creative writing

The art of not writing – some practical guidance

  I recently came across a literary quotation by Hugh Grant. Asked by an interviewer about whether he wanted to write, he came up with an impressively honest answer. ‘It’s actually more comfortable to think I could write a novel than to discover that you can’t,’ he said. That spoke to me, as I go […]

The wind whistling past your ears: dealing with the post-novel blues

It has gone. The piece of work which has occupied over the past couple of years, a novel, has left my desk to make its way in the blustery, chilly outside world. Almost certainly it will be back, nagging for attention of some kind, but right now I’m in that odd, conflicted state of mind […]

Why do it? Notes from a writer’s shed

Beyond the daily grind of the thousand words, there is a rhythm to life as a writer. The commission of the moment (if there is one),  the pressure of the work in progress, the seductive possibilities of those what-if, why-not?, would-be projects that you always mean to get around to writing: these tasks impose a […]

The Seven Rules of Rejection

Writing, like life, has a nasty habit of turning around to bite you in the bum when you least expect it. So it has been while I was gently pondering what to write in this column. Rather to my surprise, I found that I had never written about that constant companion of a writer’s life, […]

The Seven Ages of Authorhood

  1 Even as a mewling and puking infant, he shows signs that one day he will be an author. There is something about how he grips his copy of The Cuddly Cloth Kitten in his little hand, the way he looks out of his cot, observing the world around him with oddly knowing eyes. […]

My 10 Writer’s Resolutions for 2015

On a home-alone New Year’s Eve, I find myself sternly noting resolutions to myself  for the creative year ahead (the personal resolutions can wait). Of course, they may not work for everyone…   Enjoy yourself at work. Even when it is deadly serious, writing should have a bit of skittishness and fun to it.   […]

There’s no snob quite like a book snob

The book fair crowd was streaming past me on their way to the Edinburgh International Book Festival. That evening, in another part of the city, I would be performing a musical show about writing and the life of an author as part of the Edinburgh Fringe. I had thought, in my innocence, that readers and […]

Top Nine Writer’s Rules #7: Fear

It will catch any serious writer in the end: that familiar dread of the blank or page or screen as it stares back at you, daring you to give it  some words which, the blank page just knows, will be disappointing, or surprisingly weak, or in some way inferior to everything you have written before. […]

Top Nine Writer’s Rules: #5 Block

Look at the first of these two rules, and you’ll see that nothing divides authorly opinion like writer’s block. Most of these insights are either self-pitying or briskly unsympathetic  –  successful writers seem to believe in tough love when dispensing advice – but there is one piece of caring practical advice. Surprisingly, that comes from […]