I was lucky enough to spend Saturday with ten other writers at the Get Published! Course I was running for the University of Kent. I’ve run this several times, and it’s one of my favourite workshops – not least because writers come full of (often self-induced) pressure about what they ‘should’ be doing, and leave seeing WHAT they could do. It’s too easy to forget that writing and publishing can be fun, but this is what people said after the course:
I am not sure what I imagined but this was beyond my expectations. I think I had expected just to sit writing notes but your talking and exercises certainly made me think. I really hadn’t realised there was so much out there. I didn’t have the tools… but now I do. KB
…it has definitely inspired me to take the step and get some of my work out there. AH
Very many thanks for the motivation which floated and fluttered around the room in Tonbridge on Saturday. It was such an enjoyable day and just what was needed to spur us all into action (sounds as if some have already been spurred) … KM
So let me share just five points from the workshop:
1. Never submit your writing as a way of telling you whether you are a good writer, or not. Even bestselling writers get rejections…. Write your best piece. And then edit, and edit. If it comes back, it may be that that wasn’t the right place for you. You have two options – to cry and swear you will never write anything ever ever ever again OR send it out again and write another piece…
2. Make sure you read contemporary poetry and fiction. Support literary magazines. This is the world you want to be part of, after all. If you can’t afford subscriptions, or don’t know where to start, visit The Poetry Library at the Royal Festival Hall. It’s free to join and anyone can read through the marvellous wall of up to date magazines they have there.
3. Be prepared. We wrote author biographies and looked at submission letters so that we were all ready to submit our work. How, we wondered, are biographies written in third-person, with a smidgeon of interesting personal facts, and consisting of just 50-100 words are so PARTICULARLY hard to do. Look at magazines to see how other people have done it and don’t feel embarrassed about asking someone else to look over it. Often we forget to include the key things about ourselves.
4. Don’t spend all your time writing just one perfect poem and then researching the one perfect place to submit it too. In fact, use submitting work as a prompt to write more. Visual Verse may be a good place to start, as it provides a monthly photograph to write to.
5. Don’t be rude, follow the guidelines, respect the editors who might be volunteers and, if not, certainly won’t be making a fortune from you anyway. They are wonderful, and we should be grateful to them for reading our work. S0 say hello, say thank you (even if it’s a rejection) and remember editors are human too. And if you think I’m joking – read this poem by Josephine Corcoran.
And yes, have fun!
Details of more workshops can be found here…