Katy of Chichester Copywriter recently attended Stories of the Sea and had a totally inspirational time. This was a creative writing workshop with children’s author Cathy Watts at Pagham Harbour’s RSPB Nature Reserve held in conjunction with Chichester Festivities 2012.
Cathy Watts is a fascinating author; she has had academic publications published with established publishing houses but turned to self-publishing for her children’s books . Most authors start with self-publishing and then get a publishing deal but Cathy is a writer that knows what she wants and goes for it!
Our professional copywriter was part of a class of eight people passionate about creative writing. Some of the class were more interested in writing children’s books or teen fiction while others were more interested in writing adult fiction.
Once the introductions were over, Cathy asked the group what urges them to write and it was great to see that there was a whole range of answers – some had a book inside them screaming to be released while others were seeking recognition, fame and fortune.
Next, writing inspirations and motivations were on the table and the class discovered that there were a great many muses out there, including:
- Nature e.g. animals, birds, flowers and trees
- Places e.g. towns and countries
- Buildings e.g. historical or religious
- Puzzles and mysteries
- Our own thoughts and curiosity
- Reading the writing of others
- News stories e.g. the local paper
- Phrases and etymology (the origin of words)
- Life experiences
- Talking to people/experts
- Feedbcak from our target audience
- Taking part in writing groups
- Noticing the things around us
This last point led the group outside for a walk to explore Pagham Harbour’s RSPB Nature Reserve and see what would inspire their creative writing for the rest of the session. As a result, Katy wrote the following poem, which will be published in Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve’s forthcoming newsletter:
I can hear…
Birds pepping, tweeting and chattering – a full concert rings out across the marshes.
The wind whistling and rustling as it brushes against the reeds.
I can smell…
Rain-fresh vegetation – vibrant and green turning earthy and musty.
Nutrient-rich muds, where creatures forage and feed, wafting their organic gasses.
I can feel…
The cooling breeze cutting through the humid air while tiny bugs visit my bare skin for a tickle and, perhaps, a nibble.
Warming sun radiating through a duvet of cloud.
I can see…
A dainty butterfly of purist white, fluttering like a pair of petals among the nettles.
Swallows swooping from on-high to skim Ferry Pool’s silky saline waters.
Pearlescent channels trickling through grainy mudflats, offering myriad shades of green – sage to jade to grassy to limey.
I can imagine…
Woodruff Drinkwater commanding the build of his magnificent mill, which was powered by Pagham’s changing tides.
Barrels brimming with booty, bobbing through the harbour entrance.
Do-gooder village folk entangled by the marshes of old – paying their dues for wagging tongues.
These were Cathy’s top creative writing tips that Chichester Copywriter brought away:
Give self-publishing a go – If you want to see your books in print, then why not try self-publishing? Yes, it costs money but if you put the work in you will sell the books and get your money back, you can always stop at a first run/when you’ve broken even. However, be aware that you will need to make sure that you have proofread/copy-edited the books yourself or employed a professional copy-editor as this service is rarely included with self-publishing packages.
Be bold – Cathy was looking for an illustrator and fell in love with Emma Ball’s style. Unsure whether Emma would want to illustrate her books, Cathy approached her and Emma continues to illustrate Cathy’s words. After all, if you don’t ask you don’t get!
Clever marketing – Try tying in marketing promotions to the sale of your book to make it stand out from the crowd. Finger puppets have worked particularly well as a tie-in with Cathy’s children’s books and bookmarks are pretty standard but how about stickers or cupcakes?
Get feedback – Cathy regularly does school visits so that she can read to her target audience and engage with them to generate valuable feedback. This feedback helps her to edit current stories and write new ones.
Cathy is interested in running an inspirational workshop that will be of interest to writers of all descriptions at next year’s Chichester Copywriter’s Writers’ Retreat – we’ll bring you more news on that soon!