Saturday, 2 March 2013

Secrets of success from a writers' conference...

Spring has sprung! Despite not having managed to write a single blog for the entire month of February, I am looking to the future with renewed enthusiasm, determined to be more organized, more creative and more PRODUCTIVE (and maybe slimmer, too). So what has sparked this fresh resolve? Well, I've just returned from a weekend meet-up/fiesta/brainstorm (conference sounds too formal) with the wonderful group of writers of which I'm a member, the Scattered Authors' Society. Apart from the pleasure of catching up with friends, swapping stories of writing and publishing ups and downs, and demolishing large amounts of good food and wine, we are also treated to talks by Sassies with particular areas of expertise or valuable experiences to share.

Catherine on the crying bench
Catherine Johnson told us about her time on the prestigious BBC Writers' Academy training course (now sadly no longer running) and shared a few of its secrets for gripping storylines. Amongst them: a five-act structure has more potential than a three-act; the nature of story is change; always be surprising. Here's a photo of Catherine on the 'crying bench' from Eastenders, where the characters go to sob - weeping because the Writers' Academy scheme is finished. But Catherine's script-writing career with 'Continuous Drama' (soap operas to you and me) is about to go from strength to strength...

Kate Harrison spoke about the way her life has changed since the publication (initially electronically on Kindle) of her book, The 5:2 Diet. Embarking on this diet, she couldn't find a book to guide her through, so wrote one herself. So not only did she find herself 23 pounds lighter, she soon had a bestseller soaring up the Amazon charts followed swiftly by a publishing contract for the print edition. Very encouraging! It brought home to me the flexibility of self-publishing: if you spot a trend, you needn't be deterred by lack of support from mainstream publishers. I've just ordered my copy of the book and am looking forward to losing some weight and boosting my brain power in time for summer.

Just as inspiring, Nicola Morgan - writer, teen brain expert and social media guru - told us how to make best use of our Facebook author pages (the words 'custom tabs' featured heavily but didn't strike fear into the soul), and how to re-establish our sense of writerly purpose by means of the scary-sounding stimulus generalization. And now the secret of stimulus generalization can be yours. Basically, I think it boils down to ridding yourself of bad habits by changing the environment in which you work: either going to a different place (Nicola's new shed did the trick for her), or reorganizing/re-decorating/refreshing your existing study, or spare bedroom, or corner of the kitchen table. As well as revitalising my desk with a notice board and an inspiring picture of Rascal, my much-missed writing companion (see previous post), I've unleashed my inner neat freak and tidied up the kitchen, too.

Now I can't think of any more distractions, so all that's left to do is get on and WRITE!  But perhaps I'll just look at Facebook first....   

Kitchen dresser before...
... and after!


  1. Wow, I'm LOVING your tidy and (more importantly) pretty and inviting dresser! Thanks for the honourable mentions :) It was lovely to meet you.

    1. You too, Nicola. Thanks for the inspiration!