Word Count 45: Big Comedy, Radio 4 open call, and US screenwriters vote to strike

April 25, 2023

Plus joining the dots, set-ups and payoffs, types of attention, and debut authors struggle with mental health. Hi there, I rearranged my office yesterday. I’d been thinking about doing it for ages, because putting my desk right under the window meant that the difference in brightness between my screen and the window was giving me […]

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The Scarcity Trap: (Substack) Writers’ Edition

April 19, 2023

When you don’t have enough of something, it becomes all you can think about. Lots of us have experienced more scarcity than usual over the last eighteen months. But scarcity isn’t just unpleasant, it also causes us to make bad decisions. Our brain becomes hyperfocused on the thing we don’t have enough of and we […]

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Word Count 44: Substack Notes, Will Storr’s Science of Storytelling webinar, and Chikodili Emelumadu on her debut novel

April 18, 2023

Plus major Tag rewrite, introducing paid essays, and how to build a writing habit. Hi there, Happy Tuesday! There is, I must warn you, an awful lot of me in this week’s newsletter, but exciting changes are afoot at Substack, so read on to find out more! Substack news: Introducing Notes Last week, Substack introduced […]

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You don’t need willpower to write

April 12, 2023

You need to build good habits. Once upon a time, a long, long time ago (OK, 1998), I found myself learning Welsh. For the record, despite the spelling of my name (long-standing typo), I am English rather than Welsh. But I had started freelancing as a music journalist and one idea that I’d successfully pitched […]

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Word Count 43: British Museum literary events, BBC’s Pilot scheme and Open Call

April 11, 2023

Plus dealing with time paralysis, Amazon kills Book Depository, cat with a feather hat. Hi there, Extremely short newsletter this week because of the delightfully long (and yet not long enough) weekend. Suw’s news: I changed my mind After taking part in a Scribe Lounge chat last week, I learnt that LA Productions give feedback […]

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Tackling the two types of time paralysis

April 5, 2023

In the last week, I’ve had both not enough and too much time to write. The human brain can be kinda stupid. This morning, as I was wondering what to write in this week’s newsletter, an email popped into my inbox that turned out to be fruitfully apropos. In Three tales of creative slowness, author […]

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Word Count 42: New children’s fantasy prize, mentoring scheme for TV writers, and the Afronauts on pre-writing

April 4, 2023

Plus creating internal conflict, the risks of BookTok, British Fantasy Awards news, and much more. Hi there, The sky is a beautiful expanse of blue as I write this and I expect today to be a good day for light aircraft watching out my office window. I particularly love seeing the bright yellow Slingsby Fireflies […]

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Knowing when to stop

March 29, 2023

Hint: It’s sooner than you think it is. Last week over on my other Substack, Word Count, I mentioned a podcast that I’d been listening to: London Writers’ Salon #048 with Oliver Burkeman. Burkeman, the author of Four Thousand Weeks, had a lot to say that was interesting, but there were a couple of things […]

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Word Count 41: When not to submit, creating well-rounded characters, why do so many action heroes have names that start with J?

March 28, 2023

Plus advice on structuring non-fiction, The Pembrokeshire Murders and a Grabbity burrito. Hi there, I’m now well into the third week of the worst cold I’ve ever had and my brain has been foggy to say the least. But let’s see if I can at least pull together a few coherent sentences for you! Suw’s […]

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Why do you write?

March 22, 2023

Understanding your motivations can provide a solid foundation for writing during times of despair. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the potential impact of so-called ‘artificial intelligence’ such as ChatGPT on the literary world, in particular, the potential for AI-generated spam to drown out works by real human beings. Since then, I’ve had a […]

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Word Count 40: London Book Fair, the liberation of imperfection and binge watching Detectorists

March 21, 2023

Plus how using novel fonts can kickstart creativity, introduce yourself via Substack chat, and the Ambassador’s cat. Hi there, I didn’t get much writing done at all last week. I went to Brussels for the UK Innovation & Tech Show, where I was on a panel about women in tech. I’ve done a lot of […]

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The font of all knowledge

March 15, 2023

Your brain craves novelty, so changing even tiny things can help creativity. There were times during the writing of my pandemic novel where I got really, really bored. Not bored of the story nor of the telling of it, but bored of the act of sitting at my computer and typing out what was in […]

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Word Count 39: Opportunity for scriptwriters, Charlie Kaufman on writers, and Max Edwards on non-fiction agenting

March 14, 2023

Plus my first rejection of the  year, Top Gun: Maverick script, going to film school in your 40s, and writing good villains. Hi there, Lots of things to share this week, so let’s crack on with it! Suw’s news: Tag speedbump I’ve had my first rejection of the year, from the All3Media New Writers Collective […]

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Are you typing when you should be writing?

March 8, 2023

It turns out that typing and handwriting aren’t the same. Are you choosing the right one for the job? One of my favourite insights into the writing process is this short talk from tech journalist Clive Thompson about the cognitive difference between handwriting and typing. If you have ten minutes, take a look. ? If […]

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Word Count 38: Upcoming extras, my editing process, how professional screenwriters outline, the importance of notebooks & James Henry’s The Cabinet of Curiosities

March 7, 2023

Hi there, You might have spotted that last week I sent you an extra email – a long read about the potential impact of AI-generated books on the publishing industry. Substack sometimes feels more like a blogging platform than a newsletter so it seems sensible to put additional material there. No doubt I’ll blog again, as […]

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