If you’ve ever dreamed about picking up a pen and reaming of a great novel or composing some poetic verse, or jotting down the story of your life, or creating a colourful short story to amuse your grand-children, then now is most definitely the time to do it!

But how to begin… in the words of the Bard, “that is the question”. In fact, in literary terms, that is the first great obstacle that our hero must overcome on their journey of self-discovery.

Well, just as in any great story the journey begins with a chance encounter. In this case a suitably strange sequence of unrelated coincidences takes our protagonist by the hand and places them squarely upon the right road.

I can just imagine the opening line of your interview with The Guardian Literary Section twelve months from now. “Well, of course I had always thought about getting into creative writing but I never seemed to have the time. Then the Coronavirus pandemic happened and I found myself stuck at home with nothing to do. Even that wouldn’t have been enough to prompt me if I hadn’t stumbled across a wonderful article on Greysnet all about how to get started in creative writing. Well, I just took the plunge and here I am today, a best-selling author who’s just been short-listed for the Booker Prize. In a way I owe it all to Greysnet.”

First of all, may I say, you’re far too kind, the honour is all yours but thanks for the plug in the Guardian all the same. Anyway, aren’t we getting a little ahead of ourselves? You still haven’t actually starting writing anything yet. But don’t worry because these flights of fancy are exactly the sort of thing that great writing is made of. You just need to get it out of your head and on to paper. And we are here to help you do just that.

Over the next six weeks our Writer In Residence (enforced residence, since she can’t actually go anywhere), the wonderful Karen Quinn, will be teaching you everything you need to know to help you get started, or if you’ve already begun your journey as a writer, to help you along the path with a plethora of hints, tips, techniques and ideas.

Here’s Chapter One (it’s actually Lesson One but we thought Chapter One sounded more literary). Before you begin, you’re going to need set aside a bit of time, about thirty minutes, so you can focus on the lesson and you’ll also need something to write with – a pen and paper should be fine.

All right, are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin….

Share Your Work

You can post your comments and questions for Karen using the discussion section below. You can also use it to share your work with one another. Keep an eye out for the next lesson coming soon!