You’re invited — the launch of

Dear readers,

I am very excited to welcome you to my new blog.

Today is the launch day.

Please go over and take a look!

And leave a comment! Even if you privately consider yourself the sort of person who doesn’t leave comments, please read one of the new posts, and leave a quick comment.

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Or download one of the free ebooks. Or join a writing course.

If you are a teacher, visit this essay about feedback and fencing.

If you are a fiction writer, visit this page.

If you write for your work, visit this page.

If you want to become a successful blogger, visit this amusing post.


If you would like to know what writing tools and apps I recommend, visit this page.

You may be wondering: why relaunch you blog? What’s the point of creating a grand new site?

After all, in the grand scheme of blogging, I am successful.

I have regular conversations with readers. Teachers adopt ideas from my posts into their syllabi. Academics quote my writing (not always positively). People email me month after month, saying I inspired them.

My readers even support me financially, through my Patreon.

And yet I still had these four problems.

Here they are, in a list:

  1. Everyone spends most of their time on fb.
  2. Most new people who visit your site never come back.
  3. It’s hard to provide extra value for your most committed readers.
  4. You aren’t making any money.

A graphic about the four problems

To explain how these problems work together: firstly, your potential readers are not surfing the web looking for interesting blogs to fall in love with. They are hanging out on Facebook, or Pinterest, or (maybe) Twitter / Linkedin.

So you have to struggle to get their attention and get them to click a link.

Secondly, most sites have a very high “bounce” rate. When you do get new readers, most of them appear, read one post, and leave, never to return.

Rather than stick around, they “bounce.”

(As an example: my posts have repeatedly been awarded a “Freshly Pressed” promotion from WordPress. Each time I received this honour, thousands of new visitors rushed over to visit. Amazing. And yet a day or two later, the blog’s traffic numbers returned to normal. The new readers checked out the site, commented, and departed.)

Thirdly — for the readers who do love your writing — it’s hard to reach out to them and offer them something extra. It’s hard to deepen that relationship or create something particularly useful for them.

Often, you don’t even know who they are. If they comment, you might have a name and an email address. But you don’t have an easy way to stay in touch.

Fourthly, a blog is free to read, and so it’s hard to make money from its (modest) success. And while this problem is perhaps not a big deal — many people write for free and are happy about it — over time, it eventually makes all the other problems worse.

The lack of an income drags down all the other aspects of your blog, because your time to write is necessarily limited.

Money Makes Everything Easier, Obviously

You could spend lots of time marketing your posts on Facebook. You could spend more time researching and planning great blog posts so that readers are more likely to stick around. You could create a cool Facebook group or Slack channel to build a community. You could devise intricate ways to advertise or build your Patreon.

But all of those things take time. And you need to be earning a living, and eating, and sleeping. Eventually, the lack of an income from the blog makes all the other problems worse.

Therefore, to run a more successful blog, I would need, somehow, to solve all four problems at once.

Want to know how I plan to do it?

Keep reading to find out!

Thank you to for Freshly Pressing me!

The day before I re-launch my site, and move this show over to a self-hosted site, I wanted to say thank you to for so many years of great hosting.

Here is the first ever post of mine to be Freshly Pressed: Writing Funks.

I’m very grateful.

PS Do you write stories? Take a look at my free training course for writers.

Writing Cycles, Writing Funks

One of the funny things about writing a blog is that you see, on the screen in front of you, plain evidence of the upswings and downswings of your time, inspiration, and urge to write. You know when you haven’t posted much in a while.

It’s a very odd thing, however, how little the conscious mind seems aware of these flows of energy and strength.

I might detect, consciously, no reason why I can’t sit down and write another paragraph of a story, or draft that little essay on Paco di Lucia that I had planned, and yet once I’ve been sitting at my desk for a time, and been unable to write much, it suddenly occurs to me that I’ve been away from home three weekends in a row. Simply speaking, I’ve exhausted myself and need to take a break.

My artistic well–which resides somewhere in the brain far deeper than consciousness, which seems fed by a strange and unstable mixture of rest, routine, books and conversation, competition, and deadlines–had run (temporarily) dry.

I’m sure that everyone who does creative work is familiar with these bouts of high energy and low. Emerson wrote, in the essay “Circles:”

Our moods do not believe in each other. To-day I am full of thoughts, and can write what I please. I see no reason why I should not have the same thought, the same power of expression, to-morrow. What I write, whilst I write it, seems the most natural thing in the world; but yesterday I saw a dreary vacuity in this direction in which now I see so much; and a month hence, I doubt not, I shall wonder who he was that wrote so many continuous pages.

Yet still, it would be nice to be able to track the level of that well of artistic energy, and know in advance when it was getting low, or know confidently what action to take to quickly restore it. But when I find myself thinking like that, I’m reminded of something very wise once told to me in a London cafe.

This was a couple of years ago now, when I was jotting down ideas in a notebook, and I got the strong impression that the woman sitting at a nearby table was a writer. She was, in fact, Michelene Wandor, the author of a major study of the creative writing industry, The Author Is Not Dead, Merely Somewhere Else. We started talking, and I mentioned these sort of thoughts.

She replied (and I’m repeating this from memory, so it may not quite be accurate) that writing is supposed to be a social activity. It’s supposed to have a social function, too–a wider purpose. When we forget this, and instead treat writing as something purely personal, then we naturally become a little manic about it. We treat the capacity to write as proof that we have a soul, and so we make “writer’s block” a terrible condition. But writing is supposed to be like everything else, with a rhythm and a flow. It’s supposed to interact with life as well as, at times, require a retreat from it. No one is supposed to write all the time, she said. And so my three recent weekends away were not, in this sense, weekends away from writing–they were part of my life, just as the writing is.

Thinking about this idea, today, I am also reminded that, actually, I have written a great deal lately. I’ve just completed the first big section of a new novel, 150 pages, which I’m about to show to classmates, and, possibly, my agent. I’ve got a fair idea, too, how to move forward with the second section–it’s very exciting. So perhaps my conscious mind is bad, also, at knowing when I’ve been writing “enough.” Perhaps that well of mine is wiser than I am, keeping my reserves fresh for the big, on-going project.

What’s your experience of this? Are you, regardless of the points made above, a firm believer in daily writing?