February 06, 2015

The Final Countdown!

Writing about web page https://www.iggy.net/writingprize/

Myths & LegendsIt’s here – the final countdown to the IGGY & Litro Young Writers’ Prize 2014/15. Thank you to everyone who has entered so far. To those who have not yet entered, be sure to leave yourself enough time to get your submission sent in to us by midday (GMT) of Friday 6th February 2015.

Once we receive the entries, they are reviewed to ensure they comply with our competition Terms & Conditions. Keep an eye on your inbox; you’ll either get a confirmation email from us telling you that your story was accepted, or an email with further instructions about any changes that may need to be made – but don’t panic if you don’t hear from us right away; due to the high volume of entries we’re receiving it could take us several days to get to yours.

Once approved, the stories will be passed on to the team of judges for their deliberation. If you make the longlist or the shortlist you will be contacted by 9th March 2015. And, of course, our shortlisted entrants will be invited to attend our awards ceremony in the Shard, London, taking place on Wednesday 1st April 2015.

If you have any questions please get in touch with us.

Best of luck in the competition!

The IGGY team


January 27, 2015

One week to go…!

Jo Higbee, IGGY Community ManagerYou have one more week to complete your entry to the IGGY and Litro Young Writers’ Prize (deadline: 6 February 2015). I’ve had a peek at a few of the submissions (don’t worry, I’m not involved in the judging!) and what has jumped out to me is the creativity and originality of the entries. I’m always so impressed by what IGGY’s members can do, and this year’s Young Writers’ Prize entries are no exception.

If you’re in the final push of completing your short story, or you’ve been bitten by the writing bug and want to keep up your skills, we want to encourage you to keep going. IGGY loves encouraging new writers and runs series throughout the year which can help you to hone your innate abilities. I’d recommend you check out some of what IGGY offers its young writers, just a few examples are below.

If you aren’t an IGGY member you won’t be able to access all of these, but if this has sparked your interest, get in touch with us. Remember, by submitting an entry to this writing competition you’ll be given IGGY membership, and you’ll be able to access all of the great resources the IGGY site has to offer.

Campfire of Fiction



Campfire of Fiction

Let writer David Forman help you ignite the spark of inspiration, build the fire, and keep it burning. Converting an idea into prose can seem as daunting as coming up with an original idea in the first place, but David’s years of experience will demystify the creative process and leave you feeling capable and motivated.

Prose Relay

The Prose Relay

A collaborative story-writing effort for the whole IGGY community, designed to combat the idea of the writer as a lone, solitary soul. Now in its third incarnation, you can add to our shared stories which we’ve been writing together!

Sounds & Scribbles

Sounds and Scribbles

One of our very first series about writing yielded some brilliant submissions from members. Listen to a short sound clip and let it inspire you to turn it into words. Like doing stretches before you exercise, this will keep your talents in tip-top shape and prepare you to receive inspiration from even the smallest catalyst.


Creative Writing Circle

The Creative Writing Circle

Even though writing can seem like a solitary activity, you’re never alone. In the IGGY community, members support each other in their shared interests, and we have many passionate and talented young writers just bursting with ideas. The Creative Writing Circle is our safe space in which to receive feedback on our work, read new and inspiring pieces, learn about new forms, and even discuss potential opportunities and careers for writers.

Good luck! And don’t forget to get your entry in by the 6th February 2015 for a chance to win the £2,000 cash prize.

You don't need to be an IGGY member to enter...

Jo Higbee
Community Manager, IGGY


January 20, 2015

Do you need some inspiration?

The IGGY and Litro Young Writers’ Prize deadline has started looming and with the new competition end date just days away (6 February 2015) you might still be looking for a last spark of inspiration to make your entry really stand out. If that’s you, consider reading some of the articles from IGGY’s resident historian, Becky Taylor who happens to know a few things when it comes to myths and legends.

Monsters & Myths



Monsters and Myths

Becky explores the Greek mythology of the underworld and takes a look at the legends of the Kraken and Perseus…

Read Monsters and Myths

Founding Myths

Founding Myths

The founding myths of Athens and Greece are a great place for ideas. Have a read of these Classics Wednesday pieces to get suitably inspired!

Read Part 1: Founding Myths

Read Part2: Founding Myths

The Yeti: Myth or Reality

The Yeti: Myth or Reality

Maybe something a little closer to the gritty truth is more for you? This article explores the Himalayan belief that the Yetis were the guardians of the mountains. It makes for fascinating reading! 

Read The Yeti: Myth or Reality


Good luck! And don’t forget to get your entry in by the 6 February 2015 for a chance to win the £2,000 cash prize.

You don't need to be an IGGY member to enter...


Becky TaylorBecky Taylor is a PhD student in the Classics and Ancient History department at Warwick researching ancient science and medicine. She was at the University Warwick for her undergraduate degree in Classical Civilisation and loved it so much that she came back for a PhD. She has been with IGGY for a few years now and is really enjoying introducing the members to the fascinating world of Classics!

The Classics and Ancient History department is such a diverse department with fantastic staff and students. Interested prospective students should read more about the department and the degree courses offered.


January 13, 2015

The Legend of the Black Dog by Ben Scarborough

Some years ago on a camping holiday with my family we stayed in the fishing Town of Whitby, situated in the north Eastwhitby_abbey_1.jpg of Yorkshire. One night we went on the Whitby ghost walk, if you visit in the holiday season you can go on this famous ghost walk, I highly recommend it especially if you go at dusk with its winding cobbled streets, old buildings untouched in years, and the feeling of being completely cut off by the Yorkshire moors.

Although now famed for its fish and chips and penny arcades, Whitby is also famed for its stone known as the ‘Whitby Jet’ gem stones and rich fossil hunting beaches. Whitby is also famed for its gothic ghost stories and strange folklore and is the setting for Bram Stokers ‘Dracula’. Also, high above overlooking the town is the East Cliff with ruins of gem stones Whitby Abbey. So if you love a good ghost story take a trip to Whitby!

During the Ghost walk, the tour guide told us of the local legend of the Barghest which are legendary monstrous Black dogs with huge teeth and claws that would walk up and down the beach as an omen to the fishermen’s wives that their husbands had been lost at sea. Legend has it that if you were to see a Barghest, something terrible would happen to you. Around the area of Yorkshire, the Barghest crops up a lot in folk stories and legends.

I have heard many stories of ‘Black Dog’ legends throughout British folklore in the UK from Scotland down to the south coast of the UK and Channel Islands with many varying names such as the Black Shuck of east Anglia, Hairy Jack, Shug Monkey, Cu Sith, the Galleytrot, Capelthwaite, Mauthe Doog, The Hateful Thing, Swooning Shadow, The Bogey Beast of Lancashire Gytrash, and Gurt Dog.

In the Coventry and Warwickshire area where I live, there is the legend of Lady Godiva, who famously rode naked through the streets of medieval Coventry in protest of her husband, Leofric’s taxation of the poor. And, in many artistic renditions of this legend accompanying Lady Godiva is a large black dog.lady godiva

North of the City centre of Coventry are the neighbouring areas of Holbrooks and Radford where my family originates from. There is a legend of a black dog in this area, and according to ‘The Folklore of Warwickshire’ by Roy Palmer (1976), a Black Dog with a matted, shaggy coat and green eyes roams Whitmore Park at night. People avoid the area, since to see the dog means a death in the family. A story from this area of Coventry as recent as 1949 tells of the ‘Great Shaggy Beast’ that stood almost 6ft tall and chased 2 waterworks workers along Watery Lane in the area of Holbrooks.

The influence of the Black Dog legend can be found in many other media forms such as Conan Doyles’ The Hound of the Baskervilles set on Dartmoor which has its own legend of great black beasts.

In Roald Dahl’sThe Witches, the Barghest is mentioned and though neither the term 'Barghest' nor any of its variants are explicitly mentioned in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the protagonist, Harry Potter, is told that the apparition of a shaggy, black dog that he keeps seeing throughout the year is a premonition of his imminent death. However, the dog later turns out to be his godfather, Sirius Black, who is an animagus, able to transform himself into a shaggy, black dog called Padfoot. (In the Wakefield and Leeds area of the UK, the Black Dog legend is known as a Padfoot).

In music, the classic rock band ‘Led Zeppelin’ wrote a song called ‘Black Dog’ although not explicitly about the legend of the black dog, the song does contain The lyric "Eyes that shine burning red" which is reminiscent of accounts of the legend of the Black Dog and the Barghest.

In addition to this, Sheffield based electronic music group ‘The Black Dog’ who are fiercely proud of their Yorkshire roots, feature many references to Black Dogs in their album, song titles and album art works as well as other references to the occult, and myths and legends of Egyptian gods and goddesses which also feature Black Dogs heavily.

If you are interested in these legends and others about the Black Dog, you can see some further reading about Black dogs in folklore and The Black Dog phenomenon in ancient history.

Ben.

Ben Scarborough is IGGY's E-Learning Graphic Designer. Ben creates interactive and engaging academic content for IGGY members including graphics, animation and flash design.


All images obtained from Wikipedia


January 09, 2015

Competition deadline extended and exciting news!

deadline_extended_2.jpg

We have some exciting news to share! We have decided to hold an awards ceremony to announce the winner of the writing competition at the iconic Shard building in London in April 2015 and all Shortlisted entrants will be invited to attend the awards ceremony along with their parents.

We have also decided to extend the deadline for competition entries until Friday 6th February 2015 so that you have more time to get your entry to us. Entrants must be aged between 13 – 18, short stories must be no longer than 2500 words in length and be on the theme of myths and legends.

Check out our previous blog posts to provide you with hints and tips on how to write. These include; staying focused, being unique, patience, being epic and listing to your inner voice - all great suggestions to help you be creative and get your ideas down on paper!

We also have blog posts by all of our competition judges, previous competition winner; Rahemeen and runner-up; Ellie as well as an insight into Editor in Chief at Litro Magazine's favourite myths; West African arachnid trickster 'Ananse' and the Legend of St Expeditus.

Read through our blogs, get some ideas and let your imagination run wild! We look forward to reading your entries!

Go to the writing prize site to enter now.

Good Luck!


December 15, 2014

Creative Kickstarters by Lucy Hatton

I love words and writing, and once I get started I can really go for it and produce reams of elaborately structured sentences containing far too many words and clauses. However, as I said, that is once I get started. Currently in the throes of writing my PhD thesis, I am reminded more than ever how difficult I find putting those first few words downLucy Hatton onto the page. Writing this blog is no exception! If, like me, you just don’t know where or how to start writing, I have a few ideas or ‘strategies’ I can recommend (believe me, I’ve tried them all!) for getting those excellent ideas you have onto the paper. Once you get the first few words or sentences down, you might find that like me the words just start flowing. Knowing where to stop them is another question (and this is where the advice about reviewing and editing given by several of the other bloggers comes in). But, in terms of getting started, if you sit staring at a blank page all day and struggle to write those first few words, give one or two of my strategies a go and see if any of them works for you!

1. The expanding plan

If you have an idea of how your story is going to go, jot this down in bullet points, with just a couple of words in each point. Then turn these couple of words into a sentence, so you have a bullet point list of sentences. Next expand each sentence into a couple of sentences, then a few more sentences, and before you know it you will have a series of short paragraphs that can easily be fleshed out to complete your story.

2. Free-writing

Just start writing. Anything. I find this is best done the old fashioned way with a pen and a piece of paper. Think of a particular aspect of your story, for example a description of one of the characters, and simply start writing everything that comes into your head. Keep in mind that this is just an exercise to get you started and most of what you write at this stage probably won’t make it into your final story, but you are likely to end up with a few sentences or ideas that you can then build on, and this is a great way to get the mind flowing.

3. Don’t start at the beginning

I think this advice has already been given in this blog series, but it really can work! If there is a particular part of your story that is the most vivid in your mind, start writing there, even if it is the very end of the story. Once you have one or two paragraphs down that you’re really happy with, it becomes much easier to work around them. When I write my academic work, I almost always do the introduction last as it is clearer to see where to begin once I know where I end!

4. Talk about it out loud

If you’re more of a verbal than a written communicator, this tip could work for you. Sit down and say your ideas out loud, or have a conversation with a friend in which you try to describe what happens in your story. Record the conversation, then listen back and write down the key things you have said. You may think this sounds silly but if you find speaking easier than writing you might be surprised at the information you can get down on the page by listening to yourself talk about your ideas.

5. Draw it

If you’re a very visual person, and can visualise your story more as images than text, then begin by drawing the key aspects of your story. Draw your characters, then write down what words you would use to describe the image, or ask your friends which words they might use. Do the same for the key scenes of your story, and soon you’ll have a list of words and phrases that are ready to be made into sentences and then paragraphs to kick start your story writing.

Finally, like some of the other bloggers here, the best piece of advice I can give is to take your time. The longer you sit in front of a blank page, the less likely you are to miraculously begin producing fantastic literature. If it’s simply not happening at any particular time, get up and do something else and try again later. Give a different one of my strategies a go and see if any can help get your creative juices flowing!

Please comment and let us know if you have any additional tips for starting writing, or if you have a go at any of my strategies whether they work for you or not.

Good luck everyone!

Lucy Hatton is a mentor and moderator for IGGY as well as a PhD candidate and part-time teacher in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick. Her research investigates the impact of greater opportunities for citizen participation in the European Union on its democratic legitimacy. Lucy's favourite books involving myths and legends are the Harry Potter series and ‘His Dark Materials’ by Philip Pullman.


December 09, 2014

Five secrets worth sharing by Carli Ria Rowell

Having navigated the first 16 months of the doctoral terrain, it is safe to say that I have done an awful lot of writing, some pieces amazing others; with great flow and creativity, and others which have been honestly, awfully quite bad. Throughout the past 16 months I have written essays, reports, book reviews, articles, blog posts, academic literature reviews, abstracts for academic conferences, summaries of my PhD research and so on! You name it and I have probably written it within the past year or so.carli

Writing, as enjoyable as it is, can also be a frustrating process. There are occasions that the words you are jotting down just don’t quite make sense when you are struggling to convey your message. Well today, in this blog post I will grapple with the latter. Here, I share 5 things that I would go back and tell my pre-writer self. Now, I want to be clear here. I am not a literary goddess, I do not find writing easy and in fact at school, English was my worst subject, I am to this day appalling at spelling and grammar! I much preferred mathematics at school! (Though I was certainly no expert at that either). However, as a Sociologist I cannot escape the writing process and I have since come to love it. For me, writing is about being creative with words, it is about expressing ideas and understanding in a way that captures the reader and pulls them in.

Whether it be a story, research findings or academic problem that you are seeking to pull your reader into, whatever the message being conveyed, a well written and creatively worded piece can almost certainly make anyone find anything interesting! However, anyone who has ever written anything whether it is an essay, an academic thesis or a short blog post, understands that at times writing can be an isolating and sedentary occasion. Often, in the modern world you find yourself glaring at a computer screen, typing words one by one until eventually they form a sentence, paragraph, story or message and this is true what ever it is that one may be writing. This mix does at times do nothing for the creative process other than to hinder it. Here, I share five pieces of advice on how to stay creative through out the writing process.

1. Allow yourself to get distracted:

So, you have been set a task and you must focus solely on that task right? Wrong! In order to get creative read around your topic, read things that appear to be irrelevant, read things because you are curious, because you were curious. It is amazing what this can bring to your writing. Reading around a topic or even off topic can bring new perspectives to the forefront; including new ways of thinking and understanding a different perspective! So, next time you have an assignment and think something is not of relevance, go ahead and read it and try to think about it in relation to the topic to which you are seeking to write about! See what happens!

2. Ignore the 9 to 5’ers:

A distinguishing feature of the modern world is that we work set hours. Whilst this is fine for those in certain industries and for those whose work rests upon the notion of creativity, it is somewhat not good news. On many occasions I have set myself the goal of writing for a set period of hours, doing a 9-5 day of solid writing and then pulling myself away from my writing at 5 o’clock in the attempt to ‘wind down’, only to find that my brain won’t switch of and that within moments I am back at my desk. Write when your brain is working and when the words are flowing. If your creative literary imagination comes awake at 3am, let it. Writing is a creative process and creativity cannot clock in and out.

3. Jot things down:

Wherever this may be, whenever this may be! In the middle of the night, as you are falling asleep, thoughts and feeling tend to have a way of appearing. When we are walking around town, shopping or cooking, when talking to friends, it is funny what things ‘spring to mind’. My advice is to write them down, whether this be a in a small journal that you carry around with you, as a note or reminder on your mobile phone or tablet, or even a scribble on the back of your hand! Get those thoughts down and write as much as you can! Return to them later and reflect upon the way in which you are able to bring these thoughts and insights to your writing.

4. Be passionate:

Whether you are attempting to write a story, poem, essay, a paper for school or a play; be passionate. Embrace the task that you have been set, own it and make it yours. Write about memories, belief, and personal stories or passions.

5. Edit, edit and edit:

When seeking to write creatively it is very easy to put pen to paper only to re-read it a day, a week or even an hour later to realise that perhaps, away from the initial moment of writing, it just does not make sense. The trick here is to edit. It’s not exactly a secret I know, but editing numerous times only serves to refine your writing to the point where it is near perfection. It also enables you to fine tune the creative message embedded within your text. Ever tried to say something out loud for it to come out in the opposite way in which you envisaged it? This often happens with creative writing too. It’s essential to edit such pieces; otherwise it may only be you that is able to decipher the message between the lines.

What tips do you have when seeking to stay creative during the writing process? Feel free to add to my list with comments in the box below.


Carli Ria Rowell is an Economic and Social Research Council doctoral student in the department of Sociology at The University of Warwick. Her primary research interests lie in the fields of social justice, social inequality, the sociology of education, social stratification and moral philosophy. Follow her on Twitter or visit her e-portfolio.



December 02, 2014

Staying Focused by Emma Monaghan

My blog for this week is all about how to stay focused when completing a piece of writing. Easier said than done right? I have always found that different people work best in different ways, so it’s all about trying out ways to approach a piece of writing and deciding what works best for you. There are no rules or methods that guarantee success so worry less about how you do something and more about the end result.Emma Monaghan

You might also find that the approach you use depends on what you are writing as say, a creative story versus a factual essay, might require some different writing stages, so don’t be afraid of changing your writing formula.

My personal preference is to be organized (sad, I know!), so I would always try and give yourself plenty of time to complete a piece of writing. Often the time pressure can be both stressful and a distraction, so starting early can reduce this. If you procrastinate when you have time to play with (which everyone does!) then why not set aside a specific time to have a go at some writing to introduce a little time pressure to help productivity. If you don’t work well in this scheduled time, you could change the length of time, location, the time and/or the day to try and find the right balance that works for you.

Really, what I am saying is that time is important as writing is a process. You need time to formulate your ideas, brainstorm them and think about how they could develop. You then might want to do a bit of research to focus on a specific theme or idea and then have some time to think about how to develop that theme or idea further based on your research. All the while you can be jotting things down, making a few notes here and there and then starting to write. Even the brainstorming process can be nicely motivational, as it encourages you to think about your direction and storyline.

When you do begin to write, don’t worry about how it reads or whether the words you have used are the most appropriate – just write! Get some ideas down on paper so you can feel like you are making progress to motivate you to keep going!

If you feel stuck or hit a bit of a writers’ block, why not share your ideas and writing with family and/or friends? The perspective of other people could bring some new ideas to the table to help the writing get moving again. Never be embarrassed or ashamed in any way by your writing. It’s an expression of your thoughts, feelings, memories and/or ideas and nobody can judge them to any less valid than any other piece of writing.

Sometimes you might just need a break, a chance to reflect on your thoughts and writing so far, some time to think about how you could develop what you have written further. This could be an hour where you go for a walk, do some exercise, meet some friends or even just watch television.

Alternatively, you might have a longer break so you can come back to the writing later and see if any new ideas arise (starting to write early can allow you to do this!). You can then re-read it, add a few ideas, remove those that you feel aren’t best positioned, edit grammar, punctuation etc. When I have written something, I always prefer to re-read it at a later date, as it reminds me of what I was thinking and feeling at that point in time in a way that memories can’t always match, which in itself motivates me to record more ideas and memories using the written word. From a more logical perspective, I can also see errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar and areas where I think my storyline needs editing more easily after taking a step back and coming back to my writing at a later date.

Remember that writing can be a really rewarding and refreshing process. It can allow you to formulate and express ideas that you might not be able to say. If there are things on your mind that are distracting you, writing them down can be a way of starting to deal with them. Writing can also take you to a place of your own creation, so it can be a form of escapism that adds something new and different to your day – that alone should be enough motivation to have a go!

We’re often accustomed to writing because we have to, so why not try writing because you want to……you never know, you might enjoy it!

Happy writing!


Emma Monaghan is an IGGY student mentor studying in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick. Her research involves investigating bacterial infections in farm animals. In her spare time she enjoys swimming and walking her dog Dolly. Her favourite authors include Jane Austen, Paulo Coelho, J.K Rowling and J.R. R. Tolkien.


November 25, 2014

Anything is possible by Ellie Serpell–Stevens

If you live in my area, you’ll have seen enough of my face in the newspapers to last a lifetime (and if you go to my school, you probably howled and wrung your hands in misery the instant you saw who wrote this blog). To these people, I am truly sorry. For the rest of the world (admittedly, a small number compared to the vast majority who weep at the sight of my name), I’m Ellie to those who don’t want me to murder them in the night, and Eleanor to those who do.

Like many writers, I believe in the value of imagination.ellie_serpell-stevens_image_2.jpg

I owe my belief in the value of imagination to my hometown:

I come from Southampton…

…and can honestly say that none of my descriptions have ever even vaguely resembled anywhere within a ten-mile radius of it. Southampton is about as uninspiring as it gets.

So this means nobody can say they don’t write because they can’t find inspiration in the places around them. The basis for my entry to the writing prize last year, ‘The House in the Castle’, was an idea, a notion of what the world would be like without stories. The setting was a dark, decaying world surrounding a sinister, crumbling castle. If I can write about a strange fantasy castle while staring out onto an expanse of grey, rain-washed, grimy buildings then, believe me, anything is possible. After all, it’s not about making an exact replica of the world as you know it. It’s about using what you know to write something that nobody else has thought of. That can be quite a daunting prospect, but remember, nobody sees the world quite like you do.

So that really gives you quite a big advantage.

It doesn’t matter if your writing doesn’t just flow.

I know from experience that it can be a bit disheartening to see the person next to you in your English class scribbling five sentences to your one. It’s hard to tell yourself that quality doesn’t necessarily mean quantity. It’s hard to realise that having all your ideas rushing onto the page in one go isn’t necessarily better than building them up over a longer period of time. Back in 2013 when I was writing my competition entry, some days would go by and I’d only have written a sentence or two, maybe less. Although I knew what I wanted to say, I had to think about how I said things. And needing to do that doesn’t make you an inferior writer; it just means your mind works in a different way to the person sat next to you. And who can honestly look at the brilliant writers of history and say that’s a bad thing?

I’d like to tell you that I was thinking about all this as I eagerly awaited the day when the shortlist would be announced. I’d like to say I was counting down the days, the minutes, the seconds. I’d like to say I couldn’t concentrate that day at school because I was so excited.

Hate to say it, but I’d clean forgotten I’d even entered the competition.

Which made my reaction even more extreme when I found out I was a successful runner-up for the competition last year. I think if I say any more than that you’ll lose all respect for me and my blog.

But it involved a victory dance. Or maybe two.


Ellie Serpell-Stevens was a runner-up for the IGGY and Litro Young Writers' Prize in 2013. You can read her story and find out more about her here.


November 20, 2014

The paper, pen and me by Rahemeen Ahmed

It was a normal day with the same old routine. Waking up at 6 a.m., running around to get ready for school, coming back home with a long list of exercises and worksheets to do. There was nothing different about it.

Except that on that day my story was shortlisted for the IGGY & Litro Young Writers’ Prize 2013.rahemeen 2

So that was how that ordinary day turned extraordinary.

My journey into the world of story-telling can be a story itself. Every step had its own lessons, its own experiences.

There was a time when I tried to squeeze every possible adjective into my stories. As a result, all of them ended up having paragraphs upon paragraphs of unnecessary descriptions that added nothing to the plot. All it managed to do was drag the story on and put off the readers.

There was a time when I hated writing in first person. Whenever I was given a list of topics to choose from, I instantly crossed off the narrative ones. I had no reason for this dislike - I just didn’t like it and I was unwilling to give it even a single try. It was while practicing for my GCEs that I actually considered narrative writing and I ended up loving it.

There was a time when I thought that fantasy was the only interesting genre. If you ever read my stories from that stage, all you’ll find are fire-breathing dragons, evil pixies and people with magical powers.

Maybe someday I’ll be writing crime-fiction.

Sometimes when I re-read one of my previous stories, I end up gawking in disbelief and wondering how, when and why I had written that. But all of those stories – good and bad - were my ideas and my work and they all helped me express myself.

Advice: Don’t be afraid of a bad idea. Many times an idea seems bad in thought but isn’t when written down. Many times an idea is bad in the first draft but when you revise it again and again, it becomes something amazing.

Inspiration comes in different ways. Some find it in music, some in other people, some find it in their life. And some, like me, find it when they stare off into space – literally. Sometimes I have so many ideas that I can’t focus on one and at other times, I come up with an absolute blank.

There are times when I don’t know what to write or I can’t find the words to express myself. Often I have a writer’s block for months on end because I’m completely out of ideas. Yes it happens.

But in the end there is always something to write about, some story to tell and it ends with a paper, a pen and me.

Rahemeen Ahmed (16) is from Pakistan. She won the IGGY and Litro Young Writers' Prize in 2013 with her story 'Dreams'.


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