Thursday, 29 July 2010

Business writing: does it feel like work or play?

Found this great quote by Warren Beatty

'You've achieved success in your field when you don't know whether what you're doing is work or play.'

I read an interview about an American copywriter who was asked how he managed to write so fast and with such a fresh approach to his work.

He talked about how he wanted always to have fun writing and he tried to bring a childlike vision to his work.  Not childish but the open mind that children have in the questions they ask and the views they come up with.

And he's right.  If you're writing for your business and it's a slog for you, then that's what will come across to the reader.

You need to feel the joy of what you're doing and communicate to the reader.  That's what get's results.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

On books

'Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.'

Maya Angelou

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

What has poetry to do with business?

Are you replying nothing?

Maybe you're right but what if poetry could be used as a creative stimulus, a breaking down of barriers or a recognition of shared problems?

I've had the chance to read a poetry collection about just that.  Running a business and how you deal with all the challenges.

Fascinating reading and I'm hoping that the poet and business entrepreneur will tell us more about what writing means for her.  I've asked her to blog about her experiences of writing the poems about her business.

When we chatted  yesterday sharing some ideas and thoughts about business and writing I said that the poems had me saying, 'I can remember feeling that' or 'That's happened to me. 

The poetic language and rhythms heightened the intensity of the memories and experience.

Do you have any experience of poetry and your business that you can share with us?  If so I'd love to hear about them and maybe you can write a post also.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

The Clouds Go Back Home

The Clouds Go Back Home

20th July 2010 19:00

The Clouds Go Back Home tells the story of the tortuous journey towards friendship between an Italian university student, cleaning hotel rooms as a holiday job, and the Albanian sex worker she finds enclosed in one of the rooms.

Each woman demonstrates an instinctive prejudice towards the other that brings them both to a dangerous and challenging conclusion.

Revealing another side to the romanticised view of Italy, this insightful and at times humorous play discusses many of the challenges we must confront in our open-bordered, open-minded Europe.

Directed by Susannah Tresilian, Translated from Italian by Enrico Fink

In collaboration with Envision Theatre

Tickets are FREE, but must be booked in advance as places are limited.
Box Office: 0115 941 9419

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Phyllis Diller annivesary

Thanks to The Writer's Almanac for this information

It's the birthday of comedienne Phyllis Diller, born in Lima, Ohio (1917), and often called the 'Funniest Woman in the World.'

She didn't start her career in stand-up comedy until she was middle-aged. But she had spent much of her life as a housewife, telling jokes and doing impersonations and making groups of people laugh.

At the Laundromat, she would tell other housewives things like, 'I bury a lot of my ironing in the backyard' and 'Housework can't kill you, but why take a chance?'

When she became a professional entertainer, she drew extensively upon her experiences as the mother of five children who struggled to keep her house clean.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Clare Dudman; guest blogger on writing

This blog comes from meeting Clare on Lowdham railway station, both on our way back from Lowdham Book Festival. 

What process do you have when you start writing and is it the same for fiction and non-fiction?

My process is the same for both fiction and non-fiction. I research extensively and intensively, then, when I think I have crammed as much as I can into my little head I go away and leave it for a while. Eventually what I think of as an ideal starting sentence will occur to me. After that I plan how it will go in a series of points (either a novel or a piece of non-fiction) and then get writing.

At what point would you involve somebody else to review your work, help you move it on?

My poor husband looks at every chapter after I've finished it, and sometimes I read a fragment out to my local writing group. From their comments I sometimes revise what I've done.

Do you have a set routine when you’re writing?

Not really. When I'm writing I do tend to do an hour's exercise in the local gym first (if I can make myself), but after that I just write flat out.

What’s the best part of writing a book for you?

I love the whole process: I love the planning, the actual writing, and the editing and revising. The only bit I dislike is the business side - the contracts and marketing.

What writers have influenced your writing development?

Ian McEwan, Peter Carey, J M Coetzee, W G Sebald, Margaret Attwood, Carol Shields, Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, Graham Swift, Angela Carter, Ray Bradbury - it is almost an endless list of modern writers and changes all the time. I read a lot.

What’s the funniest feedback you’ve had about your writing?

It gave me some wry amusement to see my novel on someone called Jeanie's 'truly dreadful books' list on some internet site - and one chap decided to send me an email with a bit of a rant telling me he wouldn't recommend my book to anyone. At the time it upset me a bit, but once I got some distance I decided that it was quite flattering - it couldn't have been that bad because they'd read it to the end, and at least the book affected them. No work is going to appeal to everyone, and luckily other people have liked my books much more.

How do you motivate yourself when you’re stuck?(if you get stuck that is)

I find listening to soulful music or just reading other people's writing a great inspiration. I don't really get writer's block though - I just keep writing. Sometimes it doesn't turn out very well, but then the next day I have something that I can improve or maybe throw away and start again - when it's usually much better.

You can find out more about Clare at:

Clare's new book has just been published.

A Place of Meadows and Tall Trees

and you can see a 2.53 film about the book which tells the story of the Welsh who crossed the world to find a better life in Patagonia..

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Screenplay writing workshop

When I arrived home on Saturday evening, my sister looked at me and laughed.  Because I said to her that my brain was fried.

I'd had a completely brilliant, exhausting and mind expanding day at a workshop on how to write screenplays with the brilliant Michael Eaton.

What an encouraging faciliator he was, helping us to take ideas and by the end of the day see them as more fleshed out and in some cases almost a complete outline of a film.

Since I'm always banging on about structure to my clients to help them write more easily I was heartened to see that Michael had a very clear structure of how he works and creates such powerful plays such as the ones he did on Lockerbie, Harold Shipman and the Stalker enquiry.  But he has done adaptations as well and he talked about using the process for that too.

All in all an excellent day and interesting to meet other writers who all shared their thoughts and ideas so generously with the group.

This workshop was put on by Nottingham Writers Studio based in The Lacemarket.  It's the first of three, the second being headed by Nicola Monahan on Planning and Developing you Novel and the third headed by Jon Mcgregor on Editing Fiction.

For more information go to

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Poetry and business or this poetry business

At a networking meeting earlier this year I met up with a business entrepreneur running her own marketing company.

Not unusual you might say.  This one came with added interest for me as a writer because she was taking a creative writing course at Nottingham Trent University and was about to finish a collection of poems about her life running a business.

At the meeting she asked if anyone might be interested in reviewing her collection when it was ready and I signed up for that. 

This week I received the collection.

Now I have to say that I don't writer poetry.  I did in the past, very bad poetry so gave it up.  So reviewing someone's poetry is a stretch for me.

But I'm thoroughly enjoying the task.  As you might expect of an effective entrepreneur, she's approached presenting the collection in an original way like a diary of her life. 

Which makes the poems related to the incidents that she deals with.


I don't at the moment have permission to tell you more but she will be writing a blog for me when the collection is finished and in final format.

Promises to be an interesting read from her about how becoming a writer has affected how she views the creative people in her organisation.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Language and how we define words

Recently I started a training course to become a volunteer at a local hospice.  The course, the people and much of what happens on it has to be regarded as confidential.

However much of the course has focused on making us think more deeply about how we view certain people and situations. 

And about the language we use and how we define certain things.

We're a mixed bunch in terms of ages, but not in diversity terms so it might be thought that we'd have similar approaches to many of the subjects under consideration.  That's not always the case so there have been some interesting debates. 

We're all guilty of using words in an imprecise way and since I spend my time weighing words, trying to decide between this word and that, not using language with intent makes me cross that i'm not paying enough attention to it.

Being in a different setting, made me think about using words again.  The course has taken me out of my comfort zone in many ways, not only my language zone and that can only be a useful event.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Writing diary

This week has shot past me.  I think everyone's trying to be up to date because of holidays coming up.  So I've had lots of bits of things to clear up for people.

Plus some larger jobs.  Edited an information bulletin for one of my regular clients.  The problem that often occurs with their work is the issue of spacing.  Text is  written or revised, then it's dropped into a format with pictures and the sentence spacing goes haywire. 

Not the designers' fault, it just happens.  And when you're checking, particularly with some fonts, it can look correct on screen but comes out wrong in print.  And vice versa.

Perennial problem to solve with every edition.

What else this week?

Doing a sample chapter layout for a client.  Again very difficult when you're writing at speed to decide if you're giving the words enough space for the reader to process the words. 

Everyone reads at a different speed and absorbs information in a different way.  So in a layout you have to include those who speed read and want the most important facts, fast; then you have to allow those who read in their heads, almost like reading out loud time to work through the text.  And last you have the fact people.  Those who like statistics, references to research and extra information that's real.  Not only the writer's opnions, but what really happened.

Easy isn't it!

I also quoted for an editing job for a regular client.  Not sure if this will happen but if it does, then it will be needed fast.

And I contacted the writers and publishers I met at Lowdham who offered to guest blog for me.  I've already received one article from Clare Dudman and that will probably appear next week.  It's a down to earth look at how a writer operates.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Writing - professional development planning

At the meeting at Alfreton, they gave us a copy of a professional development document that would be useful for any writer at any stage. 

For more information visit

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Writng - getting real

Great day out at Alfreton attending the writers' event put on by Derbyshire County Council.  Hosted by Ali Betteridge it was a chance for local writers to meet up and swop ideas and thoughts... and fears.

One of the things that's essential for writers to do these days is to network.  Which is hard for many writers, because all we really want to do is sit and write.

And be discovered as the next masterpiece.  Doesn't happen these days, or not often.

It's tough to put your writing to the test.  I know how scared I was when I first took my business writing course.  Because wanting to do it, doing it and being judged on writing are very different things. And now I'm just as scared about putting my fiction to the test.

This morning I was talking to Di Slaney of Diversity about the same thing.  We need different hats on to perform all of these tasks.  And the getting in front of others is the scariest task for most of us.

Back to the day at Alfreton.  Such a mixture of people attending.  Poets, playwrights, those who were publshed in one fiction genre and trying another.

People at every different stage of writing development; from raw beginner to published author with large mainstream houses.

What they all had in common was this passion for words and how to communicate that passion best.

One of the reasons I went was to take part in a couple of sessions about writing projects in the community.  For as much as writing is powerful for us with a voice, it's also powerful for people who seem not to have any voice; like those in prison, either real, or the prison of the mind.

It was intesting to hear other people's steps in their development, like Cathy Grindrod fisrt Derbyshire Poet Laureate and River Woolton, second Derbyshire poet laureate. 

From the outside it may seem as if they know it all but inside, they've faced the same writing and personal demons as most of us.  And in the panel discussion, local poet Wayne Burrows made a strong case for using lack of self belief in our writing to make us stronger writers.  As he said,'If you think you know how to do it, you'll never improve.'

Excellent day, enjoyed meeting all those writers and look forward to the next event they organise.

For more details and to receive their newsletters go to and

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Writing ambitions: workshop for writers

Off this morning to a workshop in Alfreton.  Always good to meet other writers and find out more about what's happening in the world of writing.

I'll let you know on Monday how it went.