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Southendian freelance writer and caffeine enthusiast, author of a few books you’ve never heard of
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I had no idea I was an INFJ until I was forced to take a personality test for work.

The company believed that the best way of ensuring workplace harmony would be to force everybody on its payroll to take a personality test, then share the results.

If we could just treat our colleagues according to their specific ‘types’, we’d never argue or mis-understand one another again… or so the MD’s logic went.

(Think of those ‘hot drink’ charts in office kitchens. Instead of “Adam: tea with milk, one sugar”, you’d have “Adam: prickly, extremely quick to take offence, probably…


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You’d think not.

Especially when famous quotes like Eleanor Roosevelt’s “do one thing every day that scares you”, and Neale Donald Walsch’s “life begins at the end of your comfort zone” regularly do the rounds on social media.

(In case you’re curious about who Neale Donald Walsch is, he’s a self-described modern day spiritual messenger who writes about how best to speak with God.)

Your comfort zone is a tempting place to stay in most of the time, because… well, it’s comfortable.

Like an overprotective mother, it cossets you against life’s harshest fears and pressures, bearing a never-ending supply of…


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If you’re friends with someone who writes, you might be familiar with the dreaded question: “Can you read this for me, and let me know what you think?”

Instead of responding with a bright eyed, “of course!” your palms start sweating in anticipation of what you’re going to say.

If you don’t write yourself, you may not have a clue how to respond, whether you like the writing or not… and who are you to say if it’s any good, anyway?

Suddenly, you feel completely unqualified to offer an opinion, even if you had no problem dissecting the plot of…


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Why is the Pope “allergic” to objectives?

(That’s not the start of a joke.)

You probably know good writing when you read it.

But could you explain what makes good writing good?

It’s a conundrum, isn’t it? Especially since what you think is “good writing” might be indecipherable trash to your best friend, who also happens to love the latest fiction bestseller.

You know… the one you thought had an unrealistic plot, with clunky dialogue spoken by flimsy characters you didn’t care about.

“Tell us, in 100 words or fewer, what the secret to good writing is.”

That directive had snuck in right at the end of a competition entry form I was recently…


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When work people try to contact you outside of your ‘usual’ toiling hours, do you respond immediately, or do you let them wait until you’re back at your desk?

This is no longer a dilemma solely faced by freelancers. Work had already stolen life’s identity, wearing its clothes and assuming its mannerisms long before 2020 swaggered in and tore up the rule book.

“(Employees) remain attached by a kind of electronic leash — like a dog. The texts, the messages, the emails — they colonise the life of the individual to the point where he or she eventually breaks down,”…


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Your mother’s your mother, that’s what they say

You won’t get another, so hug her each day

But what if your one kept going astray?

Instead of wholehearted motherly love

Life gave you a hefty shove

With healing hands hidden in gloves

“Don’t cause trouble,” whispers would plead

A gentle child, you paid innocent heed

You camouflaged every emotional need

“But… she’s your Mum!” others opined

When they saw you’d cut the ties that bind

Past with present, life redefined

Not everyone will understand

Your soul’s desire, its fiery demand

That you walk alone, your path…


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If nothing else, life in lockdown has confirmed how much I need other people around.

You’d think this might be for hugs, deep conversation, and maybe chipping in with the odd bit of housework, but no.

I just need them to be their natural, flawed selves in my actual presence, because this confirms a) that they’re human, and b) so am I.

I’ve found that excessive alone-time leads to excessive self-criticism, because there are no breathing reminders that it’s OK to be in a shitty mood, or be a bit crap at something, or look like hell.

(It’s like when…


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“Most people aren’t right about anything else in life, so why should they suddenly become omnipotent when they go shopping?” (Guy Browning)

What do you think of that famous phrase, “the customer is always right”?

To me, they’re hazy, utopian words that people only tend to use when they are a) the customer, or b) someone who doesn’t work up close and personally with their customers, every day.

Harry Selfridge, to whom the phrase is accredited, did not work behind the store counters himself. …


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Generally speaking, good listeners are good at other things as well.

I was reminded of that as I read a recent article, entitled ‘A Hostage Negotiator’s Top Tips for Talking to Frustrated Teenagers.’

(That’s a great headline, isn’t it? I clicked straight away, even though I’m lucky enough not to have any frustrated teenagers around to talk to.)

“Too many of us try to put ourselves in another’s shoes but we can’t, every individual is different and (their) mood at the time is unique,” said the hostage negotiator in question, Richard Mullender. …


Yaopey Yong at Unsplash.com

Thinking about writing can feel a bit like thinking about that phone call you keep saying you’ll make.

You play the conversation out in your mind, and the person you’re calling turns out to be in an awkward mood, and they complain about everything, and they ask you questions you’re not sure how to answer, and the conversation takes a lot longer than you thought it was going to, and the whole thing is just a big mental drain, so you end up not calling today.

Maybe tomorrow, when you’ll have more time.

But what’s stopping you from making that…

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