How To Create Your Own Writers’ Retreat

If you’re anything like me, you’ve fantasised about spending a week in France holed up in a cottage in the middle of nowhere with nothing to keep you company but a porch, an artfully placed umbrella, cold iced tea and your laptop. Bliss.

However, like me, you may also be broke. Broke as balls, to be precise.

Retreats can be expensive and struggling writers like yours truly need to save up to afford them, unless you take matters into your own hands… and create your own.

The appeal of a retreat is so you can work in an idyllic setting away from the drudgery (and distractions) of every day life. It gives you the required headspace and time to get your thoughts and ideas on paper (or in a Word document). But do we really have to spend hundreds of euro and travel abroad or way down the country to a house in the middle of nowhere to achieve these things? I say no.

Illustration by Grant Snider

If you live in Ireland you’ll know that we’ve had incredibly hot weather lately. Incredibly hot for Ireland, of course. The sun has been beating steadily down on the sun worshippers and light-fearing folk among us for about two weeks now. I’ve spent at least 50% of that time in my garden and it’s been wonderful.

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Submitting To Journals & Competitions • Just Do It

One of the best ways to describe me is that I’m an editor.

I’m an editor right to the core of my being and although it’s a great skill to have, it can be a hindrance too, especially for a writer.

I’ve wanted to write a novel ever since I was a little girl and for the past few years I’ve been putting serious work into achieving that goal. But I haven’t gotten there yet. I haven’t finished anything.

Why? Because I’m an editor.

The problem I face is that nothing I write is ever up to the standards of my inner-editor. I hum and ha and re-write it again and again until it’s perfect, but because I’m spending all my time doing this I end up not finishing the damn thing. Sure, I might have one perfect line, but what does that matter when the draft isn’t done?

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Poem • The Happiest Girl Has Never Seen Her Face

As it’s #PoetryDayIRL, I figured I’d publish a poem seeing as I haven’t done so in a long time.

The Happiest Girl Has Never Seen Her Face is about being insecure in your own skin. It’s about a lack of self-love. It’s about feeling confident and beautiful until you look in a mirror and you think reality doesn’t match up with the way you feel.

A mirror shows the flaws that

happiness blurs away, 

it is cold, silver judgement 

and the price to look

is a lifetime of smiles 

#PoetryDayIRL 2018 • What’s On

The theme for Poetry Day 2018 is Poetry Surprises. One of the best things you can do today is to share some of your work in progress with someone who doesn’t know you write poetry.

Sharing your poems with other people is a scary thing because poetry is so personal. Reading poetry is like looking right into the author’s soul and sometimes what you find there isn’t all light and lollies. Sometimes it’s tar and treacle, sticky and dark.

LabelLit 2018
Image from Kerrie O’Brien 2016 via

If you aren’t in the sharing mood (or if you’re simply not ready to share that part of your life with others yet), there’s some very cool things happening around the country today.

Check out the poetry posters on the Dart or on Dublin Bus, search for the Pocket Poems, learn more about Poetry Day’s ambassadors, or look out for the “guerrilla poetry” left in unexpected places around the country as part of the #LabelLit project!

poetry day ireland

Guests of the Doyle Collection’s group of luxury hotels will be treated to Pillow Poems on turndown, and if you stop by Applegreen you’ll be able to pick up a free driving-themed poetry card by Ireland’s Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney #FuelForThought

What are you doing today to celebrate Poetry Day? Let me know in the comments! 

3 Top Tips For Reading Books On A Budget

If you’re like me and you’re well on your way to being completely broke, these tips may help you continue reading the books you want to read without parting with too much cash (and sometimes none at all!)

Browse charity shops

People often do a spring-clean at this time of year. If you’ve done one of these before (and you probably have), you’ll know that a lot of things end up on the ‘donate’ pile that are quality items. Some of these items may even be books that you haven’t read yet, or books you have read that you don’t fancy keeping!

tips for reading on a budget

A lot of books end up in charity and secondhand shops and are sold for a fraction of the original price, even books that are in perfect condition with uncracked spines. Bestsellers like Gone Girl and always end up in these shops once the hype has passed, so next time you’re near one, pop inside and have a quick browse. You’d be surprised what you can pick up for a euro!

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12 Questions For Book Lovers • My Answers

This is just for fun!

When did you start reading for pleasure?

I was a very poor reader until my parents bought me the four book collection of the Harry Potter series for Christmas. After I’d grown bored of all my other toys, I didn’t have anything to do so I started to read. From there, the rest is history.

What popular book did you dislike?

Anything by Stephanie Meyer. Anything by E.L. James.

What book should everybody read?

I Am, I Am, I am by Maggie O’Farrell. It’s a memoir about the author’s 17 brushes with death. After reading it, I was given a new perspective on life and the many tiny, seemingly insignificant moments that has lead me to where I am now. It also let me see in more focus how I could very easily not be here.

book questions

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