28 November 2012


A little while ago I had the great fortune of winning a competition to go on a creative writing workshop with Picador, which I attended last week.

The Notebook session was led by Suzi Feay, literary editor, journalist and teacher of Feature Writing at Brunel University. And it certainly got the creative juices flowing. After sharing with the group what stopped us from writing, we took part in a series of different writing exercises to encourage imagination and pull out our own experiences, skills, fears and likes. We then put these together to create the starting blocks of a story. This was my favourite activity, and is based on an activity developed by Scarlett Thomas, a writer and teacher at University of Kent, Cantebury. I loved how you can use your own knowledge and past to create something new and interesting.

Some key tips Suzi reminded the group of was to keep your writing fun (if it's not fun, why write?), have self belief, and use your own experiences to enrich your writing. I particularly liked the idea discussed of sending away your inner critic whilst you write your first draft, but bringing them back when you edit your writing.

When the Picador team were asked what they look for when reading a manuscript, the key element that all of the staff mentioned was the energy created in, and the reaction to, the story. A book should engage the reader, get them excited, and start them talking with others about the story. A distinctive voice, an exciting plot, and the ability to invoke some sort of feeling or emotion in the reader were also highlighted as important when reading a new manuscript.

For me the session has re-inspired me to write. At the moment, it is just to write and start getting back into the feel of it. Soon I will start putting the little hints and tips I've gained into practice and hopefully I'll have a finished draft of my already-started dystopian short story in the near future!

Notebook sessions will be creative workshops run by Pan Macmillan authors, editors, illustrators and literary experts, and give both new and experienced writers the chance to take part in motivating exercises and ask questions of authors, editors and writing/publishing experts. Keep your eye 

You can find more information on Picador and Suzi here:


Vivienne said...

I am well jel! This sounds like an amazing course to attend. Thanks for sharing. I would definitely love to go on one of these.

Hannah Mariska said...

This one was like a pilot. I think Picador will sell these workshops, and branch out to children's illustration, writing YA, Fantasy and Sci-fi etc. So you may be able to go on one in the near future!