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In Praise of Competitions…

February 16th, 2018

In summer last year I chanced upon a short story competition and decided to enter. I hadn’t even appreciated that such things existed.

I didn’t win. In fact, I heard nothing back from the organisers, save for an acknowledgment of receipt. But I enjoyed the experience; it piqued my interest, and I searched for more.

Before long, I had a list of potentials and aimed to come up with entries for each. These were stories that I would never have written were it not for the spur of the contests. Read the rest of this entry »




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Do You See Yourself As A Travel Writer?

February 9th, 2018

First, thanks to Robin for last week’s blog. I agree with him wholeheartedly that non-deadline deadlines are the most terrifying thing. I have a strong tendency to procrastinate and unless I’ve got a firm deadline to work to I put things off. This leads to anxiety (when I know I should be doing a piece of writing but can’t quite make myself get on with it) and eventually panic when I have to rush to get it done in time. Some people, apparently, thrive on this but I just wish I had more self-discipline.

Now, I’ve got quite a few interesting things for you this week. First, the winner and runners-up in our Student of the Year Award 2018 are now on our website. Congratulations to them – especially the winner Vicki Harwood. They’ve all got inspirational stories to tell, so why not have a look. And don’t forget, if you’re a Writers Bureau student and have had some success you could be next year’s winner. We start accepting entries towards the end of the year and then the judging takes place in January. We aren’t just looking for the most successful person or the one who has earned the most money – we want people whose writing has taken them down a path that has helped to change their life in some way. Read the rest of this entry »




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Freelance Deadlines

February 2nd, 2018

I find that freelance writing is a sort of balancing act between the stuff you have to do and the stuff you want to do. My main source of income as a writer is ghostwriting – I write about a book a month, so the deadlines can be pretty tight. I also write and present a weekly web-series called Dark Corners, which doesn’t pay as well but is always building and is a useful shop window, but the deadlines for that are even tighter. These are the things I have to do on a week by week basis if I want to make rent etc.

Then there is stuff with ‘created deadline’. Last year I wrote a book called The Mummy’s Quest which I published via Amazon. In the past I’ve always gone the route of sending books to agents and have absolutely nothing to show for it so I thought I’d try this and it is selling, not excessively but steadily. I’m now working on the follow-up, which I want to come out in April. I’ve tentatively announced it and am blogging on the writing process to try to build anticipation for its arrival. The thing is, we’re almost three weeks into the New Year and I have written about four thousand words, because if I don’t hit that deadline nothing bad happens – I’ll just publish in May instead. Or June. You can give yourself a deadline, but it will never have the force of one imposed on you by someone else, and so you sideline the work in favour of more urgent stuff. Read the rest of this entry »




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Dispelling the Writing Blues

January 26th, 2018

You’ve probably not escaped the fact that the third Monday in January has been christened ‘Blue Monday’ by the PR industry. Why blue? Apparently, because the weather is usually awful, our bank balances are depleted, we’ve already failed to keep most of our New Year resolutions and our motivation has dropped to an all-time low (make a note of that last one).

They advise just giving into it and having a ‘duvet day’ instead of facing up to the depressing facts. Well, I didn’t quite do that but I did spend more time than usual browsing the internet. And I’ve come up with a couple of sites that, hopefully, will help you get motivated again and put the January blues behind you. Read the rest of this entry »




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What Publishers Really, Really Want

January 19th, 2018

First, thanks to Victoria for last week’s post. She’s absolutely right, you know! I can’t count the number of times that I’ve finished a piece of writing, checked it thoroughly, checked it again, uploaded it… and then spotted a mistake. So, always put it to one side for a few days (or a few hours if you’re really up against a deadline) and then read it through again just to be on the safe side.

I’ve been reading through the February issue of Writing Magazine which has a regular column called ‘I wish I’d known…’ where they ask a well-known writer that question. This month they were talking to the historical novelist Victoria Cornwall who had published a couple of novels herself prior to getting a contract with a commercial publisher. She had this to say: Read the rest of this entry »




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