Recommendations Review Writing

Top 5: advice from a writer starting out

I would class myself as a writer. Yes, I’m a writer. I have had things published both online and in print, but I have by no means made it. In fact, I am at the very beginning of my career (if I can even call it that yet).

I blog (as anyone reading this already knows), I write for an online blog (paid, but not much), I desperately try to get commissioned for more articles for a variety of publications and I am working hard to get my first novel polished up so it is ready to send out.

Whether you’re a writer also, perhaps more experienced (which isn’t hard) and haven’t yet come across these useful materials, or simply interested in the writing industry and want to learn more about it, then here are five helpful sources for you to check out whenever you get a chance.

So far they have helped me, inspired me and deeply interest me. Here goes.

The Bookseller

I came across The Bookseller website on recommendation from a research source that I was using and so far I have found it fabulous.

The Bookseller has been the magazine of the book trade since 1888 reporting on all important news and trends within the industry. I personally have found it so great because like just about everything since 1888 it’s moved on and is no longer just a magazine. Now, with a small subscription fee you gain access to the most useful information in so many different forms.

From the official website bringing breaking news and a blog, to the magazine itself and everything in between. My favorite means of accessing this material is through the monthly podcasts containing interviews with authors, the book doctors giving advice on what to read and why, and comments upon general trends in terms of what is selling as well as useful discussions about the complexity of genre, for example. Trust me, this source is fab.

Writing Magazine

I have subscribed to the Writing Magazine for over a year now.

Although bombarding myself with the amount of information inside each monthly issue can seem overwhelming from time to time, having a glance each month, a longer look at what interests me and a pile by my desk to address when needing information or inspiration about writing is crucial to my work and interests.

Not to mention my letter getting published on the Letters to the Editor page in December, that was pretty cool.

Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook

Since undertaking my degree I have leaned on the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook as a bible for my future career and a recommendation by every tutor that I had. The huge volume is packed full of everything you need to know from how to write to which agents to approach when sending out your first manuscript.

It contains agent and publisher listings, magazine and newspaper listings, articles about specific topics from the traditions such as writing a cover letter and what to include in your synopsis, to tackling the most current issues like self-publishing.


Twitter is so useful in so many ways. Not only does it keep you right up to date with celebrity gossip, trending news and the latest remarks from Katie Hopkins, but it is very handy in the literary world as well.

I follow every agent and publisher I have ever approached, I follow many authors too and more recently I have been using my personal profile purely from a writing perspective which has in turn increased my following from people within the writing community too.

It is a quick, easy to use and important thing to have both to learn about current writing news and trends as well as upping your following and trying to get both your name and your work out there. Follow me if you wish @MillsWriting


It almost goes without saying but by far one of the most important and beneficial things to do when trying to become a better writer is to read, read and read some more.

Having recently finished a first draft of a first novel, I can tell you from experience and I know that my work is better when I have been actively reading more alongside my writing.

Reading gives you ideas, inspiration, stylistic tips and the chance to discover what works for you and what doesn’t.

So there we have it, just a few ideas for some useful material if you wish to improve your writing skills, learn more about the industry or merely listen to some interesting discussions about books. Enjoy!


If 2018 was a day

I realise that it’s now two weeks into the New Year but the January blues have seemed to hit my creative spirits and I am struggling to come up with an idea for a blog post this week.

I turned to Writing Magazine for inspiration and here is what I have come up with using one of their writing exercises – there’s always a way out if you’re struggling with a lack of creativity!

If 2018 was a day it would be one of the kind that is mostly bright and sunny with a little bit of darkness in the background.

Not total darkness but grey patches of clouds when you’re sat in the garden in the summer and suddenly feel as though it may rain.

A shiver trickles down your spine when you consider going to get a jumper, yet those glorious snippets of sunshine that put a beaming smile on your face return and lift your spirits, encouraging good thoughts and feelings.

Then the sky turns a little dreary again.

It would be one of those days that you find in October time where one moment you look outside into this spectacular sun bringing warmth with it too but the next moment the world has gone dark, the clouds have appeared and the sun is fading but just about still there.

It’s never quite as dramatic but it has an end of the world vibe to it.

If 2018 was a day then the milk would have gone off in the fridge and wine would be the only option.

You would wake up tired not remembering ever not being tired but having had a great nights sleep. Work that out?

The morning of 2018 would be a gentle dog walk with the happiest dogs, yet the weather has turned and it’s started spitting.

Most of the day would be tranquil.

The morning would include the finishing of a new book with a fantastic ending, a cuppa brought to you in bed and remembering that you had a croissant in the kitchen that you’d forgotten about.

It would be the start of a great day then spending twenty minutes writing a blog post that doesn’t save.

If 2018 was a day it would be a BBQ in the afternoon with all your friends and family, plenty of Prosecco and yummy food.

It would be laughter and chatting and all things good about life, realising that it is short and that we must enjoy every moment that we can.

If 2018 was a day the afternoon would feel long and tiring but it would end with a smile.

It would be a progression of waves of energy where you feel revitalised then tired then revitalised then tired.

It would be full of optimism mixed with moments of doubt and fear but the optimism would always come out on top.

The evening would be drunk; the type of drunk when you don’t feel drunk until you walk outside and it hits you. The drunk that when asked the next day you’re not exactly sure how you got home, what time you got home but you know you got home.

Certain parts of your evening remain missing, some will never return but you know that those moments happened so they have left something behind and that something is special.

If love was a day it would be the clearest blue skies and sun shining down on a garden filled with wild, colourful flowers. It would be a spontaneous trip to the beach with your nearest and dearest, loyal animals in toe.

If happiness was a day it would be one where everything is going your way. From the timings of your plans to fit in so smoothly to starting the day with a perfect cup of tea and then remembering you have  no reason to get up hastily so you have time to enjoy it.

If pride was a day it would be the hottest rays warming your skin on the sun lounger with only you and your book. Nothing to do, nothing to worry about just contentment in the moment.

If anger was a day it would be a thunderstorm that even the dog is afraid of preventing you going anywhere. It would be a text from a friend cancelling plans you’d been looking forward to and a fridge without wine.

If bitter sweetness was a day it would be one of those filled with rain that you think will never stop until suddenly the sun appears out of nowhere and everybody can venture outdoors again, but first you meditate and reminisce.

2018 was a good year. A very good year with lots achieved, lots gained and lots of happiness felt. It was a year not without bad spells and losses and sadness and doubt but it was a year that demonstrated everything about this life, good and bad.

I felt love and happiness and pride and anger and bittersweet and loss and fear and doubt and contentment and peace and more.

So there we have it, 2018 in a day. 2018 in metaphors of my days. Some things really happened in 2018 but they show the sort of year that I had.

A good day, a realistic day. Yes, it was a realistic year. Mostly good but not without nuisance. I suppose it was a year not unlike any other, let’s see what 2019 is all about.


Writer’s block: 300 words per hour

I came up with so many ideas for this week’s blog post as I always do, writing them down while at work or in the shower or making a cup of coffee in the morning or during everything that I do that isn’t writing.

That’s the beauty of having a creative interest. How ideas can come to you when you least expect it so a clean notepad and pen or the trusty note app on an Iphone becomes your new best friend. However, this week I seem to have struggled with every idea that I had.

Usually keeping up to date with my blog is the fun part of my working week. I don’t find it too difficult to write a decent and entertaining post, and it never takes me long so it’s another satisfying tick off my long to-do list. Yet this week it just hasn’t been happening and everything that I have written hasn’t come so easily nor have I felt that what I put down was any good at all.

Whether it’s just a bad week on the writing front, or I’ve hit a wall of exhaustion and need a fortnight holiday in the Bahamas (yes please) I don’t know, but I thought if I can’t write a decent post I will just have to write about not being able to write!

Sometimes I think of myself and all humans as cars. If you keep us fueled up with food and water throughout the day we tend to be able to just keep on going no matter what. Wine in the evening gives us that extra push into the night until we eventually crash ready to do it all over again. Admittedly one of my more random thoughts but I hope you can agree to some extent.

I try not to stop from my shift at the shop to sitting down at my desk to write and it seems to work. In fact, it’s never until I physically stop on a Sunday or the rare more than one day off that I get when I crash and feel shattered. I am sure many of you can relate to this too.

While this is true most of the time, today I do not feel like a functioning car. Cars don’t need breaks or power naps or refueling every five minutes with chocolate and coffee. Today I am not a car.

I find that though writer’s block crops up during my writing time quite often, there is always a solution. Whether the solution can be found in a twenty minute power nap, a lay down and listen to a few of my favorite tracks (of that moment, they change each hour), unloading the dishwasher or doing something away from the computer screen – there is always a solution which allows me to push on.

But today this doesn’t seem to be the case. I got in from my six hour shift feeling tired but armed with strong coffee so all would be well, I thought. I began on the first job in my diary having crossed off work and felt good about the first tick on my list, but nothing was happening.

After half an hour at my desk I looked at my word count with disappointment – three hundred and fifty. I can usually write a good seven to nine hundred words in the same amount of time and that’s not even on a good day.

I left my desk and lay on my bed for five minutes shutting both eyes and listening to the strong winds of Storm Ali whipping up outside, returned to my computer but the motivation remained elsewhere.

I put my headphones in and allowed to pick two songs to listen to before trying again. Though I thoroughly enjoyed this, it didn’t boost my motivation anymore so I sat back down, ditched the other job and began this blog post.

Ten minutes and six hundred words later and I think I have cracked it. The solution to not being able to write is to write about not being able to write! Writer’s block? Non-existent.

A huge gulp of coffee and onto with my other jobs!

Moral of the story? Where there’s a problem, there is ALWAYS a solution. It just might not be as obvious as it has been in the past.

Ta ta for now