Since I’ve gotten involved in the Women Aloud NI project, I’ve discovered a wealth of female writers around me, many of whom I wasn’t aware of before. And this isn’t counting the many male writers typing away out there, of which I’m sure there are just as many.
What makes someone a writer is having the perseverance, I think, to sit down and write. To start something and to keep going until you finish it. No editing along the way and wasting time so that you write one page, edit it to death and then end up with two lines of prose. No, writing – just writing – until you have your story or your poem. Then you can rework it to your heart’s content.
I love Chris Evans’ 500-word creative writing competition for Radio 2. It’s all about inspiring children to write stories from an early age, and encourages a love for reading and for words. With authors and celebrities all getting involved to give tips and advice, and with librarians, teachers, parents and anyone else who wants to getting in on the act, it’s really become a big event every year now in the UK.
In short, it helps to make writing cool. It shines the spotlight on writing and on books, and it shouts out loud about how great stories are, and how much fun it is to create characters and lose yourself in a fictional world. It celebrates creativity and gets kids interested in creating their own stories, when they could so easily get distracted by just about anything else.
500 words is a great place to start for anyone. Yes, you might hear about the hardcore writers who can bash out 4,000 words in a day and that’s great if you can do it. But what’s really great is if you can persevere with those 500 words every day, and keep going until you get to the finishing line.