After posting my work on web forums and doing the Writers Bureau course, my next step was actually to self publish my first children’s book The Crazy Christmas Caper. It was only after self-publishing that I attended a local writers group.

That’s when I realised I should have done that first!

I am lucky to have a local author, Julie Mayhew who runs a variety of workshops, some one-0ff, some running for a number of weeks that look at a wide variety of ways to write including novels, screen plays, poetry, etc.

I attended a course that ran one night per week (7-9 pm) for four weeks at the Here Café in Berkhamsted. It was designed to help people take that first step towards writing a novel. Some of us had already been writing for a while, some had published work before and others had a desire to write but didn’t know where to start – I know that feeling!

Just like with the Writers Bureau, attending a local group and engaging with other writers was a great experience. At the time I had finished the first draft of my second children’s book The Mad Moon Mission. I wanted to take my mind through the process of thinking through the steps of character, plot, setting, use of language, etc before embarking upon a second draft.

It was a great success.

Although there’s only so much you can do in two hours per week, it felt like Julie crammed in a huge amount. Chats over tea and cake during the sessions (included in the admission price – result!) and over wine afterwards were really important too. The course forced me out of my comfort zone in terms of writing about issues/topics I wouldn’t normally touch and making me look at writing scenes from different perspectives. During one session we looked at using music to get you in the right mood for a certain scene you need to write – genius!

This course really helped me a lot. It made me feel that I was doing many things right or at least that I was on the right track with my own writing. I approached it with an open mind and a willingness to try different things and I benefitted massively. You have to be willing to try, to read you own work to the group and put it out there for comment. You have to one day, right? Why not in a friendly environment?

Distance courses are all well and good but actually meeting like minded people with a love of writing and words and benefitting from a great tutor who was both accomplished and inspiring is priceless.

Find your local group and book a course. You won’t regret it.