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Learning never stops

Image credit: Pete Kelly

I’ve just finished writing my new novel. The story involves people trying to assassinate a member of the Royal Family with a surface-to-air missile. I’m now faced with the shifting landscape of the publishing world. So far, I’ve released books through three publishing houses, but I self-published my last few novels. With the current tendency for publishers to reduce what they pay for novels and do less to promote them, it’s a delicate decision choosing the best way to get your story out there. Just when you think you’ve got to grips with the publishing industry, you realise you’ve still got a lot to learn.

Alongside creating novels and mastering new publishing platforms, I deliver workshops on writing skills. I’m happiest when showing people how to make their writing easy to read. But recently, a large university in the north of England asked me to run a workshop that addressed scientific writing, including how to evaluate qualitative research. More unfamiliar territory. I also work as a copywriter in the advertising industry. This, too, has altered dramatically over the years. When I first started out, I spent my time writing brochures and mailers. Now it’s virtual-reality scripts and ‘experiential brand experiences’.

My point, to use a cliché, is that learning never stops. For many students, the need to develop their writing skills comes as an unwelcome surprise. I’ve tutored science students whose main reason for choosing their course was to minimise the amount of essay writing they had to do. If you are nervously facing the prospect of having to tackle new tasks, I can sympathise with you. But I can also offer the reassurance that anything can be mastered, once it’s been broken down into simple steps. We’re all learning all the time. That’s as true for writing as it is for publishing or creating ‘experiential brand experiences’ – whatever they are.

23 November 2016

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