Friday, 26 February 2010

Happy Birthday Elizabeth George

Today is the birthday of one of my writing heros - the wonderful Elizabeth George.  She's been an inspiration to me for many years.  I've read her with delight, satisfaction and awe at the way she constructs her plots and writes her characters. 

If you've never read her book about writing 'Write Away' published by Hodder, then I urge you to devour it.  There are so many lessons there for those of us still trying to achieve success in our novels.

It's not so much a writing primer, as a way that one successful novelist approachs writing.

Now I'm waiting to pounce on the new book, This Body of Death, when it appears this year.  Long may she continue to write.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Writers in the Leicester/Nottingham areas

The next meeting of the Creative Coffee Club held at the Phoenix Centre in Leicester is 3 March 2010.  Meet up with like-minded people and find out what's happening.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Business writers:artists or constructors?

What are you; a writer or a constructor of words?

In the past couple of years I've been helping people write books.  On business mostly.  And every time I start my intention is to show them how to do it faster and easier.  For some people this means destroying their fear of the blank page.  For others it means taking away the fear that they can't be a 'real' writer because they aren't creative.

I can understand both of these fears because I've been through those dark tunnels.  So destroying them for would be writers is a priority for me.

How we label things has impact we often don't understand till too late.  Like 'your grammar is rubbish'.  Or 'you don't have a creative bone in your body'. 

Too many people assume that they have to wait for inspiration before they begin.  I believe that's wrong.  All writing needs scaffolding like a new build.  It needs the support of a structure that assists you in moving through the process.

Now I revere writers.  People whose work I look in awe at and I think it would be impossible for me to write like them.  For example Chekhov and Shakespeare.  But that's not where my writing is situated.  I'm not writing masterpieces that will last for 500 years where the language has become an integral part of how we speak.

What I've evolved over the last 8 years is a way of writing that works in my situation.  That has taken away the fear of starting, creating something and finishing.  And it upsets me when I see otherwise effective, capable people put blocks in their own path by assuming that writing is different from every other activity.

It's not.  It can be taught, learned and passed on.  The skills that go into producing an article, a website or a book are all achievable by anyone who has acquired other skills.  Applying the same learning methods to writing can create amazing results for you in your life and businesses.

Because writing does change you.  However you achieve it, writing will alter how you feel about yourself.  Especially if you go on the adventure that is writing a book.  I defy anyone to try it and not be different at the end of the process.

It's scary.  You put your heart and soul on every page.   Even if no other human being reads it, you would still be different.   Now I'm not saying that you don't have to work at it.  And if you're honest you wouldn't expect that would you?   Everything else you've achieved has taken some effort.

Same thing with writing.

That's no reason not to start is it?  And if it helps to rename what you're doing, then go for it.  You can probably find enough pieces of business writing you've already done that you can use as your scaffold. 

Take a look.  You might surprise yourself at how fast you can collect enough for a book.

Good constructing!

Friday, 12 February 2010

Writing; what's genuine?

I was working on a client's website this morning to show what she's been doing recently.  It's one of the sites I love to work on because she's a graphic designer.  But coming from a background of designing for children gives her a fresh take on business design.  That's what's genuine about her and that's what I do my best to put across to people who visit her site. 

Years ago when I first went into business, I became frustrated and demoralised at many of the business practices I met.  Wasn't me and I found it difficult to fit into that setting.  Which is why I've always tried my best to offer honest service and straightforward dealing in my own businesses.

How do you get across the real in business?

Since I started writing for business, the question of what's genuine has come up time and again.  Because without putting too fine a point on it, many of the approaches in writing for business were and still are all about the business.  Too little attention was paid to what the reader of business documents like brochures and websites needed and too much was written about the business.

My writing training was in direct marketing where the focus is all on what do I need to do and write to get into the reader's mind and solve the problem that's uppermost.  All facts, features and elements of the business or product were there to prove that the product worked for others and would work for the reader with the same issue.

What effect has the internet had?

The internet has made it more difficult to convince, and many marketers have now flocked to use direct marketing methods as opposed to image marketing.  And online marketers are increasingly using techniques that are loose and chummy compared to former business models.

Whatever model you use, I believe it has to come from a foundation of respect for your reader and their needs.  Yes sometimes they may misuse what you offer.  But that's their issue.  Better that we behave honestly with all, than that we pick and choose. 

So where does that leave us as writers and marketers?

It means we have to be choosy about who we follow and are influenced by.  It means we have to be choosy about who we work with. And it means that our writing should sing with the joy and passion that we and our clients have for what they do. 

That's what's genuine.

Let me know what you think about this.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Transliteracy conference De Montfort University - update

I'm still digesting what I heard yesterday.  We were presented with a wide range of information in a short time.  Coming from the business community I tried to focus on what could be passed on as useful tips.

These are my musings so far; I think they're applicable to both business owners: and writers:
  1. How we read is being altered by the way we use the internet.  We already know that readers on screen want information fast.  Now we have to consider how we can involve our readers.
  2. Keeping up with the trends is very difficult for any of us above teenagers.  I talked to a 23 year old PHd student who said she'd noticed in the last year that she no longer was keeping up seamlessly with new trends in social media, and was starting to choose what she used.
  3. We're all in the business of education; we need to educate ourselves, our customers and our wider audience.  To make sure we reach as wide an audience as possible, then we have to offer as many ways of absorbing the information as possible.
What did come out loud and strong particularly for writers, is that there are so many more opportunities out there for us than ever.  To make the most of them, we need to pay attention to what's available.

More musings on this in a few days.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Writing in 2010

Whatever your interest in writing, 2010 is an exciting year.  Tomorrow I'm off to a conference on transliteracy at De Montfort University, where the implications of the digital age and its effects on book writing will be considered.

I'm looking forward to finding out how all the available technology can be harnessed to widen the reading population.  There are bound to be trends that I haven't even yet considered, though I'm trying to use social media networks to advantage.

As writers we often bemoan that we can't get published.  It seems to me though that there are so many more avenues open to us than in the past.  And really it's up to us to find out what's out there and how we can use it to help out case.