Alternative Advent in 24 Words

News & Updates
24th December 2013

An alternative advent – 24 words for 24 days!  That was the challenge set by one of my writing buddies. Back in October I posted a blog about my creative writing for business experience with Dark Angels. I loved it and wanted to keep on cultivating my ‘ true voice’ in a writing context. I particularly wanted to bring more of a human touch to the written word. So when Pip Trentham set the challenge I was up for it.

Writing Short

Writing a little advent message in 24 words certainly challenged my ability to ‘write short’. However, given that we live in a world of truncated electronic communications, it turned out to be a discipline well worth developing. I’m not saying we have to get our message across in 24 words all the time, but sometimes we do have to get to the point quickly or risk losing our audience.

Going for Stretch

There were no other rules as such; just write 24 words each day and share it with the others from the course. Ah, now that’s where the other challenge came in.  I don’t know about you fellow bloggers but it takes a bit of time to get used to exposing your inner wordage online. The words never seem quite good enough.

My writing course buddies were all pretty accomplished writers already. In fact most of them were writers in their day jobs so I knew I was in for a ‘stretch situation’ when I signed up for the course. But why undertake a course if it isn’t going to stretch you? That’s my philosophy anyway. So, of the 24 word challenge, well lets just say that, like the lion from the Wizard of Oz, I found my courage and the s-t-r-e-t-c-h I was looking for!

Inspiring Improvement 

Relating the art of writing to service improvement, being able to connect with people to engage them in the changes is fundamental to success. Yet so often I see written communication that does anything but inspire a commitment to improve. Not for a minute do I think that this is the intended outcome. But reports, letters or emails are what people are left with after a connection is made on a personal level. A badly written piece can sweep away all the good intentions. At best it can leave people wondering if they had ever been on the same wavelength. At worst, they feel discouraged and hopeless.

Compassionate Connection

Similarly, effective communication skills in health and social care go hand in hand with a caring, high quality service. But again the impression we make in how we write can determine the extent to which a person engages in their care. Information leaflets for people undergoing hospital treatment need an overhaul in this respect, particularly if we expect patients to participate in their care as equal partners.

Corporate writing norms can get in the way. I understand that to some extent but equally we have to ask ourselves who we are writing for! This is what being person centred is all about. It”s finding the place in between where possibilities gather.

So, my intention for 2014 is to bring clarity and humanity into how I connect with people through the written word whatever the context. Care to join me?

Here are a small selection of my advent messages. They were written ‘in the moment’ based on happenings or observations on each day from 1st – 24th December.

With thanks to my Dark Angels buddies for their encouragement and support in my pursuit of authentic voice. Warm festive wishes to friends, colleagues and blog readers.


Rustic reds and muted greens

burnishing, in the fading sun.

A warm and winsome country scene.

Contented sigh.

Winter must have passed us by.


Christmas show at Leith School of Art.

Charcoal seascape swells my heart.

Waves all frothy, can feel the spray.

My bashful artist triumphed today.


A silver birch stands silhouetted

against the sapphire sky.

Skeletal and scraggy,

beside the festive pine.

Such dignified surrender

to the cycle of time


The ‘Shetland Times’

Drops weekly

letter box to mat.

A mother’s Christmas gift

started way back.

A reassuring thud

that says

“Dad’s still here….”


St Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile

A ritual of mine for quite a while

Lit a candle

To remember mum

Glowing glimmering gleam



















































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