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Writers on writing: what we learnt at Blogfest '15

We had some sterling writers join us at Blogfest, from bestselling novelists Margaret Atwood and Val McDermid, to brilliant short-storyteller Helen Simpson, to legendary journos Tim Dowling and Lucy Cavendish. We've rounded up their top tips on honing your craft...

1. On finding a subject, and your voice

"What you're trying to do is make people recognise life the way they see it" - Tim Dowling

"It's about finding that voice where you say 'yes, that's me'" - Cogito Ergo Mum

voice

2. On writing about private lives

"If the joke's on you, it's okay to share it" - Robert Crampton

3. On cutting your work

"If you make something shorter, it will be better. Be ruthless." - Tim Dowling

"Writing is like packing for a holiday - the longer you take, the more compact it can get" - Helen Simpson

mr bean

4. On retaining your creativity after motherhood

"Ignore your kids" - Bridget Christie

"Be brave. Be reckless. You don’t have to disappear just because you’re a mother." - Cogito Ergo Mum

ignoring kids

5. On finding time to write

"Less time was more effective for me - working hard is more important than working long" - Esther Freud

alice in wonderland

6. On the editing process

"You must read aloud. You'll hear things differently - your eye doesn't always catch things" - Helen Simpson

virginia woolf

7. On the power of creativity

"Creativity is a challenge. It's a slap in the face to people who say 'know your place'."

slap

And finally...

"Stressed mums - look! They grow up! And write novels - maybe with you in them!" - Margaret Atwood

margaret atwood

Margaret Atwood and her brother, 1940

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Last updated: 27-Nov-2015 at 10:33 AM