14 September 2014


You're only a writer when you write.

Like many emerging writers, I think about writing every day but I don't always write every day. And there's no question about it - I should. To build up a writing practice, a writing habit, is to make for better writing. It means confidence grows and projects are actually finished.

I've been fortunate recently to combine my love of writing with my day job, and myself and the Creative Concern gang have had the pleasure of working with Rebecca Evans, a literature consultant, to develop Write-Track - which has just gone live.

Write-Track is a writer-specific app, which encourages writers to set goals and dreams for their current writing project and then track against them. Users are able to follow the progress of other writers on the site, which fosters a lovely community feel and, most importantly, motivates.

Writing motivation comes in all shapes and sizes. I was motivated recently when I was shortlisted for the Ideastap/Writers' Centre Inspires mentoring project - I didn't go on to win, but I was so grateful for the kick up the... - and I finally finished writing up the longhand for a project which has been hanging around for ages. A natural pause in my ghostwriting, while I collected new material, allowed me to think about my fiction and I ended up writing four short stories based on original songs by one of my favourite singers - another unexpected motivation.

I've been using Write-Track in a testing capacity before the launch, but I've found that as a motivational tool, it's really, really helpful. It's a lovely feeling, ticking an item off the to-do list, and this is what Write-Track apes: users draw up their own personal writing to-do list, and bit by bit, we can cross it off, give it a lovely exaggerated tick. I've done it.

Rebecca Evans adds to this through her blog and newsletters, interviewing writers about their motivations, and posting about habit-making theory. Check it out, and see if it can be the kickstart you need.

02 July 2014


It's been a crazy year so far: a very busy day job, beginning work on my new ghostwriting commission... and then there was a very lovely wedding and honeymoon, too.

But now, I'm back at my desk – both during the day and in the evening – and I am delighted to say that I've been shortlisted for a national creative writing mentoring programme, through Ideastap and the Norwich Writers' Centre.

Of the 270 writers who applied, 77 have been shortlisted and invited to a writing 'masterclass'. I'm going along to the Manchester installment this Saturday with Emma Jane Unsworth and I can't wait - although I'm a little terrified, too, if I'm honest. The masterclass will include writing 'exercises' and I've never been one for witty, off-the-cuff, instant genius. My writing brain is a slow cooker, where characters, scenes and themes are scooped off the scum over long periods of a rolling boil... Still, even if I make a complete fool of myself at the masterclass, I'll have spent the day in the company of other writers and getting my brain ticking, and that's always a good thing.

Then, from those 77, 10 writers will be awarded a six-month programme of mentoring with established novelists. This will be announced in August, and I am keeping everything crossed. It would be an amazing opportunity... confidence-building, motivational, network-expanding, a real 'take-myself-serious' moment. But I'm also not getting over-excited. There's a long list of names there, many of which are (apparently!) full-time creative writing students who may be looked upon more favourably than those who have to juggle full-time jobs. We shall see.