Daily Mirror columnist Paul Routledge offers advice on writing your application for A Writing Chance

There is no big secret to writing. It’s just another form of self-expression.
But to make it succeed, you have to have something you want to say, and a desire to communicate it to others.

We all have that, which is why conversation – gossip, even – is our natural way of talking to each other.

Writing is conversation in the written, rather than spoken, word.

It is taught in schools, but most lose the skill once they leave. This is a pity, because the joy of putting your thoughts, feelings and reactions to events down on paper – these days, on a keyboard or even your phone – is of inestimable value.

“I wrote that” is a source of satisfaction. “They read it!” is an even greater spur to writing. You have successfully communicated to someone, possibly an audience of thousands, your understanding of your own world, and the world about you.

Fiction or reportage, it doesn’t really matter. The thing is to think, think hard, and then decide what you want to say. Then let your mind do the writing.
Two tips: never under-estimate the value of a good thesaurus. You don’t think of the right word at the right time, every time.

And don’t stare at the screen, willing the words to come, Bash away, you can always delete and start again.

Good luck, and happy scribbling.


A Writing Chance is a new project open to new and aspiring storytellers from under-represented backgrounds. We’re looking for fresh new perspectives and great stories from working-class people and those whose voices have historically not been heard in publishing and the mainstream media.

This UK-wide project is co-funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and supported by media partners New Statesman and Daily Mirror. The project is delivered by New Writing North and literature organisations nationally, with research from Northumbria University. Find out more and apply by 26 March here.