Why did I write my books? Why did you write yours?

Liz Broomfield booksThe other day, I was chatting with someone who didn’t know I’d written several books. I found myself explaining why I wrote them … and now I’m wondering why people write their books. So I’m going to share first, then I hope other people will do, too, in the comments.

I wrote my first book, “How I Conquered High Cholesterol” for two reasons. The first was that I was diagnosed with high cholesterol, given a really quite unhelpful single A4 sheet by my doctor (which tried to cover the diets of all of the ethnic groups in the UK in one page) and threatened with medication. Once I’d worked everything out and got my cholesterol lower and staying lower, I wrote it all down and added some recipes. The second reason was that as an editor and proofreader, I was working with quite a few people who wanted to self-publish ebooks, and I wanted to see what that process was like from the inside (I used that same reasoning when I later put together print versions of my books).

When I went full-time self-employed, I blogged about the process for a year, and then I put those blog posts together into a book, “How I Survived my First Year of Full-Time Self-Employment“. I did that one for two reasons, too. The first was, to be honest, that lots of people were turning blogs into books and I thought it would be easy (it’s not that easy to make it not seem like it’s just a load of blog posts shoved together into a book, by the way). I thought I could produce a side-stream of passive income which would generate itself as I worked on my full-time job, and the books have done that to a certain extent. I did also write it, again, because I couldn’t find many resources covering my specific situation, as a 40-something wanting to dip gently into self-employment rather than risking everything. I also wanted to make it approachable – a book I would want to read, and my readers have appreciated that (even the one who said there were too many cardigans in it …). The subtitle, “Going it Alone at 40” was the original title, another error!

I kept on blogging, and I realised I had more to say about running more of a mature business, once you’ve done all the start-up stuff. So I put together the ultimately not hugely successful “Running a Successful Business After the Start-up Phase: Who are you Calling Mature?” I added loads of stuff about social media, websites and how you know when your business is stable and levelling out, then how to build income, etc., and people who read it like it, but I’ve never really been able to explain it very well, I fear, and it lags in the sales department.

Then I put these two business books together into “Your Guide to Starting and Running your Business” which I offer at a discounted price compared to the two individual volumes, because I honestly feel that I want to provide this information in the most cost-effective way possible for the reader. I feel very strongly about books that promise much then try to sell you a course with the author: by putting together the omnibus, I tried to provide as much as I could for as little as possible.

My next-best selling title after the Cholesterol book, “Quick Guide to  your Career in Transcription” came about because I kept seeing lots and lots of searches coming through to my business blog around transcription. I’d blogged a bit on the topic and I wrote more for this guide – including adding a section on ergonomics when an early reader complained that topic wasn’t included! The books I found on the topic were quite pushy and get-rich-quick, so I thought there was room for a no-nonsense and friendly guide along the lines of my other business books. I included some basic information on setting up a business from those book, but tailored everything else towards transcription itself.

Showing that you can be too clever, I sprung at the idea of stuffing your title with keywords and put together “Quick Guide to Networking, Social Media and Social Capital“. Oh, they will all search for these terms and come to the book, thought I. Well, again, people who read it find the brief, no-nonsense guide to networking in person and through social media useful, but it’s not picked up the sales I hoped for.

Looking to the future, I really want to write a main and quick guide to your career in proofreading and editing. I’m including a self-mentoring guide in that – the reason for that being that a lot of people ask me for formal mentoring and that’s not something I have the resources to do. The self-mentoring guide will then be published separately in a more general version to help people with their businesses.

If I cast my mind back over all of these books, the main impetus has been to help people, and to write the book I wish I’d had when I was in that situation. What about you? Why did you write your book? I’d love to know (feel free to include a link to your book in your comment, but I’ll monitor the responses for spamminess so please share your story as well as your link).

Over to you …

Hi, I’m Liz Dexter and I’m a writer and …

Liz Broomfield books authorThere are lots of “writers and …” out there and I bet some of you reading this are, too. Writing is a perilous full-time career for all but a very few people (statistics bandied around about the average annual earnings of writers suggest anything from £1,000 to £5,000) and also I suspect that it’s not what every writer would actually want to do full time (I know I wouldn’t).

I know writers-and-editors, writers-and-carers, writers-and-stay-at-home-parents, writers-and-painters, writers-and-crafters … and hopefully some of them will be along to share their stories some time soon. I’m going to share mine, then it’s over to you!

Which came first, writing or “and …”?

In my case, everything else came before writing. In fact, I only started writing when I had a medical diagnosis and no factsheets to guide me. That’s why I wrote my book about lowering my cholesterol – to help other people who might be in the same situation.

Of course, I’d been busily writing blog posts and the like for a while, so it seemed natural to turn my blog about my first year of full-time self-employment into a book (it’s not actually that easy to just “turn a blog into a book”, it turns out, but I created a book in the end). I then went on to write other books for freelancers, because, again, I didn’t find that much useful information for the type of freelancer I was becoming – and reviewers still talk about these filling that gap in the market, so it seems that writing for yourself can be a handy type of writing to do!

How do I introduce myself at parties?

Well, I don’t go to many parties, but I do tend to introduce myself as an editor, transcriber, localiser, runner, reader … and writer. Hm, maybe if I went about with a bagful of books and touted myself as a writer first, I’d sell more of the things …

Do I feel like I’ve got a double identity?

I do have an actual double identity now. I got married relatively late in life, and I’d already written several books under my unmarried name, Liz Broomfield. So I decided (mainly because I was too lazy and mean to get all the covers and uploaded versions changed) to stick with Liz Broomfield for the author side of things, while becoming Liz Dexter for my Libro business and in the rest of my life.

This has been a bit confusing and led to a lot of explaining (although that’s helped my search engine optimisation, and if you search for Liz Dexter on Amazon you do find most of my books anyway), but it felt like the right choice at the time.

I also have three blogs – Liz Dexter’s Libro one for my “professional” blog (by which I mean by editing, proofreading, transcription, tips, business ideas etc. blog and website), a book review one which is also Liz Dexter-based now, and this separate one for my books. Again, I’m never sure, to be honest, whether that was a good idea, but it’s done now!

How do I fit the two sides of my life in?

This is a tricky one – I’m notoriously bad at setting aside time for writing. When I do, I usually book out a few solid hours for book work. Unfortunately, what I like to refer to as “paid work” does come first, so I have to work hard to carve out those few hours. I could do better with this, and I’m considering booking a week of “holiday” with myself and my clients to get some projects finished.

How has writing affected my other job?

I work with writers in a lot of my “day job”, and I can honestly say that the writing and particularly editing process, and the fact of being out there in the world as an author with books to sell, has had a big positive effect on my work. Being edited is hard, and having been through the process (with a lovely editor, I hasten to add) made me make a big effort to be super-kind in my own editing work – I know how disheartening it can be to have your work pulled apart, however kindly and necessarily. If I could say one thing in this blog post, it would be that.

Would I prefer to be doing one or the other?

In my case, I can honestly say no. I am trying to do some research as well, and sometimes I wish I could ONLY do that for a bit, but I don’t think I could sustain a full-time writing life, and I like the contrast between writing for my blogs, writing my books and doing the other stuff I do.

My books can be found on this website (just follow the links in the menu) and are all on Amazon.

Over to you!

I’d love to know what the “and …” is in your life! Why don’t you drop me a line with your answers to the questions, and I’ll publish the best of them on this blog. I’d particularly like to know how you manage the two sides of your working life, as I know I’m bad at that!

Here are those questions again:

  • What do you do apart from writing?
  • Which came first, writing or “and …”?
  • How do you introduce yourself at parties?
  • Do you feel like you’ve got a double identity?
  • How do you fit the two sides of your life in?
  • Would you prefer to be doing one or the other?

Don’t forget to include a portrait of you, if you’d like one displayed, and the URLS for your website and book links.

Send me your answers via email or get in touch via the Contact Form. And happy writing and “…”, whatever you do!

I’m up to 13 five-star reviews for “Quick Guide to your Career in Transcription”

quick guide to your career in transcriptionI was thrilled to find my thirteenth five-star review (twelve on Amazon.co.uk and one on Amazon.ca) for my book, “Quick Guide to Your Career in Transcription”, from a lady who’s now read three of my books (even better!). I have been popping reviews onto both my review blog and Amazon for books I’ve read lately, as I know how much it helps authors to get feedback on their books – especially when they’ve helped and/or entertained people, of course.

Here’s an extract …

A lot of helpful information in a relatively short book … it was definitely worth reading to find out what is involved, and what skills and tools are needed. There are plenty of useful tips about how to make life as a transcriber easier (both in terms of doing work and getting work). Plus, there are some very useful reminders about office ergonomics for all home office workers that spend a long time behind a keyboard. (read the whole review here.)

This book has obviously struck a bit of a chord, as I get more emails and contact about this topic than any of the other ones I talk about in my books and on my blog. With that in mind, I’m trying very hard at the moment to work this into a full-length book on transcription careers, based on my “Your Guide to Starting and Building Your Business” to add to the special editors’ edition I’m also putting together. These will be available in print and e-book versions automatically from publication, as I’ve found that the popularity of my print books is growing.

Do you prefer to buy non-fiction, informational style books in print or have you swapped to e-books for those? I’d love to know!

For more information and how to buy, visit the “Quick Guide to your Career in Transcription” page.

And this is why I’m glad I put my email address in the back of my books …

quick guide to your career in transcriptionI had an email enquiry in the week from someone who had read “Quick Guide to your Career in Transcription” but wanted to ask for a little more detail on a couple of points (one of which was more about general business stuff, one of which was about how to check your typing speed). I was very happy to hear from her, as I’d always much rather be able to fill in any gaps myself and have a happy customer.

I did mention in my reply that it would be great if she could pop over and add a review for my book on Amazon – and she did!

Great easy to read product – It was very informative. [I] emailed the author with questions to which she responded promptly. I would highly recommend it … (read the whole review here)

So if you’ve written a book and you’re wondering whether to include contact details, I think it’s a good idea. And if you’re considering emailing an author, I’d say do it – we always like to hear from our readers (even constructive criticism, as happened with one of the reviews on this very book) and I always like to take the opportunity to help someone.

For more information on this book (with its 11 five-star reviews!) and how to buy, visit the “Quick Guide to your Career in Transcription” page.

A lovely new review for “Running A Successful Business after the Start-up Phase”!

Running a successful business after the start-up phaseI’ll be honest here – I’ve never quite marketed this book correctly. First of all, I called it “Who are you Calling Mature?”, a title which I had tested on people but which, it turned out, made people think it was a book about ageing disgracefully (oops) – even though it had the same cover as you can see here, but with the title and sub-title reversed. So I rejigged it all, got the cover re-done, re-did all the versions on the various platforms where I sell it, and tried again.

I still think I’ve got the title wrong, though. It’s all about social media, building your business, knowing when to say no and when to say yes, picking your customers, etc. – which is actually useful for start-ups as well. Anyway, whatever’s happened, it’s always lagged behind my other books, although it does better when it’s part of my omnibus volume, “Your Guide to Starting and Running your Business“.

What all this is leading up to is the fact that I was thrilled to get a lovely new five-star review for this book, especially, as – you guessed it – the poor thing lags a little in the review numbers, too.

Another useful and insightful review from Liz … Even if your business isn’t anywhere near mature, there is still plenty of information in there that may help you to think through, and potentially avoid, some issues without having to go through the pain of experiencing them … (read the whole review here)

I know I labour this point, but this is why reviewing books you read, especially those from small presses and independent authors, is so important – it cheers us immensely, for a start, and this review, with its explanation that it’s useful for all stages of business life and talking about social media, too, helps other readers to find the book and make use of it.

Read more about “Running a Successful Business after the Start-up Phase” here or pop straight to its page on Amazon.

Is it worth producing print versions of your e-books?

5 books overlappingAt the beginning of this month, I shared the news that I’d finished producing print versions of my three smaller e-books and that they were now available. At that point I was quite tired; I’d been slogging away through the admin of getting new covers (from my cover designer), getting them formatted appropriately (by myself, including loads of fiddling around, turning links into footnotes and goodness knows what else) and uploading them onto CreateSpace. Phew.

I had done this because a few people had overtly said to me that they wanted to buy print editions, and I’d run some informal market research which suggested that enough people still read print books – in fact some commenters strongly suggested that I produce all of my business books in this format because they liked adding notes to their books which was easier with a pen, some sticky notes and a “real” book than with an e-book. So it got done, and I was really busy, and it was a bit of a chore, but it was all done.

Then we went away on holiday (hooray!) and I sort of forgot about it. So much so that I – gasp – forgot to look at my statistics! Goodness me! When I had a look at them, I was pleasantly surprised. We’re almost half way through the month and I have sold some print books (and these don’t include the ones I ordered for myself to check they’re OK). Interestingly, although I haven’t sold the number that I sell in e-book versions every month, the proportions are about the same across the different titles. That’s fine, and I suppose what I would have expected if I’d thought about that aspect.

Now that the effort is over and they are starting to pay for the only real monetary cost (the covers – yes, I know: my time, my time, but I did slot them in, in between paid jobs and didn’t turn down any paid work to have the time to do them). In future, I’ll bring out simultaneous print and e-book versions of any new books I produce (I have a version of my two business books aimed at editors coming out in the next couple of months).

I’d be interested to know about other indie publishers’ experiences – have you done one format then the other or did you start with both? Which is more successful, and do you know why? Would you recommend it?

You can find out more about my books on running a small business (and dealing with high cholesterol) here.

Ten 5-star reviews for “Quick Guide to your Career in Transcription”

quick guide to your career in transcriptionThe ninth five-star review for “Quick Guide to your Career in Transcription” on Amazon.co.uk (and tenth five-star review in total) was posted this week! This is definitely a book I wrote in response to interest, as I noticed that I was getting a lot of searches coming through to my website on transcription, transcription careers, etc. I’d been writing odd bits on the subject but put this book together – and I’m so glad I did! I’m hoping to produce a printed version, too, after a couple of enquiries convinced me that that would be a good idea – watch this space for news on that one!

that will be very helpful and useful to me I’m so impressed with this fabulous book, which explains everything so clearly and concisely … I was able to highlight plenty of relevant points in the book, that will be very helpful and useful to me. (Read full review here.)

By the way, it’s worth noting that on the day I received this review, I noted that I sold …

  • Some copies of my e-books via Amazon
  • A print copy of my book “How I Survived my First Year of Full-Time Self-Employment” via Amazon
  • An e-copy of my Business Omnibus via Smashwords
  • A PDF of my Cholesterol book via Selz

So it’s certainly working for me having as many different formats and platforms as I can!

Stop press – all of my books are now available in PDF via the Selz website – you can buy using PayPal, too!

For more information and how to buy, visit the “Quick Guide to your Career in Transcription” page.

Fiction, non-fiction and creativity – an interview with author Linda Gillard

hand writingIt’s time to pick up the reins of my series of interviews on this blog on creativity in non-fiction writing , and I’m thrilled to introduce my friend and successful indie publisher, Linda Gillard, as we relaunch the series for 2015. I met Linda through my hobby of BookCrossing, well, let’s say several years ago, when her first books, “A Lifetime Burning” and “Emotional Geology” were published by a small press specialising in fiction about the (slightly older) woman. Linda branched out on her own and has now published seven genre-busting, page-turning books about people in interesting situations (from a woman marooned with an ex-soldier in a crumbling castle to someone looking over her own life as she dies, to Gothic romantic suspense goings-on in the Scottish Highlands). Linda started off writing journalism, however, so she has a great view on both sides of the writing fence, and I’m honoured to have interviewed her on her thoughts about creativity in non-fiction and fiction … 

Hello, Linda! We’re old friends, but please humour me for the blog and tell me a bit about yourself and your books

Hello, Liz! I live on the Black Isle in the Scottish Highlands and have been an actress, journalist and teacher. I’m the author of seven novels, including STAR GAZING, short-listed in 2009 for Romantic Novel of the Year and the Robin Jenkins Literary Award (for writing that promotes the Scottish landscape.) My fourth novel, HOUSE OF SILENCE became a Kindle bestseller and was selected by Amazon as one of their Top Ten “Best of 2011” in the Indie Author category. My latest novel, CAULDSTANE, ventures further into the Gothic, and I describe it as a cross between a supernatural thriller and a modern fairy tale.

How did you start writing, and which came first, fiction or non-fiction

I’ve always written something. As a child, I made my own comics and wrote a sci-fi novella when I was a teenager. As an adult I became a writer of long newsy letters. The first time I was paid for producing words was as a freelance journalist. I’d trained and worked as an actress, but I found I had time on my hands, underemployed at the National Theatre and I submitted a few things to magazines which led to a regular column in IDEAL HOME magazine. I also wrote for garden and parenting magazines – mostly lifestyle pieces with a humorous angle. I didn’t start writing fiction until many years later, after I’d given up teaching.

Did you always want to write non-fiction as well as fiction?

I never wanted to do anything other than make up stories. Drifting into lightweight journalism was, I think, an extension of letter-writing and journal-keeping, but I didn’t particularly enjoy it. I found it very hard writing to a word limit and a deadline. I hated the way sub-editors would trim my copy from the bottom of the paragraph up, cutting my punch lines. (I learned to submit fewer words, so they had no need to cut.)

I thought of it as well-paid literary drudgery. I learned a great deal, but I was heartily relieved when I stopped. It was such a relief when I started writing fiction and realised – oh joy! – a chapter could be as long as I wanted it to be.

It sounds like you found your home with fiction, but I know you’ve got some interesting things to say about non-fiction, too. So, I recently blogged about finding that writing non-fiction was still “creative”. Do you agree, or is only fiction writing truly creative?

Yes, I agree. You have to be very creative to present a complex subject to someone who knows little or nothing about it. It’s a challenging exercise in empathy. If you’re trying to convey how gardening can become a passion, even an obsession, you have to imagine what the reader would find interesting about the subject. You are looking for an entertaining angle, particularly with magazine journalism, and your painstaking research mustn’t show. Your object is to make someone read to the end of the article instead of turning the page in search of something more interesting.

When writing non-fiction, you have to hook the reader and keep their attention. These were skills I developed as a journalist and they came in very useful years later when I started writing novels.

I’ve heard it said that memoir should be considered as “creative non-fiction” – do you agree with that description?

There’s a rather glib saying: “All fiction is biography and all biography is fiction”. I think the boundaries are often blurred. I loved Dirk Bogarde’s volumes of autobiography but they entailed (he admitted later) significant lies of omission because he failed to mention his mother’s alcoholism, which he revealed only after she was dead.

I researched ghost writing for my most recent novel, CAULDSTANE and it appears ghost writers of “autobiographies” are aware that some of the stories their subjects tell aren’t actually true, so I suppose you could argue they’re actually ghosting fiction!

Emily Dickinson wrote, “Tell all the truth, but tell it slant”. As soon as you begin to write a memoir you are editing memories. (But memory edits memories!) At best you’re telling the truth-as-you-saw-it, which is probably going to be “slant”.

How do you think writing memoir differs from writing fiction on the one hand and non-fiction on the other?

Fiction and non-fiction (i.e. factual books) have to be believable. Memoir doesn’t, because it’s already “true” – a delightful paradox and one that has led me to describe writing good fiction as “telling true lies”.

I think it’s helpful to look at the different audiences one could be writing for … A reader picking up one of Daphne du Maurier’s novels is looking for a good read, with a beginning, middle and an end. The reader of a guide book to Cornwall wants impressions and verified facts about Cornwall. The reader of a biography of du Maurier wants to know all about Daphne and will probably tolerate a little intelligent speculation.

The biography needs to be interesting and well-written, but it doesn’t actually have to be believable (because we all know truth is stranger than fiction). Nor does a biography have to have a climax two-thirds of the way through, followed by a satisfying resolution tying up all the ends. The subject of a memoir can dwindle into unproductive, boring old age and the reader will forgive. They won’t forgive that in a novel.

What about research? Do authors of fiction and authors of memoir/non-fiction differ in the way they research?

I think they differ in the way they use it.

I assume authors of non-fiction and memoir must love doing research, but I don’t. I much prefer making stuff up. And that’s how I work – I make stuff up, then research it later to see what I got wrong. I prefer to do it this way because it avoids the stodgy info-dump, perpetrated by authors who have spent many hours in the British Library and want their readers to know.

I include only the information necessary to tell the story – and that’s the essential difference, I think. The novelist aims to tell a story, but the author of memoir and non-fiction is more likely to be painting a picture, one that’s big and detailed, possibly comprehensive. The detail is the point. In a novel, the detail is never the point. The story is the point and research must always serve that story.

It can be hard when you come across a really juicy fact to leave it out! But interesting is not the same as useful. The author of fiction must ignore the temptation to include it, but the author of non-fiction can succumb because fascinating facts will add to the overall picture.

Pace is an issue for the author of non-fiction, but it’s less of an issue. Readers don’t expect non-fiction to be un-put-downable (though of course the best is! Margaret Forster’s biography of du Maurier is an example. But there you have a marriage made in Heaven: a biography written by a first-rate novelist.)

If you use your own life in your fiction, was writing a memoir different from doing that?

I haven’t used much of my own life in my fiction, apart from my acting career and my experience of mental ill health. I’ve only written “memoir” in the form of many guest blogs about mental illness, cancer, disability and writing.

The main difference I’ve noticed is, when I write about that sort of thing in my fiction, I’m trying hard to generate sympathy for the afflicted character. It’s an exercise in evoking compassion and understanding. But when I write about my own life in blogs, I’m not doing that. On the contrary, I’m trying hard not to be sentimental or self-pitying. I stick to the facts because I want to inform the reader and make them think rather than feel. It’s a more dispassionate, journalistic approach to the material.

What an interesting discussion – thank you so much for taking part in my interview series! Linda’s written such a variety of pieces of work, and still obviously continues to write on writing and her own experiences, as well as working on the fiction side of things.

You can find Linda’s books at …

Amazon UK, Amazon US, Kobo, Nook and iBooks.

Her website is at www.lindagillard.co.uk and you can also get in touch, talk about her books and read news and reviews on Facebook.

You can read new interviews in the series, either by subscribing to this blog (see the links in the top right if you’re viewing on a PC or on the drop-down menu if you’re reading on a phone or tablet) or clicking on the “non-fiction creativity” tag at the top of this post, which will give you access to all the interviews published so far, as well. Happy reading!

My own books are all firmly in the non-fiction area, but I do involve aspects of my own life and experience to make them more accessible and welcoming. Take a look by exploring the links on this page, or by visiting the books pages.


A lovely Canadian review for “Quick Guide to your Career in Transcription”

quick guide to your career in transcriptionI received a message from a very nice woman who had read a few of my books and wanted to ask a few more questions about transcription careers. I noted that she was in Canada and checked Amazon Canada to see if she’d reviewed any of them (I wish I got automatically notified of new reviews – if you know how to do this, please let me know!) and found this lovely review for my “Quick Guide to your Career in Transcription”:

Marvelous book filled with very helpful information … I’m so glad I came across this book. (Read the whole review here)

I was particularly pleased to receive this after a rather horrid and misleading review on my Cholesterol book which I’m not going to dwell on, but was quite upsetting when lots of people are going to be looking at that book after spotting it in the magazine. If you have read and not reviewed that one, well, I’m hoping some new reviews will push the one-star one down the list of recent reviews a bit.

Anyway, I’m really pleased to have my Canadian review! If you’re in Canada and want to have a look at my books on Amazon, they’re listed here.

A quick note while I’m here – Amazon have put up my UK and EU e-book prices a little  bit, to take account of the VAT increase imposed by the UK and EU governments but affecting us small sellers and buyers more than the big guys it was aimed at (search for VATMOSS or VATMESS for more info). I’ve left the changes as they are for the time being, to see how things settle – it’s only added about 10p to the cost of my most expensive books, so hopefully that won’t be too much of a burden.

Want to read this book? Have a look here for info and links to Amazon, Smashwords, etc., where you can buy.

Why I’m going to stop saying “I’m not creative”

hand writingI was listening to a podcast interview with Joanna Penn the other day where she said words along the lines of, “I used to say I wasn’t creative, but now …” In her case, she had started writing fiction part way through a career that she had thought would be all about writing non-fiction and being a professional speaker. And that fiction is now very successful. I’m not going to suddenly embark upon a spot of novel-writing, but hearing this did set me off on a train of thought.

You see, I’ve always said that I’m “not creative”. “I’m an editor, not a creative writer: it’s two different things,” I would blithely say, as I tucked my editing pencil behind my ear and got on with putting my new guide to social media this, that and the other, or writing a blog post to help people with their time management, or had a good long think about how I could best explain a grammatical concept.

But have you seen the place where ‘they’ define ‘being creative’ as ‘writing novels and poems’? Me neither, when I think about it.

I want to be clear here that I’m not placing creativity above non-creativity. I’m just talking about the idea that more of us are more creative than perhaps we think we are.

What is creativity, anyway?

The dictionary defines creativity around it being the work of imagination and involving new ideas. In fact, I’ve worked on a few academic pieces about creativity, and these kinds of themes come out in those and what I would like to call some heavy research work but actually is more along the lines of skipping through hyperspace following links here and there until I’ve got a list.

For me, creativity involves:

  • Using the imagination
  • Making something exist which didn’t exist before
  • Finding new ways to say things
  • Putting things together in different ways
  • Solving problems
  • Being ‘inspired’

When you look at it that way, you can see that creativity isn’t all about making a painting, a pot or a poem. Of course, it’s all of those things, but it’s more …

In my life, I exhibit creativity in these ways:

  • Creating a business out of nothing except skills and talents and combining areas in different ways – I don’t know many other people who do editing / transcribing / localising / writing but it suits me.
  • Producing edited or transcribed or localised work that’s thoughtful about its author and audience and manipulated in subtle ways to link the two and make a good and useful piece of work.
  • Creating blog posts and other resources that may not be based on completely made-up stories from my imagination, but draw together strands of my experience, new ways of explaining things to people and examples to illuminate points.
  • Being ‘insipired’. “Oh, no, I just write to order and can sit down and produce copy for an hour if I need to,” I say forthrightly. But I would like to point out to myself here that I did have to put back some paid work slightly because this blog post got itself into my head and I had to write it down. Ah.
  • Coming up with reasons why my running partner can carry on and do a few more miles (“We’re nearly up to 35 minutes now!” (looks at watch, which clearly reads 45 minutes; hides watch from running partner).

Just in case you’re feeling I’m being ever so self-aggrandising and arrogant, which is not what I try to be about, here are some more examples of creativity that I see all around me but might not be traditional creativity:

  • My translator friends working with one language to make it represent the nuances of words written in another language
  • A young friend dipping her toe into the world of blogging with gig and record reviews
  • Book reviewers who link the book to others, write about the plot without giving it away and give their readers (or their future self reading their journal) a good idea of whether they’d like the book
  • Business owners forming communities where other people can ask questions and feel supported and valued
  • Networkers who are forever putting people together who they think have something in common
  • Biographers who gather facts about their subject and put them together in a readable and interesting way
  • People who put together lovely, restful, welcoming homes or find a thousandth way to explain to their toddler why they need to put their wellies on
  • Good employment agents who match job profile and candidate for a perfect match

What’s the difference between non-fiction and fiction writing, then?

This is something I’m starting to ponder now, too. When you read an interview with a novelist or poet, there’s usually something in there about how they have to write, how they were scribbling haiku at the age of 3, how they go all weird if they can’t get some writing in every day. Are we non-fiction folks like that? I’m not entirely sure. But then, why do WE write? I have some ideas about why I write — if there are non-fiction writers out there who would like to explore this area more, perhaps in some interviews on this blog, please do get in touch!

In the meantime, I’ll say it …

My name is Liz, and I’m creative


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