Self-promotion: The hardest form of writing

May 24, 2023

We all hate doing it. We all worry that others will hate us for doing it. But no one else is going to blow our trumpets for us. If there’s one type of writing that everyone I know hates, often with a white-hot intensity that could melt iron, it’s anything that even remotely whiffs of […]

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Word Count 49: Alex North webinar, how to survive new book promo, the LLM-generated shit tsunami continues

May 23, 2023

Plus loads of TV scripts to download, author Madeleine Dore talks about her writing career, and Grabbity does something silly. Hi there, I am extremely excited to launch my new webinar series, in which I’ll chat with a variety of writers about the craft of writing, their processes, and how they deal with those moments […]

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Fieldwork: A look at what’s to come

May 17, 2023

It’s always good to have a plan so that you can point at it and laugh when reality has other ideas. I thought I’d go through the rough project plan for Fieldwork so that you can see what’s involved and the sort of things I’m going to write about. To some extent, this newsletter is […]

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Patience is its own reward

May 17, 2023

When to trust your subconscious to work through a problem on its own. The first rule of Writer’s Block Club is you don’t talk about writer’s block… Wait, no, that’s stupid. The first rule of Writer’s Block Club is that you always need to interrogate your block to find out what kind of block it […]

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Word Count 48: WFTV Screenwriters’ Lab, comedy mentoring, Virago Press Furies short story competition

May 16, 2023

Plus Sitcom Geeks look back on the Big Comedy Conference, how to sell a book on Substack, showrunner John Rodgers on the WGA strike, king cheetahs, and more! Hi there, There’s much to share in this week’s newsletter, so let’s just get on with it! Opportunity: WFTV Kay Mellor Screenwriters’ Lab 2023 Women in Film […]

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When the easiest route becomes the hardest

May 10, 2023

Today’s post is brought to you by the battle of trying to come up with today’s post. If there’s one form of writer’s block that trips me up consistently and frequently, it’s the mistake of trying to find the easiest thing to write instead of working out what the right thing to write is. This […]

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Word Count 47: Why we should all care about the WGA writer’s strike

May 9, 2023

Plus the importance of the WGA’s AI demands, Fieldwork, The Lacemaker, and opportunity costs. Hi there, Happy 1st Birthday to Word Count! It’s about a year since I started this newsletter, and I’m slightly surprised that I’ve stuck to my weekly schedule. I have to be honest, I thought that my initial enthusiasm would wear […]

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The opportunity cost of not writing

May 3, 2023

What are we sacrificing when we decide to do something else instead of write? When we talk about “opportunity” in relation to writing, it’s often in the context of all the opportunities that exist for writers now. It’s so much easier to find literary agents to submit to these days, and so much easier to […]

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Introducing Fieldwork

May 2, 2023

Everything you need to know about Suw’s latest creative project. If you’ve ever been on a science field trip, you’ll know that, in amongst the experiments and data gathering, things can go hilariously wrong. The longer you spend in the field, the more likely you are to have had animals carry off your equipment, experienced […]

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Word Count 46: UK bookshops flourishing along with self-published authors, Sitcom Geeks on what a plot is not

May 2, 2023

Plus London Screenwriters Festival 2024, and a new short story on the way. Hi there, We just had another long weekend here in the UK, one that was very much needed. Thankfully, we get another one next weekend and then yet another one at the end of May. I do like four-day weeks and as […]

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Are you an Arctic tern or a partridge?

April 26, 2023

Developing a career as a writer isn’t a sprint. It isn’t even a marathon. It’s an epic journey and you have to learn to pace yourself. The Arctic tern has the longest migration of any bird, flying from its northern summer breeding grounds to the Antarctic and back again every year. Those that nest in […]

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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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