Death Of 1000 Cuts: Couch to 80k Writing Boot Camp – Week 3 Day 5

Here’s the latest episode of my 8 week Couch to 80k fiction writing course. If you’d like to join in, begin at the beginning. All I’m asking is 10 minutes of writing from you a day.

Death Of 1000 Cuts: Couch to 80k Writing Boot Camp – Week 3 Day 4

Aaaand here’s today’s episode, with a new 10-minute exercise to help you flex your writing muscles. Enjoy!

Death Of 1000 Cuts: Couch to 80 – Week 3 Day 3

Our 8 week fiction writing course continues. In this episode I talk about the creative writing secrets of amateur online trance mediums.

Death Of 1000 Cuts: Couch to 80k Writing Boot Camp – Week 3 Day 2

Oh look! Another installment of the Death OF 1000 Cuts 8 week writing course! There are so many now! You can download them and work through them at your leisure. They’re getting weirder. But I hope you’re finding the journey interesting.

Death Of 1000 Cuts: Couch to 80 Writing Boot Camp – Week 3 Day 1

Week 3 Day 1 of my 8 week fiction writing course is here – daily 10 minute exercises to get you feeling better about your writing and discovering all the skills you forgot you had. If you’re new around here, please start at Week 1 Day 1. It would be lovely to have you onboard. If you’re working through these, thank you for investing your time in this. I really appreciate it, and it would mean a lot if you could share it with others (if you feel brave enough to admit you’re writing!) so that more people can join in and get something out of it too. See you tomorrow.

Death Of 1000 Cuts: Couch to 80 Writing Boot Camp – Week 2 Day 6

And here’s the last of this week’s exercises! Sorry I went a bit long on this one. I had – characteristically – a lot to say. Hopefully it’s helpful to get some of the theory behind the exercises I’m asking you to do. The broad theme of next week is Mask Work and the exercises will be more diverse than this last week. We’ve laid the foundations and now we’re ready to put some of the muscles you’ve built up to work.

Please do drop me a line via Twitter, Facebook or via the ‘Contact Me’ link on the right to let me know how you’re getting on and any questions you might have. It’s been great to hear from some of you who’ve already started – I’m so pleased you’ve been finding it useful!

Death Of 1000 Cuts: Couch to 80 Writing Boot Camp – Week 2 Day 5

And here’s today’s episode of the writing boot camp. Check out the beginning of this season if you want to join in, and start from Week 1 Day 1.

Death Of 1000 Cuts: Couch to 80k Writing Boot Camp – Week 2 Day 4

Our second week of the fiction boot camp continues with a late night session, and I talk (a little loosely, if I’m honest) about writing at different times of day and learning to surprise your unconscious.

Death Of 1000 Cuts: Couch to 80k Writing Boot Camp – Week 2 Day 3

Here’s the third installment of Week 2 of our 8 week writing course to get you back in the saddle with your fiction, confident and energised and happy to be writing. This week is all about letting go, and training yourself to switch off the inner critic to let your creative energies flow at full blast. Not that self-awareness and a keen critical eye are bad things – just that we want to develop control over them, so you can choose – as and when it proves useful – to temporarily close down that voice so you can generate ideas. Hope you find today’s exercise useful – do let me know how you get on!

Death Of 1000 Cuts: Couch to 80 Writing Boot Camp – Week 2 Day 2

It’s the second week of our 8 week writing boot camp and today I decided I would take you on a little journey, to help expand your mind for this exercise. Hope you like it! If you’d like to join in with the writing course, go back and start at Week 1 Day 1.

Death Of 1000 Cuts: Couch to 80k Writing Boot Camp – Week 2 Day 1

It’s the start of Week 2. Whoop. Go back and listen to Week 1 Day 1 (and have a pen or laptop ready!) if you haven’t done so already. Otherwise you already know ‘the score’ (how this podcast series is constructed). I hope you’re enjoying it thus far. This is where things start to ramp up. I know you can do it. Let’s write.

Death Of 1000 Cuts: Couch to 80k Writing Boot Camp – Week 1 Reflections

No exercises today, but I recorded a little off-the-cuff episode just to reflect on the course so far and what I think about starting to write. So it’s some miscellaneous advice that I didn’t want to bog down each episode with. You don’t have to have started the 8 week course to listen to this episode, and contrariwise, you don’t have to listen to this episode to do the course. It’s just like a little diary blog with some hopefully useful stuff in it.

Death Of 1000 Cuts: Couch to 80k Writing Boot Camp – Week 1 Day 6

And here it is, the last day of Week 1 of our 8 week writing boot camp. I’ve designed it with 6 days a week rather than 7 so it’s got a bit of a built-in shock absorber for the inevitable real-life responsibilities that will mean, with the best will in the world, you’ll miss a day once a week. Do your best to stay on track and make time for your writing – the discipline of clearing the space for it and making it a priority in your life is part of the process of raising your fiction game – but I wouldn’t worry too much if things occasionally get in the way. The trick is to pick yourself back up and keep going.

The weeks are loosely divided by theme, but everything bleeds into everything else so that’s not a hard and fast rule. Expect the daily challenges to get more diverse and flavoursome and sometimes a little trickier. Maybe weirder, too!

Death Of 1000 Cuts: Couch to 80k Writing Boot Camp – Week 1 Day 5

It’s Week 1, Day 5 of my 8 week writing boot camp. Just 10 minutes a day to get yourself prepped and hyped to finish that novel! If you’re new here, go start at the beginning. If you’re still pushing forward and this is your fifth day, thank you for your faith in yourself, me and your writing. Let’s push on towards results.

Death Of 1000 Cuts: Couch to 80k Writing Boot Camp – Week 1 Day 4

Here’s the fourth day of my low-stress writing-quest-by-podcast. If you’re new and you’d like to join in, begin at the beginning. Oh hey, and buy my novel, The Honours, for yourself and for your friends as an excellent present.

Death Of 1000 Cuts: Couch to 80k Boot Camp – Week 1 Day 3

Hello! Here’s day 3 of the Couch to 80k Writing Boot Camp. Start with Week 1, Day 1 if you’ve just landed here. I hope you like it. Thanks to those of you who’ve already started and have been letting me know how you’re getting on. I will do my very best to honour your time and make all your effort worthwhile.

Death Of 1000 Cuts: Couch to 80k Writing Boot Camp – Week 1 Day 2

This is the second part of my 8-week podcast course for getting you ready to finish your next novel. You’ll probably want to begin at the beginning. Do drop me a line via the ‘Contact Me’ link on the right if you have any questions, or you just want to let me know how you’re getting on. Good luck!

Death Of 1000 Cuts: Couch to 80k Writing Boot Camp – Week 1 Day 1

Today we’re starting the Death Of 1000 Cuts Couch to 80k writing course. If NaNoWriMo seems a bit much for you, this is an 8 week boot camp for getting prepped to write a novel, with only 10 minutes a day. Each day I’ll give you a little exercise to do, and talk a bit about why we’re doing it and how it can help you prepare for writing an entire book. They’ll all be available to download so you don’t have to start now (though you could!) and you can do them on your commute to work, in bed at the end of the day… my goodness, you could even take a notepad and do them in the bath.

(here’s the episode where I explain in more detail what the course is all about; there’s also a whole previous season of Death Of 1000 Cuts, with lots of editing advice, if you’re interested)

I hope you enjoy what I’m putting together. I’m finding it very helpful to put all my years of fiction writing workshops and toil at the writing desk into something practical, to balance out all the ‘this is what you’re doing wrong’ parts of Death Of 1000 Cuts. Do get in touch to tell me how you’re getting on or to give some feedback or to ask questions. Just use the ‘Contact Me’ link to the right.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 2: Chatting With Alexander Gordon Smith

Just because I can here’s another episode of the new season. This time it’s me talking to my friend, the talented author Alexander Gordon Smith. Go buy his books! Seriously, if you find some of what he says useful, you can learn so much more by seeing how he’s put those principles into action. I hope your writing is going well. If not, the next episode will be the first in our new 8-week boot camp for getting yourself in shape for writing the novel you’ve always dreamed of, and getting it right. Well, it’s kind of a boot camp, if boot camp only lasted for 10 minutes a day. It’s lovelier than boot camp.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2, Episode 1

Hello everyone – sorry it’s been such a long time since I last touched base. Life, eh? Mine has been very busy and very filled with a certain sweet baby (and also with finishing my latest novel, which – oof – was a real marathon) but I’ve cleared a little space and done a bit of planning ahead and here we are:

Hope you like it. It’s unscripted – I just made some notes then talked through what I think about the topic of getting ready to write – essentially making yourself match-fit. I’m experimenting doing some slightly looser episodes as well as scripted word-for-word – partly because I think talking without a script feels a bit more natural, and partly because my time is always squeezed at the moment and doing it this way is how I can actually put episodes out. Hopefully I’ll get more skilled and concise as time goes on but do let me know what you think. If it’s making you lose the will to live I shall correct course accordingly.

Do continue to send in your first pages for the show. Email link in right column. I’ve got a two-hander episode with me chatting to novelist Alexander Gordon Smith which I’ll put up soon, and I think I might drop a line to a few authors and see if they fancy recording something. I like chatting about the craft with no bullshit but a bit of kindness and getting technical when the situation demands it – way too many authors out there giving nice-sounding but vague/actively wrong advice. Either listening to the show makes your writing perceptibly better or it’s failing in its primary goal.

Right. If you listen to the podcast you’ll hear me talking about the Couch to 80k programme I’m going to start. That’ll involve a lot of recording so I’m off to finish planning out the exercises. Happy writing, friends!

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Preview

Hi everyone. Long-time no blog! I’ve been writing and dadding – all is explained in the mini-sode (ugh what an horrendous portmanteau) of Death Of 1000 Cuts below. If you’d like to submit, get in touch via the ‘contact me’ link to the right.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Podcast Episode 20

So look – since this is the last episode of Season 1 of Death Of 1000 Cuts, I wanted to try something a bit different. I thought I’d suggest some ways of revitalising your writing practice, so in the upcoming weeks you can make some substantial progress and upgrade your fiction to Project Status. ‘7 Steps To Becoming A Novelist’ was the rough title I organised it under.

I thought the episode might run 10 or 15 minutes longer than usual, but since it’s the last one for a few weeks (all being well, I’ll be a father in a few weeks, so I thought it’d be best to take a break so I can enjoy that) I ‘figured’ as the Americans say that it’d be all right. I recorded unscripted, then glanced at the time and realised with a kind of vertigo that I had been talking for over 2 hours and I was late for dinner.

I’ve decided to put the track up ‘as is’ because… I don’t know? I hope I say some useful stuff in there? I got to talk about a bunch of stuff to do with writing I don’t normally have the time for. It’s a pretty comprehensive heap of advice on how to get your fiction moving, how to develop a weekly practice, and how to get yourself from not writing anything at all, to finishing a novel you can be proud of. It’s not as polished as the usual ~20 minute episodes but it allowed me to cover a whole bunch of material I normally have to leave out.

If you suspect 2 hours of my talking about writing craft is going to prove deeply irritating to you, you may very well be right. But if you think it might be useful, if you’re looking for a pep talk or practical suggestions or a plan of action, then that’s in there, more or less. At any rate, I wanted to try something a little different for the final episode and I hope it’s okay. I don’t mean to be self-indulgent and it’s not that I enjoy the sound of my own voice (I really don’t!), but I just didn’t know a better way of getting a lot of advice and information across than just sitting down and chatting to you as if we were on the phone and you, for some reason, had lost your voice and had nothing better to do.

Here are some of the books on creative writing I mention. The one by Strunk & White I allude to but somehow forget the name of despite the fact it was literally directly in front of me at eye level as I was speaking is The Elements Of Style.

About Writing – Samuel R Delany

Aspects Of The Novel – E. M. Forster

How To Write Science Fiction & Fantasy – Orson Scott Card

On Writing Well – William Zinsser (sorry!)

Steering The Craft – Ursula K Le Guin

The Language Of The Night – Ursula K Le Guin

The Art Of Writing Fiction – Andrew Cowan

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Podcast Episode 19

Hello and welcome to Death Of 1000 Cuts, making you an awesome writer one cut at a time. Listen to the podcast, why doncha? Oh, and please share it! If you’d like to submit your work for a future episode, read our submission guidelines to find out how.

I hope you’re well and have had some lovely, interesting experiences this week. Here’s the text of the extract I look at in today’s episode:

The Diviners (by Liz)

The hospital wing at Dunguaire used to be the castle barracks, and later a museum. Now it is gloomy and dark and almost, but not quite, deserted. Luke hovers in the doorway, listening for Mam’s breathing, and edges towards the sound.

There are empty beds in the way, but he evades them with practised ease. The shadowy mass that resolves into a bed pan, though – he sees it almost too late, teetering around it so that his right shoe slaps the concrete floor a little harder than he’d like, and he halts. It’s not like Job to leave stuff lying around. Luke holds his breath but the sharp smell has already invaded his nostrils, and he closes his throat in disgust.

A muttering from three beds over, and his heart hammers, but then she’s silent again. He covers the last few metres and crouches by the mattress, facing her. Now is the most dangerous moment: will she be calm when she wakes? Will she be quiet? He’d be more sensible to leave without saying goodbye, but he can’t do it. Not now.

Her hair tumbles over the edge of the mattress; Job and the other nurses have given up tying it back for her, because she always pulls it loose. Her face is obscured by the night, but perhaps that’s best. This parting needs to be quick, and it will be easier if he can’t read her expression.

He takes a breath, slides a hand over her arm. “Mam.”

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Podcast Episode 18

Hi everyone! Look, it’s a new episode of Death Of 1000 Cuts, up on time! WOW. Pretty bananas, eh readers?

Hope you like the show. If you do, please do share it. You might also like my novel, The Honours? If you’d like to submit for a future episode, please read our submission guidelines.

Here’s the extract I look at this week:

Bookbinder (by Catherine)

Once upon a time, we had tonnes of magic. We had magicians who made it good and not wild. But the Queen died and took loads of magic with her and the King died and took more magic.

I squinted at the handwriting of my eight-year-old self.

So the magicians died. And some dragons died. Magic got scary and got into books and paintings and statues and gardens and stuff and made them alive. Billagoes took over places without dragons to eat them. With no people to use magic we had to get people to bind it. The people who bind the magic in books are librarians. The best were called Bookbinders and the best Bookbinder who ever lived was—

‘What are you reading?’ Meryl took the tatty pieces of sewn together construction paper.

I looked up and smiled at her. ‘Old school project of mine. Mum found one of the dogs carrying it around and sent it over. She thought we’d be amused.’

‘Magic and my Great-great-granddad, by Elsinore Bookbinder,’ she read off the cover. ‘Nice choice of crayon.’ She handed the little book back to me. ‘While the subject of your ancestor is currently on the table, have you considered where you might follow in his travelling footsteps?’

‘Nope.’ I swivelled my chair towards my desk.



‘You can’t avoid the Librarian loan programme forever. Your deadline to choose your own destination is in two months.’ She used her stern pay-attention voice.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Podcast Episode 17

Hello, dear friends. It’s another Death Of 1000 Cuts – my podcast about learning to write super-well. Sorry it’s a bit late. Things are pretty hectic in Clare Towers (my house isn’t really called that) as we prep for the changeling. But oof! Here’s another episode and I hope you thoroughly enjoy it.

If you wanna submit your work for a future cast, here’s the link, baby. The extract is below. Please enjoy, and if you like it, share it!

Murder In The Lake District (by Jim)

I woke up, leapt out of bed and clambered over to the bathroom to brush my teeth. I saturated the bristles with a thick blue jelly-like liquid, ran the tap and began to brush. As I looked into the mirror I noticed that something had gone awry. My teeth had thinned, multiplied, turned yellow, inverted , sharpened and curled in my mouth!

“Bloody hell” I mutted as I stared into my own blank eyes. Then I heard knocking at the front door, which quickly turned into banging. I rushed down to the door in a panic, and opened it immediately to discover my father, gazing at me disappointingly, while rain showered him on the doorstep. The rain was matt white milk, and it was streaming down the road by the gutter. It was at this point that I realised I must have forgotten to put on my clothes and was fully naked. My father, arrested on my doorstep like a rusty statue gazed at me as if he hadn’t seen me for years and what he saw now, he had a lot of concern for. All I could do was look back at him and gesticulate, spreading my hands around and jabbing like a praying mantis. This attempt at communication continued ad nauseam for what seemed like a period of time equivalent to the remainder of my adult life.

All of a sudden I registered another presence. A figure began to walk past on the opposite side of the street wearing a full navy pin-stripe suit, crooning gently to himself.