The Writer's Cookbook

Writing, productivity, publishing.

You can get over your anti-failure mindset. If you're ready to.

How to Defeat Your Fear of Failure

Nobody likes to fail. Failing is horrible. It’s a sign that you’re a failure and will never achieve anything worthwhile in life.

Or is it?

When we look at other people, we only see their successes. We don’t see their hundreds of unpublished manuscripts, or the rejection letters, or the failed marketing tactics. We see that they have something that we want, and we’ll never get it because we suck and they’re awesome.


Stop right there.

Go splash some cold water over your face then come back.

I’ll wait.


Stop feeling sorry for yourself.

You do not suck.

That published writer is no better or worse than you are.

You are as awesome as you want to be.

If you think you suck, you probably do.

If you think you’re awesome, you will be.

It’s important to be humble, of course, but there’s nothing wrong with being proud of your skills and achievements.

I used to play down the fact that I wrote, edited, published, and marketed a book in a year, but now, I’m proud of it. I know each book I write will be better than the next. I also know I’ll never learn as much in a year as I did when I worked on What Happens in New York.

But I am always learning.

Life is a journey, and it’s not finished until your last breath.

I spend a lot of my time around software developers. It amazes me that even the devs I know that write don’t adopt their agile development mindset to their writing.

In agile development, you’re always learning and always striving to be better. The project is never complete. You’re always looking for ways to make it better. You put out the minimum viable product, or MVP, then constantly improve on it.

For you, as a writer, it could be a blog. You start off with no direction, write regularly, and gradually find your voice and direction. (This is what happened to me.)

When you see the world with an anti-failure mindset, you are the one that suffers.

You don’t learn anything, and you’re doomed to repeat the same mistakes because you didn’t assess what went wrong.

When you embrace failure, you learn from it. You accept that you’re only human.

And you don’t fail 1000 times, you find 1000 ways that don’t work. But it only takes finding one way that works to change everything.

When you embrace failure, you learn from it.

So give yourself a break.

Stop punishing yourself when you fail.

Instead, eat some chocolate, take a few deep breaths, then assess what went wrong. It might hurt at first, but you’ll feel better for it. It gets easier. Eating your favourite comfort food stops you from associating failure with pain: you learn to associate it with something you love.

Matthew Syed’s book, Black Box Thinking, completely changed the way I approach failure. It made me realise just how damaging it is to punish yourself when you fail.

Your homework is to go away, read that book, then come back and reread this post. You’ll see things in a completely different way. If you’re ready to.

This was originally posted in The Writing Cooperative.

Here's why the best readers make the best writers.

Why do the Best Readers Make the Best Writers?

So you want to write a book.

Or maybe you want to write some poetry, or even some copy.

You know what you need to do first?


Read More

Discover how to write about manic depression, otherwise known as bipolar disorder.

How to Write Bipolar Disorder, or Manic Depression

Bipolar disorder, or manic depression, is defined by rapid mood swings.

Not the kind that you get as a teenager when hormones run riot, though.

These mood swings are much, much more dramatic.

On good days, those with bipolar feel like they’re so invincible they can fly.

On bad days, their depression is so crippling that just getting out of bed is the hardest thing in the world.

Read More

Marketing Terms Every Writer Needs to Know

There are so many marketing terms out there it can be difficult to keep up.

Marketing websites throw them around, assuming you know what they mean. If you don’t, you have to trawl the internet to find the definition you want. Even then, you’ve got to get your head around it. Sometimes that’s easier said than done.

Just a few years ago, most of these terms made no sense to me.

So that you don’t have to go through what I did, I’ve compiled a list of every marketing term you’ll ever need to know.

The list is alphabetised to make it easy to search, but some terms will make more sense when you’ve read the related terms, too.

Read More

Stuck in a writing funk? Here's how to get out of it.

How to Get Out of Your Writing Funk

So you’re stuck in a funk and you don’t know how to get out.

Well you’ve come to the right place.

I used to get stuck a lot.

Truth is, I still do sometimes.

But it’s my job to write content. I can’t afford to get stuck.

So here’s what I do instead.

Read More

Got a Question About Writing or Productivity?

Got a question about writing and productivity?

Don’t know who to ask?

You’ve come to the right place!

No question is a stupid question

It helps to have a mentor.

I wish I’d had one when I first started out: someone I could ask seemingly silly questions to without being laughed at.

But I didn’t have anyone.

So here I am, giving you the opportunity that I never had: to ask your writing questions and get them answered.

Whatever your question is on writing and productivity, just drop me an email. I’ll pick one question to answer each month.

All questions will be answered anonymously, so you don’t need to worry about feeling self-conscious or anyone finding out it it was you. It can be scary to admit that you’re a writer—especially if your family and friends aren’t supportive—so rest assured that your secret is safe with me!

I promise to never, ever pass your details on to anyone else.

You’ll only hear directly from me about my books, my blog posts, and anything else I think you’ll find cool or interesting.

You can check out past questions on Medium.

Past Writing and Productivity Questions

I’ll update these each month with new questions 🙂

Don’t forget…

As a member of my mailing list, as well as getting your writing and productivity questions answered, you’ll also receive my monthly blog post roundup to ensure you never miss the latest writing and productivity advice, and you’ll get my Essential Writing Ingredients ebook!

Phew, that’s a lot!

And it doesn’t cost you a penny 🙂

Free writing advice just for you?

What are you waiting for? 😉


Get out of your rut and find what you need to write great fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and scripts with these essential writing ingredients! Download your free ebook today.

Introducing the Essential Writing Ingredients ebook!

Last week, I had an idea.

Since then, it’s been pretty much all I’ve been able to think about.

And finally, finally here it is!

Introducing the Essential Writing Ingredients ebook!

Whether you write fiction, poetry, nonfiction, or scripts, the essential writing ingredients are the same.

No, seriously.

I write fiction, poetry, scripts, blog posts, product copy, email materials, social media posts, and more, and these rules always apply.

Get your free copy now

Join other talented writers on my mailing list and you’ll also receive:

  • A link to join the Productivity for Writer’s Facebook community
  • The latest posts from The Writer’s Cookbook
  • Your writing questions answered in my monthly email
  • And of course, your free copy of Essential Writing Ingredients


All you need to do is fill in the form below 🙂

Happy writing!

Should you write how you speak? Whether you write fiction, poetry, or nonfiction, the same rule applies.

Should You Write How You Speak?

We were all taught in school that nonfiction should be written formally. Don’t use contractions, metaphors, or similes, and don’t acknowledge the reader in any way.

And you know what?

For academic writing, that’s just fine.

But you’re in the real world now.

Read More

Sharpen your writing with these five simple ways to improve your writing.

5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Writing

Crafting clear, simple sentences that connect with your readers sounds simple.

But it’s really, really not.

Many academic institutions teach you the exact opposite of how to write in this way.

That means that when you’re blogging, you want to write a commercial book, or even when you’re a poet, it can be very difficult to convey your ideas clearly and sharply.

In fact, writing clearly and expressing your ideas in a simple way is one of the most difficult challenges you’ll face, particularly when you first start out.

Read More

Download your copy of Productivity for Writers today!

Productivity for Writers is out now!

I first announced Productivity for Writers back in January 2016.

SO MUCH has happened since then.

I decided to make Productivity for Writers my third book because I wanted a break from the world of Hollie and Fayth.

I also chose it because, out of all of my other books, it was the one that was furthest along.

Had I not announced it so long ago, I may have waited a little longer to release it. I might’ve waited until I’d released a couple more books. Or I may have put it off indefinitely.

Productivity for Writers was the hardest book I’ve written so far.

It pushed me very far out of my comfort zone.

Of course, I’m always uncomfortable when sharing my writing with you, but I’ve gotten used to that feeling, both on this blog and with the adventures of Hollie and Fayth.

The difference is that I’ve never published a nonfiction book before.

It’s a whole different market, and I have no idea what to expect.

That’s both a terrifying and exciting process.

Like I advise in Productivity for Writers—and like I learnt while working on What Happens in New York—I’m trying to channel my anxiety into excitement and getting shit done, but quite often that’s easier said than done.

However, forcing my way through the anxiety and using it to drive me instead of destroy me works. And it feels pretty good knowing that I’m one step closer to controlling my anxiety, too.

Use the nervous energy your anxiety creates to drive you instead of destroy you. Click To Tweet

What’s Productivity for Writers all about?

I wrote Productivity for Writers for my younger self.

It’s everything I wish I could’ve told myself five years ago, back when I was in a dark, desolate place.

It’s everything I wish I could tell my friends who don’t feel they have the time to write.

It’s everything I wish I could’ve told Boyfriend’s coworker who was so depressed that he didn’t save a single word that he wrote. Ever.

Whether you can’t write because you’re short on time, you don’t feel that your writing is good enough, or your mental illness interferes with your writing, Productivity for Writers can help.

However, Productivity for Writers won’t work for you if you’re not ready to listen.

Good advice is only good advice if you're willing to listen. Click To Tweet

Many of us buy nonfiction books and think that they’ll offer us some form of enlightenment, but then we read them and don’t think that the lessons in them apply to us. We don’t do the activities in the books, or we read them with a fixed mindset and don’t consider their advice.

If that’s you, then Productivity for Writers can’t help you.

You have to be willing to change.

You have to want to write more.

You have to be willing to make sacrifices.

You have to want to put your writing above all else.

You have to give the book’s advice a chance. A proper chance, not a half-arse one.

Only then will you know if this is the book for you.

Is Productivity for Writers the book for you?

Productivity for Writers won’t hold your hand.

It won’t pussyfoot around what’s stopping you from writing.

It’s a tough-love guide.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll already have a feel for my writing style.

I’m here to be honest with you about my struggles, and about the issues you may encounter, too.

And I’m not going to sugarcoat the solutions to those problems.

You won’t get anywhere fast by tiptoeing around solutions.

You’ll achieve your dreams faster by accepting that you have a problem, and actively seeking a solution.

To get to what we want in life, we have to be willing to make sacrifices.

We have to be willing to put our goals and our dreams above all else.

That’s the only way.

And if you’re not hurting anyone else in the process, then why shouldn’t you?

Download your copy of Productivity for Writers today!

You can download your copy of Productivity for Writers now on Kindle, iBooks, Kobo, Nook, and more. (If you click the link it will take you to all of the platforms where it’s available 🙂 )

You can also check out some excerpts on the blog:

I don’t have a print version planned right now, but if enough people request one, I may change my mind.

Happy writing!

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