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Do Clichés Deserve The Bad Press They Get?

February 5th, 2021

First, thanks to Sharon for last week’s post. She’s absolutely right – you don’t need to be recognised as an ‘expert’ to offer valuable advice to other writers. You just need a lively mind, good ideas, an understanding of how the writing world works and, of course, empathy and the desire to help.

This week’s post is going to be something  of a rag bag because I’ve been reading lots of interesting bits and pieces over the past few days.

First up is a piece I read in the Sunday Times by Stig Abell about clichés. One fact that was included in the article was fascinating: “It (the word cliché) comes from the past participle of the French verb ‘clicher’, meaning ‘to click’. It is printers’ jargon for a stereotype – a printing plate that allowed a single page of type to be reproduced endlessly – derived from the noise it made slotting into place.” The plate gradually got worn down after much usage – just as a cliché is a phrase repeated so often its meaning gets degraded! Read the rest of this entry »




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Success With Poetry Competitions

October 18th, 2019

Let me be clear from the outset, whether or not you win a prize in a poetry competition is entirely down to you and your creative acumen. However, there are definitely ways to increase your chances of success. Picture that moment when you are staring at a list of poetry competitions with generous cash prizes and affordable entry fees, deciding which to enter. It is so tempting to dust off a decent poem (usually no more than 40 lines for maximum opportunity) and then send it in to a zillion competitions, scarcely noticing how much you are spending on your dream. This approach generally results in a tumbleweed return and financial misery! It is even more frustrating when you read the winning entries and conclude that your poem was far superior and must have been overlooked somehow. Sadly, this is unlikely to be true. Read the rest of this entry »




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Poetic Payoff

August 9th, 2019

Trying to write poetry can be satisfying even for a beginner. Unlike many sports and other hobbies, the exercise costs not a bean, and – whilst the pen may be mightier than the sword – it poses no threat to life or limb.

Poetry is easier to describe than to define, but it tends to be more expressive than the language we use every day, often following patterns of rhyme and metre, adding musicality and even sometimes a dimension beyond the ordinary.

I personally like poems that make a pertinent or amusing observation or tell a story or that somehow seem to strike a chord. I also like them to have sounds that appeal to the ear, perhaps with some kind of pattern or rhythm as well as rhymes or half rhymes. These preferences may be somewhat reactionary, since much modern poetry does not rhyme or seem to have any clear rhythm. Read the rest of this entry »




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Writing Poetry – The Creative Process

July 12th, 2019

The Chinese poet Li Po (Tang Dynasty) said, “Writing poetry is like being alive twice.”  The experience of writing is individual to each poet and yet when one researches and reads about the poets one admires and aspires towards, there is often a common thread.  Every poet no matter when or where they are in the world draws on the experience they accumulate during the different stages of their life and the environment they find themselves in. And this shapes the way in which a poem is developed.  It becomes the defining factor in the texture of their work. Read the rest of this entry »




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Engaging Learners Through Writing For Fun

October 19th, 2018

Most confident writers (I’m guessing the majority of people reading this) take these skills for granted. So it might surprise you that approximately one in five adults in the UK have less than functional literacy and struggle with tasks such as filling in forms, reading instructions or supplying correct information at the Doctors’.

Social Media often sees negative comments regarding spelling or misuse of English, with the implication that such mistakes suggest the writer is stupid and their opinions, therefore, of less value.  Poor spellers seem to be fair game. But in fact, the problem is seldom generated by stupidity but usually by interrupted schooling: elderly people removed from school to work or care for younger siblings, middle aged folk who were never identified as Dyslexic or had periods of absence due to illness, to teenagers who have dodged school or moved home frequently.  Of course, statistically speaking, there are strong links between other socio-economic factors and low literacy skills but affected people are not a ‘type’.  Sadly, more young people than ever are now leaving school with inadequate literacy skills. Read the rest of this entry »




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