IS the pen mightier than the sword? Without a doubt. More people have attached themselves to Sir Walter Scott, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Burns, Agatha Christie, Enid Blyton and Charles Dickens than ever embraced Attila the Hun! The sword might threaten into submission but the pen leads us willingly into all sorts of worlds and adventures for sheer pleasure.

Mighty Pens must be even mightier then – but never more so than when partnering The Herald in a great new writing competition. So, are you looking for something to do as the winter draws in? Well, the last writing competition jointly presented by The Herald and Mighty Pens was so successful that we could not resist creating another chance for readers to become writers.

There were many great entries last time, some were winners, some were highly recommended and these entries were not only published in The Herald but were also given expert appraisal comments by some of the best in the land, members of the Mighty Pens team. You can meet them with a visit to and you will definitely recognise some of them.

The last competition not only inspired many people to enter but it also inspired some to get themselves published through the Mighty Pens service which safeguards against writers falling into the hands of unscrupulous so-called ‘publishers’.

Herald reader Annie Day Firnie is a great example of this. Her excellent Pearl Pavlova children’s story was published with the help of Mighty Pens and has not only gone into a second print run but has also been appreciated by Prince Charles as well as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children. Needless to say that another Pearl book, also with more beautiful illustrations by Lizzie Birney is on the way. Both ladies are from Laurencekirk.

Among the judges are TV and film stars Alex Norton and Tom Watt. “It is always fantastic to see people writing,” said Alex. “I know that we don’t live in the days of pencils or quills any more but the standard of writing that I have seen through this Herald and Mighty Pens competition is brilliant and quite reassuring that there are many talented writers out there waiting to be discovered.”

Tom Watt, like Alex, is not only an actor but also a writer and director and he was also very enthusiastic. “I think it is great to see so many with a story to tell,” he said. “I was also amazed at the quality. It was very hard to pick winners because the standard was so high. I think what was also quite stunning was the diversity of ages. It shows that writing is not just the domain of the old, the young, men or women – it is something anyone can really enjoy.”

Other readers have also taken the plunge, some with books which are just for their own circle of friends and family and others for commercial purposes. Either way, they have had the thrill of creating and completing their work, have received coaching and editing by professionals and the satisfaction of holding their very own book in their hands.

The Herald has long championed the written word so we are delighted once again to be able to encourage readers to get tapping away or even putting quill to paper.

There is a lot of talent among our readers and why not, some of the world’s greatest writers have come from Scotland. Don’t hide your writing skill – let it out!

If you are over 18 and wish to enter, simply write a short story or non-fiction article of no more than 1000 words with the theme of Winter. The actual subject matter within that theme is your choice but it must be suitable for general readership.

Happy writing.


Award-winning journalist, writer, author, script-writer and broadcaster Bernard Bale leads Mighty Pens. As well as being an experienced writer he is also an editor and publisher. “For me, it is not just about being creative but also about seeing and appreciating the creativity of others,” said Bernard. “I am a huge fan of Charles Dickens and also Robert Louis Stevenson. My desert island book would definitely be Treasure Island. It is inspiring to think that these gentlemen once sat there with a pencil in their hands and wrote that very first word that led them to becoming appreciated from one generation to another.

"The real secret of being a writer is not what’s in it for you, it is what you can give to others. You can take them on adventures, take them to places they may never visit, even into space or under the ground. They can meet people, swim with sharks or just enjoy laughing. Writing is very special and should be shared.”

Tom Watt is well known for his role in EastEnders as Lofty but he has been in countless major films and stage productions as well as writing many books. Tom is also a key member of the team. Susan Penhaligon is not just a star of stage and screen but is also a writer and she enjoys seeing other people’s creativity come to life through books and short stories.

Alex Norton needs little introduction but has also won awards for his creative works and likes to help others to express themselves through writing. Mica Bale wrote her first novel when she was 13. It was a crime story which would have made Agatha Christie proud. She regularly writes for many others but is also a very key hands-on and encouraging member of the Mighty Pens team.

Andy Howlett is the team’s education expert. He has long championed the benefits of writing and not just for young people. Well respected within the education system, Andy loves to see people ‘having a go’.

Keith Wyness is the team’s commercial expert and has a wealth of experience with many of the world’s major organisations and very famous football clubs. He brings to the team a great deal of commercial knowledge and understanding. And last, but not least, Paul Chuckle – Paul is not just our comedy expert but is a great admirer of writing both for and by children.


If you are over 18, write a short story or non-fiction article of no more than 1000 words with the theme of Winter. The actual subject matter within that theme is your choice but it must be suitable for general readership. The piece you send must not have appeared in any other publication or been placed in a prize-winning category in any other competition.

Please send your entry with your name, postal address, email address and phone number and ensure that your entry is clearly marked HMPSSW.

Entries should be sent to Entries at or by post to The Herald Writing Competition, Marketing department, The Herald, 125 Fullarton Drive, Glasgow, G32 8FG. The closing date is November 30 at noon. There will be three winners selected by the Herald-Mighty Pens panel.


There will be three winners selected by the Herald-Mighty Pens panel and prizes include:

* A personal appraisal by one of Mighty Pens award-winning coaches

* Mighty Pens Membership for a year

* Your work appearing in The Herald

* Your work appearing on Mighty Pens Website –

* A Mighty Pens coaching course of your choice

And a place for you at a Mighty Pens Writers Retreat in 2022