Monthly Archives: April 2016

Five Ways To Get Published!

Five Ways To Get Published!

I was lucky enough to spend Saturday with ten other writers at the Get Published! Course I was running for the University of Kent. I’ve run this several times, and it’s one of my favourite workshops – not least because writers come full of (often self-induced) pressure about what they ‘should’ be doing, and leave seeing WHAT they could do. It’s too easy to forget that writing and publishing can be fun, but this is what people said after the course:

I am not sure what I imagined but this was beyond my expectations. I think I had expected just to sit writing notes but your talking and exercises certainly made me think. I really hadn’t realised there was so much out there. I didn’t have the tools… but now I do. KB

…it has definitely inspired me to take the step and get some of my work out there. AH

Very many thanks for the motivation which floated and fluttered around the room in Tonbridge on Saturday. It was such an enjoyable day and just what was needed to spur us all into action (sounds as if some have already been spurred) … KM

So let me share just five points from the workshop:

1. Never submit your writing as a way of telling you whether you are a good writer, or not. Even bestselling writers get rejections…. Write your best piece. And then edit, and edit. If it comes back, it may be that that wasn’t the right place for you. You have two options – to cry and swear you will never write anything ever ever ever again OR send it out again and write another piece…

2. Make sure you read contemporary poetry and fiction. Support literary magazines. This is the world you want to be part of, after all. If you can’t afford subscriptions, or don’t know where to start, visit The Poetry Library at the Royal Festival Hall. It’s free to join and anyone can read through the marvellous wall of up to date magazines they have there.

3. Be prepared. We wrote author biographies and looked at submission letters so that we were all ready to submit our work. How, we wondered, are biographies written in third-person, with a smidgeon of interesting personal facts, and consisting of just 50-100 words are so PARTICULARLY hard to do. Look at magazines to see how other people have done it and don’t feel embarrassed about asking someone else to look over it. Often we forget to include the key things about ourselves.

4. Don’t spend all your time writing just one perfect poem and then researching the one perfect place to submit it too. In fact, use submitting work as a prompt to write more. Visual Verse may be a good place to start, as it provides a monthly photograph to write to.

5. Don’t be rude, follow the guidelines, respect the editors who might be volunteers and, if not, certainly won’t be making a fortune from you anyway. They are wonderful, and we should be grateful to them for reading our work. S0 say hello, say thank you (even if it’s a rejection) and remember editors are human too. And if you think I’m joking – read this poem by Josephine Corcoran.

And yes, have fun!

Details of more workshops can be found here

When was your first time? FILL YOUR HEART: Writers on Bowie…

When was your first time? FILL YOUR HEART: Writers on Bowie…

‘I still don’t consider myself a performer. I’m a writer….’ (David Bowie, Melody Maker, 1969)

I’m very proud to be part of this book to celebrate David Bowie. And would love you to be too! So read the following, watch the film above and pledge, pledge, pledge!!

“Our mourning isn’t over, but we want to write, we’ve got to write: to him, for him, about him. Fill Your Heart: Writers On Bowie is an anthology by some of our greatest contemporary writers. It is an anthology celebrating David Bowie with creativity. Whether a short story, a poem, a piece of memoir, psychogeograhy or creative non-fiction, these pieces will be personal responses to Bowie, to his shaping work and influence.

“Edited by the novelist Tiffany Murray, this will be an important celebration, possibly a strange, mad celebration, but it is for anyone who was and is inspired by David Bowie and his work.

Fill Your Heart will be creating something new, a bold anthology that in some way shows us all how Bowie sparked each generation’s imaginations: how he made us.

“Let’s spark together.

“Contributors to include:

Simon Armitage, Paul Burston, Peter Carpenter, Horatio Clare, Roddy Doyle, Stella Duffy, Charles Fernyhough, Ryan Gattis, William Gibson, Niven Govinden, Lavinia Greenlaw, Nick Harkaway, Tom Hickcox, Dr Sarah Hill, Dylan Jones, Gary Kemp, Rory Maclean, Suzanne Moore, John Niven, Daniel Rachel, Sarah Salway, Wesley Stace, Evie Wyld, Louisa Young…and counting.

But in the meantime, when was the first time you heard David Bowie’s music, and what has he meant to you? I’d love to know.

“And what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversation?”

“And what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversation?”

Quite a lot, actually, if this little anthology of poems inspired by the 150th birthday of Alice in Wonderland, and linked to the exhibition at the British Library in London, is anything to go by.


Ekphrasis is the inspiration of three inspirational women and poets – Catherine Smith, Abegail Morley and Emer Gillespie. They asked 32 different poets (including me, hurrah!) to contribute a poem inspired by the book. And, I’ve just realised this, of course it is a conversation – a conversation we are all having with Alice and the many situations she finds herself in, a conversation with how the child-us read it and how we interpret it now, and then in a book, a conversation with all the different poems. We have Alice in India…


An insomniac goldfish…


Alice through the mirror…


And that’s just three! The poets are Mona Arshi, Clare Best, Sharon Black, Catherine M Brennan, Graham Burchell, Ian Duhig, Sasha Dugdale, Miriam Gamble, Vanessa Gebbie, Emer Gillespie, Paul Griffiths, Helen Ivory, Anna Kisby, Chris McCabe, John McCullough, Medbh McGuckian, Andrew McMillan, Hollie McNish, Agnes Marton, Abegail Morley, Helen Mort, Grace Nichols, E.E. Nobbs, Richard O’Brien, Robert Peake, Rachel Playforth, Clare Pollard, Amali Rodrigo, Sarah Salway, Robert Seatter, Penelope Shuttle, Catherine Smith, Janet Sutherland, Heidi Williamson, Luke Wright, Tamar Yoseloff.

If you want a copy, and please do – I can’t stop reading it myself – it costs £9.99 + £1 postage via paypal to:, or email details to her if you’d like to pay by cheque. Please remember to include your address!

Six ways to keep motivated while writing long projects

Six ways to keep motivated while writing long projects

I’m midway through two long writing projects at the moment. Lucky me, but you know, there are times when I miss that PING of adrenalin that comes from actually finishing something.

So here are the six things that are helping to keep me on track and motivated right now:

  1. – This site is all about encouraging you to write 750 words every day (it’s kind of in the name!). Run by two writers, it’s based around The Artist’s Way morning pages, but you write online and it provides all the challenges, badges and graphs I could hope for. It also keeps your writing safe in case you wanted to come back to it at any time, but I cut and paste for my own files.
  2. Balanced – my writing friend, Viccy Adams, told me about this app and I love it. It’s not for writing, or at least not just for writing. How it works is that you fill in certain things you want to do and how often, and it keeps a check on them for you, gently reminding you if you’re behind. They can just be simple things – I put down to go for a walk every day because, daft as it seems, when I’m in the middle of writing a scene I can forget to step outside. It’s a bit like a nanny – it’s even got me to drink lots more water, but you can add fun things too. Dance twice a day…. I like it!
  3. TeuxDeux – I use paper to-do lists as well because I’m a to-do list person, but this version – which links across my phone and computer – is the most easy and accessible one I’ve found to use. If I don’t write it down, it seems, I just forget to do things. Ho hum. I even wrote down to do this blogpost today so now I can give myself a great big …tick
  4. Pomodoro – this app is an oldie but goldie, timing you in chunks of 25 minutes writing, short break, another 25 minutes, and so on. I’ve found it a lot more effective than writing in one long gulp. Of course I could just use a kitchen timer, but that having my phone click away the minutes means I’m not checking emails or twitter. (nb I use an iphone so the link above is to apple, but there are others here)
  5. Freedom – speaking of internet distractions, I hate love this one. Download the programme, then type in how long internet free time you want and it won’t let you on back on at all until that time is over. No matter how much you beg. Essential.
  6. Yoga with Adriene – and lastly, I’m lucky in that I have a great yoga studio just down the road, but when I’m working well I don’t always want to break the mood for too long. I don’t know who Adriene is, but I think she might be an angel because she offers great yoga lessons absolutely free. Most are approximately 30 mins long, and can be done without complicated equipment, right in front of your computer. Because you know,  the writer may be the one who stays in the chair until the words are down, but I still don’t want to be particularly shaped like the chair when I finally type the end!

So that’s my list – what helps you write?