Just One Thing

I achieved a writer goal earlier this week by making an appearance on one of my favourite podcasts – Luke’s Massive Storytelling Podcast Thing. I’ve written about the show here before but it’s hosted by Luke Kondor, one of the head honchos at the magnificent Hawk & Cleaver who produce The Other Stories podcast.

I chatted with Luke about “writing like a pro” which considering I don’t make a whole lot of money from my writing might be slightly misleading on my part but the main feeling here is adopting a professional mindset. Just because I’m not earning big money from doing what I love doesn’t mean I shouldn’t take it seriously and treat it like a real job. After all, writing is real work as anyone who has ever finished a novel can attest.

One thing I’ve been meaning to write about for a while now is something that’s tangential to my writing routine. Every day I write a minimum of 1,000 words Monday – Friday. I give myself the weekends off as they’re often hectic (and unpredictable) and I like to spend as much time as possible with my wife and daughter.

I’ve previously posted about training myself to cram writing sessions into short time periods, it hasn’t come easily but it does work for me. Now it’s a routine and has been for years, it feels like it’s lost a bit of its impact. I used to get a real visceral rush from making 1,000 words in the early days, nowadays, it’s what I expected from myself so I’ve had to invent other ways to keep me going.

I’ve started trying to make sure that in addition to the 1,000 words, I’m doing one extra “writer” thing a day. I try to do something else on top of that that will add something to my writer’s toolbox. Some days I’ll listen to an author podcast or interview for some inspiration or tips, other days I’ll hunt down an article or watch a quick YouTube video to give the edge. My favourite days are when I can beta read stories for my friends.

Some days, simply reading extra is what gets me there. I read in bed every night like most of us but I’ve started sneaking extra in through audiobooks or reading while my daughter watches TV or when I get a quiet moment as she’s going to bed.

This isn’t something I necessarily record but it’s something I always strive to do. Quite often in the past, if I found myself with a spare ten minutes I’d put the TV on and catch up on the news or the football highlights. Those things are great but it really got me thinking about what they added to my life. They were like junk food for my time. Tasty and nice in the moment, but long-term they didn’t do anything good for me. So I chopped them out. Now I sneak podcasts or reading into those gaps and try to soak up as much knowledge or useful input as possible.

It doesn’t take much but trying to cram in one extra writing “thing” every day has made a real difference. That way, when I go to bed every night, I can point to that one thing beyond writing that I did today to try to help me improve as a writer. It all counts.

I’ve also included a link to a few things that have been helping me lately. Let me know if any of them work for you: –

Will Dean Author Channel on YouTube. Will’s channel is so helpful and generous with very candid advice about getting an agent, staying in the author mindset and finding out some great books to read.

The Failing Writers podcast. I’ve only just discovered this one but they’ve had some great interviews with Gillian McAllister and CJ Tudor (amongst others) about going from writing zero to hero.

Chuck Palahniuk newsletter. Chuck has just started a new newsletter through Substack (where he will eventually publish a novel) in which he discusses craft, resourcefulness and mindset for writers. So far, it’s been excellent.

Writer Unboxed. This one slipped off my radar for a while but it’s back in a big way. There are so many articles and columns on here to dig into, covering pretty much every writing topic you can imagine.

And of course, if you fancy checking out what I’ve been on about during my appearance on Luke’s show, click the mildly terrifying picture of my face below to get the podcast into your ears.

Until next time.



Wow. I haven’t posted at this site since May, that’s a disgrace! Yet somehow, the time between May and here seems to have collapsed in on itself. When you work from home, a lot of the days bleed into one. Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely grateful to be able to work from my upstairs office, it’s just sometimes the only thing that separates the days in your memory is the weather.

A lack of posts doesn’t mean a lack of action however. If anything, I’ve been busier than ever since the launch of Dark Missives back in April. The reviews have been pretty much, universally great. It’s been very pleasing and frankly, a massive relief that so many people have enjoyed my work. I’ve had people that I’ve never met drop messages into my inboxes to tell me that they’ve loved my work. Those days are simply unparalleled.

In further good news, I’ve completed a novel. Properly completed it. First draft brain dump. Massive edits. Beta readers comments. The works. The Clearances is a dark thriller with a slight near-future angle to it. This book poured out of me in the first few months of the year.

Editing it brought me joy. Not only that, but it taught me how to edit properly. Editing has always been the part of the process that I’ve dreaded. A skill that seemingly only professional writers really master. The first draft is usually my bag, the pure hit of creation. But this book was different. I warmed to the task. I prepared. I read up, I watched YouTube videos, I listened to podcasts. All of these things taught me something about the process but the main thing I learned was that it’s largely down to mindset. A book isn’t “done” when the first draft is finished. It’s only 50% done – at best! It’s time to knuckle down and go again in the editing phase. I’m there now. I can do it. I know what it takes.

I’ve started a new book. It’s another one that’s bringing me joy to write. Which sounds like an odd phrase. Lionhearts was a big jump for me as a writer. Both in terms of style and skill. I could feel myself getting better as I wrote it. But it wasn’t a process I enjoyed. I wrote it during the first lockdown when my health health (and everyone else’s) was on its arse. The subject matter of the book is beyond bleak. The Clearances and this new book aren’t comedies or cheery in any way, but the process is making me happier. Those hard earned skills from Lionhearts are now part of my repertoire. I can use them more readily.

The Clearances is now ready to go out to markets and whatnot. The cycle of rejection and hope begins again. It’s hard not to be pessimistic but that doesn’t get anyone anywhere in my experience. I’m a firm believer that rejection makes a writer. Like anything else, if you have it easy then you don’t improve, you don’t grow. I don’t want to be a stunted writer, I want to learn and get better. That said, I’d probably crawl over broken glass to get a book published so just a little bit of success with this one would be GREAT!

All in all, 2021 has contained more writing positives so far than any other year of my life. With one book under my belt, I feel ready to add to that. I’ve got plans for Territory, my snowbound horror novella. That’s edited and ready for action. But I’d love to land a novel somewhere else before the end of the year. Wish me luck and if you see me flagging, kick me up the arse and tell me to carry on going.

Michael Jordan, that monument to hard work (and treating your teammates like shit) said it best. “If you quit once, it becomes a habit. Never quit.”

There’s rejection on the horizon, but I’ll never give up.