Friday, October 4, 2013


Lisa Jo Baker's Five Minute Friday has provided an interesting prompt for today: WRITE. And today, I am going to challenge my fellow writing friends to write about writing and leave me a comment so that I  can go take a quick look at your blog and leave you a comment. The rules are to write only for five minutes... which can be a challenge for those of us who have a lot to say about writing.

Edit: I put this in because the other bits sounded a bit pompous, so here's my thoughts on writing:

I've had quite a few writing students pass my way. No matter what their skill, or whether they were beginners or advanced, there was one thing that I told them all: If you want to improve your writing you need to write every day. Blog, journal, write letters - the format makes no difference. Write every day.

Reading a variety of books - both fiction and non-fiction - also helps.

Just starting out writers and writers who have written for years also benefit from going easy on themselves. Negative self-criticism (as well as from well meaning family and friends ) will only sound the death knell for any writer.

If you want to write, then begin to write. It's that simple. Write with love, abandon and joy. Write unedited. Write in crayon and paint. Write in the sand. But WRITE. Every day.


I was seven when I wrote my first short story. I don't remember details, but the plot revolved around a clever Arab boy who kept outsmarting the Sultan with the help of one of the guards, who was named "Hamburger". I am sure that my rudimentary attempts at story telling were not as exciting as that plot outline sounds. And I have invented more interesting names for characters, since.

I have been writing, you could say, for 33 years. I wanted to be a writer before I knew I could sing, before I knew what opera was. I wanted to be a writer before I discovered art and flying saucers and pizza.

As soon as I knew how, I began writing. Of course, there was no child prodigy in any of those works. I sent stories off to newspapers and was mentioned by name for having sent in "a very nice space story". (This mention prompted a paedophile to look up our phone number and attempt to harass me with bizarre phone calls. My mother, after I told her, got the phone tapped and working with the police, she pretended to be me until the fucker was caught. He got nine months. I wrote very little after that and I submitted nothing to anywhere until much later.)

The teen years were filled with angst ridden poetry about how depressed I was, and how unrequited my love.

It took some doing but I did a six month journalism course (after doing the stuff my mother wanted me to do: PR and beauty therapy.) My first job was with the publicity department for Pope John Paul's visit to South Africa and then I joined SA Gardening magazine.

I've been freelancing on and off since about 1998 and published on the web, in the States, the UK and South Africa for both fiction and non-fiction work.

I've written course work, workshops. feature articles, short articles, news articles, press releases, web copy, brochure copy, short stories, blogs... and I've edited and sub edited and proof read. I've taught journalism and creative writing both in South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Currently I am writing a novel, but I am not  being that disciplined about it. That needs to change.

I also write a blog about writing, which I haven't updated in a while (mostly because it seems that no one actually reads it).

One day, I'll be paid nicely for writing. At least that's what all of us writers hope for. That and a big mug of coffee for the late night writing.

(I think that was more than  5 minutes.)


  1. I love reading your history in writing! 33 years feels like a long time to me, as I'm feeling a little bit like that little 7 year old at the moment - more enthusiasm than anything worth publishing. I hope in 33 years time I can list some impressive credentials too, and that we have both been paid very nicely indeed :)

    1. The important thing is that you are starting to write. Write every day. Writing begets writing.

  2. There's a lot of truth with writing every day. I blogged every day for almost a year and a half and the words came a lot easier. I've been in the desert lately with words...part of me wonders if I just need to write more. :) And I can't wait to read your novel, too, friend! :)

    1. I think it's a natural part of the process for the writing mind to rest. I believe that's a way to recharge creatively. It doesn't mean the writing has gone forever, it just means it needs a rest.