On Sunday I was fortunate enough to attend Miranda Dickinson’s Write Foxy event, which was jam packed with some amazing guest speakers.
So what does it mean to Write Foxy? It does not mean you are limiting yourself to the topic of elusive woodland creatures. And although all of the speakers were female and Miranda is well known as a Romantic Comedy author, this was not a day exclusively for those who want to write ‘chicklit’. The whole day was genre unspecific and for those at any level of writing experience. To Write Foxy is to take back the passion of writing and do what you really love. A day legitimately and wholly devoted to the writing experience.
For me, there were several highlights and key moments in the day. The first was being completely vindicated by Hannah Beckerman (The Dead Wife’s Handbook) when it comes to planning. People always seem a bit suspicious of my level of planning, as though it somehow equates to a lack of creativity. Hannah was great at explaining how developing a strong structure in advance can actually create a sense of freedom when it comes to writing. There are no moments of panic when you feel like you are fumbling in a blind alley towards your ending. No sitting, staring at the blank screen waiting for the muse to appear. But nor is it so set in stone that there is no choice but to follow your original plan relentlessly. I couldn’t have completed NaNoWriMo in 3 days without a plan, that’s for sure.
The aha! moment for the day came from Cally Taylor (Home For Christmas, The Accident) who tackled the topic of editing. Or, as I like to call it, my nemesis. I realised that although I am meticulous in my planning, and my life in general, I have no such approach when it comes to editing. Instead, I get out a red pen and plod through the thankless task. No wonder I always get distracted by writing something new and shiny instead. Cally showed us a way of approaching editing that has given me a whole new perspective on getting from that first draft to a polished manuscript, without it feeling like pulling teeth. As my goal for 2015 is to actually do something with this fort of stories I’ve been building around myself, I feel like I now have a framework to help me learn to enjoy the task as a part of the writing process itself.
The unexpected laugh out loud moments came courtesy of Tamsyn Murray (Stunt Bunny, My So-Called Afterlife), who explained the three act structure to us in a way that was better than any of my English teachers ever did. Or maybe her choice of a well known children’s book as an example was just aiming it at my mental level… Now I’m re-reading this and wondering if I’ve managed to do it with this post (the piece of training documentation I wrote for work the other day though is something Aristotle himself would be proud of. Isn’t that what people mean by work-life balance?)
To round off the day, Miranda Dickinson (Take A Look At Me Now, and the soon to be published I’ll Take New York) gave everyone a timely reminder that for everyone there, no matter what they wrote, where they wrote, or how much they wrote, the whole point was still to have fun. To really love what you write and, more importantly, to give yourself the freedom to do so without guilt. Writing is a solitary process to begin with and hard to explain to friends and family without sounding like, well, a bit of a nutter really. I’m lucky that everyone I know has just accepted that I’m a nutter anyway and the whole writing thing is now quite incidental to that fact. But, despite the fact I don’t have anything traditionally published yet, I do now call myself a writer and say it like I mean it. For that, I will be forever grateful to Miranda for being a champion of the generosity mindset and always extending a hand down to help those on the way up.
It is something I hope to be in a position to do myself one day.
There are still tickets available for the February Write Foxy day, so if you’re free and want to start taking your writing seriously (or if you already do and want access to a whole load of additional tips and tricks) then you should check it out here. Plus, if I haven’t sold it to you, there will also be free goodies and oodles of cake. Writing events should always be this well catered….