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Writers' & Artists' Blog

Are You A 'Non-Writing' Writer?

Hands up if you’re one of those writers that doesn’t actually write.  

Be honest. You love the idea of writing, you follow writers on Instagram, you read about other people who write, maybe you subscribe to literary newsletters and websites like this one, but actually writing? You’ll get round to it. One day.

I am a writer who doesn’t write. At least, I was until very recently.

I was always envious of the ‘real’ writers I read about, people who never have their heads out of their work, dedicated to the core, passionate about storytelling and have something to show for it. 

The closest I came to this was as a five year old, proudly waiting to present my hand written story in show and tell… only for Karl from year two to point out that my protagonist changed gender from page to page. Needless to say, I kept my story to myself and didn't really write after that.

So last year I decided to do something about it. 

I set myself a …

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Literary Lessons: Investing In Faith

From Room to Dream by David Lynch and Kristine McKenna (Cannongate July 2018)

Rachel Knightley with Room to Dream by David Lynch and Kristine McKenna

‘What if someone steals my idea?’ is one of the two most common questions would-be writers ask when sending (or not sending) their writing off. The second question, which may sound like the polar opposite yet often follows directly, is ‘What if my idea isn’t good enough?’ There are practical answers, such as emailing documents to yourself so you can prove copyright by date. There are gentle reminders that there are only seven basic plots but infinite original voices – what you’re selling is not just your plot or idea but the originality of your voice in that plot or idea, a unique combination in all of time and space.

But while the practicalities are helpful, it’s much more helpful to address the questions at the emotional level: The perfect thing in your head will stay perfect as long as it stays in your head. It will stay that way until you have the courage to turn your perfect dream into …

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Literary Lessons: Omniscience and Empathy

The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen (Penguin Michael Joseph July 2018)

When I began studying creative writing, omniscience was often spoken of as having fallen out of fashion in literature right alongside society’s belief in divine interventionism. If God didn’t choose to pop into all of our heads and lives, without generally dropping off a whisper of advice or a nudge of help, why would authors bother with their own characters? The subjective, first/third-limited point of view was more “real” to the human experience as we had grown to understand it, intellectually and emotionally. “I” live my life, “s/he” lives her/his life. We each have one and can only interpret what our five (arguably six) senses offer us as to what’s going on in a head other than our own. First and third-limited points of view also avoided the dangers of “seasickness”, where the reader is made dizzy by jumps from head to head, never getting as deep into any point of …

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Children's Writers' & Artists' Yearbook 2019: What's New?

The Children’s Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook (CWAYB)  is snapping hot on the heels of its older sister [link to WAYB 19]: it’s now fifteen years old and has firmly established itself as the guide for writers and illustrators for children from tots to YA plus all ages in between, across all media, formats and genres. Don’t just take my word for it. Sarah Crossan, Carnegie Medal winning author of the One and other titles, and the writer of the Foreword to this year’s 2019 edition, agrees: ‘To find your way as a children’s author, CWAYB should be your first port of call.’   

Sarah is joined by bestselling writers such as Paul Stewart, Emma Reeves, Shelli R. JohannesRobin Stevens and an illustrious cast of others – to collectively provide a range of engaging, informative and enlightening new articles for this year’s edition. We aim to reflect the very latest ideas emanating from the world of books and to showcase some of the best authors …

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Writers' & Artists' Yearbook 2019: What's New?

It’s July and on cue the newspapers and book blogs are awash with recommended summer reads. Should these inspire you to devote some of your holiday to perfecting your own novel-in-progress, then the ideal travel companion to pack alongside your sun cream– yes, you guessed it –  is the very latest edition of the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook. It too is a staple of the July publishing calendar and has been sharing advice and support on all aspects of the writing process and on how to get your work noticed by agents, publishers and readers since 1906. If the print edition just seems a little too heavy for your suitcase, leave it on your shelves, and download the eBook to your Kindle.

The Yearbook is a distillation of the best, expert information and inspiring recommendations from the book world, and as Joanne Harris says in her Foreword to this 2019 edition, it is a ‘lifeline’ for the budding author. She goes on to write that ‘[it] helped me formulate my goals and …

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