‘Write drunk; edit sober’ is Hemingway’s oft-quoted advice. I drank my way through the first book I wrote. Not the work I did in daylight hours; that was fuelled by multiple forms of caffeine and slabs of Cadbury’s pop-rock chocolate. But the stuff I wrote at night. My night-time routine always involved wine. I didn’t … More On writing and drinking
As an extension of the need to ‘write a shitty first draft’, I have found the concept of a ‘zero draft’ one of the most freeing and useful tools I have as a writer. Here’s how it works: Maybe you have a plan. Maybe you just have a vague concept. Maybe the voice of … More The Zero Draft: a big messy word-web for catching ideas
Really, honestly? If you’re somebody who, at some point each day, or on a decent proportion of your allotted days, sits down and picks up a pen or puts your fingers on a keyboard and strings words together of your own free will: why? It’s a strange thing to do. You do realise you’re basically … More Why write?
In my day-job, I supervise staff. We’re taught to give feedback in a ‘sandwich’. The bread is the good stuff (I really appreciated how you handled X or I know how hard you’ve worked to improve your Y). The ham, cheese and mayo, or Wagyu beef and horseradish are the things that could be improved … More You’ve got pickle on your shirt
In 2013 I read this article ‘Find what you love and let it kill you’ by concert pianist, James Rhodes. His words have stayed with me. Rhodes writes: ‘We seem to have evolved into a society of mourned and misplaced creativity. A world where people have simply surrendered to (or been beaten into submission by) … More Is this supposed to hurt?
Over the weekend my world went into social-media meltdown. A month or so ago my ex-partner contacted me to let me know he’d found an old box of my stuff and would I come and get it from his front porch, please. The box contained dozens of photos from the 90s – mostly eighteenth birthday … More My slow-click manifesto
You didn’t used to mean anything to me. You were a tired month of nothing in particular, the one that came before Christmas and the New Year. You were a month to be got through with the hope of holidays not too far off. By the time I reached you, the year had already gone … More Dear November, I love you
I love to walk. I’m not talking epic, adventurous, multi-day hikes through remote wilderness. I just love the walk down to the shops, the quick round-the-block with Jack in his pusher, the stroll by the lake. I have been without a car for long periods of time at various times in my life, partly because … More On why I’m happiest walking
Heraclitus said, around 2500 years ago, that ‘…man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play.’ I love this quote. As the mother of a one year old, I’m learning a lot about play. It’s the thing that happens between eating and sleeping and escaping the house for walks. … More Serious play for writers (and anyone else)
People joke about baby-brain. When you have a baby, according to the baby-brain theory, you become prone to forget things. Okay, so at points late in my pregnancy and soon after my son was born I may have had trouble remembering my own name. Justifiably, I think. Because at those times the world recedes to … More On forgetting