We don’t talk anymore

No, not you and me.

I’m thinking about the writer and their subconscious.

The funny thing is that everyone has one and we pay it very little attention until it plays up. A little like the hazard warning light on the car.
Are you and your subconscious on speaking terms? If you aren’t then you will struggle to write and eventually grind to a page fearing halt.
Writer’s Block anyone?

So, how do I keep my subconscious happy?

(a) Read – Good stuff in, good stuff out.

(b) Resolve any emotional issues where possible. Forgive the guy next door for throwing the hedge clippings over the fence, forgive your mother for that awkward conversation with her best friend’s daughter, forgive yourself for Chocolate Tuesday.
I am not talking about the huge stuff that needs counselling and a 50 minute hour but life’s irritations. Just let them go. It’s not worth it.
The bird that pooped on your car is feeling better because it pooped and not worse because you are cross about it.

(c) Listen to yourself. If you are struggling to write then there may be an issue with what you are writing. Are you trying to make a character behave in a way that he/she wouldn’t.

(d) Sometimes the subconscious calls a time out because it has something else it wants to say. Leave the piece you are writing and work on a short story. Maybe write a poem or a song. When your subconscious has had its say it will let you work on your current piece.

(e) You are playing Deadline Chicken. Trust me, whichever of you blinks first it won’t be pretty.
Tell yourself that you are not writing the piece. This is not writing the piece, this is just making a list of things I would put into it if I was writing it…which I’m not.
Once you have a basic outline expand it until you have a framework. Then write a little piece for each element of the framework.
Look. Almost a piece of work but not a piece of work.
You should now be able to convince yourself that writing the copy is child’s play. It’s nearly done look.

(f) Problems pass. You won’t always struggle. Everyone struggles. Everyone has blank days and prolific days. People who succeed at writing work on the bad days and don’t sweat it.

Keep the Faith

Writing can be an isolating experience. We throw ourselves into the worlds of our imagination. We lock horns with the intangible. We love and lose, talk of guile and greed. We engage with our internal inquisitor. It can seem a very narcissistic occupation. 

The truth is that the sheer effort of writing well tends to weed out the self important and the showboater. It leaves a honed core of truly dedicated observers. We watch the world. Does that make our opinions more important than those of anyone else? More important? No. Better informed? Perhaps.

Writers are no more important than anyone else in the world. Writers are also no less important than anyone else in the world. We are its voice. So keep ploughing through that draft. Keep papering the wall with your rejections. Keep learning to use the subjunctive. Keep editing. Keep growing.

This is who you are

and it’s good.



Literary Events 2 April 2013

Chipping Norton Litfest
18-21 April

The Brympton literary Festival
19-21 April

Verulam writer’s circle
20 April

Stratford-upon-avon literary Festival
21 April – 5 May

Hexham Book Festival
22 April – 2 May

Put your fiction characters to work

Prospect’s career planner


A fun way to build a character profile. Just answer the questionnaire the way your character would and be presented with a list of suitable occupations.
Does require you to register

Literary Events April 2013

Scarborough literature festival
11-14 April

Cambridge Wordfest
12-14 April

Aye Write! Glasgow Book festival
12-20 April

London Book Fair
15-17 April

The plot thickens

Today I am plotting a novel.

I mean that I am breaking down the story into chunks that make sense, which is all that plotting really is.

A-B, B-C, C-D and by the time we get to Z we have a murderer. Ta Dah!
Of course on other days plotting a novel means sitting behind a huge cup of coffee and thinking,
“I’ll write a novel”.

One of these approaches gets the job done. I recommend the de-caffeinated.

Writers Read

No, they do. 

We read a lot. Books, magazines, cereal packets, shampoo bottles. Sometimes even the previous day’s work. We also collect words. Words are scrumptious. Words make thoughts. 

words make write good


I’m being silly now but you get the point. If you want to write my friends then you need to read. 

Read as though you are afraid someone will take the words away. Read things you like. Read things you dislike. Read things you might like. Put the words in there. The words make thoughts. Then thoughts make words. Like bunnies only less hoppy.

Today I read “How not to write Bad” by Ben Yagoda. It’s an excellent overview of common writing problems and how to avoid them if that’s your bag. Of course you might not want to avoid them. Look at you smarty pants.

What you should be is the master of your words.