The journaling journey: writing for life?

Being a former copywriter whose words were driven purely by the client’s marketing needs, telling me to journal – write down whatever comes into my head – would have given me writer’s agoraphobia bad enough to make me lock myself in the ladies’ room.

It makes my mind hop back a good few years to the first day at art school when our copywriting lecturer boomed out “anyone who has their own writing voice can leave the room now.” No free-flowing journaling for us, then.

Writing and journaling

Probably the most famous journal of all in the last century: the diary of Anne Frank in WWII. Could journaling have helped her get through her terrible nightmare? It may have: we can only hope it did.

At a business networking event the other day I asked everyone what they’d like me to write about this time and several voices piped up: journaling. Although of course I had read about it in Ali Moore’s excellent book, “Reconnect Your Life,” another bell started ringing.

Wait a minute … there’s something familiar about this journaling

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Grand National special: writing into (and out of) the Jeremy Vine Show…

I will never be asked on to the BBC (UK) radio programme, “The Jeremy Vine Show,” again.

Grand National article on How To Write Better 2019

My kind of Grand National … where the fences are a little smaller. And so are the “horses…”

Note to non-Brits: Jeremy Vine is a perfectly nice guy who does a great radio show here in the UK. He is also one of the patrons of a local charity I support here in my home town of Milton Keynes, England, called Ride High. So he’s an extra-nice guy.

Once upon a time Jeremy’s researchers thought they’d found the perfect cannon fodder: me

This was because I had written an article on the Grand National Horse race (the 2019 version of which takes place today near Liverpool, England) about the high number of equine casualties arising during the race where horses were maimed and sometimes killed. In 2011, in particular, there was really high casualty rate and coming up to the 2012 race, I let rip. (See below for the actual article I wrote.)

Ring… ring…how to terrify an interviewee so creating some real radio entertainment!!!

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What I’d like to have written to my dying friend

This past weekend I followed my own advice about writing to someone who is dying, and knows it.

He is C., a friend from my youth who, in his early sixties now, has contracted an incredibly rare disease: approximately 2 in 1 million people get it. It is incurable and fatal within months of diagnosis.

writing to a friend who is dying

When someone is dying, all they have left is memories.

It is vicious, evil, and the most cruel part is that the conscious brain is the last bit to go when everything else has given up. Victims can track their own decline almost to the end.

Only a couple of weeks post-diagnosis he no longer can work his laptop or read his emails. His son contacted all our old group of friends to say his dad is still OK mentally so if we wanted to share our thoughts, we had to do it now, via emails. He will be reading them to him.

C. only has weeks to live and can’t have visitors other than immediate family. What could I possibly write to him? [Read more…]

A poem if you’ve forgotten it’s UK Mothers’ Day

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If you’re in the UK – or your mother is – here’s a little ditty she may enjoy even if you’ve forgotten this special day…

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Poem to celebrate Mothers' Day UK
Happy UK Mothers’ Day, Mum

Hi there Mum, I tell you that
I’m sorry I’ve forgotten
To send you stuff to make you fat
And feel just plump and rotten. [Read more…]

Punctuation: praise it or punch it on the nose?

Are you a slave to proper punctuation? Or is punctuation a slave to you?

Being a pro writer and author and all that, I have given dozens (literally) of traditional editors self-induced alopaecia after reading my book manuscripts. Why? Because I don’t stick to punctuation rules.

Article on punctuation

Punctuation rules: should they be relaxed? Now there’s a puzzle

Being a North American, too, I use punctuation that spans the Atlantic giving the grammar police on both shores the desire to stab me with a red pencil.

And you know what? I don’t care.

Don’t forget that I am a former copywriter, and copywriters are notorious for flipping the bird at conventional grammar, punctuation and even syntax sometimes in order to create an effect.

Ridiculously bad punctuation: not what we’re talking about

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Do you get writers’ block? Or is it really thinkers’ block?

When you say you have writers’ block, is that really what it is? Or is it thinkers’ block?

Thinkers' block or writers' block

How do we get rid of thinker’s block when we’re writing?

Apart from a few partial exceptions (e.g. literary fiction perhaps) writing is not the be-all and end-all of the artsy-fartsy world. It is not even an art form like painting or drawing or sculpture.

Writing is a vehicle: a means of communicating your thoughts to your audience. And they need to be the right thoughts.

Purist trolls: line up here to call me a philistine cow

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