Forgetting your memories (Mistake #123)

I’m late to it, but this article from the Wall Street Journal is a strong and satisfying argument for writing your memoir — even if nobody ever reads it. Penning your memoir can help you make sense of your character and your life and come to terms with difficult past events, the article argues; it …

Editors are rude (Mistake #122)

Believing that editors are rude is much like believing that people are rude — most are not, but a very few are. But really this is about all sorts of editorly behaviour which is taken to be rude by writers new to the game of writing. Being ignored by editors is widely perceived to be …

Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer

I’ve not seen the first two, but this, the new and third edition of Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer by Moira Allen — editor and founder of Writing-World.com, one of the largest writers’ sites on the internet — is packed with invaluable information. We start with some plain truths about the business: that …

Stop telling writers that they should be writing

If you are in the business of telling writers that they “should be writing” then I’m afraid you are in the business of pissing me off. Swanwick Writers School are perpetual offenders of this guilt-inducing castigation. I’ve heard great things about their courses, but my experience of following their Twitter account for a year means …

Are W and Y vowels?

I am bereft. This wasn’t supposed to happen. You were meant to agree with me. The defeat is even more crushing than it appears, because I voted for myself from an other account. (Cheat.) By my calculations, this means only one voter agreed with my POV. Make yourself known to me, friend; we can set …

Unwritten letters (Mistake #121)

There have been paeans to letters before, of course, and I’ve written a few myself too, but when a recent one by writer Beatrice Charles captured some of the many charms of letters (and postcards) and indeed the joy of writing them, I felt moved to produce another. In the second of my writing e-guides, 50 …

Em dash, en dash, hyphen – which to use?

Em dashes, en dashes, hyphens. Three horizontal bars of punctuation, of different lengths, but which to choose for which job? If you’re anything like me, you might typically use guesswork (on a good day) or impatiently plump for the hyphen (on a bad day), but this is hardly ideal, is often incorrect, and just makes work …

Worrying about the expert (Mistake #120)

My writing specialisms are food allergies and food intolerances, which I’ve been writing about for well over a decade – news, articles, features, blogs, four books, with a fifth due soon. Naturally, I read a lot of material which covers my subjects, and a lot of what I read I think is poor. Is this …

My oat milk wants me to write

Yes, my oat milk wants me to write. All I was doing was making myself a cuppa – before settling down to a brief evening writing session – and there it was, on the side of my carton of Oatly. “Start writing,” it read. “It can be about absolutely anything, the weirder the better because …

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