Creative Writing

One of the great difficulties for a writer is getting started. What am I going to write about? What can I write about? The first thing that you need is the kernel of an idea. Fine – but how do I get such a kernel?

The youtube interview here might help some:

A tragedy in this writing game is that many who aspire to be writers hit the wall around page 80. Why if should be around that time I cannot answer. But many find themselves incapable of getting beyond that point and give up. There must be hundreds of thousands of 80-page potential novels thrown into drawers by writers in despair.

All right so that is the way it was – THEN. But now is now. So how about opening those drawers again and hauling out your half-formed creations? With the passing of time and a sit down and a review of what you have written can give you new ideas on how to force the story beyond what had been blocking you in the past and you find yourself out into far clearer water.

I hope this piece of encouragement helps some to pick up their pens again.

Best Regards.  Patrick.

Writers and Writing


Some writers have difficulty in finding ideas that can be developed into full-blown novels. This short interview might help here.  At least I hope it does.

Type in on Google – Patrick McCusker interview on YouTube.

Best regards.





Each morning a zebra wakes up and while brushing his teeth says to himself: “Today I must run faster that the fastest lion if I am to survive.”

Each morning a gazelle wakes up and while putting on his boots says to himself: “Today I must run faster than the fastest lion if I am to survive.”

Each morning a lion wakes up and while shaving says to himself: “Today I must run faster that the slowest zebra or gazelle if I am to have breakfast.”

(Old African story: several variations. All of Charles Darwin’s wonderful work is encapsulated here.)


A Tiny Story to Make You Smile

In the business of your life, this story might produce a small

smile: at least I hope it does.


The air was particularly fragrant that morning. The scent of the lily pads across the entire pond was never finer. It was a good place to be a frog.

He sat on a half-submerged leaf with the sun full in his face, and reflected on the three lady frogs he had covered the night before. Many tadpoles would issue as a result of that profligate dalliance with those notable dainty strumpets.

His patch of sunlight suddenly darkened. A large princess, from the castle on the hill, notable for her extreme ugliness, lowered herself into a heap on the edge of the frog pond. It was clear to the frog that she intended to stay awhile, blocking his place in the sun.

He squelched around on his lily pad and said:

“If you kiss me I will turn you into a beautiful creature.”

Well, given her complete lack of graciousness, how could the princess resist such an offer? She got down on her broad knees and leaned out over the pond and kissed the frog – and was immediately turned into a beautiful butterfly.

The frog ate the butterfly and the sun shone down on the pond as before.



Is There Something Wrong With Me!

How is it that writers can sit down in front of a blank page and two years later find that they have a 300-400 page novel on their hands? I have talked to writers about this but no one can give a satisfactory answer how this comes about.

In writing FEAR the idea started by looking at a drop of water falling from an icicle. Ninety thousand words resulted. Damn if I know how it happened. Maybe I need help!

Lots of other writers must have similar experiences. It would be great to share. What is it that triggered the start of as novel for you?

Comments welcome.


Writing – Where Does It Come From?


On a number of occasions I have been interviewed on writing. Always the question arises – where does the writing come from?
Others have told me that they too have had the same question put to them. And, I suppose, it should be no surprise. It is the most fundamental questions for writers:how can someone sit down with a blank page and two years later have 400 pages of a story?

Some claim that they write nothing for months until the story is fully formed in their heads. At that point they go off to a solitary location and write with fury, producing the story in a matter of Amazon weeks. I suspect this way of approaching writing is rare. You may not agree.

Others claim that they rough-out a detailed structure and a description of all characters before they attempt to start on ‘the real thing’. This approach has never worked for me.

I suspect, for most of us, we simply sit down and start to write page after page of pure rubbish. But, out of this, ideas begin to form and finally harden into the possibility of a story. This act of ‘rubbish’ writing seems to be essential to get traction going under a story. At least, to writers that I have talked to, that appears to be the way for most of them.

In the writing of the thriller – Water Worms – half an idea formed for me while looking at a single drop of water dropping from the end of an icicle. Two years later I had a story of 280 pages. Maybe I need help!

So, don’t pass up the possibility of a ‘situation’ that might lead to a story. It might be a bag of money found on the side of a road or six people trapped by a snow storm in a house. Grab at it and write page after page of ‘rubbish’ until clarity, in what you are attempting, comes into clearer focus.

I hope that something here might help those who are now experiencing writer’s blockage. One or two of these ideas might help to clear away the log jam and get the pen moving again. At least I hope so.

Comments would be welcome.



Religions of the world – AND CONSERVATION

When I was a child of four it was a wondrous thing to look up at a giraffe. From the advantage of being small, the size of these beautiful animals seemed to tower towards the sky. Elegant in posture and stance, with friendly large eyes,that looked down from a great distance, they seemed to suggest that they were much wiser than they seemed. In the world of children these are nothing less than magical animals. May they always be with us.

And now I read that their populations are collapsing: poaching being a major factor. Until now we were keenly aware that rhino and elephants were sustaining pressure. But giraffes? They were never in the news as endangered. That has changed. And what if they become extinct? Would it matter? Clearly, from the world of children, a wonderful animal would have been removed: leaving the lives of children the poorer for that.

So what about the great religions of the world in all of this?

Conservation programmes across the world are not protecting species. Why? Because an affection for wildlife is not there. Yes, we may not want to see a species pass to extinction but we are not exercised on the issue to want to DO something to save it. I can speak bluntly of this because I have been involved in conservation all my life; a life, I suspect, that is longer than most reading this blog. And yes, there are wonderfully dedicated people around the planet who care for nature with a passion. But the problem is one of numbers. Conservation has become the politics of numbers. Unless people, in their millions, offer a voice towards conservation, we will continue in this inadequate drip-feed approach to conserving species. Yet, how are we to reach the millions that are needed?

The great religions in the world have the ears of the hundreds of millions of their followers. They also have great cathedrals and mosques, churches and temples that could readily be used to reach out to their faithful on matters of nature conservation. The founders of these great religions discovered enlightenment in wild places. Such places appear to hold spiritual qualities that can benefit all of us, provided they remain intact. Therefore, once a year, could the spiritual leaders of these great religions not preach to their people of the value of preserving nature? That way the thinking of hundreds of millions of people will enter the debate on how best to prevent the draining away of so many species into extinction.

We have tried the other; dedicated groups across the world trying to do what they can against the indifference of the many. And it has not worked. The Red Books of extinctions are proof of that.

The dedicated associations, clubs and individuals who care, with a passion, for nature might consider this and now focus their energies on persuading the religious leaders, that they know, to take up this thinking. They, in turn,to be encouraged to generate a ground-swell that will move up the chain to the highest spiritual leaders that they would embrace this idea for conservation, and make it possible that the places of worship under their care would, for one day a year, be used in this fashion. We need their help. At this stage we must think in such radical ways if we are ever to instill a global ethic for conservation.

Members of conservation clubs and associations around the world, and public conservation bodies, entrusted to the preservation of species, might wish to debate this idea. We have tried everything else – and yet we lose species. This loss will continue unless people, in their tens of millions, have a change of perception of the value of wildlife to all of us.


Irish Writers and tax exemptions.


Revenue is recommending the abolition of tax exemptions for artists. One of the reasons that is stated for this is pressure from Europe because such tax considerations breached EU guidelines.

Few writers in Ireland make a living from their work. Removal of this tax consideration will make matters worse. The original idea in setting up this tax advantage was to give assistance to ‘creative’ artist: this was shamefully re-interpreted over the years to allow a ragbag of autobiographical works by many politicians and sports stars to avail of the tax break. What had been a wonderful and imaginative idea, at its inception, degenerated into farce. And now threatens the livelihood of genuine ‘creative’ artists.

So what might be done?

If the EU sees this artistic exemption to be out of line with European thinking then the Irish government will see to its removal. Yet, the government puts great emphasis on the creative talents of its people at every occasion when it speaks abroad. So, if this talent is to be encouraged what might be done when the tax exemption is no more? I can only offer a view for the benefit of writers in this. (Artists in other areas of work might wish to raise their voices in similar manner.)

One thing that the government might consider in the way of helping writers, when the tax arrangements are abolished,is to arrange through the Arts Council six NEW, and SUBSTANTIAL, creative writing competitions per year. Two of these might be for novels, one published and one unpublished, and two for short stories and the remaining two for poetry. In all of these cases the prizes should be considerable to focus the best efforts of writers, and to offer them a meaningful financial assistance for what they do.

This can be done – it simply needs government lateral thinking to make it happen. This process will get by the EU regulations on the tax issue and make again money available to genuine creative writers.

I offer this as a suggestion to all writers in Ireland to consider. I am not suggesting that this is a perfect solution, and will not help a large number of artists, but it will get by the EU concerns and get the government off the hook in that regard.

You might wish to make comment on this, whether you agree or disagree, or have a totally different idea on what approach we might take. Comments can be left on my blog or on my website –

We need, together,to reach a consensus on a suitable response to government on this. If we do nothing – we will have no cause to moan.