Thursday, 21 June 2012

How to Think Like a Writer

Dear Writer,

Welcome to the very first Dear Writer blog! Please imagine a dramatic drum roll, a trumpet fanfare and maybe some fireworks erupting from the top of your screen.

So, what will I be talking about in this very first blog? Well, it just so happens that this week I started running a Dear Writer course for some young people in Camberwell, London (and that’s in England for anyone reading this in say, Outer Mongolia). Anyway, I thought that the topic we covered in our first workshop would also make an ideal first blog:


What came out of the workshop was just how many negative thoughts a writer can have. I’m not kidding, when it comes to thinking about writing, people can get very down-hearted indeed! Let me give you an example…

  • You have an idea for a poem or short story – or maybe even a novel.
  • You think – that’s a good idea, I’d better start writing it down.
  • Approximately one hundredth of a second later you think – I can’t start writing it down because…
  • I have too much else to do
  • I’ll do it tomorrow
  • I don’t have enough time
  • I need to do a bit more planning first
  • I have too much homework
  • I’m too tired
  • It’ll probably be lousy anyway
  • I need to tidy my bedroom
  • I need to polish the cat

It is truly amazing the excuses we can come up with to stop ourselves from writing. One time I even cleaned attic (THAT NOBODY EVER SEES – EVER!) rather than write.

Okay, so that’s the bad thoughts that writers have. The good news is that even the most successful authors have thoughts like these. I bet there was many a time when JK Rowling sat in that cafĂ© in Scotland, writing her first Harry Potter novel, and thought to herself, why am I bothering to do this, who’s going to want to read a book about a boy wizard, I really should just go home and polish the cat (or something). But she didn’t give up because somehow she managed to overcome her fearful writing thoughts.

So, how can you do that too?


Write. For. The. Bin.

No, I haven’t gone nuts, and I’m not saying you should dedicate your novel to your wheelie bin – unless of course you’re particularly fond of your wheelie bin – in that case, I'm very happy for you and go right ahead. But what I’m trying to say is, instead of worrying that your writing is going to be crap and letting that stop you from writing anything at all, think to yourself that whatever you write is going to be for the bin and the bin alone. That way, if what you write does turn out to be rubbish, no-one will ever know, your friends won’t ever laugh at you – and at least you won’t have had to polish the cat.

Writing is like running or any other physical exercise, in that the more you do it, the better you become. So you have to find a way of shutting up your negative thoughts in order to allow yourself to actually start writing.

And when you do start writing for the bin – or the delete button – a funny thing happens:


Try it and see. And if you are impressed with what you end up writing – and you’d like to share it in a follow-up blog on this site, drop me an email – I’d love to hear from you…


In next week’s blog I’ll be giving you details of the first ever Dear Writer competition, with signed books and the chance to win me as your writing mentor for a month up for grabs.

I’ll also be writing about the power of words and how we can use our own life experiences to create powerful pieces of fiction. To make sure you don’t miss it, click on the Follow by email button on the right hand side of this page, and it will be sent straight to your email address as soon as it’s posted.

Until then, happy writing - for the bin!

Siobhan x


  1. Brilliant first blog! The site looks absolutely fab, too!
    I believe my bin has already been highly entertained by some of my drivel, but in order not to be wasteful I've taken to saving any random ideas I have in documents that, though they may never be opened ever again, could equally become the one book I actually finish...

  2. Thanks so much, Allie. I think you're absolutely right to save your random ideas - you just never know when you might need them!