018: The Editing Process

Writing is only a tiny part of the battle – editing is where the true magic happens, but it can be hard to maintain the motivation to keep refining once the first draft is done. In today’s episode we discuss this process and why it can be such a challenge. We also share our way of editing in the hopes that some of the tips may help you.

Bonus Story Episode: The Wasp and the Willow

It's been a little while since we had a new episode of the podcast because we've been busy getting Issue 10 finished. To bridge the gap between episodes we thought it'd be fun to share the audiobook recording of a story from a previous issue. We'll be back with a real episode soon, so sit back and enjoy the story...

The Wasp and the Willow
Author: Carolyne Topdjian
Read by: Cory Miller
Artwork by: Wenting Li
From Firewords Issue 8: firewords.co.uk/eight

017: Balancing Writing and Real Life

One of the biggest struggles for writers these days is actually finding the time to write. We're all leading busier lives with more distractions than ever, so how is it even possible to find the right balance? In this episode, we tackle this topic in detail and discuss why writing guilt can be one of the toughest things to deal with.

016: Answering your questions

This episode is a little different because we answer some listener questions. We received some great #AskAnEditor questions and had fun trying our best to answer them. What do we wish submitters would stop doing? Would we recommend starting your own literary magazine? What themes do we receive too often in submissions? How can writers improve their confidence? And why do we ask that awkward question in our submission form? Find out the answer to all these and more!

013: Poetry that moves us

The first podcast of 2018 focuses on poetry and how we believe you can get a true emotional reaction from your reader. We don’t take an analytical look at poetic techniques, but rather step back to consider how writing should be approached in the first place. This is an area in which there are no clear cut answers. The main thing to take away is, prepare to fail. (What a lighthearted way to start the year!)

010: Final touches before submitting

We're back. We're married. And we're excited to be podcasting again.

As we head into another submission round, we thought it would be a good time to discuss them on the podcast, so today's episode is all about those final touches before you hit send.

Whether you get accepted or not is largely down to luck and submitting to the right place at the right time, but what can you do to have the best shot of being published? This episode touches on some things you should and shouldn’t do before sending your work out into the big wide world.

009: Knowing when to stop

We’re taking a break from podcasting for the whole of August and this mini update episode explains why (spoiler: one week until the wedding!) We also touch on a problem that a lot of writers experience – feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes you need to prioritise certain things in your life and you should never beat yourself up for that.

008: What have you got to lose?

In this week’s podcast, I keep the topic a surprise from Jen and put her on the spot about what’s holding her back from putting her work out there more.

Here are some of the reasons we touch on in this episode. Maybe you can relate to some of them?

  • Perfectionism and never being completely happy with a piece
  • Fear of rejection
  • The pressure we put on ourselves
  • Keeping up the motivation to keep getting back on the horse
  • Not enough time to write AND put in the work necessary to submit
  • Knowing where to submit

If any of this sounds familiar, you should probably listen to this episode! We’d love to hear your thoughts and, if we missed a reason that’s holding you back, comment below and let us know.

007: Self-promotion for writers: A necessary evil?

Writing can be a very solitary activity and a lot of writers would prefer to keep it that way, but putting yourself out there and spreading the word about your work can be extremely rewarding.

Self-promotion is often thought of as a dirty term and something that a lot of writers shy away from. However, it doesn’t always need to be about selling something and can really enrich your writing experience – even if you’ve never been published. In this episode, we look at some of the more rewarding kinds of self-promo for writers and see how building relationships can actually be the best kind of promotion for yourself and your writing.

006: What makes a winning story?

With Issue 8 fresh off the press, we are excited to be publishing the winners of our visual prompt competition, run in partnership with Bloomsbury and Writers & Artists. Maggie Chiang, illustrator and past-contributor of Firewords, created a wonderful visual which we asked people to base a short story on. The response and results were amazing!

To celebrate this, we’ve recorded a podcast that explains the reasons for our choice of winners and also delves into some other pieces which were submitted. We hope to explain here why our decision was not easy, and why we were blown away by both the number of submissions and quality of writing. In fact, the main thing we were surprised about here was the different kinds of submissions received, each one paying full attention to the prompt but interpreting it in different ways. Creativity was in full flow and we enjoyed every minute of the judging process.

So take a listen to this week’s podcast and let us know what you think of our winning stories.

005: Why feedback is the secret to improving your writing

In this week’s episode, we discuss different ways that you can use feedback – both from Firewords and other sources – to improve your writing on a continual basis. We also have three suggestions on where you can find this elusive feedback.

A lot of people treat writing as a solitary activity, but putting your work out there and listening to what people think of it is so important. We want to encourage feedback from groups and individuals who touch your lives every day. There is a wealth of knowledge all around you and sometimes your best resources are friends and relations so you don’t have to look very far for inspiration. Don’t leave these resources untapped!

It’s sometimes difficult to avoid feeling like feedback is actually criticism, but that is why practising a reciprocal, and carefully structured, process of feedback is helpful. This will help get rid of any feelings of judgement or negativity.


004: Building a writing habit

Why is writing consistently so damn hard? Sometimes it feels like life is constantly trying to interfere with getting words on the page. In this episode, we outline of our own creative writing routine and show we are normal human beings; we struggle with building writing habits too. We do have some tips and techniques that work for us and they may help you write more consistently as well.

003: Writing effectively for a set theme or prompt

In episode 003 of the Firewords podcast we discuss the different ways of writing for a theme, either figuratively or literally and how it is possible to write to a theme effectively AND keep your unique writing voice.

We start out by reiterating that the theme we set for each issue is optional but discuss the benefit to having themes at all. To illustrate this, we read excerpts from the following pieces we’ve published and discuss how they match the theme of Issue 7, Dark/Light:

  • Reading: ‘Chagrin’, a poem by Dominic Younger. Why is the poetic structure of this piece important and how does the careful use of language help it fit the Dark theme?
  • Reading: ‘Like Art’, a story by Shaun Bossio. How does the story manage to feel uplifting and optimistic even with its dark topic?
  • Reading: ‘Chiaroscuro’, a story by Liam Hogan. This story matches the theme more than any other submission we received. However, it doesn’t feel forced and manages to be an effective and powerful story. So, how does it do it?
  • Reading: ‘To Be With Them Both Tonight’, a story by Nick Wright. This is another story that manages to straddle both sides of the theme. On the surface, the plot of this story should leave the reader feeling sad, yet it is inherently positive.

A question from a listener starts a discussion about the pitfalls of trying to force your writing to fit a theme that doesn’t inspire you. Jen finishes up the episode by reading a flash fiction piece called ‘The Dragon and the Stallion’ by Jenna Crozier, which shows we also publish pieces that don’t fit in with the issue’s theme.

002: Submitting your writing

In this episode, we take a look at the process of submitting your work to literary magazines. We received almost 900 pieces in our last call for submissions and have noticed some points that keep cropping up. Some of our tips may help you streamline your process and succeed in getting published. We also answer some questions from listeners all about overused themes in writing – find out what they are!

Update: Some people have reported issues with playing episode 002. If you have any problems, click here to listen to the episode on SoundCloud.