Thursday, 23 July 2009

Overheard Conversations

Today's post has brought publication of one of those articles 'that just happened.'

You may recall from my post in April "Allow Yourself to get Sidetracked' that I mentioned you should let mind wander unhindered from time to time, just to see where it takes you.

I used the posting to mention a couple of 'snippets' of conversation that I'd heard whilst mountain climbing in the Lake District. Well, when I returned to my holiday accommodation one day, I wrote a short 500 word article about overheard conversations on a Lakeland path. Called 'The Things They Say' it enabled me to open the article with a great sentence that one woman said as she perspired her way past me ... "I want Julia Bradbury's bottom."

This is quite a simple article, merely a collection of comments heard whilst I was on the hills during the week's break, but it demonstrates that even the simplest of ideas can work well.

How many times are we told as writers to carry a notebook with us to jot down thoughts and comments? Well most of the comments I used in the article, I'd written in my notebook. It was only when I began flicking through the notes I'd made over the previous three days that made me realise how many I'd collected in a short space of time. If I hadn't written them down, I certainly wouldn't have remembered them, nor would I have thought I had enough for an article.

Setting out one snippet per paragraph, using the quote and setting the scene, created a short collection of anecdotes, ideal for my target market. In some way you could argue that I didn't write that article, but all those people I passed on those fell-side paths did.

So next time you hear something that amuses you, jot it down. We always say that overheard conversations can generate ideas, but in this case it generated a whole article.

I want to say congratulations to Sarah Hussellmann, who proudly declared when she submitted her seventh assignment to me this week, that's she's now earned more than her course fees from article sales. There's proof that it can be done!

Sarah has succeeded because she hasn't just looked at articles for her non-fiction work, she's also written press releases and reviews too, which have helped to boost her income. Sarah has also just launched her website - which is a must - for any freelance writer these days. Not only is it somewhere where you can advertise your services, but you can also showcase your work. Editors do look at websites - particularly if you've sent them a query letter suggesting an idea. So well done Sarah, and keep up the good work.

I'm taking a short break from posting on this blog, because next week I'm at the Writer's Holiday in Caerleon. I've been asked to run five workshops on "Travel and Other Feature Articles", which will keep me out of mischief!

However, on Sunday, the organisers asked me if I could help out by filling a gap in their schedule of lectures because unfortunately another writer had to drop out. So on Monday afternoon I will be trying to inspire all the delegates with my wisdom. That will probably take five minutes, which is a shame really, because it's an hour's slot I have to fill!

This year's event, the 25th, looks set to be another great time with writers like Katie Fforde, Jane Wenham-Jones, Lynne Hackles, Stephen Wade, Lesley Horton, Lucy Mangan, Zoe Sharp, Solange Hando, Sophie King, Della Galton, Kate Walker, Jane Pollard, Paul groves, Marina Oliver and Steve Bowkett sharing their knowledge and skills.

I'll let you know how it went, when I get back!

Good luck.

1 comment:

  1. Caerleon was fantastic! Your talk was fantastic too - I wouldn't have believed you only had a couple of days to prepare if I hadn't just read this. An excellent combination of advice, anecdotes and humour.