St. Albans Literary Festival packed full of writing tips

[Krystyna King | Events Secretary]

From the 6-9th November, St. Albans had their first Literary Festival. It was presented by local newspaper, the Herts Advertiser and sponsored by The Book Midwife. The weekend was filled with talks, workshops and interviews, all showcasing and celebrating a diverse range of Literature.  For those that missed out, here are two of the events that were available during the festival:

Travel Writing Workshop

Six Travel Writers shared their work in Dagnall Street Baptist Church for the St. Albans Literary Festival on 8th November.

The Writers:

Matthew Teller – Journey to the Mountain: How marking a historic anniversary at Jordan’s ancient city of Petra turned personal.

Amy Guttman – Yom Kippur in Iran: Observing the Day of Atonement with Tehran’s Jewish Community.

Steve Keenan – The Worst Rail Journey Ever: Recalling a less than perfect train ride from Venice to Belgrade.

Gillian Thornton – France at my Feet: Exploring a lesser-known corner of Europe’s most popular holiday destination.

Ben Lerwill – Cities in the Clouds: A 9-day journey on foot through the Peruvian Andes, following one of the alternative Inca trails to Machu Picchu.

Andy Jarosz – To Central Asia with a box of soil: Travelling through Uzbekistan to deliver a very special gift.

All of them had undergone a different experience, in varied places across the globe. Andy Jarosz’s article, ‘To Central Asia with a box of soil,’ stood out for his sentimental personal attachment of finding where his Grandfather was buried. The Writers transported 20 or so listeners from the Transhuance Festival, with lots of cows, the worst railway journey to Serbia to above the clouds through Peruvian Andes.

Questions and answers revealed these writers really were well-travelled and although the majority had families, they still had the burning desire to do, see, and write more.

Travel writing seems like an idyllic career, for those budding writers or explorers, especially a those who have thought about travelling after graduation.

However, the writers discussed with the audience lead by journalist Steve Keenan, about the limitations of being a Travel Writer. Although enjoyable, it is highly competitive and struggles to maintain a liveable wage. Amy Guttman gave an example of how she wrote five stories a month, for a top selling magazine and received approximately two hundred pounds. Guttman added, ‘There are many opportunities but are economically problematic.’

Blogging is free however, so all of the writers encouraged the audience to write whenever we are able; in our own country, in our town, even down our own road. They agreed that life is too short, so write what you love.

With reference to how the digital world has evolved rapidly over ten years, it was suggested that the printing era was the prime time, the golden age of writing. But Matthew Teller stated, ‘There are many golden ages, and will continue to be.’

So, if you have a travel writing story let us know!

How to write a GOOD book FAST

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this workshop. At first I thought it would be tips and advice how to create your characters and paint a scenario for them. However, it was aimed at how to get published and the real reasons why we write. According to Mindy Gibbins-Klein, founder of The Book Midwife and our host for the hour workshop, people write for three reasons:

Fame. Fortune. Fulfilment.

Gibbins- Klein stated, “Your reason for writing is valid. Don’t let anyone tell you different.” After writing a fiction novel about epilepsy, something she was desperate to raise awareness, despite years of rejection letters. It was after ten years that she finally got her book published, and she decided to help others publish their books, who desperately wanted their stories to be heard.

Advice that could be carried for all writers, even students writing their essays:


The reason for thinking we have Writers Block is because we have NO plan or a POOR one. Ideally you need to filter your ideas.

More of Gibbins-Klein’s advice for writers:

  1. Complete a first draft

  2. Without a first draft, there are no other drafts

  3. Write it FAST

  4. Keep it all in one style

  5. Find test readers, ones you trust to read your work and can feedback to you

If you want more advice on writing and publishing check out, @MindyGK and @bookmidwife

Did you attend any of the St Albans Literary Festival Events? Let us know what you thought!

#fair #liturature #Universe #StAlbans #Events

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