You might have heard this already: on 23rd April it will be 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare, arguably England's or even the world's greatest playwright and poet. It seems everyone in the arts world or who is interested in it will be doing something to celebrate. I don't want to be the exception, so what am I going to do?
    The most obvious and easiest thing would be to go and see one of Shakespeare's plays or read some of his poetry but, let's face it, I can do that at any time. If I'm going to call myself a writer–even if I have no illusions that anyone's going to call me a 21st century Shakespeare, then I ought to put pencil to paper. Writing a sonnet should be achievable in a day. Maybe something involving a 'dark lady'. I could even double the celebration with a nod to St George whose day it is too.
    At this stage, I've no idea whether there's a publication that might be interested in my sonnet when it's finished. I'm aware that most advice tells writers to work with a market in mind, but I think you can take that too far. If you spend your working life fighting off deadlines and trying to keep publishers/theatres and readers/audiences happy, as Shakespeare must have done (all the world might be a stage but it's peopled by critics), then creativity becomes a core. There's a danger that what you write will become formulaic and that you find yourself writing about things that don't interest you.
    Anyway, who says that everything you write has to be for publication? There's nothing wrong with writing something purely as an exercise, as an experiment with your style, or simply to set down whatever pops into your head. As long as you enjoy the process, that's what counts.