100 days of happiness

So, today is day 100 of this challenge. I’m finished! At first, I have to say, it felt really cringe to be posting pictures of my life, especially as I spend a lot of days just sitting at my desk and venturing no further than the gym or the shops. But I’m glad I carried…

Things that have stopped me writing

Exhaustion (such as now, post-Harrogate) Norovirus (that was a fun week) Laptop dying (stay away from the light!) USB dying (remember the days before Dropbox? The middle-of-the-night panic about whether you’d saved your novel?) Laptop theft * this has never happened to me, touch wood, but has to friends so BACK IT UP PEOPLE  …

How to get better at things

Recently I read a book called Peak: How all of us can achieve extraordinary things, which looks at the different methods top performers use to improve. In particular, it looks at chess players, musicians, and athletes. It got me thinking about how to apply those principles to writing. Professional athletes and musicians don’t learn their…

Happiness for Pessmists

Some of you may know that, a couple of years ago, I had a pretty bad time of things – a car-crash of divorce, being fired, identify fraud and even a literal car crash. (I wrote about it here) At the time of that last one I was writing my first women’s fiction book, a…

How to earn money as a writer

Yesterday I got sucked into an internet hole of articles about writers and money, including this controversial piece about going broke after a six-figure advance. Before I published a book myself, I used to Google this issue a lot. Was it even possible to earn money as a writer? Could you do writing as a…

Should I quit my job to write?

I recently got an email asking for my advice on this subject. The writer felt now was the time to really commit to their work, and was considering taking a big pay cut and reduction in hours in order to do that. It’s something that comes up a lot – when should you quit your…

Through the brick wall

Sometimes, trying to succeed at any endeavour can feel like hitting a brick wall. Especially if you’re trying to get into the kind of career that has no training scheme or internship programme. Everywhere you turn there’s a barrier, and you have no idea how or where to push against it. So what’s the best…

Whose story is it anyway?

On Saturday I taught a workshop on character and viewpoint for a large and lively bunch of writers as part of a course run by Spread the Word. I thought I’d try to distill down what I said – sometimes I don’t quite know what I think about a topic until I’ve said it. Character…

Why crippling self-doubt is your friend

You know that Yeats quote (very apposite right now as I think it was about the Easter Rising): ‘The best lack all conviction, the worst are full of passionate intensity?’ * Well, this could also be said of writers. I mean, we’re all full of passionate intensity or we wouldn’t do this thing at all,…

Stay in your lane

Remember the 2012 Olympics? When London was paved with sunshine and we won gold medals as easily as falling off a log? Well, that was the last time I watched any sport. Every four years is enough for me. But I remember one thing most of all: the way commentators always urged the runners to…

Top 10 books about writing

I’m sometimes asked about what ‘how-to’ writing books are good. I usually say that 90% of them are total garbage. If you need to be told to buy a computer and/or notebook and pen, you’re probably in the wrong game. BUT – there are some excellent ones, that will provide either top advice, or consolation,…

Your book is not an egg custard

As part of my ongoing quest to be just be better…somehow…I like going to classes. To me adult education represents the idea of change, of improvement. The belief that just because we will never be a professional chef or singer or stuntwoman, it doesn’t mean we can’t learn to bake bread or hit high notes…