing something else like instructions. How would you tell someone to thread a needle if they have never seen a needle?

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Generating ideas for your business book

Here's a quick way to generate ideas about how to write for your own business.

  1. Look at your business books.
  2. Choose 3 you have gained something from.
  3. Write down why you bought them, borrowed them or stole them from friends.
  4. Study them in more depth and jot down how you can use a similar method, way of writing or layout for your own topic.

This should get you started. It's always easier to say, that's interesting but I would do it a different way than have to start from scratch.

This is just one of 3 ways you'll find to generate ideas, in Writer's Little Book... with Big Ideas.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Boxing Day blues

If you're not still catching up with different parts of your family, then Boxing Day can seem a bit flat mentally.

Here are a couple of game sites I've used that might sharpen your wits after too much wine and pudding.

My fried sent me the black cat game and it can be quite addictive.

I've tried the Storyman game and the 8 letters game

Friday, 25 December 2009

Christmas greetings

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?
It came without ribbons. It came without tags.
It came without packages, boxes or bags.
And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."
Dr Seuss

Wishing you all good for this day whatever your circumstances, whatever your faith, whatever your hopes.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Christmas holidays

'I do come home at Christmas. We all do, or we all should. We all come home, or ought to come home, for a short holiday -- the longer, the better -- from the great boarding school where we are forever working at our arithmetical slates, to take, and give a rest.' Charles Dickens

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Rushing up to Christmas

Ray Stannard Baker "I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day. We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year. As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year. And thus I drift along into the holidays, let them overtake me unexpectedly, waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself: 'Why this is Christmas Day!"

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Reading: the pleasures of the Christmas holiday

"Books to the ceiling,/ Books to the sky,/ My pile of books is a mile high./ How I love them! How I need them!/ I'll have a long beard by the time I read them." Arnold Lobel

Yesterday I staggered back from the library with a selection of books for my holiday reading. Despite us having several floor to ceiling bookcases full of books, I get that fluttering feeling in my tummy that might be the start of a panic attack because I might not have 'the right book' to read when I need it.

So what is the right book? That's the trouble; I never know till I need it. The right book in the middle of a sleepless night may not be the right book for a post dinner browse, glass of wine in hand.

Which means I have to choose a wide selection. I do like to tackle a BIG book, novel or biography at the festive season. One year I did the audio equivalent and listened to Suite Francaise, a wonderful tale of war time France.

Another year it was Mr Norrell and Mr Strange - eccentric and intricate.

This year I hoped to pick up Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. No chance in the library but a must read for me because when I did A level history, Thomas Cromwell was one of my favourite characters in the Tudor story.

Failing that, I've chosen two biographies, one of Voltaire and one about the relationship between Galileo and his daughter. Both big enough subjects to satisfy and learn something new at the same time.

For sheer indulgence, some thrillers including short stories by Peter Lovesey and Charles Dickens.

I'm hoping I've made the right choices but no doubt I shall sneak a look at other people's books... just in case.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Who are your writing buddies?

"What are you writing at the moment Eileen?"

Question was thrown at me by a business acquaintance recently. Before I could open my mouth and talk about the down to earth practical intro to web copy I was working on, he answered his own question.

"It'll be another book then I guess."

Mouth open again even more like a fish gasping for air as he rushed on and talked about the difficulties he had in writing.

And waving his hands at me he finished with,"Lovely to hear all about your work." and was off to the next poor soul to be lavished with his attention.

We all suffer from people like that don't we? And if you are a writer who might like to bounce ideas off on a possible reader, then they are the worst type of person to have around you.

Because what you want are people who are:
  1. Interested in what you do.
  2. Interested enough to listen to you talking what you do.
  3. Interested enough to listen and, ask interesting questions that stimulate further thought in you

Rare as hens' teeth in my opinion such people. And writers sometimes are no better at this for other writers than any other category of people.

So if you are looking for writing buddies choose very carefully. My criteria for buddies are the following:

  1. They consider the context of the writing.
  2. They won't say it's good because they worry about hurting my feelings.
  3. They won't say it's bad because they can't judge it, they're jealous or they're about to steal the ideas.

I'm fortunate in having a couple of people I know who are impartial enough and honest enough to give me critical but considered feedback. Stephen King has about 12 he uses for each book.

Find yours. Treasure them and reward them at regular intervals. They're worthy of your regard and respect.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

How to write for your business;fast and to the point

'The amateur worries about what he is going to put into his speech. The expert worries about what he should take out.' Edgar Dale

Talking to other writers at a networking event, we were swopping writing exercises we'd found useful. The timed exercise is a favourite, as is the unexpected subject. all of these are designed to stimulate your creativity without you having chance to censor your thoughts.

One of my favourite exercises is where you limit the number of words you write. If you really want to challenge yourself then try limiting time and word count.

For business writing in particular this is a valuable discipline because you never know when you might be asked for a 500 word article or a 150 word press release for a tight deadline. And of course you could practise these and have them in your back pocket ready for just such an occasion.

If you love your business, are proud of what you provide as a product or service then you should have a pool of information you can draw on and edit to fit an particular angle or theme.

What writing to a word limit teaches you is to focus on key points you want your reader to know. The fewer words you have the more important each word becomes.

Tweeting can provide you with multiple occasions to exercise this talent with keyword rich, focused statements about what you offer.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

How to survive writing a book

How's your book coming along?

Most people I meet feel either they have a book inside them or that they'd never dare to write one.

The first group I'm always intrigued to know how they're doing and the second group I always want to know what's stopping them.

I've no idea where you are with regard to writing a book but you may well have begun one, then given up. I'm sure for you that hurts and/or proves that you couldn't but it isn't an uncommon place to be.

Certainly I've been there and I've only made my way to becoming a published author because of stubbornness, bloody mindedness and a mad belief in myself.

How to survive writing a book: 5 strategies

  1. Be kind to yourself - award yourself, chocolate, warm socks, alcohol(not too much) or whatever it takes to keep up your motivation.

  2. Find support - if that doesn't exist around you because you're hiding it from your friends, family colleagues, then go online and join forums, (dare I suggest you join Writer's Little Book Club).

  3. Understand you need help - if not with the writing, then with the editing, printing, build your author's website etc etc.

  4. Remember Rome wasn't built in a day - you'll have times it's more difficult to write, times you want to take a break from the manuscript.

  5. Accept you're a hero - for beginning, for keeping going and for finishing.

95% of the population never make the effort to begin let alone to finish. So award yourself gold stars for every day you keep at it.

Whatever you do - keep on writing.

You can download a longer free article on the 5 strategies at

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Business writing;why it should be like looking at the bottom of a glass of water

'I've never met a human being who would want to read 17,000 pages of documentation, and if there was, I'd kill him to get him out of the gene pool.' Joseph Costello

I'm sitting in front of a brand new cooker, with a trout on a tray and a pudding(apple cake) in said oven which should be cooking.

In my hand I have the instruction manual and I'm checking(for the third time) the symbols, the instructions and the recipe book which came with the oven.

In the end I admitted defeat and finished off my meal in the microwave, which was okay but not what I had in mind.

When finally, after a visit from an engineer we discovered the clock has to be set... before the cooker will work I felt very stupid.

But in my defence, nowhere in the instruction manual did it say so. And the engineer did agree that it caught out a lot of people.

Yet again it confirmed my suspicions that instruction manuals are written by people who understand how to do what the manual is about and they don't think of starting from the beginning.

While this is vital for manuals, it's also something to keep in mind whenever you write for business because jargon, assumptions and dense text are dangerous if you want to connect with the reader.

As writers we're complacent at our peril. In a workshop I headed up, a 300 word newspaper article that was clear to me, was criticised by most of the group for being dense, boring and too long to wade through. Even though the subject was of interest to them all, it hadn't captured their attention well enough to make them persist to the end.

Always we should be thinking about our writing:
  1. Is it clear?
  2. Is it to the point?
  3. Is it relevant?

Whatever you write won't interest everyone but if the writing ticks those 3 boxes then it stands a better chance of not being tossed(literally or metaphorically) in the bin

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Imagination:a must for writers

'Imagination is the beginning of creation.You imagine what you desire,you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.' George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Why your first draft is unlikely to be your last

'If you never change your mind, why have one?' Edward de Bono

E-mail is great isn't it? It means you don't have to worry about postal deadlines and you can work on your writing until the last moment.

Which means multiple drafts... at least if you're wise.


That's because our first drafts are almost a spontaneous dumping of what is in our heads on to the screen or paper.

Now if you've done your research, it will be steeped in the subject and relevant. But you can always improve it.

Here are 3 ways to add polish to your first thoughts.
  1. Check out the order - can you be more logical, capture their interest faster or produce that well crafted example to offer the clincher of a proof.
  2. Check out the wording, cleaning out all the weak words and replace with strong images to glue themselves to the inside of your reader's brain.
  3. Check out the spacing. White space in abundance and in the right places makes it easier for your reader to navigate your text. And easier navigation means easier understanding and more connection.

Force yourself to read it again or find someone suitable to comment. It will pay dividends for all your writing.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Recommended reads

Ice Road by Gillian Slovo.

I'm part way through this book but already I've been drawn into the world of Leningrad in the 1930s. And if you think it's cold here, then Gillian Slovo's descriptions of the cold in Leningrad and the Arctic will have you reaching for a warmer jumper.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Candlestick Press Nottingham

Last week I bought a poetry pamphlet edited by Carol Ann Duffy then discovered the publisher is Candlestick Press in Nottingham.

Lovely tradition to start for Christmas, reading a poem for each of the 12 days.

Friday, 11 December 2009

On appreciation

Albert Schweitzer: "At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us."

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Why writers should network

I've just come back from a festive networking event. (thanks to all at FocusZenith in Bingham for their hard work in organising it)

It's fun networking as a writer because as soon as you say what you do then out come all the stories. Of books imagined, or wished for or written.

Favourite today - father in law of attendee who had been in the secret service in the 1960s. Can't tell you any more of course.

Saddest - story to be told of the loss of a child.

Most intriguing to peek behind the scenes - someone who worked for Rupert Murdoch.

As they say, everybody has a story to tell. And I was discussing with several people how to use stories in business writing. One attendee worked for a charity where they need an emotional connection to stimulate giving.

Logic in selling has its place - but emotional logic beats it hands down every time. We're brought up on stories (oh and there was a proud grandad who'd received a story about a clockmaker, in an email from his 6 year old grandson) so stories about products or services we wish to buy make sense of things for us, help us to connect and put ourselves in the picture.

Monday, 7 December 2009

George Bernard Shaw

"What is life but a series of inspired follies? The difficulty is to find them to do. Never lose a chance: it doesn't come every day."

How to use your Christmas break to power your writing in 2010

If you're like me you're ready to take a break for Christmas. Whether you take the bare minimum or you're closing down for 2 weeks it will come as a relief after a challenging even though successful year.

So how do you make sure that you don't lose momentum with your writing over this period?
It's easy to lose focus whatever your ongoing projects but I believe with writing you can plan the holiday in as a positive time.

That's because to me there are 5 stages in any writing project.

  1. Research
  2. Writing
  3. Pause
  4. Editing
  5. Proofreading

It's the pause that we can use at Christmas or indeed any period you're away from your writing.

Robert Louis Stevenson talked about "my little brownies" by which he meant those unconscious promptings that happen to us. When we wake up and suddenly there's the next step in the project or the next chapter in our head just waiting to be written.

Wherever you are in your current writing project, as you move nearer your closedown, make some notes about:

  1. your progress (or lack of it),
  2. where you want your writing to go next and
  3. chose a couple of points you want to focus on.

Draw a diagram if that works better for you, but in some way give your unconscious some guidance on what you want to happen.

Then forget your work. Take pleasure in being with your friends and family.

If by any chance you receive nudgings during the holiday then jot them down in your notebook then they're ready for you to go back to them in the New Year.

You'll be amazed how fast your creativity will feed you results when you start writing again.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

E-books: how to write them for profit and pleasure

What's an e-book?

E-books are quick to produce, introductions to topics ranging from writing to knitting to training parrots.

Whatever your subject you can write an e-book on it.

Why write an e-book?

Writing e-books can provide you with an extra source of income whether you already have a business or not. As a business person they can provide others with proof of your expertise, mark you out in a crowded marketplace and give you a marketable product.

If you have a hobby or interest where you have built up considerable knowledge, why not share it with others. Teach them how you did it and you can grow extra income at the same time.

How do you write an e-book?

Fast, simple and with a method. It's not a long novel where you have to dream up characters and a plot.

An e-book is factual, should be easy to read and follow. The shorter you make it the better for the reader to understand and learn from it.

How do you sell an e-book?

The process is automated, fast and digital. You don't need to meet your buyers, unless you want to and they can buy at any time of the day in any time zone.

What's an easy way to write an e-book?

An easy way to write an e-book is using a simple method like the 5 day E-book Writing System.

Is it really possible to write an e-book in 5 days. Yes it is because I've done it using the system. That's how my e-book was written.

What do you have to do to achieve that?

1. Commit yourself to the project by allocating the time.
2. Follow the method as outlined.
3. Keep taking action.

So if you really want to have your own e-book then you need to head over to:

When you buy the book you'll also receive a bonus to help motivate and keep you going through the process.

Do it now and one week from now you'll have your very own e-book ready to sell.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Christmas recommended booklists

What's on your list of recommendations this year.

Mine include William Trevor and Alice Monro short stories; Susan Hill detective novel; an intriguing novel about paper; and as always a re-read of my favourite Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer novels.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Alvin Toffler

"Anyone nit-picking enough to write a letter of correction to an editor doubtless deserves the error that provoked it."