July Newsletter

 In All About Writing, How to write a book, Newsletters

Every writer is on a Hero’s Journey, the length of which is determined by the scope of their writing project. And like the Heroes of their stories, they face obstacles, trials and tests en route to their destination. While these obstacles might seem insurmountable, you can overcome them, whatever they are – with the help of companions and mentors, in the form of the All About Writing community.

Tips for overcoming procrastination

  1. Tie yourself to your writing chair (metaphorically).
  2. Try to make writing a consistent habit.
  3. Set yourself realistic and achievable goals.
  4. Minimise distractions during your writing time (switch off the Wi-Fi if you have to).
  5. Get an accountability partner (or partners).

Tips for overcoming the problem of writing that does not seem to engage – you or the reader

  1. Story comes from character. If we don’t care about the character, we won’t care about the story.
  2. Even if you’re writing non-fiction, you need compelling characters and clear narrative. Recording events, just ‘one damn thing after another’ won’t make a story.
  3. You don’t need to have your whole story plotted out, but you need an idea of your destination.
  4. Don’t be afraid to set aside a project that isn’t working and start something new. There are endless stories to tell.

Tips for overcoming your fear of writing / your inner critic

  1. Free writing can be a good way to allow yourself to write without self-consciousness and to get yourself into the creative space.
  2. Don’t worry too much about the technicalities of writing or how your work will come across to readers at first. Just get words on paper. That’s what second, third, fourth, drafts are for.
  3. Try to ignore the voice in your head that is demanding perfection. Love your text, no matter how imperfect it may be.
  4. Write for the joy of writing. Don’t get caught up in worrying about publication or who will read your work. Just allow yourself to enjoy the journey.

If you need a supportive and inspiring writing community to help you on your writing journey, join our Writers’ Circle with Jo-Anne Richards and Richard Beynon

We all need companions and mentors to help us to overcome our writing obstacles. One of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to do this is to join our Writers’ Circle.

If you join our inner-circle of writers, you can experience on-going support and the companionship of a like-minded international writing community. And membership of this exclusive circle will also allow you access to a library of writing resources.

At a monthly writers’ circle meeting, Richard and Jo-Anne will take the role of mentors on your writing journey. They will hear your writing, offer feedback and answer your writing questions.

If you need help and support to tell your own story, join our Monthly Memoir Workshops with Joanne Hichens

At the monthly memoir workshops, Joanne Hichens, author the best-selling memoir Death and the After Parties, will act as your mentor on your memoir writing journey. She will hear your writing, offer feedback and answer your writing questions.

Book for specific dates or become part of our regular inner-circle of memoir writers to experience on-going support and the companionship of a like-minded memoir writing community. Membership of this exclusive circle will also allow you access to a tailor-made library of writing resources.

If you struggle to find the time and motivation to write, join us in Venice,  Croatia … or both

If you really want to stop life from getting in the way of your writing, give yourself time – away from the distractions of children, partners, work, rubbish disposal and plumbers.

Picture it: Venice in Autumn, with all your daily needs taken care of. Time to think, to dream, to write. And all this with expert help on-hand every day to give you and your project one-on-one attention – whether you’re at the development stage or already well into your writing.

This isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity to retain and grow our creative selves. And after the last few years we’ve had? You deserve it.

Come for one week or two, from 10 to 17 October and/or 18 to 25 October. Or join us in Istrian Croatia for a third week (whether you joined us in Venice or not). There you can pair writing and walking with outings to medieval villages and wine farms on alternate afternoons.

Book soon, though. Our now famous Venice Retreat has been running for six years and many habitues come every year.

Who needs it? Anyone who never has time for anything, whose life is not their own, who craves time to create, think, dream and explore.  Just a few places remaining. Email Trish now to reserve yours.

If you need free support and companionship on your journey, join our brand new Community Writers’ Group

Writing can be a lonely business. It sometimes takes support and companionship to overcome your writing obstacles. We understand that not everyone has the resources to join one of our courses or workshops. We would like to offer every writer the chance to find the companions they need and our Community Writers’ Group is our answer.

This is our open group for all writers who want to connect in our community. Whether you’ve taken one of our courses, or are new to All About Writing, we invite you to share your writing triumphs and tribulations or just talk and connect with like-minded individuals! Join us now, and connect with your community.

Community News:

At All About Writing we believe that is also important to celebrate those in our community who have completed writing journeys. This month we would like to celebrate our own Dr Jo-Anne Richards. Her fourth novel, My Brother’s Book (Picador Africa) has just gone into a new print run, fifteen years after it first appeared in 2008. It is a story of family, betrayal and atonement against the backdrop of a South Africa struggling to come to terms with its own traumatic past.

It begins memorably, “I was born on page 23 of my brother’s book. On page 52, before the whole world, I betrayed him.”. If this has piqued your interest, order your copy from this fresh new print run, and find out more?

Just before lockdown, Jo-Anne’s famous first novel The Innocence of Roast Chicken was chosen to be republished as part of Pan Macmillan’s prestigious Picador Africa Heritage Collection – with a new essay gracing the beginning. Her debut novel sold 27 000 copies when it was first published in London, some twenty years ago. It was nominated for prestigious international awards and chosen as an “outstanding debut” by a UK chain of bookstores.

Her fifth novel, The Imagined Child (Picador Africa) has seen a couple of print runs already, and is available in hard copy or as an audiobook.

Sunday Times Literary Award Longlist

Two of our Creative Writing Course alumni feature prominently in the announcement of this year’s longlist for South Africa’s premier book prize, the Sunday Times Literary Award.

Ekow Duker, who continued from Creative Writing into our Mentoring Programme, is the 2023 Chair of the fiction judging panel.

And Matthew Wilhelm Solomon, who also made use of our assessment services when he finished Creative Writing, has been long-listed for the non-fiction award, for his book, The Blinded City: Ten Years In Inner-City Johannesburg by Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon (Picador Africa)

We’re very proud of them both.

Help with my Doctor

Jo-Anne helped community member Dr Elisabeth Macdonald (Liza to the AAW community) getting started with some writing about doctor-patient relations in Venice last year. The manuscript was too long for an article and too short for a book.

So now she’s created a website, Help with my Doctor,  which has recently gone live. Writers, how’s that for a reminder that you can do more with your writing than ‘simply’ write a book?

Liza says she hopes that we find it helpful when interacting with the medical profession. Check it out here.

Romance writers in Johannesburg and Cape Town

Our long time associate and romance writer, Alissa Baxter, is launching her next book on 3 August. The Baron and the Lady Chemist is the second Regency romance in her Grantham Girls series – the first book, The Duke and the Lady Gardener came out in May and the final book in the trilogy, The Lord and the Lady Astronomer will come out in November. All three are published by Dragonblade Publishing.

Alissa wanted to let the AAW community know about two romance evenings that will be taking place at Exclusive Books in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Please come and join them for an evening of all things romance. Grab a glass of wine while you meet and greet some of South Africa’s most renowned romance writers. There will be books to buy and get signed, drinks and snacks, lots of romance chitter-chatter and some rather exciting giveaways.

Joburg evening: Exclusive Books Rosebank, 17 August, 6 – 8pm

Cape Town evening: Exclusive Books Waterfront , 24 August, 6 – 8pm

The following writers will be at the Cape Town event:

Jo Watson, Natasha Anders, Elsa Winckler, Therese Beharrie, Ashleigh Gianoccaro and Charlene Namdhari.

The following writers will be at the Johannesburg event:

Jo Watson, Natasha Anders, Busisekile Khumalo, Charlene Namdhari, Alissa Baxter, Romy Sommer and Dominique Wolf.

RSVP events@exclusivebooks.co.za and alissa@lando.co.za

And check out our ten-part Introduction to Romance Writing here.

Winners of the Flash Fiction Challenge

In our April/May Flash Fiction challenge we asked you to write a story inspired by a favourite movie quote. We were fascinated by the snatches of dialogue that entrants remembered and treasured – and thought, aha, the quotes you remember tell us a great deal about you…

The winner by a short head is Sandy Lee. It’s the voice that does it. As it is so often. Generate a distinctive voice and you have your reader by the throat. Sandy’s piece intercuts between the hatchet-like tones of the bean counter and the fantasy life of the protagonist to extremely good effect. Sandy, your prize is a choice between a literary assessment on 5000 words of writing worth R 2900 / £ 170 or a voucher to the same value to use on one of our courses or programmes. Let us know your preference. We look forward to working with you.

Runners up in alphabetical order are:

Liz Dewing for her conversation between a mother – or is it a grandmother? – and her daughter (or grand-daughter). The dialogue is fresh and sparkling, and the reveal at the end is superb.

Jane Meenehan, for her idea – and the dialogue that supports it.

Jan Painter, for their surreal take on a dream scene – and a beautifully offhand final sentence.

Melissa Siebert for reminding us, quite lyrically, that the most painful memories are of love lost.

Read the winning entries here…

And don’t forget to enter our current flash fiction challenge. The deadline of 31 July is looming!

Happy writing

The All About Writing team

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Winners of the June/July Flash Fiction Challenge