JOIN SPELLBOUND: 30 DAYS OF SAMHAIN WRITING CHALLENGE FOR OCTOBER 2021

As we look forward to crisp days of Autumn, the 30-Day Writing Challenge returns with all the inspiration you need to spark your imagination and write every day in October – plus a few extras tricks and treats!

October is when we take stock of the year before the onset of winter. It is also the time of Samhain, the ancient Celtic festival marking Summer’s End – a time of celebration and remembrance, when spirits cross from the Otherworld into the human realm for a single day.

In Christian times, it became All Hallow’s Eve, then Halloween, and many of our modern customs still have their roots in the old ways.

For this challenge, we are taking inspiration from all things natural and supernatural – witches and woodland, fairy folk and fantastic creatures, moonlight, magic and things that go bump in the night… 

Join me for the month of October to explore the myths, legends, superstitions and folklore of Samhain and Halloween!

In addition to writing prompts, we’ll have a few surprise activities to help us flex our creative muscles in new directions.

If you haven’t taken part before, the 30-Day Challenge is the perfect remedy for an uncertain world, with bite-sized daily exercises, inspiration, opportunity to explore, and a supportive and encouraging community of writers in the private Facebook group.

Whether you’re looking for focus, connection or a creative kick-start, the challenge offers a reprieve from the everyday anxieties – plus all the tools you’ll need to build a daily writing habit.

As before, I’m offering an email only version of the challenge for those who want to avoid social media and the internet right now, and have also introduced a tiered pricing system.

All the information is on the website – just click the button below for details – and if you have any questions, please drop
me a line.

For those of you using this time to send your work out, there are still plenty of opportunities available in the September Poetry Competitions, Submissions & Opportunities list!

I completely understand that this might not be the right timing for you to take part in a challenge and that’s OK.

Nurture your creative self in any way you can – DO WHAT YOU LOVE – play, read, make art, make something with your hands, knit, sew, mend, grow seeds, bring something new into the world this Autumn.

Image by Mike Kenneally for Unsplash (edited)

TIMEY RYMEY: A FREE ONLINE WRITING CHALLENGE FOR POETRY DAY IRELAND 2020

‘Time is a storm in which we are all lost.’ – William Carlos Williams

‘…it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff.’ – The Doctor

‘There Will Be Time’ is the theme for Poetry Day Ireland 2020 and to celebrate you’re invited to become Time Lords for the day and explore the phenomenon of Time in all its glory in this FREE online writing challenge!

We are living in the eye of a global storm right now but through poetry we can write the words to change the weather, unravel the wibbly-wobbly bits or find our way home.

The rules of the challenge are simple. 

  • Read the Time-themed prompts and poems.

  • Listen to the Time-themed tunes.

  • Write for 15 minutes.

  • Share your poem in the Facebook group.

  • Read and respond to other posted work.

Most of all, be creative and enjoy yourself!

how do i join the writing challenge?

Here’s what to do:

  • Sign up for the FREE challenge on Eventbrite by clicking the button below.

  • Join the Timey Rhymey Challenge Facebook group on 29 April.

  • Get ready to enjoy a day of Timey Rhymey poetry writing fun!

What are you waiting for? Click here to sign up:

The group opens on the 29 April, with a welcome, introductions and time-related stuff to get you in the mood for writing.

The challenge proper kicks off on Thursday 30 April for Poetry Day Ireland 2020, with poet Angela T. Carr sharing new prompts and inspiration throughout the day.

This event is hosted in conjunction with Poetry Ireland as part of their Bright Ideas programme for Poetry Ireland Day 2020.

what’s next?

Please share the challenge on social media with the hashtags #PoetryIrelandDay #ThereWillBeTime #TimeyRhymey.

Don’t forget to tag me @adreamingskin and @poetryireland (Twitter & Instagram).

My First Year of Blogging & Social Media As A Writer

Just over a year ago, I discovered my debut poetry collection, How To Lose Your Home & Save Your Life, would be published in 2014, and the news scared the crap out of me. Being published is every writer’s dream but it immediately begged the question – who on earth would read it?

Although I’d been writing away for several years, attending a regular writing group, sending poems out to competitions and occasionally, reading at an event, when someone was kind enough to ask me to, I had never thought of all this as ‘my work’. It was just something I did.

I hadn’t even sent my poems out to literary magazines or journals – I didn’t think they were ready for publication. But all that changed when I won the Cork Literary Review Poetry Manuscript Competition 2013. I was about to publish a book; now I needed to spread the word and build an audience.

Social Media

I first became aware of social media in 2007, through blogging for business and using Facebook, then joined Twitter in early 2009, and was amazed at the potential of these venues for sharing information and making connections. Social media allows you to engage with an audience, or build a tribe, by offering people what they want or need – advice, information, entertainment or value for money. But how would the business model translate to using social media as a writer?

I set up profiles on the four main social media platforms I was familiar with  – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and WordPress.com for blogging.

On a Facebook Page and Twitter, I shared general advice about writing, news and events, as well as following, commenting on and sharing info by other similar pages or tweeters. I used the blog for longer more content-driven pieces and also set up a number of boards on Pinterest for collecting advice, tips and prompts on writing, art and creativity.

The Results

I’m really quite chuffed with what I managed to achieve in 2014:

  • Almost 11,000 views on my blog in the year – according to WordPress that’s the equivalent of selling out the Sydney Opera House 4 times over!
  • Nearly 100 posts on WordPress – almost 2 per week. Eminently respectable.
  • Close to 600 followers on the Facebook Page.
  • Over 1000 followers on Twitter.
  • An audience of over 1800 readers across all social media platforms.
  • Regular engagement from readers on Facebook, Twitter, WordPress and Pinterest.

What Worked

I haven’t quite got a handle on who my audience is yet – people who read poetry, other writers or both – and so I’ve tried out different things to gauge interest. I’m always surprised which posts take off – it’s never the ones I think will do well! Here are some of the types of blog post that worked in 2014:

  • A Weekly / Monthly Round-up – writing tips, literary articles, competitions or events. I’m essentially quite lazy and anything that provides me with lots of useful information without having to scramble around multiple resources looking for it, is a damn good thing.
  • Advice From Famous Writers – who better to learn from than those in the know! 
  • News About My Writing – this one surprised me, as I think of myself as an unknown writer, so why would anyone be interested? I know I like to hear of my writing peers doing well, whether winning competitions, getting published in journals or reading at festivals – it makes those goals seem more attainable. If they can do it, maybe I can to.
  • Reports & Photographs from Literary Events – the next best thing to actually being there!
  • Sharing My Own Work – I tend not to share a lot of my own poetry on the blog, unless it has already been published – I prefer to reserve exclusivity for submitting work to competitions or literary journals, as these help build my credibility as a writer.
  • Sharing Other Writers’ Work – I love to discover new work by other writers but have to be careful about sharing due to copyright. Just because a writer’s work is published on the internet doesn’t mean it is available for general use – some writing blogs invite work directly from writers, to avoid this complication.
  • General Musings About My Day – the key to social media is that it is made up of the voices of real people, rather than press releases and corporate spin. It’s OK to talk about the everyday real stuff because we’ve all got it going on – it’s what we all relate to.

What I Learned

Although I didn’t have any kind of schedule in place, I tweeted, posted and blogged on a regular basis – daily on Facebook and Twitter. I set up a number of boards on Pinterest, at the beginning, but only checked in occasionally. The early effort paid off, as the info on those boards was regularly shared and pinned, but I’m still not sure how best to use Pinterest and it’s something I’ll be looking at next year.

The Facebook Page was the biggest disappointment and gave the lowest return on investment for the amount of time spent there. It has been difficult to grow and engage with a community on Facebook ever since their change of algorithm restricted who can see posts – they want Page users to pay for visibility. I gave Facebook Ads a try and did see an influx of new followers to my page but they were primarily from developing countries (possible click-farms) and very few of these new followers actually engaged with the page by liking, commenting and sharing info. Proof that it is best to focus on social media outlets that allow you to grow an audience organically.

And Twitter was hands-down the best of the bunch! It might seem surprising, when you can only tweet messages of 140 characters, but it’s amazing what you can squeeze into that tiny space and how many like-minded people there are out there to chat and share info with!

Social Media & Self Promotion – Top Tip

When first engaging with social media, I was nervous about the idea of self-promotion and how that fits into the whole tweeting, posting and blogging spectrum. One of the most useful pieces of advice I came across was this great rule-of-thumb for promoting yourself online:

For every 10 posts / tweets / pins etc, only 3 should be pure self-promotion, with the other 7 being pure relevant content for followers. The exception to the rule is a post where, if the self-promotion part were to be removed, the rest of the post would still have value to the reader.

In other words, readers will tolerate a passing mention of something you’re promoting, as long as the rest of the information is useful and relevant to them – otherwise, no more than 30% of your output should be self promotion.

What’s Next

My first year of blogging and using social media as a writer has been great fun – in looking out for great articles to share with others, I’ve read and learned a lot – but it’s been quite chaotic and one of the challenges for next year will be to put some kind of structure on posting, tweeting and blogging.

To this end, I treated myself to ‘365 Social Media Tips‘ – an e-book by Lorna Sixsmith & Amanda Webb of We Teach Social – to learn some insider tricks on using social media. On their advice, I’ve already tried out Buffer – a quick and easy way to schedule posts for Facebook and Twitter, and look forward to implementing more time-saving tips.

I’d also like to step up my game on You Tube – this is now THE venue for poets and spoken word performers to share their work online, through recordings of live performances or the growing film-poem genre. I really enjoyed my experience of making a film-poem of ‘The Tigers’ Tail, with photographer, Mike Bors, earlier in the year and am hoping to develop more live-film pieces in 2015.

It’s going to be a busy year!

Are you a writer using social media? Do you have any tricks or tips to share?

A Week in Words: Feb 23

I’m having a bit of a Goldilocks moment.

My favourite kitchen / writing chair has collapsed, after many years service and much ominous groaning / creaking; I am bereft. Comfy for typing, reading and even occasional lounging – I fear I will not see its like again.

Look out for a pyre of wicker, floating on the North Dublin canal, en route to Chair Valhalla. Poems will be written, songs will be sung, in its honour.

This is a grave setback, as clearly no writing proper can be attempted without a suitably empathic chair. I’ve dragged various others from around the house and tried them out in its place but none will do – one is too tall, another too short, one too hard, another too narrow. A writing chair needs to be just right.

Maybe A Week in Words will distract me from the dilemma.

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A Week in Words: Feb 9

I was off a-reading at The Ash Sessions: Cover of Love yesterday (more of that, coming soon) so the Sunday round-up comes to you Monday instead. Surely, the declamation of love poetry on the streets of Ranelagh, warming the hearts and minds of the populace is a thoroughly acceptable excuse?

Here’s what caught my eye, ear and funny bone this week.

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A Week in Words: Feb 2

Photo by Thierry Legault

I come across a lot of great articles on-line about poetry, writing, creativity and the Arts and usually share them on my Facebook page / Twitter. Of course, if you’re not on Facebook or Twitter (seriously?), and even if you are, it’s all to easy to miss out on a gem.

So, I’m going to do a round-up post once a week of my favourite reads to enjoy over Sunday brunch or relaxing, with your feet up in the evening.

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