Word Nerd

I suppose everybody has their quirks. We all have those things which set us apart. Some people love a good equation, others a new pair of shoes. I love words. I love the way that they are born, evolve, grow and naturally die. I love the way that you can trace their family trees back through generations to a particular place, time and experience. I love those that make it into common usage and those which fell by the wayside. Every word tells us something about the thoughts and feelings of the people who coined it and used it. Sound, explosiveness, mouth-feel, vowel pattern speak about the history of our language and ourselves. Language is vocalised thought. Words are the history of thought. I could go on. I won’t

I will go back to quietly collecting the new and the archaic to the befuddlement of onlookers, cherishing my map of morphology and polishing the odd verb, because I am an unashamed word nerd.

And the best bit is, I get to use all of them and any of them at any time.

That is the definition of a writer

Word Herd


Writing can be a very lonely profession. I am not for one moment suggesting that writers are friendless or that we live a hermit-like existence on coffee and cheese sandwiches, but much of our working day is of necessity spent inside our own heads. The trouble with spending a great deal of time with ourselves is that we think. We are our nation’s thinkers after all.

What happens if you give a world class thinker nothing but themselves to think about? Self-reflection, insecurity, and boozy Monday mornings, that’s what!

So, how do we avoid the negativity trap? Well, it has a great deal to do with the difference between Egotism and Confidence. Egotism can be defined as the drive to maintain and enhance favourable views of oneself, and generally features an inflated sense of self importance. Confidence on the other hand is the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust.

Egotism is emotional toddlerhood – Confidence is emotional adulthood

Egotism always seeks the I and the me. Confidence is always certain of the I and the me and is looking out for the you. We all walk this emotional tightrope. Some days the toddler wins but it helps if you are aware that it is there throwing the mother of all tantrums and you learn not to listen to the ‘I can’t’, ‘They didn’t’, ‘I don’t want to’.

Confidence comes with knowing what you can do for other people. Perhaps you excel at magazine articles, technical papers or short stories. Perhaps you write copy for a website or advertising. Every small success working for the pleasure of other  people will bring you increased confidence.

No amount of success working solely for your own benefit will silence the toddler. You need to learn to grow up and walk away.

And so do I.





The first two rules of writing are

1) Have a point

2) Make it

It really doesn’t matter what you are writing and the writing style can be high literary or journalistic but a reader should always leave your words knowing what you meant to say. 

A short piece such as a blog post might only have one main point or “argument “.

A longer piece of writing, an essay or a review might have several but each should be clear, complete and come together in a final paragraph or conclusion. 

You see, people need to be able to follow your train of thought in order to decide whether they agree with you or not and that requires clarity. So part of every edit should be a review of your argument. What are you trying to say? Did you say it?

Don’t let people ever decide that you are pointless.

When All is Said and Done

Why do I write?

It’s a question that I’ve been giving a lot of thought over the last few days. People write for different reasons. For some it’s catharsis. For others it’s communication. Some people have a clear audience in mind and others have no audience in mind, they simply have words which need to be said. Some writers want to explore complex ideas and emotions and some have no idea what they are going to explore when they sit down. I don’t think there is a right way or a wrong way to approach a writing project with the possible proviso that finishing is always better than not.

I have come to the conclusion that I write because I love it. I write because there are stories. When all is said and done and on the page, I am finished and I move on. I don’t hunt readers because it isn’t about the readers. In a sense it’s a very selfish joy. I try to put each story on the page to the best of my ability. I consciously try to improve with each one I write. I complete it and I check it and then I let it out into the world to sink or swim on its own merits.

The joy is all in the writing, and it’s this joy that keeps me coming back time and time again to put more words on the page. Even in the difficult times, the wordless days. The moments when I have to pull my ideas kicking and screaming from my imagination or seek them out in the darkest corners of my mind.

It isn’t an easy job and it isn’t often a well paid job. It’s mostly a very heavily criticised job where everyone you meet feels qualified to give you a performance review, but it’s my job and I love it.

And Readers, before you leave feeling unappreciated, you should know that even after all this time I am still amazed, surprised and gratified by every single reader who takes the time and the trouble to read my work. It’s a gift I don’t demand and I never expect.

Thank you




Exactly what is it that holds you back from pursuing your dreams?

If it’s your moral compass then, good! 

If however like many writers you’re worried that people will hate what you do then I can make you a promise right here and now. Yes, yes they will. It doesn’t matter what you write or how you write it people will hate what you do, and you are not alone in this. Consider the company you keep:

Salmaan Rushdie – Perhaps the most extreme example 

JK Rowling – Not everyone loves a wizard

Anne Rice – Every time she writes someone tells her she can’t write

Ray Bradbury – Too colourful for some

Stephen King – Is told than he can write but shouldn’t

 Terry Pratchett – Doesn’t he know how to make chapters?

Dickens – Too descriptive

All of these writers have been told that they shouldn’t have bothered, their work is not good. All of them suffered multiple, multiple, multiple rejections.

Should they have let that stop them?

Should you?

I can promise you that every piece of work you write will be disliked by someone, but if you like it and it’s well written then out there in the world there are people who think, feel and believe the same as you who will LOVE it.

Write for yourself and write for them.

Keep putting work out there until they find you.


In this brave new world of Social media we are all learning the skills we need to succeed online. There is no rule book. Some people Tweet, some Blog, some Tumblr, some Facebook and some do all of those. There are very few people in the privileged position to have someone take care of everything for them and to be honest I think those people are missing out on the fun of it all. Of course they are also missing out on the nail biting stare at a blank Blog page as the clock ticks ever louder and your eyes start to burn.

We are living in a world of content. Content and context are king, and while it is true that the bewildering variety of options can make your head spin the optimist in me cries out

” Something for everyone.Yay! “

And even though I currently Blog and Twitter about writing, I could dabble in any of the other platforms available. I could even paddle in Pinterest. I haven’t, but I could.

Every social media platform needs a slightly different approach and style. They all need a different word length and some have photos some don’t but they all have one important thing in common, they need regular content.

What is the secret to regular content?

Back it up Baby!

If you are a writer then you can produce the words. Sometimes they flow easily sometimes they don’t. The muse is a capricious beast and this social media thing is most likely not your day job. You know, some of us have books to write but when you are in the flow and you have time and opportunity 

Write more than one blog entry and save them up!

You don’t have to be able to write regularly to use Social media effectively but you can make more of an impact if you release your writing regularly and it is of reasonable quality. Become a reliable read and people will start to pay attention. Oh…and you can edit out the Um.


Spam I Am

Marketing is all about putting your work in front of those people who will buy. It’s also about persuading those on the fence that it’s worth parting with the hard earned cash in order to have your product. It’s all about place and persuasion.

Sadly there seems to be a new plague of poorly based marketing at the moment, brought on no doubt by the new leap into self publishing. There is good marketing material and poor marketing material but unless it is properly placed it is equally useless and on some occasions may even do harm to your reputation.

Writers. Please don’t Spam.

An example of poorly placed marketing : An author has excitedly completed a novel. It has a glorious digital front page; I mean full spectacular colour. They have a twitter account that they have built by following mostly those people who interest them, Publishers, Editors, Writers, Bookstores and such like. They decide to incessantly tweet about their creation begging people to read their work. They send DM responses asking for downloads and sales. 

People will get very frustrated with that author. He may even lose business. You see, he is confusing the target audience with his creative peers. Don’t sell books to writers. We have books. We also have no money. Sell books to readers who have no books and the sense to get a job.

 Twitter for authors. You really need to have two accounts.

One for the relationship with business professionals: publisher, editor, copy writer, cover artist, authors, peers.

One for the relationship with your audience: readers, book clubs, book stores, people who like other works in your genre.

You need to build both audiences in a different way. Please be considerate of other people working in your field. Editors, publishers and authors get a lot of marketing information and you can do a lot for your reputation by being polite, brief, and directing them to your marketing feed rather than spamming them.

Marketing: Think Place. Think Persuasion


Wiser words than Mine

Following on from my difficult day yesterday (see previous post) I decided to take a look at what other writers say about being in the writing mood. There are some excellent quotes out there and I realise that many of them are trotted out on a regular basis,you’ve probably even got the T-shirt!

Well I have dug deepish and found a few that resonated with me and I don’t think are quite so mainstream. Bear with me while I dig them out.

Hear we are:

” Inspiration is wonderful when it happens but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time. ” – Leonard Bernstein

” Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” – Stephen King

” Start before you are ready ” – Stephen Pressfield

” Don’t wait for moods. You’ll accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to   get down to work. ” – Pearl S Buck

Alright, we’ve all heard the Stephen King quote but then he makes so much sense. It is sometimes difficult to keep the momentum going when you are writing.It is even harder to get the momentum started. An honest truth, ask any passing physicist. The important thing is to do it and start. Start every day. Put your mind to the matter and get words on the page. No one said they had to be good words. You don’t need to produce instant genius. You just need to produce and the genius will emerge. It can’t help it. They are kind of nosy.

So I am off now to do my bit and turn up and if inspiration strikes hallelujah! If it doesn’t I will work all the same. The more words I put down the bigger a landing strip I give it. Happy writing today and enjoy the words.