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Serious playfulness

Pain, like a tuning fork, sings clearest when held lightly. We all want to write about the significant people/situations/emotions in our lives, and yet we often make the mistake of approaching the significant with significance. We grip the entire tuning fork in our fist and wonder why it doesn’t resonate. Why do we do this? Naturally, we are too respectful of our subject matter. We feel it mattering. We feel its preciousness, its breakability, its importance to us.

So it’s not surprising that when we sit down to write, we bear the weight of that responsibility in our pens… and obstruct our spontaneity, our subconscious, thus pre-empting the outcome of the poem. If you approach a canvas with only grey on your palette, you’ll never paint a storm cloud that feels real; storm clouds have purple in them, ribbons of white… We must train ourselves to find light in our darkness. You can’t examine the underside of a problem unless it’s light enough to lift…

Light enough, even, to juggle with. To toss in the air and treat with irreverence. The poet Patrick Kavanagh once wrote ‘there’s nothing so dead and damned as an important thing’. There is a way to avoid the deadening, the dull sound of the smothered tuning fork; and that’s the spirit of play. So pick up your important things, tip your mind to a jaunty angle, and write with abandon.


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Your safety instructions

We’re all familiar with the safety instruction stickers on the side of fire extinguishers, and the haiku-like advice on matchboxes: ‘store in a cool dry place, keep away from children, strike away from body.’ But imagine if you, yourself, came with a list of safety instructions.

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Flip the Scene

We’ve all got one in our distant past: the great love that got away because we were too…

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6 Tips on Writing Queer Fiction

If you’re describing a same sex relationship or one involving someone who is trans or intersex or in…

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Write The Blurb For Your Novel

Write the blurb for your novel – the summary that appears on the back jacket of a book…

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Uncharted Seas

Writing a novel is like setting out to sail across a vast, uncharted sea, without any resources such…

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Don’t let them talk you out of it

Spend a little time identifying who the people are who might tell you not to write your memoir….

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Controlling your fear

Thomas Keneally says that, ‘Writing is an exercise in controlling your fear. Above all the fear that you…

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Inside the Shed

Sometimes we are really keen to tell our readers everything, to make sure that they understand what it…

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You don’t have to tell young readers as much as you think

There is sometimes an assumption that younger readers won’t understand what’s going on unless the plot and the…

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Find your story in a setting

This is a research exercise really – one that will help you find a story out of setting….

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Setting is your friend

When you write, do you start by thinking about the theme you want to explore? Or is it…

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