(a) Try a warm-up exercise before you start. Write down three sentences that present three contrasting images of Essex  e.g. watching ships at Tilbury, being stuck in a traffic jam on the A12, picking strawberries at Tiptree. Then share these ideas with your colleagues. Make a group poem by simply stringing together some of the images you have all come up with.

(b) Think about the extraordinary diversity of Essex, as an urban, rural and suburban county. Think about Essex past, present and even future. Have you lived in Essex all your life or what was your journey involved in arriving here?

(c) Consider the different types of writing you might choose e.g. childhood memory or memoir, a letter to someone who is moving to Essex, a short story with a specific Essex setting, diary entries, poems, an extract from a novel set in Essex, a travel piece on an Essex location, Essex nature writing.

(d) The selection and editing process . Please see our webpage about entering the project. You can submit two pieces of work and maximum word lengths for each is 1500 words. Your manuscripts should be clearly marked with your name, email address and telephone number. Make sure you keep a copy.

(e) Think about what aspects of Essex you might like to have a go writing about and also what types of writing you might choose.

(f) Some useful tips for writing:

* Don’t be afraid to write in your own way. This is a chance to speak with your own individual voice

* Use a variety of sentence lengths.

* Create a really good opening sentence

* Be careful not to start every sentence in the same way and avoid repeating words and expressions

* Choose vivid, active words

* Keep the reader interested throughout.

(g) Work on your first paragraph: your tutor will help you here and offer feedback

(h) Share your writing (if you wish) with your colleagues.

Good luck! We’re looking forward to reading what you have to say about Essex. We’re open for submissions now, but the final deadline is 1 November 2016.