Tag: workshop

Two essential events at this year’s Chester Lit Fest

A busy day at Chester’s Storyhouse, then.

It was the final full week of the Chester Literature Festival and I was running two events last week — a morning discussion [first two slides] and a lunchtime workshop [latter two slides].

The former was based around my book, Inside Fatherhood, and took the form of an audience-participation discussion about modern masculinity, fatherhood and male role models.

The latter was a writing workshop, serving as a taster for anyone trying to their idea into print, albeit fiction, journalism, blog or memoir.

Mark Chester, founder of the organisation Who Let The Dads Out, joined me.

He helped to lead the discussion and then bounce ideas in the workshop about more creative writing, while I focused on writing for magazines and websites.

Thanks to Mark and everyone who turned up on the day, including those we dragged up to join the discussion. We appreciate your support.

And we had some good feedback afterwards:

“I throughly enjoyed it and as usual, found some like-minded people to chat to. I’d enjoy any [future] event that makes me write something.”

So, here’s to the next one … watch this space.

Writing workshops: how to read magazines — and write for them

If it’s Friday, then it’s a magazine masterclass in Chester.

I ran the first in a series of new-style workshops today, hosted by Meltdown, in which we got to grips with some of the thorny issues of making it as a magazine journalist.

Such as, you ask? Well, try signposting, pitching editors and, the thorniest of all — money.

Magazines matter, I think. They educate and inform; they define the age in which we live.

That’s why our discussion moved from Nineties Britpop and Loaded to Monacle‘s spin-off brands and the rise of the indie magazine as celebrated by Stack Magazines.

It was a lively debate with four super-keen wannabe hacks [pictured above], all of whom brought loads of experience, ideas and enthusiasm to the session.

Here’s a taster of some of the take-away tips of the day …

If you’re going freelance, then you will need:

  • An ability to generate lots of ideas and pitch them successfully, turning your ideas into hard cash
  • An ability to take old ideas and recycle them or spin-off fresh ones with different angles. Either way, you need to refresh quotes, rewrite intros and concs, and check with editors re copyright contracts
  • Some business sense and a basic grasp of accountancy to keep your own records

Thanks to the attendees and for the great feedback, such as:

And this comment from the feedback sheet:

“This has given me the confidence to give it a go and actually start pitching stories to editors.”

The plan is to take these workshops quarterly, so look out for the next one in the new year.

Tortoise Magazine writing workshop at the Good Life Experience

A phone call out the blue.

It was the nice people from Tortoise, Chester’s independent magazine.

They had a stand at the Good Life Experience, the annual festival of, well, good life, taking over Hawarden for a weekend each September.

And they were thinking of running some writing workshops to encourage visitors to react to the sights, sounds and, in particular characters at the festival.

That’s where I would come in.

So it was last Saturday was spent running three workshops during the day [that’s group one with me, above].

We encouraged wannabe bloggers and writers to explore the festival site in search of a good story and a even better soundbite.

I had adults, kids, creative writing students and fledgling mummy bloggers amongst others.

But they had one thing in common: they all did us proud.

From a profile of a dog portrait photographer (yes, that is a thing) to two schoolgirls saving the world from plastic (check out Kids Against Plastic), it was a rich source of material.

Okay, I missed the set by Michael Head as I was working but it was great fun and we had loads of nice comments afterwards, such as:

Look out for the edited compilation of stories in the next issue of Tortoise magazine.

A media taster session for the West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce



I ran a taster session for my media-medira writing workshops with Tracy North of Outwrite PR.

It was a lunch event for the West Cheshire and Noth Wales Chamber of Commerce (WCNW Chamber) and the theme was how to get your story across.

There was a great response from people on the day with lots of questions and follow ups via Twitter but, for anyone who missed it, here are my top tips for making your news story or blog post stand out from the crowd.

Your story has to be worth reading. And to be worth reading it has to have a hook or an angle, that is something timely and compelling that makes it stand out.

So you need to think differently. But how?

  • 1) Find the news hook — think why now? What is the one piece of news you want to share? Eg. You’re launching a new product next week? You’ve just won an award? Your business is celebrating its first anniversary? If no hook, then no story.
  • 2) Put a human face on it — think how can your build empathy with your readers? Simple. People love to read about people, so don’t be afraid to personalise your story and share your own personal experience.
  • 3) Offer your expert views — can you explain a complex subject in a concise yet informative way and without blinding people with jargon? Great. Then put yourself forward. After all, the media thrives on comment.
  • 4) Elevate your story — think about how your story fits in with national/international trends and events? Eg. Budget statement last week? How did the Chancellors’ announcements impact on your business? Greek debt crisis? How does this relate to what’s happening in your business?
  • 5) Just say it — think about how to make your point clearly and concisely. My pet hates include waffle intros, lack of follow-up details and exclamation marks.

Liked this? Then try also Writing online: Feedback from the second workshop.