January: 2021 is all about helping each other.  

Let’s put that year behind us and think about how we can have a much better time in the future. One way I’m going to try to spread a tiny bit of cheer is to offer you folks some free feedback on your writing. This is an experiment, so bear with me, but what I intend to do is to give subscribers to my newsletter a writing prompt every month, and offer feedback on the subsequent writing, free, gratis, and for nothing. This will be a regular feature so if you want to join in, then subscribe, and if you have other writing friends who you think might benefit from this, then get them to sign up as well. (Form at bottom of page).

I have taught creative writing for many years for a variety of organisations; The Writers Bureau in Manchester, The WEA, and also for various colleges – Moray Firth College, Inverness College amongst them. In the current climate I’ve not been able to teach so this is my way of giving something back. Can’t wait to hear from you! More details at the end of this newsletter.

It’s been a slow start to the year, but I had a ball writing an article about one of my favourite writers Maggie O’Farrell for Words and Pictures. Read here about how her writing inspired me, and how some of her books might help you.

In November, I interviewed several people who were taking part in Nanowrimo – national novel writing in a month – and wrote up the results, again for Words and Pictures. Hope this might inspire you to consider joining in Nano in 2021.

Finally it’s a new year so I thought I’d do something different with my blog and write about non-fiction. I thought I didn’t read that much non-fiction, but when I set out to compile my top ten, it was actually really hard to narrow it down! In the end I tried to select one book from each category, and went for books which should have a wide appeal. Would love to know what you think. Read the blog here. 

How to write 

This month’s recommended how to write book seems an appropriate one to offer you at the start of a year. Written by Louise Doughty who also wrote AppleTree Yard and the brilliant Platform Seven, the idea is that you follow the book through various exercises which will lead to you completing a novel in a year. It’s a nice friendly book and it does feel like she’s moved in with you and is chatting you through the process. There’s no contents page and no index, so you can’t cheat – you just have to work through it, week by week, doing the exercises and listening to what she has to say. Enjoy!

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