The Moonlight Dreamers’ Guide to being Free

With freedom, books, flowers and the moon, who could not be happy?

Oscar Wilde

 

A major theme in the new Moonlight Dreamers novel, Tell it to the Moon, is the importance of being free.

Free to be your true self.

Free to pursue your dreams.

Free to create a life of happiness and adventure.

But there are so many things that can get in the way of that freedom – the biggest of which is fear.

Fear that you’re not good enough.

Fear that other people will judge you.

Fear that you’ll mess up and create a life of disappointment.

So, to help steer you away from fear, and to celebrate the release of Tell it to the Moon, I’ve created this handy ten step guide to being free. Enjoy!

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ONE: Always remember that YOU are the author of your life story

Don’t become a bit-player in someone else’s life. Create a life where you play the lead role. When facing challenges or indecision ask yourself: If my life were a book or movie and I was writing the script, what would I make my character do right now? What would make for an inspiring and uplifting plot twist? Become the kind of hero that you like to read about.

TWO: Turn your wounds into wisdom

When things go wrong – and they sometimes will, it’s a natural part of life – don’t see yourself as a victim. Learn to see your failures as lessons; it’s way more empowering. In Tell it to the Moon all of the Moonlight Dreamers face major challenges but they eventually find the strength to learn from these challenges and move on. If they’d given up it would have made for a really disappointing book – and the same is true for our lives. Don’t give up. When things go wrong ask yourself: What is the lesson I need to learn here? Learn it … then move on.

THREE: Express yourself freely

Fear can make us close up and close off – a big part of living freely is being able to express yourself freely. For most of Tell it to the Moon Amber suffers from ‘blogger’s block’ – unable to write a thing on her Wilde at Heart blog. It’s only when she gives herself the space to really think about herself and her life that she’s able to write the post ‘Defiantly Different’ and express herself with courage and authenticity. Are you expressing yourself freely? Or are you holding back? Brainstorm a list of all the things you wish you could do or say – either about yourself or about the world. How could you channel your thoughts, hopes and ideas? Be as open-minded as possible, you might be surprised at what comes up.

FOUR: Be Wilde at heart

Oscar Wilde is a major inspiration for the Moonlight Dreamers as someone who lived life on his own terms and dared to dream. He also had the wittiest, wisest take on life. When you’re feeling down or confused use his quotes to inspire you. Here are some of my favourites:

‘Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.’

‘Always forgive your enemies, nothing annoys them so much.’

‘Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.’

Yes, I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.’

For more Oscar inspiration go to moonlightdreamers.com and have a play on the quote generator: What Would Oscar Say?

FIVE: When other people judge you it says way more about them than you

Bullying is an issue in both the Moonlight Dreamers books because I know that it’s an issue in many people’s lives – and one I feel very strongly about. Although it can be the most painful and scary thing in the world to be picked on or ridiculed, one thing I’ve come to realise and that set me free from fear, is that only the deeply insecure and unhappy feel the need to bully. If other people are horrible to you try to remember this. Take solace in your dreams – and the knowledge that one day you will be free from the bully’s spite but they won’t.

SIX: Use your dreams to guide you

Having a dream is like having a north star to guide you. Dreams light up the dark times and give you hope for the future. If your dreams feel too big, far off and unachievable ask yourself: What small step could I take towards achieving my dream today? (With the emphasis on small). If your dream is to write a novel, maybe the small step could be reading a book about writing or practising by writing a short story. By taking regular small steps towards achieving your dreams you build momentum and stop feeling powerless.

SEVEN: Beware of the dream-busters!

A funny (actually not-so-funny) thing happens when you start pursuing your dreams – dream-busters start crawling out of the woodwork. Dream-busters are people who are expert in making you doubt yourself and your dreams; always quick with a passive-aggressive comment or an outright dig. Don’t let them put you off! Their need to knock you down comes from their own regret and insecurity. Don’t allow their insecurity to infect you. Stay focused and strong and feel proud that you’re doing something positive with your life.

EIGHT: Find a fellow dreamer

I wanted the Moonlight Dreamers books to be a celebration of friendship because I know first-hand how important good friends are. In the social media age there’s an emphasis on the number of friends you have on your lists but the only friends that really count are real-life friends. One true friend, who values you for you and encourages you to live your best life is worth way more than hundreds of online acquaintances. Be open-minded too – sometimes the richest friendships form between the most unlikely people eg; Maali and Rose.

NINE: Be your own best friend

That being said, our friends can’t be there for us 24/7 and sometimes you might find yourself without a true friend. It’s so important that in these times – and at all times – you are your own best friend. It can be all too easy to be hard on yourself and beat yourself up for your so-called shortcomings or imperfections. Pay attention to the way you talk to yourself internally. Ask yourself if you’d talk to a friend in this way. By supporting yourself you strengthen and empower yourself and free yourself from self-doubt and fear.

TEN: Never give up

One of the Moonlight Dreamers’ rules is that they never give up. You will have times when you want to give up – we all do. During those times, allow yourself to feel sad but then pick yourself back up and keep on going. My dad, who is Irish and full of wisdom just like Sky’s dad Liam, always likes to remind me that ‘this too shall pass whenever things get tough. And it’s true. Life is always moving and changing – even when it feels as if everything’s stuck. So, remind yourself that the hard times never last forever, get refocused on your dreams and keep moving forwards, in true Moonlight Dreamers style.

Tell it to the Moon is out now!

Amazing and inspirational. Pocket Full of Pages

This fantastic series addresses the essence of true courage; to fight for what you believe in; to follow your own path in life, and to be true to yourself.” Kids’ Book Review

An amazing and really inspiring young adult novel.” My Peacock Books

A heartwarming, stunning and unique novel. It really did make my heart happy.” Teen Book Hoots

Find out more and order a copy here.

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What to do When Your Dream Bubble Bursts

Recently, my son and I went on a mini road-trip adventure in America.

My son is football-mad (soccer-mad for US readers) and has been following the fortunes of an American team called Sporting Kansas City for several years.

Sporting Kansas City are known for having some of the most devout fans in all of America and their ‘Cauldron’ stand is legendary.

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So while we were in the States we got on a bus to Kansas and went along to a game.

The Cauldron was everything the YouTube videos had promised it would be. The atmosphere was electric and the sound of the crowd deafening.

Several guys had stationed themselves at the front of the terrace, next to the pitch but facing the fans.

One pounded on a bass drum and one played a trombone. One was covered in tattoos and led the chanting and another wore a huge white feather headdress and danced around.

They proceeded to whip us all into a frenzy, like some very alternative cheerleaders.

It was hugely entertaining hearing British football songs with an American twist. ‘Vindaloo’ became ‘Barbecue’ and the opposition fans (from Philadelphia) were treated to a rousing chorus of, ‘You can stick your Philly cheesesteaks up your arse!

And whaddya know, as soon as we took our places on the stand – expecting to meet local Kansans – we got talking to a guy from Essex!

He’d been living in the States for a few years and was with a group of friends who supported SKC.

Much banter and hilarity ensued as the beer and margaritas flowed and the songs got louder and louder.

At one point my son suggested to Essex Guy that he should start a chorus of, ‘You dirty Northern b*****ds,’ a song which routinely gets chanted in UK football stadiums (with Northern substituted for Southern depending on the geography).

Essex Guy immediately agreed and began to chant.

He chanted and chanted … but no-one else joined in.

What had seemed like a great idea started to become a little embarrassing.

But Essex Guy was undeterred.

‘Don’t worry,’ he said, ‘I’ll have a word with the guys at the front and get them to start it.’

Off he disappeared into the crowd, heading for the alternative cheerleaders.

We waited and waited but the chant never came.

Some twenty minutes later Essex Guy reappeared holding a huge plastic recycling container.

‘I couldn’t get them to sing it,’ he told us, ‘but don’t worry, I’ve got this.’

He then turned the plastic container upside down and began hollering into it like it was a megaphone.

YOU DIRTY NORTHERN B*****DS!

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It was hilarious … but still no-one joined in.

And then a security guard appeared and demanded he give the recycling container back.

No way! You’ll never stop me!’ Essex Guy cried before disappearing off into the crowd again, with one last defiant chant.

This memory from my holiday popped into my mind recently when I was thinking about the dreams we have that don’t come true.

Although it’s a comical example, I think it makes for a great analogy.

You have a dream – in this case to share a funny football chant.

You get all excited imagining your dream coming true – in this case, an entire football stand singing your chant and being hugely entertained.

You pluck up the courage to take action – in this case, starting the singing on your own.

And then it all goes wrong – in this case, no-one joins in.

What seemed like a good idea starts becoming a little awkward and embarrassing.

Maybe you hang on in there and try a different approach – like using a recycling container as a megaphone.

But even taking a bolder step doesn’t work – the dream still doesn’t get realised, people still don’t join in.

It can be enough to make you want to curl up in a corner and never have a dream again.

I’ve felt like this at various points in my writing career.

I’ve had a dream about writing a book that will become a best-seller and inspire hundreds of thousands of people with its message.

So I’ve written the book and it’s been published – but then it doesn’t sell many copies.

Or it doesn’t sell enough copies to be deemed a commercial success.

This is the reality for most authors.

Last year I was advised that unless I got a celebrity to endorse my novel, The Moonlight Dreamers, UK retailers wouldn’t stock it in bulk, if at all.

I didn’t get a celebrity to endorse it and so the retailers didn’t stock it in bulk.

I’ve had exactly the same thing with its sequel, Tell it to the Moon.

Despite the fact that the books have got great reviews it’s not enough for most retailers in the UK to really get behind them.

It can be so crushing to invest so much hope and time and effort into a dream, only to be met with disappointment and frustration when it doesn’t come true.

There have been several times over the past few years when I’ve thought about giving up on my writing dream for good. Particularly after the whole ‘celebrity endorsement’ rigmarole.

But I won’t.

Because I’d rather keep believing and keep trying and keep daring to dream than give up and do f*** all with my life.

And anyway, writing is my passion. Always has been, always will be.

While I was writing this blog post I got the following comment from someone on Instagram:

Your book Moonlight Dreamers changed my life and made me feel like I can do anything I put my mind to.’

Reading it brought tears to my eyes and re-inspired me.

So what if UK retailers won’t stock my book in bulk because I haven’t got a celebrity endorsement?

Something I’ve written has made a total stranger feel like she can do anything she puts her mind to … and who knows where that might lead.

Which brings me back to my Essex Guy analogy.

OK, so his chant didn’t sweep across the stadium, causing much hilarity to thousands of fans.

But it did cause much hilarity to me and my son – and hopefully you reading this too.

It did provide us with a holiday highlight we’ll never forget.

I’ll also never forget his irrepressible humour and spirit.

That’s how I want to be in life – taking chances, working hard to make things happen (on my own merit), never giving up no matter what.

If you don’t like ‘the rules’ find your own way of breaking them.

That’s exactly what I intend to do.

Even when a dream doesn’t come true the way you’d hoped there’s always a silver lining.

You always will have achieved something.

You will always have a reason to feel proud – because you aren’t one of life’s quitters, you’re a dreamer and a doer.

And in the end, it’s far better to have dreamed and lost than never to have dreamed at all.

If you need more inspiration on not giving up on a dream play this song. And keep on keeping on.


5 Steps to Rediscovering the True You

Let me ask you a question: have you ever faked it to fit in?

On your social media or in real life, have you ever pretended to be something you’re not?

Has this faking instantly made you feel a little shoddy – or a lot unworthy – but you just couldn’t help yourself; the pressure to do so was too immense?

I think there’s way too much pressure on us these days to be something that we’re not.

Pressure from the internet and press, pressure from our peers and social media, to be air-brushed, highly edited versions of ourselves.

But we’re chasing a perfection that’s impossible to achieve.

It was this pressure that led me to write my non-fiction book, True Face.

I wanted it to be an antidote to the perfection police; a rallying call to ‘imperfectionists’ everywhere.

True Face has just been published in America and to celebrate I thought I’d create this handy five-step guide to rediscovering the true you.

Take some time when you won’t be interrupted and complete the exercises below…

STEP ONE: FIND A TRUE YOU PICTURE

Search through your old photos for a picture of yourself looking happy and carefree; a picture that hasn’t been carefully filtered or posed. A picture where you are unguarded and at ease. Take some time to study the photo for signs of your true self.

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This is my TRUE YOU picture. I picked it because it reminded me of how I used to be before I cared so much about what others thought of me. How I would spend hours outside, having adventures with my friends or in my imagination. It reminded me of how happy I feel when I’m in nature. And how free I used to feel, swinging high into the air, or when I was playing in the woods just behind me.

STEP TWO: WHAT DID THE TRUE YOU LOVE TO DO?

Next, I want you to take a trip back in time to when you were a young kid and think about all the things you loved to do. It could be that if, like me, you chose a childhood pic for the previous step, it will remind you of some of those things. Take some more time to delve back into your memories.

What did you love to play? Where did you love to go? Who did you love to be with? What did you dream of being when you grew up?

Use these questions to search for clues. Then ask yourself, which of these things you still love to do – or would love to do? Our passions are often planted inside of us early on, but sometimes we can lose sight of them as we get older and life gets in the way. Make a list of all the childhood passions that still light you up. These are all indicators of the real you.

STEP THREE: TAKE OFF YOUR MASK

I called my book True Face because so often fear can cause us to hide behind masks. In order to take off our masks we have to confront our fears. What does your inner voice of fear like to tell you? How does it hold you back? Take some time to compile a list of your fears when it comes to showing your true self. Fears that you aren’t good enough or clever enough or attractive enough or rich enough or enough enough. Know that you aren’t alone in having these fears. Everyone has them. The key is to learn how to ignore them. When you’ve written your list, go through and challenge each of them.

Ask yourself: is this absolutely, categorically true?

Then ask yourself what you would say to your best friend if she or he came to you saying the same thing about themselves ie; ‘I’m not good enough’. Decide to become your own best friend and reassure yourself in a similar way. By challenging your self doubts and fears it becomes a lot easier to take down your mask.

STEP FOUR: DISCOVER YOUR STAR QUALITIES

This next exercise is a great way to boost your confidence and remind yourself who you truly are and what you’re capable of. Write a list of ten things that you’re proud of achieving. These could be anything from academic or work achievements to something more personal, like being proud of being a good friend or family member or being proud of getting through a really tough time.

When you’ve written your list, make another list of all the qualities you needed in order to achieve each thing. So, if you’re proud of passing an exam the qualities you needed could include, intelligence, determination, discipline, creativity. Or if you’re proud of surviving being bullied the qualities could be bravery, courage, strength, hope. Once you’ve gone through all ten things study your new list. These are your star qualities – a reminder to have belief in yourself. Your true self.

STEP FIVE: CREATE A VISION FOR THE TRUE YOU

Once you’ve rediscovered the true you use your findings to create a vision for your future. How can you use the clues you’ve excavated to discover your true calling? How can you set some goals and build a life that feels more authentic and in keeping with what’s truly important to you? How can you play to your strengths and overcome your weaknesses? Use your photo and the exercises to guide you. And above all, enjoy the freedom authenticity brings you!

All of the exercises above are taken from my book True Face, which is out in America now.

An important and inspirational book. The Bookseller

Inspiring, empowering and ultimately freeing. An incredibly important book.” Once upon a Bookcase

“A brilliant concept … I felt like a more confident, honest version of myself after I’d finished.” Teen Book Hoots

“Curham is a lovely writer who can make the obvious seem fresh and the negative manageable.” The Debrief

American readers, find out more and order a copy here.

UK readers, find out more and order a copy here.

 

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Making Friends with Failure

We need to talk about failure.

Or rather, we need to talk differently about failure.

Failure is something we’re conditioned to dread and not really talk about … and yet failing is an inevitable part of life.

As long as we dream and strive and try to move forwards in our lives we are sometimes going to fail.

So, it makes sense to me to try to reframe failure in a more positive way – as a stepping stone rather than a dead end.

A while ago, I wrote an article on the subject for The Guardian. You can read it here.

Off the back of that article, I was invited to give a talk on overcoming failure at the BBC.

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With Ros Atile, Head of Development at CBeebies

As part of that talk I shared the following 6 steps for dealing with failure positively. 

If you’ve recently failed at something – personally, professionally or creatively – I hope they help you move forward…

Step One

When failure happens, allow yourself to feel sad. Don’t try and block your negative feelings. Acknowledge what happened and that you feel like crap. Throw yourself a pity party.

Step Two

But know when to leave the pity party. Don’t be that annoying guest who stays too long. Don’t wallow in your sadness or anger or fear. Don’t let your failure come to define you. Make the conscious decision to let go and move on.

Step Three

Let go and move on by turning your so-called failure into a positive. Turn it into a positive by asking yourself the question: What is the lesson here? Or, How is what has happened also for the good?

Step Four

Another great question to help you move on is: What does this failure now leave me free to achieve? For example, when I was dropped by my first publisher – a devastating failure for me at the time – it left me free to take my career in a brand new direction and start writing for young adults. This in turn, led to some of my greatest career successes.

Step Five

Let go of the old failure and refocus your attention on a fresh new dream. See this dream as a light at the end of the tunnel, something to aim for to lead you out of the dark.

Step Six

When you’re still reeling from a failure it can be hard to start working towards a new dream. Counteract any inner doubts or fears by adopting a one-a-day strategy. Set yourself the simple task of doing one thing a day towards achieving your new dream, no matter how small. The one-a-day way will build momentum and soon lead you to fresh adventure.

And finally…

It’s not failure that plots our path in life but how we react when things go wrong.

Don’t let your failures imprison or define you, let them educate you and motivate you to move on.


Top Ten Tips for Young (or New) Writers

When I was a teenager I thought that my passion for books and writing was going to save me.

From the ages of fourteen to sixteen I’d rebelled against the system, bunking off school, going on protest marches, clubbing and drinking and taking drugs.

But then I had a reality check. If I wanted to leave the estate I’d grown up on – if I wanted to create a life I loved – I needed to start working hard to make that happen.

So I knuckled down and worked harder than I’d ever done before to pass my A levels so that I could get to uni.

I thought that a degree in English Literature and Screenwriting would be a passport into the world of writing.

As it turned out, it wasn’t.

I dropped out of uni two years into my course as I allowed the voice of fear inside my head to tell me that I didn’t belong in that middle class world.

I was wrong, but writing did end up saving me … just a few years later than planned!

I now care passionately about helping young writers believe in themselves and achieve their dreams.

So, if you’re a young adult with a writing dream, here are my top ten tips (PLUS some exciting workshop news at the end of this post).

Please feel free to share with any young – or new – writers in your life…

One: Write about what you’re passionate about

… As opposed to what you think will be popular. Don’t follow a trend, make a trend. It will help you stand out and your writing will be all the more vibrant and real. Plus, writing about the things that fire you up help give you the stamina to keep on writing.

Two: Start small.

If you dream of being a novelist but the thought of writing 70,000 plus words gives you a bad case of the dreads, downsize your writing dream. Not forever, just for now. Start by writing short stories or blog posts. Hone your craft in smaller, easier to achieve ways.

Three: It’s OK to be bad

Everyone is bad at first. Or, as the writer Ernest Hemingway put it: ‘The first draft of anything is shit.’ The main thing is that you write. Just like physical exercise, the more you do it, the better you become. So keep on showing up at the page and putting down the words one at a time, and hone that writing muscle.

Four: Write anyway

When doubt and fear strike, write your way through them. If your inner voice tells you that you’re not good enough, ignore it. It’s just your fear trying to protect you from disappointment. Focus instead on how amazing it will be when you achieve your writing dreams. Keep writing your way towards them.

Five: Use a character questionnaire

This is probably the tool I recommend most to other writers. Not only does it help you create interesting and well-rounded characters but it should give you a ton of ideas for your plot too. You can find a character questionnaire here. Feel free to add your own questions to it.

Six: Focus on your reader

When you start writing it can be really easy to forget all about the person you’re writing for. Remember your reader. When you’re coming up with ideas, fleshing out characters, creating a plot and writing a scene, ask yourself: what will my reader get from this? Make sure they’re getting something.

Seven: Do the right writing

There are many different types and genres of writing. Make sure you’re doing the right one for you. In my next novel, Tell it to the Moon, one of the main characters, Amber, is really struggling with writer’s block. She just can’t seem to find the motivation to write. But when she starts writing a play she just can’t stop. Experiment with different types of writing until you find the right one for you.

Eight: Don’t let the dream-busters get you down

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that whenever you have a dream you will encounter ‘dream-busters’. These are people who will try and put you off your writing dream with sly put-downs or passive aggressive remarks. This is usually down to their own unhappiness or jealousy. Try not to let it hurt you – let it fire you up and make you all the more determined instead.

Nine: Learn from constructive criticism

Writing is such a personal thing – even when you’re writing fiction it still feels liking you’re pouring your heart and soul on to the page. So if you receive criticism it can really sting. But – if the criticism is constructive – try to learn from it. Even best-selling authors get notes from their editors telling them how to improve their work. And ultimately, that should be your main objective – to make your writing the best that it can be.

Ten: Write for joy

Don’t write for fame and fortune, write for the pure joy of it. I used to think writing success and talent was measured in book sales, now I know for a fact that this isn’t true. Now I measure the success of my books in terms of how much joy I had while I was writing them. You should too – it makes the whole writing thing SO much better.

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Bonus tip: Come to my young writers workshop

I’m running a workshop for young writers (age 11 – 15) on Saturday 27th May at Brighton Festival.

We’ll be going into all of the tips featured here in a lot more detail.

And it will be a lot of fun.

Find out more and book your ticket here.

 

Young writers wanted…

I’m looking for young writers to write guest posts for the Moonlight Dreamers website.

Topics I’m looking for posts on include:

  • Achieving a dream
  • Writing
  • Sexuality
  • Bullying
  • Friendships
  • Political causes / activism

Or you can pitch me an idea of your own.

If you’d like to find out more or pitch me an idea, simply fill out the form below…

 

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Coming August 2017

Tell it to the Moon, the Moonlight Dreamers sequel, is available to pre-order on Amazon here. Perfect for writers, dreamers and people who want to be the change.


The Gritty Truth About Writing

It was a Saturday night.

My head was thumping and my eyes were sore.

My entire body ached – especially my shoulders, which were knotted tight.

How much longer will this go on for? I wailed into the darkness.

I thought of the rest of the world all out enjoying their Saturday night – dancing, laughing, drinking cocktails with fun names like Tequila Facelift and Vodka Orgasm – and it made me want to weep into my glass of water.

But I wasn’t ill that Saturday night.

I wasn’t stricken down by the flu or in the grips of a migraine.

I was writing my first novel.

And I was wracked with exhaustion and despair.

I had no idea if what I was writing was any good.

I had no idea if I’d ever get the plot to work.

I had no idea if my characters were likeable or even believable.

Basically, I had no idea.

I felt like giving up practically every single day but somehow – thankfully – I kept going.

And I kept going because I had grit.

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Writing a book takes creativity and imagination … but it also takes a huge amount of determination.

It’s easy to dream of writing … but quite another thing to keep on showing up at the page, day after day after day after day.

Or, in my case back then, as the mother of a young son, night after night after night after night.

So, how do you find the grit to get the words down on the page?

How do you overcome the nagging doubts that sit on your knotted shoulders as you type, telling you you’re not good enough?

The answer is, you have to want it really bad.

And you have to get crystal clear on why you want it so bad.

It could be that you’re desperate to share the message of your book with the world…

Get crystal clear on why that is. Who or how would you be helping?

It could be that writing is as essential to you as breathing…

Get crystal clear on why writing makes you so happy. Make your writing all about enjoying the journey, stop obsessing about the destination.

It could be that you love the idea of entertaining or inspiring or thrilling or scaring readers with your words…

Get crystal clear on how happy this would make you feel. Picture your words lighting up others all across the world.

If it helps, free-write your answers to the following prompts:

  • I have to write because…
  • My dream life as a writer would involve…
  • If I don’t follow through on my writing dreams I’m afraid that…

 

Back when I was writing my first novel my main motivation was the financial freedom a book deal would give me.

When I had moments of doubt and despair like on that Saturday night I’d remind myself of exactly how badly I needed to make it as a writer.

Making it as a writer would put me back in control of my own destiny again, doing something that I loved, and really, who doesn’t want that?

So, I kept on showing up at the page, learning my craft from my many mistakes as I went.

And a couple of years later, my first novel was published.

I’ve since had ten other books published.

And one thing I’ve learned more than anything else is that it’s grit, fuelled by desire, that makes writing dreams come true.

 

For more writerly inspiration please visit the Dare to Write section of this website.


The Gilmore Girls Guide to Great Writing

The only good thing to come out of my bout of flu earlier this year was that – in my desperate search for something to watch in my feverish, bed-ridden state – I came across the show Gilmore Girls.

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Gilmore Girls is a comedy-drama series about a young single mum and her daughter, set in the fictional small American town of Stars Hollow. It originally aired from 2000 – 2007 and all seven series are now available on Netflix PLUS a Gilmore Girls revisited special.

Each series contains twenty-two, forty-five minute episodes. It’s a Netflix binger’s paradise. And – in my humble opinion – a masterclass in great writing.

To anyone interested in writing, I thoroughly recommend you watch it. Here are my takeaways from a writing point of view and why I think it’s so good…

 

Great, nuanced characters

Gilmore Girls has a huge cast of characters, all of them colourful and well-rounded. It’s a great example of how it pays to spend time developing your characters before starting to write. Take time to flesh out their backstory; to give them interesting quirks and traits and to develop their own distinctive voice.

 

Whip-smart dialogue

And speaking of voice, Gilmore Girls excels when it comes to dialogue. There’s a lot of dialogue in the show but it’s razor-sharp, funny, pacey, and packs a punch. The verbal sparring between the characters is brilliant and each of them have their own distinctive verbal ticks.

 

Wonderful world

The world of Stars Hollow has been so well realised you want to slip through your screen and live there too – or at least I did! The funny traditions, the town meetings, Luke’s Diner, the store, the town troubadour(!), the writers have created a wonderful world for the show. Take time to develop the settings for your stories so that they become characters in their own right.

 

Perfect balance of humour and poignancy

Although Gilmore Girls is way more funny and feel-good than sad, it still has its very poignant moments. This contrast between light and dark makes it compelling viewing. You become emotionally invested in the characters because the writers show us their vulnerabilities and make us truly care. Make sure your own story contains light and dark. Play on your reader / viewer’s emotions to make them care.

 

Realistic relationships

The relationships between the characters in Gilmore Girls are believable and compelling. Even the closest relationship in the show – between Lorelai Gilmore and her daughter Rory – is tested at times. And when they become estranged in one of the series it made for gripping viewing. On-off romances, mother-daughter tension, professional and love rivalries, friendship, fallings out – Gilmore Girls has it all and handles it all in a way that’s engaging and believable.

 

Well-developed secondary characters and ‘baddies’

Even the minor characters in Gilmore Girls are interesting and well-developed. The same is true for the occasional ‘bad’ character. We’re shown why they’re troubled and as a result feel empathy for them. The writers haven’t been lazy or taken any shortcuts and this greatly adds to the richness of the viewing experience. Take the time to fully flesh out all of your characters – it will really pay off.

 

Full of heart

As a result of all of the above Gilmore Girls is full of heart. You feel better for watching it; warm inside and more hopeful and optimistic about the world. It’s like mug of hot chocolate in TV form but without being too sickly-sweet. I can’t recommend it highly enough…