Creative Writing for Autumn

September is upon us! Anyone else got that excited, optimistic, new-pencil-case feeling? September always feels like a New Year for me. While, during the actual New Year I am generally sluggish and lacklustre (due to eating my own bodyweight in Quality Street) this time of year has everything going for it – the start of a beautiful season, a chance to get new plans and projects underway, and the excuse to buy new stationery. Hurrah!

And with the ‘new year’ come the new classes for Autumn.

If you are new to writing and new to my sessions then come along to a BEGINNERS PRACTICE class on September 7th or October 19th.  You’ll all be new starters, and the class is very supportive and relaxed, so there’s no danger of feeling out of your depth. Classes take place from 7pm-9pm at The Lloyds function room in Chorlton. Just click the dates for more info and to book.

Looking for a daytime class? My Tuesday afternoon PRACTICE class is open to newbies and regulars and will take place at 1.30pm-3.30pm on September 5thOctober 3rd andNovember 7th in the beautifully relaxing surroundings of the World Peace Cafe on High Lane.

Been to a class before? Then come along to the regular Thursday night PRACTICE classes, also taking place at The Lloyds on September 14 and November 2nd 

And for those who want to sharpen their writing skills and develop their technique with a view to getting published, Autumn’s first FOCUS class will be on Thursday October 5 and will explore POV and Tense while on November 9th we’ll look at the perennial problem for writers and aspiring writers alike –  how the hell to find the time to write in our increasingly busy lives.

For all of the above just click the dates to get more info and book, or you can email me at if you have any questions.

Or sign up to my Creative Writing Newsletter for class dates and writing tips straight to your inbox

10 Writing Prompts You Can Use Right Now

1. Write down the words: I want. It can be one huge thing, or many little things, or many huge things, or something you don’t want, or anything at all. See where it takes you. Write for five minutes. If you get stuck, just return to the prompt: I want.

2.  Write down the words: I remember. It can be something from childhood, something that happened this morning, one big memory, or lots of memories. See where it takes you. Write for ten minutes.

3. Pick up the nearest poetry book or novel. Flick to a random page. Close your eyes and point at the page. The line you land on is your writing prompt. Start a story from there. If it doesn’t make any sense, that’s fine. Make it dialogue. Have your character frustrated and confused. Write for ten minutes.

4. Find the nearest newspaper or magazine. Flick at random and choose an image. Flick at random again and choose maximum four words of text from a headline. Write a story that uses the image as a setting/character and the text as a title/theme/piece of dialogue. Write for ten minutes.

5. Picture yourself in twenty years time. You’ve achieved everything you wanted to. Write a letter to your current self telling you how you did it.  Write for five minutes.

6. Write about your memories of childhood food. Write for ten minutes.

7. Describe yourself as you are right now, how you look, where you are, how you sit, what your body feels like, what’s going on emotionally  – but do it all in the third person. Write for five minutes.

8. Think about something you hate. Why do you hate it? How does it make you feel? Persuade us how bad it is. Write for five minutes.

9. Take that thing that you hate, and write about it like you love it. Persuade us that you really do love it. Write for five minutes.

10. Write about a first. It can be a first anything. First job, first kiss, first great loss, first day at school. Write for five minutes.

For more writing tips and support, sign up to my Creative Writing Newsletter. 

Writing Therapy

Ever since I was old enough to read, I knew I wanted to be a writer.

But alongside my love of creating other worlds, there has always been something else tugging at me; a certain curiosity about human nature. It’s part of the writer-as-observer, of course  – the dissecting of motivations, the analysing of behaviour and character, seeing how certain actions or internal blocks result in drama. But it’s more than that. I don’t just enjoy the intellectual pursuit of studying people; I love to see them change and grow in real life.

This is why, if I hadn’t become a writer, I’d definitely have been a therapist.

My best friend is a psychotherapist and I always knew she would be. Aged 11, we’d call each other up every evening after school. I’d sit in the hall, hogging the landline (because back in those days it was a landline, stuck to the wall, immovable) and we’d talk back through our day – what was happening, how we felt, what we were going to do next. Mini counselling sessions for mini-us.

We carried this tradition on into our teens and our twenties and our thirties, through phone calls and emails and visits to each other’s houses and spa days and holidays, with wine and without. These days, we take weekly walks around the park in between work commitments and everything has changed and nothing has changed, as we talk through our days, our lives – What’s happening? How do we feel? What we are going to do next?

While my best friend followed her calling to become the brilliant therapist she now is, I followed mine to become a writer. But it is thanks to these self-development tools that I have always loved – the introspection, the analysis with gifted friends, and the therapy I have benefited from myself – that I’ve been able to do what I love for a living.

Now, as a teacher of creative writing classes and a creative mentor, it’s these techniques, as much as any literary devices, that I find myself coming back to as the basis for how we carve out a writing life.

Writing and therapy have so much in common. Which is to say, writing and living have so much in common.

You can’t control writing, you have to trust the process, let it take you where it wants you to go. Sometimes your writing needs structure, sometimes it needs room to just be, and you won’t always know which time is which. Sometimes you’ll be in the pure, joyful moment, sometimes it’ll feel like hard graft. Sometimes things will happen that will make you feel wretched and inadequate and raw. Sometimes you will know, for maybe a fleeting minute, precisely how wonderful you are.

Sometimes, often, in writing as in life, you’ll be getting in the way of your own forward momentum. Here, you must focus on removing the blocks so that you can enjoy the flow of creativity and happiness that is your due.

And there’s no way to get it right!  Crazy but true. Living and writing aren’t meant to be the pursuit of perfection. Well, not if you want to be happy, anyway.

Instead, it’s all just food for growth. We’ll go wrong, and we’ll correct our course, time and time again, and there will ALWAYS be more to learn. But, as I have learned to my eternal gratitude, we’ll stay more on path than off if we have people in our lives who are willing to ask us (and if we are willing to ask ourselves) the same few simple questions:

What’s happening? How do you feel about it? And what are you going to do next?

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Find out about creative writing classes here, or for more info on creative mentoring sessions, email