Creative Writing | Finding Your Writing Voice

Finding one’s Writing Voice is, I feel, a key element in writing.

Previous writing influences often inhibit the creative voice. It is as if the brain becomes familiar with one mode of thought and the writer often finds the leap into the realm of creative language difficult.  Dawn Copyright©IreneGraham 2014 office@thecreativewritersworkshop

Influences such as Journal Writing, Applied Writing and Corporate Writing demand a different set of rules and thought patterns. The creative writer needs to break free of those restraints to write creatively.

Like all art forms, practice definately helps. Being aware of creative language, what it is and how it can be used in story is the foundation to writing creatively,  but in my workshop experiences, it is when a writer finds what they want to write about – when they engage with their story – that is when they connect to their writing voice on a deep level.

If this is the case, then it is important to not only understand the language within creative writing, but to focus and develop the story you want to write. This will help enhance your unique expression, your choice of words and will set the stage for the nuances of the world you are writing about.

Through engaging with the creative writing process and understanding the fundamentals of creating story, other writing influences will find their place, allowing your unique writing voice to emerge – for your story.

Creative Writing Workshops
with Irene Graham in the West of Ireland


Creative Writing | 5 Writing Tips from Irene Graham

1. Think about your writing journey, plan it, plan where you want your writing to take you in easy steps – 3 months from now, 6 months, 1 year, 3 years.  Approach your writing journey just like you would if you were taking an actual journey by plane, coach or whatever. Quote Give it a Try

2. Writing is about understanding story and how to create it. Do you know how to create a story?  If you don’t, you are not ready to write your book.  You need to learn how to create story so that you can then develop your story…and write it creatively.

3. Are you yearning to write – but don’t know what to write about? This is common. Start with writing exercises to help trigger thoughts and memories. Remove your edit button and just start writing, see what happens. You don’t have to show your work to anyone, so just free flow and get into the mode of writing.

4. Have you written 10,000 words + and feel your story is going nowhere? If you feel there is something missing while you are furiously writing your book – there probably is.  Think about seeking advice on your story and your writing – don’t continue to write 80,000 + words that you are unsure about.  Think of all the precious time you are going to save by getting your story ‘right’ before you commit your story to the page.

5. Have you a story to tell but don’t know how to approach it or are afraid to tell it because it may upset x, y or z in your life?  There are many ways to approach getting your story onto the page, sometimes what you don’t say (in the way you leave it out) can say even more than what you write. It’s an art, it’s an art that is worth learning!

Writing Retreats Workshops – The Creative Writer’s Workshop


Creativity | When is the Best Time to Write?

Clock Copyright©IreneGraham2015 office@thecreativewritersworkshopInvariably in my workshops participants ask me “When is the best time to write?” The answer is: What is the best time for YOU to write? 

Individuals vary so much, our lifestyles dictate our calender.  What works for one person will not work for the next. Think what works for you, and schedule when is the best time for YOU to write.

HINTS to help your writing flow:

  • Make a Writing Schedule to suit your lifestyle, make it realistic.
  • If after two weeks your Writing Schedule is not working – change it – it means it is the wrong plan and it is not suiting your lifestyle.
  • Try to write in two hour blocks. I find if you only write for one hour at a time  you are not giving yourself the opportunity to explore your creativity on a deep level. Commit to writing for two hours – which could be developing your story, doing writing exercises or writing your book – or all of the above. See if two hours makes a difference in reaching a deeper level of creativity. Be aware of the outcome and repeat the process that works best for you.
  • When you complete a writing session, immediately make a date with yourself and schedule the next writing session – a date and time that suits your current lifestyle. Stick to this date – but if you have to change it – revise your writing date and lock it in to your diary.

The Memoir Writing Club


Writing Rejection | J K Rowling

J K Rowling, in an article in the Herald Scotland, reveals how Harry Potter and her Robert Galbraith crime novels were rejected by publishers.

Take heart dear writer….and keep sending out those query letters!


Creative Writing Retreats


Creative Writing | Writer’s Block

Flying Copyright©IreneGraham 2013 office@thecreativewritersworkshopI don’t believe in Writer’s Block.  Movies have been made about it, blogs discuss it, writer’s bemoan how it has struck them like a bolt of lightening, immobilising their creativity and their writing flow. But just what has happened?

Nothing. Nothing has ‘happened’. But you are right – when you feel you have writer’s block, your writing probably is going nowhere – but not because you have ‘writer’s block’ and are incapable of writing.

To me, if someone stops writing, if their story gets stuck and they don’t know what to do or where to go with it, it just means the writer has backed themselves into a cul-de-sac, a dead end, and does not know how to reverse out of it.

It probably means:

  • the story is going in the wrong direction
  • the writer is asking the wrong questions about the story, therefore no answers are being created
  • the writer does not know what questions to ask

What to do: Change your thought patterens about your story – start thinking in a new way. Move your characters around, change their backgrounds, axe them, alter their settings. Change as much as you need to so that your story starts going forwards again…and you reverse out of that dreaded dead end, and write!

Creative Writing Retreats – The Creative Writer’s Workshop


Creative Writing | Procrastination in Writing

DogDreams Copyright©Irene Graham 2013 office@thecreativewritersworkshopTry this creative writing tip and see does it work for you to help overcome procrastination in writing.

As you go about your daily life – focus in on one question about your current story. The question can be a simple one, or more complex, depending on where you are at in the development of your story, ie:

  • what does the main character look like?
  • what setting will work best to portray my story?
  • what is the background of your main character – where are they coming from?
  • what aspect of your main character’s background would reveal his personal fears?
  • what action should take place to bring about conflict between the two main characters?

Instead of ‘thinking’ why am I not writing?  What is holding me up from writing? Use your brain space to answer questions about your story!

Writing Retreats Workshops – The Creative Writer’s Workshop


Memoir Writing | Memoir vs Autobiography

Man & Dog Copyright©IreneGraham 2012 office@thecreativewritersworkshopMemoir writing has in the recent past become a genre in its own right.  It is now considered creative non-fiction, and is a popular genre in bestseller lists. In contrast to autobiographical writing in years gone by, a writer does not need to be famous or well known to write a memoir.

Autobiographical Writing encompasses a whole life – a life story usually written chronologically from birth to a given point in time. Thus autobiographical writing includes perhaps hundreds of characters, places and events from the writer’s entire life.

Memoir Writing can also be written chronologically, but it can also be structured creatively, similar to novels. Memoir writing is about drawing upon life stories and memories and focusing them into a memoir – usually upon a particular subject and the impact it had on the writer’s life, eg:

  • a war veteran and how he or she survived during and after a war
  • growing up with hippy parents, living life on the road
  • living in a small community in a minority race and the effect this had on adult life
  • generations of a family living in one particular house and the transitions brought about over time
  • the impact of the death of a child on family life
  • the struggle through a particular illness and how it altered and changed a life
  • travels alone around the world, and how this shaped a life
  • growing up on a cotton farm in southern USA in the ’60’s

So in essence, the man on the street probably has one autobiography – the entire story of his/her life, in contrast to memoir, whereby we have many life stories to share, and therefore, many memoirs to write.

From my workshop experiences many writers start out by thinking their memoir will be focused on a person they really admired, the life of their grandmother or father for instance. What this person did, where they went and what they achieved.  It is important to note that while writing a story about your father and his life achievements is a worthy concept, this is not memoir writing – it is biographical writing. It is a life story about someone else – not you. 

On the other hand, if you want to write about the influence your father had on your life – from your perspective, and the impact he had on your life and the decisions you made or did not make because of him – than that is memoir writing.

Likewise, if any of your siblings wrote their memoir on the same subject matter – the influence your father had on their life – it would be a competely different story to yours, it would be about their life, and the influence your father had on it – from their perspective.

Memoir Writing Courses – The Memoir Writing Club


Creative Writing Exercise | Destroy Your Inner Critic

Chalk3 Copyright©IreneGraham2015 office@thecreativewritersworkshop_edited-2“This is rubbish”. “My characters are one dimensional”.  “I can’t write”.

Does this sound familiar? Is your inner critic driving you to distraction and killing all hope of you tapping into your creativity and your writing?

Fear not. Sabotage is a very common problem with writers, especially new and emerging writers that are mastering their craft. 

It’s time to meet your Inner Critic – it’s time to destroy it – forever! This ghost is giving you nightmares. This shadow self is killing your creativity. This lead of weight on your shoulder is holding you to ransom – it’s stopping you write! 

Try this creative writing exercise to destroy your inner critic…really get into this exercise, delve deep, meet it, see it, make it come alive, face your inner critic…

  1. Arm yourself with coloured chalk sticks and crayons. Make sure you also have a black chalk/crayon
  2. Get a large sheet of white, non-ruled paper
  3. Draw your Inner Critic – this is not a drawing class – squiggles, lines, doodles are great. Go deep, meet this utter nuisance that is messing with your life. Just pick up the chalk and see where it takes you…
    *give your inner critic a form
    *what does it look like?
    *what does its personality feel like?
    *where does it hang out?
    *keep going….manifest your inner critic – free associate with the chalk
  4. Write anything on this sheet that you want to, talk to this irritant – what do you want to tell it?
  5. Fill the page, find out who this pest is, meet it head on
  6. When you are done, you can observe what this Inner Critic means to you. You can tear up the page, or even burn it (safely). This exercise helps many writers get in touch with their inner critic. It could help you to access your creativity, and your writing.
  7. Return to your writing…and write. Enjoy your writing, knowing that, at least, you now understand your inner critic, and can be aware of it with more objectivity. You can repeate this exercise as often as necessary.

Happy Writing!

Creative Writing Retreats – The Creative Writer’s Workshop