Sincerity….

“Sincerity – if you can fake that, you’ve got it made”

George Burns


For me, the key to writing that really engages is sincerity.
What do I mean?

The writing that I find engaging is sincere, in the sense it’s a reflection of life – with all its imperfections.

Prose with a sense of humour, that doesn’t take itself too seriously and actively reflects the experience of being human, is always going to get my vote.

There is no such thing as a ‘boring’ subject, only boring writing. It’s all about finding an angle on the topic that will engage with a reader. If my mind wanders and I think about lunch while I’m reading some of my copy, I’ve taken the wrong tack.

Laughter is often the key.
When I wrote The Modern MAMIL: How to look pro, illustrated by the amazing Spencer Wilson, I deliberately focused on experiences that cyclists might feel embarrassed about sharing. For example the difficulties of going for a wee when covered in layer after layer of tight fitting Lycra.

It’s amazing how people engage with writing when it shows they are not the only one to feel a certain way.

“We read to know we are not alone…”


Are you addressing the elephants in the room in your content?
Engagement isn’t about selling a dream, it’s a matter of sharing common experiences…

How do you Zoom?

So, how is your day going?

Personally, I’ve had a busy, but productive, morning talking to clients over Zoom.

I don’t know about you, but I’m still finding ‘Zoom’ calls tricky.

Not the technology, it’s pretty straight forward for someone as technologically savvy as me. I say that with my tongue slightly in my cheek – although I do pride myself that, at times, I’m able to work two remote controls at once during a heavy Netflix session.

What I’m talking about is the unwritten elements to Zoom – the nuances that we’re all (slowly) getting used to…

For example, where do you look?

It may seem a strange question, but think about it.

Do you look at the other person (for ease of argument let’s assume there’s only two of you)? In any other context looking straight into the eye of the person you’re talking to is essential – but doing that is difficult in Zoom.

If you actually look into the eye that you see (on the screen), the other person gets you looking downward – which is subconsciously odd. Counter-intuitively, to look straight into the eye of your fellow Zoomer you must look into the camera – which means you don’t actually see them and miss a whole host of non-verbal cues.

Tricky eh?

To be honest, I often find myself looking at me. Rather than being driven by some narcistic urge, my fascination with my own fizzog comes from a growing sense of horror. It’s a similar feeling to when I have my hair cut – after 30 minutes of staring into my mug I find myself making mental promises to lose weight, moisturise and… well, you get the idea.

Will I ever act on any of these impulses for self-improvement? It’s unlikely. But Zoom is bringing these concerns into my consciousness on a far more regular basis than life used to back in the days where I could simply avoid mirrors.

Then there’s the time delay. I’ve gone from constantly tripping over the sentences of my co-Zoomer, to leaving such long gaps between speech as to make both of us check the connection hasn’t frozen.

And how do you say Goodbye on Zoom? Do you wave? Do you smile. Do you press ‘End’ and then realise you have to press another (additional) button to truly end the call, leaving you with the lingering feeling that your co-Zoomer’s last impression of you was one of frustration as you fiddled with the tech.

As we go into this second Lockdown, many of us are feeling a little gloomy. I certainly am – sequels are never as good as the originals. But I do maintain a thanks for video calling technology – imagine how tricky a pandemic would be without it. And beyond that, there’s a determination that by the time we’re all Covid free, I’m going to have mastered Zoom.

Watch this space.

End.

Really, that’s the end.

Cycling writing…

It’s funny how things go.
I started writing about cycling after a series of events in my life:


1: I got fat. As with many in their late 30s, I focused too much on work and too little on exercise. A combination that meant I was carrying more than ‘a little’ extra weight.
2: I started cycling to try to lose weight. Simple as that. Between you and I, it took more than a little bravery to leave the house carrying the extra pounds in unflattering cycling tights
3: l got a diagnosis. From nowhere I discovered I was a Type 1 diabetic.

Essentially, I was an overweight, newly diagnosed diabetic, lacking in any real skill, cyclist…
Which is just the person the cycling industry needed to hear from!
Since then I’ve written many features for Cycling Plus Magazine and a whole host of national publications about cycling.
In a world of experts I have the voice of someone who doesn’t find it easy and still makes a mess of shaving their legs…
Oh and it led to my book ‘The Modern MAMIL: How to look pro’ illustrated by the amazing Spencer Wilson.

It’s been a rollercoaster and may have led, every now and then, to someone taking an embarrassing shot or two…

Writing for my heroes…

They say never work with your heroes.
It’s probably a good maxim in life.
Yet I’m so glad, that in one case, I did.
Working with Ciaran Morrison and Mick O’Hara aka ‘Zig and Zag’ was one of the biggest thrills of my career. They presented a show called ‘Me:TV’ and I got the honour of scripting these iconic aliens…
The thing is, most of the time, when you write a script you hope that whoever is reading it will do it justice. You pray they’ll get the jokes, pause in the right places and (frankly) not drop the ball.
With Zig and Zag I had no concerns. Rather than worrying, I’d sit back and watch these two masters of their field raise what I’d written to whole new levels.
It was absolute bliss.

Hannah-oke

Really saddened to see that Disney Channel has closed in the wake of the popularity of Disney+.
I loved worked for The Disney Channel, where I produced the Hannah Montana karaoke show ‘Hannah-oke’. Presented by Duncan James and Konnie Huq, this show saw families show off their singing skills – using the Hannah Montana back-catalogue.
A lifelong memory / cringey moment of mine will be, during a rehearsal for the show, singing ‘The Best of Both Worlds’ in front of an audience of 300, Konnie, Duncan, Nicki Chapman and Jason Gardiner. Trust me, I’m no singer!
Good times…

Homeworking: Eastern Daily Press Feature

Here’s a piece I wrote to publicise my book “Homeworking: The Ultimate Guide” illustrated by the amazing Spencer Wilson and published by Halfmoon Bay.
I gave my top tips for anyone planning to work from home…

“Whatever you do, avoid procrastination.
Procrastination is the nemesis of the anyone who works from home. Freed from the restrictions of conventional office environs, the homeworker is at liberty to do what they want, when they want. This perceived freedom is a double-edged sword. Before you know it, those who are new to this game are rearranging their sock drawers, vacuuming stripes into their carpet and watching hundreds of episodes of Tipping Point. All I can say is: resist procrastination, resist it with all your might! Procrastination is not your friend. It may seem like fun to put your feet up and watch old Adam Sandler movies during your workday, but you’ll regret it as soon as your next deadline looms. TBH, with my experience of Adam Sandler movies, I’m regretting it as I watch them!”

Chris McGuire, ‘Homeworking: The Ultimate Guide’

For the full Eastern Daily Press piece, click here.

Classic Column: The Olden Days

If there’s one thing I love to write, it would have to be newspaper columns. These 5 minute reads give a columnist the chance to take a 600 word flight of fancy.

Here’s one of my favourites, taken from my tenure at Western Morning News’ ‘West’ magazine.

“What was it like?”

This statement ended my daydream with a jolt. I ‘zone out’ a lot at the moment. It’s probably because, as a parent, I’m tired and increasingly good at ignoring the incessant noise that all children seem contractually bound to make.

“What’s that?”

“What was it like? ‘The Past’?”

My friend’s son waited eagerly while his father gave a ‘I can’t wait to hear how you deal with this’ expression. This week, I learned time is passing at a steady march. Things I thought were mere moments ago are now considered historical events. It’s so true: the past is a foreign country, they do do things differently there.

The last few days seem to have been designed to make me aware of the passage of time. It’s like aging his crept up and shouted ‘Boo!’ – causing me to mutter something about ‘kids these days’. There’s my hair for a start. Famously uncombed, it’s losing the battle against the grey. I had thought this made me look a little bit ‘George Clooney’, but yesterday an honest appraisal made me realise I’m the ‘Before’ man in one of the those ads that drop from the back of magazines…

Chris McGuire, ‘The Olden Days’

For the full Western Morning News column, click here.

BAFTA memories

Taking another walk down memory lane.
This was over a decade ago, when ‘Me:TV’ a programme for Nickelodeon that I scripted and was one of the producers on won a BAFTA.
What are my memories of the night?
1) Flagging a taxi down on Park Lane, outside The Dorchester, is a lot easier when you’re holding a golden mask in your mitts.
2) Never wear a hired tux without braces. I had to spend the whole evening, including going on stage to collect the gong, with my hands in my pockets to ensure my trousers didn’t fall down. True story.
3) Ade Edmondson was nice – nothing like his character in Star Wars.

*Although to be fair, he wasn’t to play his Star Wars role for around another decade.

It was a great night, the culmination of some hard work for the whole team.

My first book…

Last year saw the release of my first book: “The Modern MAMIL: How to look pro”, illustrated by the amazing Spencer Wilson. It’s a funny look at the world of middle-aged men in Lycra. 

Congratulations on obtaining this invaluable guide.

Like all Middle Aged Men In Lycra, you know in your heart of hearts that, if there was any justice in the world, you’d be a pro-cyclist.

If only the stars had aligned differently, making you taller, thinner, sportier or less fond of cake – it all could have been so different.

You’d have been up there on the podium with the trophies, the sponsorship deals and the press intrusion.

Never fear, you may not BE a pro, but that doesn’t mean you can’t LOOK like one.

The book you’re holding right now is the key to looking the part. From socks to shaving, cadences to coffee-shop culture, we cover it all.

Trust us, after reading this guide, you won’t be able to go out for a spin without someone shouting:

“There goes a total pro!”

You can thank us later.

Chris McGuire, The Modern MAMIL: How to look pro

To get your copy, click here. The perfect gift for the MAMIL in your life.