Books from the North Shore Writer's Festival

On Saturday, April 21, the North Shore Writer’s Association held its annual North Shore Writer’s Festival. Having heard about this event for the first time from The Anthology, who was also due to speak in a blogging panel, I travelled to sunny West Vancouver to check it out.

The first session I went to was “Getting Started, Getting Published.” This panel was full of published authors, poets, and editors who gave some great insight into their writing process and what it takes to get published. The panelists were:

Fran Bourassa

Lynn Crymble

Bernice Lever

Sylvia Taylor

Gerhard Winkler

Karen Bower (moderator)

Some of the best advice given out:

On Writer’s Block

Sylvia: Cultivating writing friendships are very important. I stared at a blank screen everyday for a whole week when I was writing The Fisher Queen. So, I called up a writer friend and told her I was blocked. She told me to send her an e-mail everyday about what I was going to write about tomorrow. I did that for 3 months and my novel came out of that.

On Finding Your Writing Voice

Fran: My writing group does something called Word Whips. We’re given a writing prompt, 10 minutes to free write about it and then, we have to read it out. The premise is that there’s no time for your internal or external editor to go to work. It’s the best way to find your real voice because you don’t word process anything.

On Taking a Break and Losing your Groove

Karen: Always have a slush pile for your work. NEVER HIT DELETE. You never know when you’ll come back to needing that piece.

Sylvia: Ask yourself: What is this book/poem really about? Give yourself 5-10 minutes to write the answer to that question. I call this your Barf Draft, where you just let everything go, so you can come back to your work.

On Not Being an Island

Lynn: Write more. Share more. Join writing groups. Writing is a lonely thing, but when you come out of the cave with a piece of writing, you’ll have an immediate audience to help you with it.

Gerhard: It’s important for a writer to have someone give you honest feedback that isn’t a relative or a spouse.

On Getting Published

Fran: Getting published gives you the acknowledgement you need. It can be as simple as writing something for your local newspaper.

Sylvia: Share your work. Publisher’s like to know you’ve shared your work and put it out in the world for people to experience.

Lynn: I used the Writer’s Market to find publishing houses for my book. Be sure you know what you’re writing about [subject-wise] and send it to the appropriate editor.

Bernice: Go to readings and you’ll find editors and publishers are there.

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