100 creatives in a room: the cure for writer’s block, pissed-off-ness and other freelance ailments

You don’t have to be 10 years old to learn new stuff. Pic credit: saizamix, http://www.morguefile.com

Cure for a jaded freelance who’s got all gloomy about the downsides of being self-employed: stick her in a room with 100 other starving creatives and don’t let them out till they’ve eaten all the biscuits and had some ideas.

Had a great day on Saturday at a training event run by the Federation of Entertainment Unions. Being a member of the National Union of Journalists means I am also part of the FEU, as are members of Equity – the actors’ union – the Musicians’ Union and the Writers’ Guild. Members of all four unions were present at this all-day seminar about branding oneself as a business and promoting said business through blogging.

I was curious to see if I could distinguish the actors from the musicians, from the writers. At first I thought that perhaps the better-dressed, most attractive ones were the actors, but there were some quite presentable journos there too, so that was just a stereotype. There did seem to be a behavioural distinction though – some of the delegates talked a lot, confidently and articulately, and asked loads of random off-topic questions, while others looked at their watches and said could we all stick to the point ‘cause the course leaders had a lot of ground to cover before lunch. I suspect the former were the actors and the latter the journos but I may be wrong. Comments welcome on this aspect!

The musos didn’t say much but what they did say was pertinent.

Anyway, we had some lively discussions and picked up lots of good tips about branding and blogging. I won’t tell what they were: join a union and go on your own course. Course leaders were Miranda Gavin, deputy editor of the Hot Shoe photography magazine, and David Woods, creative director at Surgery Creations.

My little group for group work and lunch consisted of me, three actors, a photographer and a musician. So had some interesting convos and made some new contacts: have since been talking to two of them about the possibility of doing some writing work for them, which would be great. Another phoned me yesterday about a technical aspect of websites, under the mistaken impression that I knew more than I did. I didn’t, and thus wasn’t able to be of much practical help, but we had a nice chat anyway.

The seminar came soon after an interesting meeting I’d had with an author who is about to publish an online serialisation of her first book, Confessions of an Office Slut. Nicola Hare http://www.novelsbynicola.com is also due to publish her second novel, When Tigers Attack, online and in paperback, in the new year.

We talked about a unique aspect of online publishing – because she can change the story right up the last minute pre-publication, Nicola is planning to write in several extra characters as cameo roles (like walk-on bit-part actors, if you will), with links to their real-life websites. Two roles will go to local people as prizes in a competition, one is the prize in an international competition, and one will go to me, as part of a trade-off: I’ve written the press release to promote her books to the local media and in return I get to be in a chick-lit novel!

This whole area of “linking” online is still rather a mystery to me but I’m intrigued by the concept and curious to find out what the outcome might be in terms of links to me from Nicola’s book, when it comes out.

Anyway, all this creative stuff has helped to dispel the gloom into which I fell last week (see earlier blog). Long may it last.

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