Tag Archives: Creative Writing

Sign My Citalopram

7 Sep

New video – part of my one-woman show Confidence Tricks, touring the UK in October and November. Tour dates here.




2 Jan

New year, new poem. Hello, 2016. 

I am weeding the ground of my mind
Picking through the thoughts that grow
Deciding which I want to keep
Digging others out at the root.

Some are fine but there isn’t space
Some will not survive my soil
Some scattered seeds I never noticed
‘Til they sprouted seasons later.

Some plants pull out clean, complete
Others put up a fight
Rhizomes of anxiety, self-sabotage
Stretch subterranean across my landscape
Shooting new spears through the surface
When I thought I’d got them all.

But this newly-bare earth is not empty
This blank space will not stay blank:
It is a tidy room
A new notebook
Fertile ground 
In which to plant
For next season.



Shithead Bingo

3 Jun

NB: no reflection on my current, or recent, workplaces. Job From Hell was a few years ago. 

Shithead Bingo

“This is so shit, you can tell a woman designed it”
“That is SO GAY”
“I’m not being racist, right, but”

Shithead Bingo:
A game for hostile work environments

Step one:
Create your Shithead Bingo card.

Select your targets
From stereotypes and disadvantaged groups:

  • The elderly
  • Sex workers
  • Ethnic minorities
  • Fat people
  • Thin people
  • People on benefits
  • Women with small tits
  • Female drivers
  • Child abuse survivors

This is your Shithead Bingo Card.

Create this card in your head.
You don’t want a post-it note lying around

That looks like the Brixton Bomber’s
To-do list.

Pick nine squares each week for the starter game
Or twenty five if you’re playing Pro.
You are now ready to play Shithead Bingo. Continue reading

Writing tips for young poets

14 Jul

Fountain penI’ve seen a lot of stuff by young, promising up-and-coming poets lately, and some of it’s blown me away. Some of it has been so close but in need of a little more work.

For the former group I have only awe and envy. For the latter group I’ve come up with some pointers. This list isn’t comprehensive, but I think it’s a good start:

  • Listen to and read lots of poetry written by more experienced writers.
  • Allow yourself to be vulnerable.
  • Use your experiences to connect with others, not to prove you’re a special snowflake.
  • Try out a little bit of everything and find what fits you.
  • Workshop your writing with other writers.
  • Edit multiple times to polish.

Continue reading

George R R Martin is Not Your Bitch

12 Jul

I’ve just read this brilliant post from Neil Gaiman about audience entitlement (“why is George R R Martin doing anything else rather than writing his next book for me?”) and I could not agree more. (Read from the bold bit on down.)

One thing I heard loud and clear when I was studying creative writing at UEA (only the BA) was that more life makes for better, more complex writing. Life is the time when you experience and learn things which you will then want to write about, and that it’s also the time when your brain starts to untangle threads, notice patterns, and work out what’s worthy of harvesting and analysing.

This is why a lot of juvenilia suffers from melodrama overload Continue reading

Big Thinky Post on Permission

23 Mar

I’m going to be writing and performing a one-woman poetry show about Permission called ‘Asking Nicely’ at the Edinburgh Fringe. It’s about how, why, when and where we ask for permission. Please see my previous blog posts here and here if you’d like background.

Organising my thinking/themes for the Permission show

I think permission splits into roughly three types:

  1. ‘Classic Permission’: Asking someone who can outright turn you down: teachers, police, bosses, etc. This is the ‘Please, sir/madam, may I?’ type.
  2. ‘Equals/Social Permission’: This is probably the nicest form – a kind of social consent: ‘I’d like to go to Spain on holiday. Would you like to come with me?’ ‘Would you like to get a drink some time?’ ‘Would you like to have sex?’
  3. ‘Blessing Permission’: Asking permission when you don’t need to, but it’s good manners to.’Is this seat taken?’ ‘May I marry your daughter?’ ‘Would you excuse me?’ Etc.

None of these are completely straightforward, though – and both have implicit and explicit variations, and underlying power dynamics. Continue reading

Spambot Word Salad Writing Prompts

31 Dec

penismighteirSo, my New Year’s Resolution is to write more.

One of my favourite writing exercises – which I’ve inflicted on various creative writing groups and workshops I’ve run is Spambot Word Salad Writing Prompts.

It goes like this: when I did creative writing at uni (UEA, don’tchaknow), they were very fond of creative writing prompts which went ‘this thing – ten minutes – go!‘ No editing, no agonising, just write something. Here’s your prompt to set you off, now get it on the page and see where it goes. I call it a splat-draft.

It’s a good way of breaking through writer’s block Continue reading