Word Count 57: Arthur C Clarke Award results, what James Gunn’s music choices tell us about Guardians of the Galaxy

August 29, 2023

Plus podcasts about The Good Place and Asterix, some writer’s strike news, and extremely fluffy snow leopard cubs. Hi there, This issue of Word Count is brought to you from the past! I’m going to be spending the weekend in what is promising to be a very rainy Llandudno, where I will be saying an […]

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How to stick the landing

August 23, 2023

“Finishing” doesn’t have to be a dirty word. I was chatting to an early career writer last week who mentioned that she really struggled to finish anything, and oh my, did I empathise. In the first half of my writing life, I finished barely anything. One early attempt at a novel saw me painting myself […]

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Word Count 56: Tag and the Six Act Structure, Sex Education, John le Carré Scholarship

August 15, 2023

Plus BBC Writers Room Open Call, Kindle Newsstand closes, fake books on Amazon & Goodreads, FTC lawsuit could break up Amazon, Filmmakers Podcast talks to Christopher McQuarrie, and Grabbity update. Hi there, I’m writing this on a grey and dismal day and it feels like we’ve not had a summer at all this year. Good […]

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Just how robust is the evidence for impostor syndrome?

August 9, 2023

I’m starting to suspect it’s impostor syndrome that’s the impostor. In 2019, Dena Bravata and her colleagues carried out the first review of studies of impostor syndrome in order to understand prevalence, to see if there were any predictors or co-morbidities (ie health issues that tended to occur alongside impostor syndrome), and assess the efficacy […]

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Word Count 55: BAFTA screenwriting comp, GQ shenanigans, streaming’s candle sputters…

August 1, 2023

Plus massive Bloomsbury profits, a brief history of Marvel Studios, TikTok owner ByteDance becomes a publisher, two writing craft podcasts, and the escape room someone ought to lock me in. Hi there, This newsletter was actually written a few weeks ago, just before I went on holiday. But whilst I was away, the SAG-AFTRA strike […]

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Does writing really have to be so solitary?

July 26, 2023

Being hyper-independent cuts you off from essential creative support. I’ve just come back from a couple of weeks off, a break I really needed and which successfully recharged my batteries. Whilst I was away, I got to thinking about hyper-independence and how bad it can be for a writing career. My husband has more than […]

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Word Count 54: SAG-AFTRA has entered the game

July 18, 2023

The actors are striking and it matters for all of us. Note: I’d already written this week’s newsletter, because I’m technically on holiday, but this all felt rather time-sensitive, so you’ll get that newsletter next time. I’m also really jetlagged so any incoherency is because of that. Honest. Hi there, Well, it happened. Last week, […]

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Does impostor syndrome really exist?

July 12, 2023

What if the majority of impostor syndrome is just a normal, sensible response to living an uncertain and precarious life in a challenging industry rife with rejection and poor communication? Thanks to everyone who left comments or voted in the poll in my last newsletter. It was nice to hear that I’m not alone and […]

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Word Count 53: The state of AI and the Goodreads fiasco

July 4, 2023

Just two main topics this week but one is important and the other is mindboggling. Lots of articles about so-called AI have crossed my field of vision over the last two weeks, so I thought now might be a good time to do a round-up. It’s really, really hard to keep up with all that’s […]

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When your brain is too full

June 28, 2023

Thoughts start dribbling out of your nose and are lost forever, which is why you should always carry a handkerchief. OK, I’m going to fess up. My brain is too full. I was chronically underemployed when I started this newsletter at the end of January. Ada Lovelace Day, which had been my full-time job since […]

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Word Count 52: Ada Lovelace Day is back! Fieldwork update, Clarke Award shortlist

June 20, 2023

Plus Alex North webinar available for catch-up, visualising plots, Blackadder lost pilot, why it’s hard to hear dialogue, group dynamics and more! Hi there, A couple of weeks ago, when I decided to move to a fortnightly schedule, I didn’t think it would be difficult to just write less. But did I really miss writing […]

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Fieldwork: Do you know where your keys are?

June 19, 2023

Are you sure? Absolutely sure? Because I know I don’t have them. I’m just over a month into the background research for Fieldwork and have already carried out half a dozen interviews with ecologists in a wide variety of disciplines. We’ve talked about everything, from the challenges of surveying plants in highland bogs, to working […]

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Needing help doesn’t make you a bad writer

June 14, 2023

We’re all always learning more about our craft and we should celebrate that as growth, not chastise ourselves for failing.  Some writers seem to instinctively know how to structure their novel or TV script, never paying much attention to acts or turning points as they lay down their first draft and, later, revise their final […]

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Word Count 51: Alex North webinar on Thursday, insights from sword fighting, planning your writing year

June 6, 2023

Plus Hollywood’s death spiral, the DGA deal, and Grabbity’s poorly again. Hi there, As I thought it might, my current period of underemployment is drawing to a close and I am soon about to be very, very busy indeed. So this newsletter is going to move to a fortnightly schedule and I’ll be alternating it […]

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You might never close The Gap and that’s OK

May 31, 2023

As I thought it might, my current period of underemployment is drawing to a close and I am soon about to be very, very busy indeed. So this newsletter is going to move to a fortnightly schedule, alternating every other week with Word Count. Meanwhile, don’t forget that bestselling crime writer Alex North is joining […]

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