Three Ways to Share Your Writing with the World

When we think of sharing our writing with the wider world, we think in terms of traditional publishing or self-publishing. But we need to think beyond these two options. Whether you choose mainstream or independent publishing, the process is punishing, and this can put off many people who are otherwise very talented, enthusiastic writers. Even if you do succeed, with those options, you then have to fight for your audience.

But any writer worth their salt wants to write for others, not just themselves. And I’ve become increasingly convinced that you don’t need to publish to find an audience for your writing. You can find an audience beyond the cosy circles of your friends, family, writer buddies, writing groups or creative writing workshop. You’ll know you’ve arrived when a total stranger reacts to your writing. And if you’re inventive, you’ll find ways to reach them.

Here are three ways of finding an audience and gaining street cred as a writer, on your own terms.

Perform Your Writing

If you’re a writer with a bit of an extrovert streak, you could try performing your writing at an open mic night or a spoken word event. At open mic nights, writing is performed along with music and comedy sketches, whereas at a spoken word event, it’s just writing. These kinds of performance events lend themselves well to poetry, but you could write prose that’s designed to be performed too.

Reading at Modwordsfest - Derek Flynn
I performed my writing at a recent spoken word festival called Modwordsfest. Photo Credit: Derek Flynn


Submit to Journals

There are lots of altruistic literary types who found journals that showcase original new writing. This is particularly useful for poets and short-story writers, as it’s hard to attract the attention of a publisher for a collection of short stories or poe from a debut author. Many of these journals are prestigious, with high submission standards, so being featured in them gives you great kudos.

Broadcast Your Writing 

Many people don’t realise that broadcasting is seen as a form of publication, and radio programmes are eager to accept great writing that will sound good over the airwaves. Some radio programmes accept stories and poems from writers, particularly community radio stations and stations with a public service remit. You can also enter competitions to have your story or play published, and you may even win a prize!

Have you shared your writing in this way? Are there any ways in which you share your writing?

The Challenges of Editing Poetry

Proofreading poetry is a delicate business. As there are fewer words in a poem, the slightest change you make will have a much stronger effect. Whether you choose to put in a comma leave it out will determine the shape of a verse, or even the whole poem. I’ve been asked by a local poet to wield my editing scalpel. I’m flattered that this person has trusted me with her poems, which she’s hoping to put into a collection. She asked me to do a light proofread and suggest an order for the poems.

The delicate task of editing poetry.


Read Like a Reader: When I’m first editing a job, I let the words wash over me, the way you normally do when you’re reading a book. This helps me to connect with the material and to figure out what story the person is trying to tell. In this case, as they were poems, I read them aloud to get into the rhythm of them. Reading aloud also helps you spot patterns of errors the person makes.

Ordering the Poems: It’s extraordinary how themes naturally emerge in people’s writing, without any forethought on their part. There are issues or themes people will naturally gravitate towards, and that was the case with this collection. Four or five themes came to the fore, and fortunately, the numbers of poems which fall under each theme is relatively equal, which will add body to the collection.

Proofreading: There’s always more to proofreading than you originally think. Often the problem isn’t with spelling and grammar, but with structure. In this case, I discovered bigger problem with the rhythm of the poems, and I flagged those up using Track Marks, the computer equivalent of the red pen. Also, when you make one change, you have to make changes for all instances where the error needs to be corrected. This manuscript soon becomes festooned with red marks.

Second Proofread: When I’ve finished track marking, I will create a new document and accept all the track marks. This incorporates all the changes I made and will give the poet a clean copy to work with. I’ll then clear up any remaining errors before handing it back to her.

Giving Feedback: Proofreaders largely concentrate on spelling and grammar, but I’m going to add a feedback document, pointing to poems that need work and suggesting ways of correcting issues related to the rhythm of the poems. The poet can then implement the suggestions herself if she wishes.

Have you ever edited poetry? If so, how do you approach it? If you’re a poet, what would you look for in an editor?

My Writerly Year

When you’re going through the daily grind, you can feel as if you’re not achieving very much, as you wade through the treacle of emails, social media posts, bills and deadlines. This is a good time of year to lift your gaze up from the ground and take a birds-eye view of what you’ve done throughout the year.

That is what I’m going to do in this post, so that if, God forbid, things go a bit pear shaped in 2015, I can look back at this post and remind myself that the pendulum always swings back in the right direction. I also want to encourage all of you readers to look back on your achievements and be proud.

So here goes.


This was a bumper year for workshops. As well as the ones I run myself, I was approached to run workshops by different organisations. In January, I gave a half-day workshop to people with intellectual disabilities at Waterford Institute of Technology. The participants were full of stories were fun and it was a delight from start to finish.

I ran an eight-week creative writing course and two intensive one-day workshops for more advanced writers, which all went well, but one of my highlights was the series of workshops I gave for Waterford Libraries. I did half-day workshops in three libraries throughout Waterford and they were well-attended, with lots of enthusiastic writers.

I also gave plenty of children’s workshops this year. In March, I worked with a group of teenagers who were part of the Waterford Young Arts Critics scheme. Over the course of two two-hour workshops, I imparted the delicate art of critiquing writing. I also gave an Easter camp and two summer camps for 8-12 year olds, and have just finished a highly successful run of Christmas workshops for the Winterval Festival, when budding writers got a chance to create their own Christmas story


I got the chance to work on some meaty editorial projects this year, such as theses, novel extracts and marketing material. Particular highlights included:

Tuesday Miscellany. This was an anthology of writing by Tramore Writers’ Group, filled with poems and stories about nature, family, dieting and much more. I proofread each entry twice, gave critiques to help the authors polish their work and had input into the final choices of work to be included in the anthology.

Goodbye Frying Pan, Hello Fire. This was a memoir by Jennylynd James, which chronicled the trials and triumphs of her relocation to Canada. I copy-edited each chapter, checking for spelling, grammar, sentence structure and coherence. I also gave suggestions on the order the chapters should appear in.

Upon Your Agony. This was a book of poetry by Matty Tamen, a collection of eloquent, thoughtful poems with a strong political theme. I was the final pair of eyes on this collection, making minor changes and checking for inconsistencies.


I scaled down my copywriting activity this year, but hope to do more of it in 2015. I did have a chance to work on some very creative copywriting projects this year. I did a lot of work for a printing company which is launching a service that offers people the chance to create personalised prints using their own photos. As well as writing content for a large website, I got an opportunity to write scripts for two how-to videos which would appear on the site. This was a new challenge, but I was able to draw on the skills I learned when I used to write scripts for radio.

I also worked on a unique marketing pitch. I was asked to write a pitch for a big exhibit for children and families in the style of a modern day fairytale. This was also a challenge because I had to balance a whimsical, highly creative writing style with hard facts which would appeal to potential advertisers and reconnect them with their inner child. It’s good to work with people who understand the creativity that a copywriter can bring to the marketing of their company’s products and services.

Other Achievements

Funding Application

I decided to take the plunge and make my first-ever application for arts funding. It was through a scheme called Arts and Disability Connect, to fund an anthology of writing by visually impaired people. While I wasn’t successful, I did a course with Artlinks on funding applications which helped me to redefine what success means. An unsuccessful funding application does not mean the idea isn’t viable. I can satisfy myself that I did my utmost at the time and that I will be more ready for it next year. I’ve already made a start. I gave a workshop at the National Council for the Blind in Dublin to a group of creative and very well read visually impaired people, and I realised that there’s a huge demand for creative writing among visually impaired people.

A Book in the Making

Another service I hope to develop more in 2015 is my writing consultancy service. It aims to give people who want to write a book a framework that helps them get started and then over the finishing line. I did a session with a man who has an idea for a self help book. We discussed his goal for the book, his potential audience and what message he wanted to get across. Based on what we did in our session, I sent him a report summarising what we discussed and outlining a structure for him to follow, which will make writing the book more manageable.

So that’s it. Let’s hope that 2015 will bring more of the same for all of us. I want to thank all of those who read my blog this year, all the people who commented on my blogs and social media posts and all the people who took a leap of faith and hired me as a copywriter, editor and workshop facilitator. I also want to thank all the adults and children who came to my workshops, for their enthusiasm, dedication and inspiration. None of this success would have happened without all of you.

What achievements from 2014 are you most proud of? I’d love to hear from you.

Three Helpful Writing Magazines

We are swimming in a sea of information for writers and it is easy to feel as if you are drowning in it, especially with the explosion of online writing resources. That’s why writing magazines are still so valuable in the digital age. They gather together the most useful information, and that information stays still long enough for you to absorb it. You can find out about the latest market and get tips on how to improve your writing.

These magazines also offer publishing opportunities to emerging and established writers. They invite contributions on the craft of writing and they also run short story and poetry competitions which give you the chance to showcase your work and receive critique from experienced writers.

Here are three magazines that offer a treasure trove of resources to writers.

Writing Magazine

This magazine is a meaty read, stuffed with articles about publishing markets and techniques for improving your writing. It offers information on a wide array of writing markets and is particularly useful for writers who are interested in self publishing and those who write in specific genres, such as horror or thrillers. It also offers writing competitions and the winning entry comes with a judge’s critique. You can also read interviews with top writers, to find out how they do it.

Image taken from Mslexia magazine website.

Image taken from Mslexia magazine website.

Mslexia Magazine

This magazine has a similar format to Writing, but it’s for women writers and has a more literary feel. It’s a quarterly magazine which publishes thoughtful articles on issues that particularly affect women writers, such as women of colour. It does cover the business end as well, with more practical articles on publishing and the craft of writing, with an emphasis on opportunities for women. It too runs competitions, which are judged by leading women’s writers.

3. Books Ireland

This magazine gave a start to a lot of young journalists who cut their teeth writing book reviews for it. It does exactly what it says on the tin and reviews all books published in Ireland. It sadly closed in 2013 but was recently revived by Wordwell Publications which publishes History Ireland.

As well as giving writers the chance to submit book reviews, it also gives them an outlet for their books to be reviewed. They will review all books sent into them, which gives self published authors. You can also put yourself forward to them as a book reviewer.

These magazines are available on the British and Irish markets. International readers, what magazines do you find helpful?

WORDS Writers’ Group

As I’ve said before on this blog, I believe that reading aloud is a lost performance art. That’s why even though I swore off writers’ groups a few years ago, I was drawn by the lure of a new writer’s group set up in my local area that focused on the performance of writing, rather than the critique of it.

WORDS Writers’ Group was set up in the uncharacteristically hot Irish summer of 2013. It’s the brainchild of artists Sean and Miranda Corcoran, who run The Art Hand Studio, nestled on a stretch of unspoilt coastline between Tramore and Bonmahon in Co. Waterford, on the south-east coast of Ireland. People are invited to read pieces of poetry, song lyrics, essays, children’s stories – you name it.

I came to its third meeting and was seduced by the sound of words, by the warm room illuminated by candles and by home-made cakes. Sean Corcoran is a charismatic host (and no, he didn’t pay me to say that!) who creates a warm atmosphere and a sense that anything could happen.

As the most recent meeting came to an end, Sean invited comments from the audience and a poetic type lamented the fact that pleasure seemed to come before critique. I reckon he did it to stir up controversy, and it worked. I was quick to respond by saying it was clear that WORDS was a performance-based writers’ group, and because of that, it attracted what I consider to be record-breaking crowds. (A typical WORDS meeting attracts at least 20 people, compared to 10 at most for your typical critique-based writers’ group).

So what are the attractions of a performance-based writers’ group.

  1. For non-writers

WORDS allows people to share work that isn’t their own, which means that people who don’t write but who love words and literature have the opportunity to share work that they’re passionate about and can make a meaningful contribution. Writers’ groups can come across as elitist, so inviting non-writers to attend widens the appeal of WORDS.

  1. For the beginning writer

Beginning writers can take their first faltering steps towards sharing their newly minted writing in a comfortable environment where they know they won’t be judged. This is an important confidence builder and it will encourage new writers to share their work with the world.

  1. Established Writers

WORDS has quite a few published writers in its ranks, both self published and traditionally published. Reading at the WORDS meetings allows these writers to build up an audience for their work and to network with like-minded souls. After reading from his newly published work, one poet made quite a few sales among the members at the most recent meeting.

Of course there’s always the danger that such a writers’ group can turn into a self congratulation society, and writers do need to seek out rigorous critique that will take their work to the next level. But being able to perform your work is also an important milestone in a writer’s life. Ultimately, there is a place for both critique and performance.

If you’re in the Waterford area, WORDS meets on the first Wednesday of each month at 8pm. There’s a €5 cover charge for refreshments. If you’re not local, you can still join in. Sean is busy forming contacts with similar groups around the world and you can contact him on:

Interactive Book Launches

It’s a new year and my blog is back. In keeping with the stormy climate in Ireland, I’ve allowed myself to be deluged by work. But now I’ve emerged from the avalanche and I’m raring to go with a whole new year of blogs in 2014.

But for this blog post, I’m going to look back a bit, to some book launches I went to in 2013. Going to these book launches made me realise that the days of drinking warm wine and listening to a couple of desultory speeches are over. Book launches have become full blown interactive events that offer real entertainment to people in exchange for them buying and supporting the book.

The other notable thing is that even if an author is represented by a traditional publishing house, they don’t leave the organisation up to their publisher any more. They organise the food, the drink and the venue. In every sense, they are the hosts of the event.

I’ll give you a run-down of the launches I went to, to give you an insight into the inventive ways that authors are holding their launches.

  1. Escape from Eire, Jennylynd James

Trinidad native Jennylynd James launched her memoir depicting her seven years in Ireland at a bookshop in Waterford. As well as reading from her book, she displayed photographs on her laptop that acted as a perfect counterpoint to the passages she read. She also showed videos from television appearances she made during her time in Ireland. These interactive elements brought her book to life.

  1. The Priest’s Wife, PJ Connolly

I wandered along to the Irish Writer’s Centre in Dublin about 15 minutes after the start time for PJ Connolly’s launch, expecting to find the usual crowds milling around waiting for the speeches. Instead, I found an accomplished MC giving a speech. After that, there were readings interspersed with music provided by a brilliant young violinist. Cleverly, the author had decided to allow three other people to read from his work, to vary the voices. A truly classy event.

  1. Dry Tears, Matty Tamen

Again, there was plenty on offer for the audience the launch of Matty Tamen’s poetry collection at a Waterford hotel. There was a slideshow of pictures and a guitarist played soft music as people took their seats and between readings. Again, the author asked other people to read his poems and to speak about the themes of the book. It held the attention of a crowd which included quite a lot of children.

  1. Virtual Book Launches

Virtual book launches, which take place only on social media websites, are on the rise. I went to two, one organised by Lorna Sixsmith for her book Would You Marry a Farmer, and the second organised by Carmel Harrington for her book Beyond Grace’s Rainbow. For people familiar with Facebook, you are invited to the launch in the same way as you would be invited to an event.

Virtual book launches give great scope to self published authors with limited budgets. The launches featured hourly giveaways, lively interactive discussions and nuggets of info about the book. The other good thing about them was that they lasted for longer than a traditional launch would, giving you a bigger shop window.

I have to say, going to those launches made me wish I could have done my own launch all over again. Have you noticed these trends at the book launches you’ve been to?

Guest Post by Annette Gartland: Writing Creatively as a Journalist

In the early days of my blog, I wrote a post called Journalists and Writers – Two Very Different Species. The post was based on my own experiences with journalists and creative writers, and it’s received quite a lot of hits since it was first published.

Recently, the journalist and poet Annette Gartland posted such an elegant rebuttal in the comments section of that post that I invited her to put together a guest post. This post seriously raises the tone of my blog and I hope you’ll find it a meaty read.

A former colleague once told me that if I wanted to do creative writing I would have to leave journalism; that the two ways of writing were incompatible. I understood what she meant, but now, some 33 years later, I am still a journalist, and I still write poetry.

Are creative writing and journalism incompatible? Are journalists simply news machines, pumping out the latest – often biased – information with no concern for the nuances of language and the beauty of words? Or is there room for creative flair in everyday reporting?

Some would say don’t go into journalism if writing is your objective. I would disagree. I wish more journalists actually cared about writing, and spent time learning about grammar and punctuation. Thankfully, many do.

Journalists of course need to be interested in people and events, but a passion for news and communication and a love for words can go hand in hand.

Good journalism is not just about facts, figures, and deadlines; we need to be fast and accurate, but that doesn’t mean that we cannot also write prose that sings. And good headline writing is not just a technical skill; it requires talent and creativity, too.

Now that I have my own website, I can be much more creative in my journalistic writing than I used to be.  With so many people blogging, and so much of our communication happening via Facebook and Twitter, the line between traditional journalism and other writing is blurring more and more all the time.

I’m at an advantage because I’m a freelance. I’ve adapted the way I work so that I am not on a news treadmill. On my website, I can write lengthy, in-depth articles, blend travel writing with socio-political analysis, and choose my own angles.

Essay-style journalism is nothing new, however; The New Yorker, for example, has always run long-form articles of great literary merit.

In an article for NPR (formerly known as National Public Radio) in the United States, the organisation’s media correspondent, David Folkenflik, says long-form journalism falls into two categories: “investigative or watchdog reporting” and “richly textured nonfiction narratives that delve deeply into the human experience and may have nothing to do with that day’s headlines”.

Many journalists are purely newshounds, with no interest in creative writing. This is particularly true on the tabloids, but I learned as much about writing when working for the tabloid Irish Press as I did on broadsheets. It takes skill and creativity to reduce a day’s events to ten paragraphs.

Radio and TV journalists can get away with being less-than-competent writers, but print or web journalists who write badly are dependent on sub-editors – most of whom have a real love for words and grammar –  to make their work readable.

Any creative writing I now do is all the better for the training I received at journalism college, and as a sub-editor on The Oxford Times. Learning how to sub-edit definitely makes you a better writer.

I wrote from an early age – about my experiences and from my imagination. In my last year at secondary school, I won a creative writing award and, for my prize, I chose Harold Evans’ book ‘Newsman’s English’. It was clear that journalism would be my priority.

(I still balk at Newsman’s in the title of Evans’ book, but the former editor of The Sunday Times certainly knows his stuff.)

There are lengthy periods when I don’t write a single poem, and I would perhaps write more poetry if I weren’t a journalist. But working as a journalist brings me into contact with people, places, and situations that I don’t just report on; places in particular also inspire me as a poet.

Australian researcher and communications tutor Janet Fulton has written a comprehensive paper entitled “Is print journalism creative?”

She says the idea that print journalism can be creative is not universally accepted because “making a story up” goes against the fundamental understandings of journalism. “Further to this, society’s understanding of creativity is that a producer must have no limitations to be able to create and the rules and conventions a journalist works within are seen to constrain their production of creative media texts.”

Fulton points out that the Western understanding of creativity implies that a creative idea comes from nowhere but the imagination of the individual. “This understanding is rooted in the Romantic ideal of a lone genius, slightly mad, who must be free of any constraints to be able to Create.”

She concludes: “Rather than using a narrow, person-centred view of creativity, encouraging a broader understanding could lead to better journalistic practices.”

For Fulton, all genres of print journalism have structures, and practitioners of all genres can be creative within their own structures. “In the domain of journalism, the assertion that hard news writing can be a creative endeavour could provide a better understanding of work processes and improve writing practices.”

Fulton notes that numerous journalism awards mention creativity in their criteria.

Middlesex University in London, the University of Bedfordshire, and the University of Strathclyde in Scotland all run combined creative writing and journalism degree courses, and the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, Surrey, is planning one. There are similar courses in the US, Australia, and Canada. The London School of Journalism runs creative writing courses, but separates them from journalism studies.

I’m happy that I did a straightforward and very practical journalism course, where I was given a solid foundation for the working years to come. I don’t think it would have served me well to be taught about creative writing at the same time.

It was later that my creative side blossomed again, and, a few years ago, I did try to stop being a journalist so as to concentrate fully on poetry, and a monologue. I realised, however, that reporting is in my blood, and probably always will be. But I also love creative writing.  Thankfully, for me, the two are not proving incompatible.

I’ll keep straddling the two worlds and, when asked, I’ll describe myself simply as a writer.

–        Janet Fulton’s paper:

© Annette Gartland

Annette Gartland is a writer (journalist and poet), radio and video reporter, editor, translator, reiki teacher, and DJ. Her website, Changing Times, is at

Oh, How I Love Gabbing About Writing…

… And that is exactly what I had the privilege of doing when I met the poet-in-waiting and his marketing guru in a wooden cafe by the sea. For 90 minutes, they listened to me talking about writing. The excitement! The ego boost!

The marketing guru had picked up my card when I took a stand at a bank and attempted to lure people over to it with cupcakes. I had come away feeling the cupcakes and banks don’t mix, so I was delighted to realise my ploy had worked. She was representing a poet who had three collections of poems waiting to be published.








The poet is now at the point where he’s dying to show his work to the world and the marketing guru wanted to help him realise his publishing dreams. While I’m not a poet, I do know about publishing – and I know quite a few poets. So I agreed to meet them.

To Self Publish or Not to Self Publish

The central issue to be settled was whether to choose a traditional publisher or to self publish. The poet was pretty clued in on the main poetry publishing houses in the country, but he was also in a hurry, so although the jury is still out, I reckon he’ll choose self publishing. I recommended choosing a local printer with experience in printing small books.

The Publishing Process

I said that these days, publishing was a costly process and some poetry presses required their authors to obtain funding from local county councils. I also pointed them towards the Title by Title publishing scheme, which helps self publishers and publishing companies bring out titles.

If they choose self publishing, they’ll need the book to be as professional in design and content as possible. I recommended they find an editor and a book-cover designer to help them produce the book. Though this involves an investment, the investment will be worth it.

Promoting the Book

The poet was keen to perform his work, and to hear others perform it. He wondered about organising open-mic nights for poets. I suggested a local arty/scruffy bar which would be ideal. I had to break it to him that regardless of the publishing route he chose, the book was likely to take longer than he thought. so creating a marketing campaign to whet people’s appetite for the book would be a good way to make use of the time.

The Publishing Dream

I was highly flattered when the poet said he was blown away by the information I gave him (I blabbed so much my coffee nearly went cold!). I just relish the opportunity to share my passion, and whatever knowledge I’ve gathered. I didn’t pull any punches about the hazards of publishing.

But I told him it’s always worth publishing, so your work can see the light of day. There comes a time in your writing life when you need to show your work to the world, and with over 200 finished poems, my poet friend has reached that point.









The Only Writing Books You’ll Ever Need

Buying a book about writing is a dubious business. Authors of these books either take a how-to approach that treats writing like assembling a flat pack from Ikea, or a flighty approach, advising people to waft through the woods and wait for inspiration to strike.

If you’re looking for a good writing book, this blog post will save you a lot of time and money. After much careful sifting, I bring you my top five writing books.

If you’re starting out: The Part-Time Writer by Marjorie Quarton

Marjorie Quarton offers down-to-earth advice about the craft of writing and where to send your work. She demystifies writing, giving the reassuring message that writing success is possible for anyone with ideas, dedication and a heart. She also sensibly advises people not to give up the day job – not only for financial reasons, but because your day job can be fodder for stories.

If you’re a little further on your journey: The Complete Creative Writing Coursebook, University of East Anglia

The Complete Creative Writing Coursebook is brought to you by the university that launched the UK’s first creative writing Masters. So they know what they’re talking about. This book guides you through every aspect of the writing process, but even more valuably, it shows you how to revise your work and what to expect from a creative writing workshop. There are exercises at every stage to give you focus.

For the poets: The Portable Creative Writing Workshop by Pat Boran

This book is designed to give a helping hand to writer’s groups, but is also ideal for the solo writers, with ideas to get you going and fiction and poetry exercises. Because Pat Boran is a poet, the exercises have a strong focus on imagery and the emotions and the exercises in the poetry section are particularly comprehensive. It’s good to see poets being catered for, as most writing books are geared towards prose writers.

If you want to get published: The Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook

This is the bible for all writers who want to see their name on a book cover or a byline. It has listings for publishers and agents in the UK and Ireland that cover every genre.  It also has media listings, for magazines, newspapers and radio stations and literary listings for writer’s groups and festivals. It’s packed with articles offering advice on all aspects of writing. Top names featured in past editions include Maeve Binchy, Bernard Cornwell and Claire Tomalin. It comes out every year, but contains years’ worth of useful information.

And if you like wafting through woods: The Sound of Paper by Julia Cameron

Julia Cameron is best known for The Artist’s Way, but this book is geared specifically towards writers. It shows you how to live a life that supports you in your writing and how to draw inspiration from the world around you.

Feel free to share your top writing books, especially if you’re reading this from parts of the world other than the UK and Ireland.