A Writerly Year

As this will be my last post for 2010, I thought I would share my year’s highlights, lessons learned and hopes for the future. This is a time of year when people reflect on where they are, so I think this post is timely.

So here are my writerly highlights

Creative Writing

  • Finishing my novel and being in a position to send it out to agents
  • Delivering creative writing classes in schools
  • Delivering my first-ever creative writing workshops for adults.


  • Fruitful collaborations with Samantha Clooney of The Virtual Office and John Jordan of Next Chapter.
  • Proofreading the bestselling book Blow it Up Ref! for Brian Kennedy
  • Helping Vince Doherty of Adikat, a mobile-phone marketing company, to secure media coverage twice in the Sunday Business Post, in the Irish Examiner and on 4FM.
  • Securing local media coverage for Karen Frampton of Frampton Career Solutions, Peter Jones of Foot Solutions and Claudio Cavaliere of Espresso.
  • Helping John O’Connor of Red Oak Tax Refunds get a 25% increase in the hit rate to his landing page.
  • A successful marketing campaign targeting wedding businesses.


  • Continued articles in Irish Medical Times and Irish Skipper
  • A new column with the Munster Express, in association with Home Instead Senior Care.

Lessons Learned

  • There is no substitute for hard work
  • My work for businesses is at its most effective when combined with the work of other professionals who have similar skills.
  • Other people have different ways of learning, so it is important to be flexible to accommodate those
  • To take a more methodical approach to my work and pay more attention to detail.
  • Persist, persist, persist in securing media coverage.
  • It’s okay sometimes to fake it until you make it.

Hopes for 2011

  • To expand the number of creative writing classes I offer, in schools and to adults.
  • To find a publisher for my novel.
  • To further my existing collaborations and to build new ones, particularly with Bryan Corden of Hedgehog Video Productions, who plan to launch in January.
  • Conrad Howard of Market Lane Restaurant in Cork has approached me to write a blog for his restaurant. When his new website has been fully revamped, I will ensure that his blog will win many followers.
  • To continue delivering service in style to my WriteWords customers, my editors and my creative writing students.

Feel free to share your own highlights for 2010 and hopes for 2011.

Despite the downturn, this has been a year of growth for me. For those of you who found 2010 tough, you have my deepest sympathy and here’s hoping 2011 is a better year for all of us. Meantime, I would like to thank all my customers and students for their custom throughout the year and to wish them a Merry Christmas.


Top Tips for Successful Speechcraft

Last Monday night, I emerged from my snow-clad isolation to give a presentation-skills workshop to a women’s business network in Dungarvan. The workshop gave people the opportunity to morph into crazed queue jumpers, dead celebrities and cartoon characters. But in the middle of all the mayhem, there was a serious message. Here are 10 of the tips I shared about one of the core skills of presentation – actually writing your speech.

1. The goal of communication is to figure out what you want to say and put your message across in a way that your audience will understand.

2. Once you have figured out what you want to say, preparing your presentation becomes a whole lot easier.

3. As well as deciding what to say, decide what shape your speech will take. Will it be a debate, a story, or a fund of tips and advice?

4. Create a structure that will act as your roadmap when you are writing your speech.

5. To get yourself past those nervewracking seconds before you start to speak, pick a spot, plant your feet hip width apart, look around the room and take a few deep breaths. This will anchor you and silence your audience.

6. Reel your audience in by asking them a question or sharing an anecdote.

7. Don’t be afraid to borrow from others and inspire your audience with a quote.

8. Aim for one point per paragraph/section. This avoids clutter and ensures your audience understands your message.

9. Slow down your voice as you’re coming to the end, to signal to the audience that you’re ending and to add resonance to your ending.

10. Remember that no-one really cares what you’re saying. Chances are, they’re daydreaming, thinking of their to-do list or checking their phone. This is actually quite liberating. It means they won’t notice the quake in your voice or the slide you missed.