Interesting to note that the majority feel that in 5-10 years they will probably be solely e-published and working without agent or publisher.
Jo tells me she has persuaded Kate Harrison to do a guest spot soon on the very topic of creativity at
http://notesfromtheslushpile.blogspot.co.uk/ so I will get her to let everyone know when this appears and won't try to put everything down from my notes here.
But as well as Kate's talk, Marcus, Lee (and also Ali Shaw at the AW evening recently) all had some good tips, which are definitely worth noting.
There are several things they all had in common - notably that their most creative periods are either when they first wake up and are still groggy from sleep - or just as they are going off to sleep.
Lee Wetherley even said she tends to go off to sleep and wakes and writes through the night.
But anything that you do without actively thinking too hard (walking, driving or repetitive activities) puts the brain into an alpha state, which is supposed to be the most creative state. So going off to sleep thinking of some knotty plot point means your subconscious works on it over night.
And then don't forget to write down those ideas.
The alpha state is good for ideas and first drafts, but not for editing (similar to Hemingway's 'Write drunk, edit sober' philosophy), so there seems to be general agreement that at first draft stage you only worry about getting something written, trying to get inside the story - and worry only later about how good it is and being too critical at an early stage definitely dries up creativity.
Some of the tricks to keep you going include not getting to the end of a passage or a piece, even stopping in the middle of a sentence, so you leave yourself something very easy to pick up when you go back to it.
This idea of writing to a specified time seemed to also be a trend and here I pass on Kate Harrison's tip - she is a big fan of the pomodoro technique, which reckons that you are only able to concentrate for 25 mins and then need a break, so that you should break your task into 25 min chunks (eg 25 minutes free writing, 25 mins to answer your emails, 25 mins attend to any editing) and that this maximises your creative time.
Not for everyone I shouldn't think, but there is even a web tool that sets a time for you. Links here:
The Pomodairo timer, and you can download it/try it out here:
And from creativity to the business end of things - thought you all might want to have a look at this, which is a survey of published writers - what they think of their publishers, how much they make and lots of good stuff like that.
I've put an excerpt here and there is a link to look at the whole thing.
About half our respondents reckoned communication was good to excellent. About half thought it was ‘always poor’ or ‘tailed off abruptly on publication.’
I know one author who published a book with a major publisher who had bought the manuscript in question for an excellent five-figure sum. The author’s last communication with his editor was about 6 weeks prior to publication. And after that: nothing. Not a call. Not an email. No report of sales. No report on the progress or failure of any marketing or publicity initiatives. Not even a call to say, ‘sales have been disappointing and we’re going to have to cut you from our Christmas card list. Sorry.’ In my view, such treatment is inexcusable. It’s also, as our survey shows, common.
The next question is also interesting. We asked, ‘Did you receive any formal guidance in the ways of publishing or guidance on how you as an author could add most value to the process?’ The purpose here was to find out whether publishers actually want authors to play an engaged and important part in the publishing process. After all, publishers are professional producers-of-books. An individual editor will publish, typically, two dozen books a year. Authors – particularly newer ones – simply can’t match that depth of experience. If you’re a debutant novelist taken on by a major publisher, you have already (presumably) got the writing skills you need to succeed but you know (again, presumably) nothing at all about how most effectively to engage with the publication process. Should you tweet and blog? Go to festivals? Seek out opportunities on local or national radio? Or in the press? Should you solicit puffs? Exploit contacts? Are there mailing lists, specialist media outlets or professional organisations that are relevant? What the heck should you be doing?
These things matter. The old industry structures are weaker now than ever. Bookstores are under pressure, book reviews scarce, and digital marketing is becoming absolutely crucial. Yet since readers don’t give a damn about what publishers think or what brand values publishers supposedly embody, the profile of the author him or herself matters more than it has ever done before. You’d think then that publishers would want to train authors in the commercial aspects of being an author.
But do they? Do they, phooey. Just 18% of authors report that they received systematic guidance in the ways of the industry. A staggering 33% said ‘no, I received no guidance’.