Why I don’t write #1: Lack of ideas

I’ve been thinking about this series for a while, realising that post-wedding, post-new term, I still am not writing and a series of goal dates flash past while the page stays empty. I have lots of reasons and excuses in my head. But even as I started to type the title, my fingers pause on the colon: I don’t know what to write. I have ideas. I have ideas on the pages of notebooks that line two study shelves and that are in my desk tidy, on a post-it note in the back of my school planner, on word documents …

How to start a great essay

Essay writing is a great way to practise writing skills, whether your preferred genre is fiction or non-fiction. You need to have a clear goal in mind, your phrasing needs to be both beautiful and clear, and you need to make every word, as when writing poetry, count. It’s always been a great art form too – although I suppose essayists were something like the newspaper editorial columnists of their day! While columnists write generally on relatively transient and personal ideas, the great essayists wrote meditations where they really thought about the big questions. William Hazlitt and John Stuart Mill …

Theme: what it is and how to use it to make your writing sparkle

This morning I started redrafting a story I wrote towards the beginning of last year and abandoned for reasons I can’t quite remember! I’ve read through it and had the ‘oh, actually it’s quite good’ thought, which is always pleasant – and far more likely after a long break from the work itself when your head’s not so buried in it. In amongst the small ideas, it’s missing something broader – it’s lacking a central spine or theme, to unify it and really take the reader through the entire piece. It got me thinking about what really ‘theme’ is, and …

Revamp or move on?

I’ve just gone through a little computer-filing tidy up, trying to get my stuff in order, especially writing things. I still have a stack of paper ideas to get into a notebook – I’m aiming to have all ideas either in one digital scrivener file, or in a notebook. I’m astounded by how many words I have written and discarded. I’m not talking about drafts which eventually led to something finished, either, but something started where I’ve sometimes written upwards of 50,000 words, and abandoned without finishing. There’s three half-written novels and over a dozen short stories. The ‘ideas fragments’ …