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 …

Stopping when stuck (Mistake #119)

I don’t agree with all of Jeanette Winterson’s advice in this Guardian article from the beginning of the decade, but I do like the following: Never stop when you are stuck. You may not be able to solve the problem, but turn aside and write something else. Do not stop altogether. She meant it about …

Brexit II (Mistake #118)

It’s been well over a year since I wrote Brexit Part I. Where has the time gone, my friends? Even though we have since decided not to remain, the opportunities to write about Brexit do remain. In fact, I’d say they’ve grown. Had we voted to stay, I reckon they’d have declined. Some consolation, perhaps, …

Writing Your Non-Fiction Book

Those of you who read the previous incarnation of this blog might recall a long article which used to live there, called How to Write a Non-Fiction Book, which had originally started life as a three-parter for the now sadly defunct Freelance Market News. I’ve now updated the articles, added a lot of extra material, thrown in the …

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