I am still learning, learning, learning as a writer (wish I could miss off the ‘l’s on a couple of those), and I always will be. That is one of the great joys of pursuing something both creative and technical, with a supply of inspiration – in the form of other writers – that may as well be infinite. But there comes a point at which all the learning you have done, so far, is enough to be useful to others. And this is another great joy of creative writing: sharing the processes, shortcuts, discoveries and disasters with fellow writers.
London Lit Lab, which I set up with my good friend and fellow writer, Lily Dunn, is our way of organising, distilling, and passing on all our learning. We found we were both already doing so much of this – whether chairing critique groups, running workshops, supplying written feedback or supporting writers through projects – that it is satisfying to gather all of it in one place, and see what more we can add.
We’ve both valued the teaching and support we’ve received over the years so highly, it is natural to aspire to be a good teacher. It seems to me one of the best things we could possibly do, to help others makes those tiny steps and great leaps that happen when you go on hacking at something like writing. And it is a pleasure to think through the strange writing exercises, unlikely prompts, and surprising editing suggestions that have worked magic for me and my own stories, and revealing them to others who want to improve. Teaching and learning are both wonders, and getting to do both is a great privilege!
We’re already teaching a keen group of writers at Google, who make an impressive switch from code to words at the end of a working day. In June, we’ll be running an evening course for writers who want to start getting words down or improve their writing, followed by a more advanced course in the Autumn that will include more critical feedback. Alongside these, I’ll still be running my monthly critique group for short story writers, and hosting the odd Word Factory salon, not to mention marching onwards with my PhD thesis… 2016 is already busy in the best ways, and I am looking forward to thinking about writing, mine and other people’s, for the rest of the year.
If you’re interested in the courses, feedback services or mentoring on offer at London Lit Lab, do take a look at the website!