My mentee Catherine Cawley and I are up on the #WriteMentor Blog with this Q & A about our mentoring experience.
One of Catherine’s short stories will feature in the new issue of Paperbound which is another awesome and inclusive member of the #KidLit community – providing opportunities for children’s writers and illustrators to publish their work.
Entering online short story competitions is how I first dared to put my work out into the world. These past few years I’ve entered fewer, focusing instead on writing novels. But having recently parted from my agent, finished a novel, and lurking in lockdown lethargy, I’ve found myself searching out short story and flash fiction competitions once more. There’s a kind of comfort in it, a way of reminding myself that I can still write, that I will have more ideas.
This kind of sums up writing life. However far along the publishing path you get, at some point you invariably loop back to a place you were before – older, wiser, and hopefully a better writer.
This is a blog I wrote back in August for the #WriteMentor Spark Programme. Another of Stuart White’s wonderful inclusive and encouraging iniatives, Spark is a good affordable way to get help with your writing and engage with the children’s writing and publishing community.
How to keep writing when you have mental ill health – 6 practical tips
Alongside therapy, medication, and exercise, many people find writing can help to manage their mental health.
But there’s a catch: How do you write when depression means just getting out of bed is too hard? Or OCD has you stuck in a loop of some tedious behaviour? Or anxiety tells you that you’re not good enough, you’ll never be a writer, and sends your brain spiralling?
Having lived with chronic anxiety since childhood, plus depression and OCD on the side, in my experience life is always better when I’m writing. Any kind is good – non-fiction, journaling, memoir, poetry, therapeutic – but for me, fiction works best. Here, I offer some practical tips to help you keep writing on difficult days.
Sunday morning run on the cycle track through woods.
May is a month that weeps green. Cow parsley and nettles reach my shoulders in places along the path. The smell of wild garlic shouts life, joy, hope, and mingles with the sleazy scent of hawthorn flowers.
This is a path I run often, through all the seasons, and I love it.
The very first short story I had published was born here, about eight years ago. Little Red Running Hood. I entered an online competition run by the wonderful, but sadly now defunct, Inktears. The story was commended and published on their website. I look at the story now with a critical eye, of course. Certainly, I didn’t understand the concept of killing darlings back then. 😁
It’s back! #WriteMentor – the highly successful mentoring progamme for YA and children’s writers. And I’m delighted to be a mentor again this year.
Why I Mentor
I’ll tell you the truth. This time last year I was pretty low about my own writing. My novel had been out on submission with publishers for a (long) while and things were not looking promising. I struggled to write, had repetitive strain injury from refreshing my emails, and spent far more time than was good for me on twitter.