I had a fun time meeting other writers... and would be writers.
Did more listening than talking which is as it should be. Listened to one person who was moving from an IT career to being a freelance editor and proof reader.
But most of all I listened to people who wanted to write but didn't, couldn't or wouldn't.
Their woes were centred round five problems.
- I haven't enough time.
The more I write and the more different things I write, the less I believe in writer's block and this inspiration stuff. Yes you need the initial ideas. But... once that is there, the rest is steady determination and application.
Which means giving it time. At the moment I'm rewriting a draft of a book I worked on about eighteen months ago. I've set myself the goal of finishing the draft by the end of July. So I need to write about a thousand words a day to hit that target. I've worked out it takes me under the hour to do it.
For me the trick is just to write it and not look back. That's fatal. When I've done the draft I'll take a week's break then start to fix it.
2. I'm stuck in the research stage.
This applies to many academic people one of whom I heard about last week. Got a brilliant idea, loves research, now can't find his voice for the book.
There really is only one answer. That's to write. Once you're into the writing, especially as he's writing non-fiction, the voice will come.
3. I can't find a publisher.
This is the first question people ask me. And it's often from people who haven't started to write their book.
These days, the question's become more irrelevant for many people. Self publishing has lost its crummy image and turned respectable. Digital printing has brought down the cost to manageable proportions for most people. And social media has opened up the world to promote what you do.
It's the most exciting time to be an author.
4 I can't get it out of my head onto the page.
Fear. That's what causes this. I know because I've suffered from it.
While it's in my head my book is perfect. Absolutely perfect. Any publisher would snap it up in an instant and turn it into a worldwide best seller.
On the page it might lack something. So I'll leave it where it is.
Shame because only once it's on the page can somebody help you with it. And the thing about writers and people in the industry is that they're helpful. They love everything to do with writing and books. They're passionate and committed.
So if you're at that stage, take your courage in your hands and begin.
5. I can't find the right shape for the book.
This seems to be bound up with finding your voice and wanting to rely on the inspiration. I've been in groups where there's always at least one person with this approach to writing.
Without fail the tutor tries to persuade them to do some planning on the structure for the book. Simply because if you have a road map, it becomes easier.
I've heard stories of some writers who plan meticulously and never deviate from the plan. Some who plan then revisit the structure if they get stuck.
There are as many ways of completing a book as there are writers and you do have to find the way that suits you.. But that initial structure does seem to make sense - at least to get you going.
What I've realised in the ten years I've been writing for business and writing fiction and non-fiction for myself, is that if you're willing to accept help, there's no shortage of avenues to find that support.
Arts organisations, paid assessment services, writers' groups, courses, author events.
What's needed though from the writer is their participation. If you sit at home 'wanting to become a writer' but doing nothing about it you' ever will. Just as I'll never run a marathon because I don't run.
And it's a shame, because your book, could be the one that makes a difference to others.