Rumpelstiltskin – a backstage review of the latest production from balletLorent

balletLORENT Dancers Gavin Coward and Natalie Trewinnard - Photo Khara Pringle

balletLORENT Dancers Gavin Coward and Natalie Trewinnard – Photo Khara Pringle

Rumplestiltskin is the third in the trilogy of fairy tales brought to life by the incredible creative talents of leading dance theatre company balletLORENT. The show, which premiered at Northern Stage, Newcastle earlier this year, was filmed live and will be released online in time for Christmas family viewing.

This modern adaptation of the Grimm’s fairy tale brings a cast of 24 professional dancers together on stage with local school children and older people from a Knit and Natter community group in Benwell.

Director and choreographer Liv Lorent says this kind of outreach is a vital part of balletLORENT’s unique approach: “We’ve been making work in the North East for over 20 years, and we know we’ll always find an amazing original cast here,” she explains. “We normally go to places that don’t have the most provision. We don’t seek out stage school kids. Most of them have never been on stage before. They’re not coming from privileged upbringings.”

The additional cast provide an earthy authenticity to this fantastic tale of a shepherd’s daughter who is imprisoned by the King when her father boasts she can spin straw into gold. She is helped in her task by a strange youth called Rumplestiltskin who demands her first-born child in return.

Rumpelstiltskin young dancers

Young dancers bring joyous energy to the production

Help from the Poet Laureate and a Game of Thones star

The opening scenes are a rush of joy as children and adults dance through an idyllic pastoral landscape of rolling hills, unfurling the ribbons of a maypole, bouncing on trampolines and snuggling up to the flock of sheep who steal the show whenever they appear.

The story, re-imagined by Carol Ann Duffy and narrated by actor Ben Crompton (Game of Thrones) refocuses on Rumpelstiltskin, as a kind of anti-hero. We learn how this strange, unloved outcast is rejected by his grief-stricken father, the King and lives as a creature of the landscape.

“All of us are keen on celebrating the one who’s different, the anti-hero, not the popular one…finding the compassion and beauty in them,” comments Director Liv Lorent. “We’re all messy, faulted human beings.”

As the adult Rumpelstiltskin, dancer Gavin Coward, moved me to tears: “Rumplestiltskin is not your normal type of fairy tale hero… he’s complex and tricky,” he explains. “You have to use your own demons and parts of your own life to portray that. And when you hear the music and put on the costume, all the elements help bring that to life.”

Rumpelstiltskin - Ballet Lorent

The backdrop to incredible dance and storytelling in Rumpelstiltskin

Adapting the themes of a classic fairy story

At times it’s a dark tale that touches on themes of abuse, neglect, control and greed. But while balletLorent’s production doesn’t shy away from these disturbing themes, it is ultimately a joyous and uplifting performance in which the redeeming power of love triumphs.

As narrator, actor Ben Compton worked closely with the production team throughout rehearsals, adapting and changing the language, and adding real warmth and engagement to Carol Ann Duffy’s script.

On being asked how it felt to tinker with words written by the award-winning writer and Poet Laureate he says: “Carol Ann brings this great text. It’s tight, but it’s all there. But sometimes when you’re rehearsing you hear something doesn’t quite fit, or realise you can see that, so you don’t need to say it as well. I see it as tent-poles really. We’re creating huge canvases of movement and sound and we need these tent-poles to help the audience understand where they are.”

Strength in collaboration

Speaking to members of the cast and production team after the premiere of the film, at the Tyneside Cinema, the spirit of trust which comes through working together is obvious. It is a key strength of this production, with experts in choreography, music, costume, set and lighting design collaborating to create an intensely emotional experience. This organic approach to developing Rumpelstiltskin adds to the drama and authenticity of the storytelling on many different levels.

Talking to Murray Gold (Doctor Who), whose stunning score intensifies the emotions of love and grief, joy and pain portrayed on stage, I am surprised to learn how little is actually fixed in place before the opening night.

He starts composing after seeing the show in early development and then is present at rehearsals in the final two or three weeks. And he reveals that one of the challenges in recording the final version of the narration in a mobile studio in Newcastle was getting Ben Compton to complete a take before Murray’s young daughter piped up.

On the inspiration for the score, Murray says: “I wanted the music to reflect a pagan, peasant ideal that goes with the look and feel of the design.” On watching the finished production he gets just as caught up in it as any member of the audience saying, “I burst into tears in the first 10 minutes of watching it at Northern Stage. It has this rush of emotion that comes from seeing the joy on the stage.”

Dancer Gavin Coward as Rumpelstiltskin

Dancer Gavin Coward shines as Rumpelstiltskin

Unique dance style

Rumplestiltskin showcases balletLorent’s unique mix of dance styles. Rougher, edgier and more organic than most contemporary dance, it brings in elements of acrobatics, with dancers working with hoops and poles, and displaying superb balance and bravery as they climb and dance high among the scenery. John Kendall, as the King, spinning upside down in a noose of his own gold is a particularly breath-taking moment among many.

The costumes designed by Michelle Clapton, best known for her Emmy winning designs for Game of Thrones, have to withstand the considerable rigours of being thrown and tumbled around the stage as well as helping the cast portray their characters.

Principal dancer, Natalie Trewinnard, who plays the shepherd’s daughter, explains how the costume helped her to define how her character moves at different points in the performance. “I tried to rehearse in the wig I wear as much as I could, because it really changed the way I move and hold my head. It weighs 1kg with the bulk of the plaits. And when I put the collar of gold on, the restrictiveness of that really feeds the character at that point.”

Your chance to see Rumpelstiltskin

Maintaining the theme of opening the world of dance to people who may not normally get the chance to experience it, Rumpelstiltskin will be released as an online film on Friday 8th December. The stage version will tour venues across the UK throughout Spring and Autumn 2018.

The first of balletLORENT’s fairytale trilogy, Rapunzel, which I saw in 2012, left a lasting impression on me that’s now shared with the latest production of Rumpelstiltskin. My mind has been a whirl of dancers, glittering golden tears and soaring emotions ever since.

Stunning, sumptuous and sensational, it’s a performance with tremendous energy, vision and soul. Watch it online or catch it live on tour next year and you’re in for an excellent treat.

Find more information about the tour and online film at www.balletlorent.com.

0

Soup – changing communities over dinner

Soup - changing communities over dinner

It’s Bob and his tale of Gateshead kids shaming parents into litter picking; mixing leftover paint donated from sheds to cover up graffiti and motivating a local community to get together, that wins over the crowd this evening. But everyone at this Soup gathering is lending their support to small actions that lead to positive change.

It’s a simple idea. Turn up and pay £4 on the door. Listen to four people pitch an idea to improve the local or wider community. Presentations are a maximum of four minutes, and the audience can ask up to four questions. Then, as you enjoy some warming soup, decide which of the four causes gets your vote. The winners get the evening’s takings to help fund their project.

Soup, this community crowdfunding initiative, is a global event that started in Detroit. Newcastle’s version is hosted by Ernest, the Ouseburn based independent cafe/bar. They not only generously provide free soup, but also the space to host the event, plus staff to promote it on social media and help out on the night.

When I started my freelance business, I quickly became aware of the brilliant, supportive and largely hidden community of local entrepreneurs who were going it alone, getting out there and getting things done. It’s more than apparent that this positive spirit expands beyond the commercial world into doing good in the community too.

On a November evening I get to hear from:

  • Love Your Avenues who are tackling some of the visible issues around Saltwell, Gateshead to regenerate the area using a combination of creative ideas and people power
  • Acorn who take action to help tenants with housing issues
  • Mindful Therapies who offer donation based mindfulness and counselling services
  • Lendwithcare a crowdfunding initiative to provide loans for people in the developing world, to help them establish or expand a small business and work their way out of poverty.

Okay, so I’m there to support the Lendwithcare team. It’s an initiative I support and I’ve been privileged to see first-hand the difference that it makes to people’s lives when I travelled to Cambodia and Vietnam.

What’s in Soup?

For the speakers at Soup it’s not only a chance to attract money to help fund a project, but an opportunity to speak about a cause they care about to a room of like-minded people.

Our cause may not have won the pot, but plenty of people came to ask more about Lendwithcare, and I think we may have solved a few of those ‘difficult to buy for’ Christmas present dilemmas by suggesting Lendwithcare gift vouchers.

Having by chance stumbled upon the Love Your Avenues team in action, painting street furniture in their local area, I was glad to see them win a small fund that will make a big difference in helping them spread the word to bring a sense of pride to their local community.

For the Soup audience, it’s a relatively cheap night out, with food, entertainment, a chance to learn something and the warm satisfaction of contributing to some positive local action. There are local versions all over the UK, so give it a try.

0

Will twitter lose its character over more characters?

Twitter has given us more space. Doubled its character count and given us more words to play with. But is that necessarily a good thing?

BBC Ceefax pageDo you remember Ceefax?

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about – before internet access was commonplace and pre-multi-channel digital TV, Ceefax was a text service for news, sport, weather, and a few games that you could view on your TV set, selecting pages using your remote control.

I wrote local news and sport pages for Ceefax in my time as a BBC journalist. The content of each page was a tightly defined format. A headline and four paragraphs – about 80 words in total. That was all you had to tell a story.

How Ceefax helped me hone my writing skills

To tell a news story that fit onto one screen meant choosing short, simple and effective language. Writing headlines of exactly 33 characters (the space available on the top line), favoured short, powerful words. For example, ‘woe’ when something was wrong, and ‘joy’ when something was right.

It’s a skill I’ve adapted to writing copy for packaging; editing copy for a web page; writing social media posts and even poetry. All important skills for a copywriter.Write a sharp headline. Choose words with impact. How Ceefax helped me hone my writing skills Click To Tweet

Why more words don’t necessarily mean better communication

twitter and other social media iconsTwitter was different. In a proliferation of multimedia, its short and pithy format was easy to consume.

It looked easy. Anyone could write 140 characters. But those who did it well proved masters of it.

The irony is that as twitter expands its character limits, it risks losing some of its distinctive character as a social media platform.

Constraints liberate. Faced with a blank page, the possibilities can seem so endless and overwhelming that we fail to make a mark.

Tell yourself you only have to write four paragraphs, 80 words, and suddenly it seems a lot less daunting. But it forces you to consider every word and choose it carefully.

Being able to say more isn’t always a good thing. Being restrained means you focus on what matters. Clear messages require clear language. And in my book, that means keeping it simple.

As twitter expands its character limits, it risks losing some of its distinctive character. Click To Tweet

For words that can help your business cut through the noise, talk to me.

For more writing hints, tips and details of training and workshops, sign up for my newsletter.

0

Never miss a deadline – 3 time-saving tips from the newsroom

Never miss a deadline - 3 time saving tips from the newsroom

I started my writing career working in busy BBC radio and television newsrooms. The demand of hitting deadlines for hourly news bulletins and regular broadcasts was excellent training in being accurate, quick, and getting things done. Here are three top tips from the newsroom to help you in your business:

1. Plan and prepare

Even with a breaking story, there is always a little time to think about questions to ask interviewees, or what to say on air.

For more regular planned content, I’d always set off on a story with details of where I was going, who I was going to speak to and contact numbers in case of emergency. Having the basics written down, or easily accessible from your mobile device can save a lot of running around.

I’d also spend some time thinking about the story I was going to film or record (often in the car on the way there). Plotting out a simple structure helped me to focus on gathering the interviews and information I needed and made sure I didn’t forget to ask an important question.

For example, the structure for a news feature could be:

  • Introduction
  • Viewpoint 1
  • Opposing viewpoint 2
  • What do members of the public think
  • Summary

Thinking about the structure of your business content, such as a blog post or newsletter can help you to focus on what you need and stop you getting distracted.

Check out how to write a blog post in one hour for more time-saving tips.

Never miss a deadline - time saving tips from the newsroom for your business Click To Tweet

2. Create once, use many

As a radio journalist, I had to write headlines for news bulletins every hour. Often the same story would appear on subsequent bulletins, but by changing the headline, I could give it a new focus. For example, a business story could appear as:

  • New factory brings £30 million investment to the North East
  • 500 new jobs come to the North East thanks to major factory investment
  • North Tyneside mayor says factory investment offers a ‘promise of prosperity’

How to re-use and re-focus content you create for your business

  • Record a video on your latest blog topic.
  • Create an infographic of a handy how to guide.
  • Offer a downloadable template to go with your time-saving tips.
  • Ask your customers and fans to vote on new designs for your logo.

There are loads of different ways you can put a new spin on a content idea.

3. Get it done

I learned very quickly that there’s no such thing as another 30 seconds in a newsroom. Content was ready for the deadline or it didn’t make it to air.

Adequate and on time always beats perfectly late. That’s been a valuable lesson throughout my writing and business career.

Adequate and on time always beats perfectly late. Click To Tweet

It’s understandable that you want the content you create or the tasks you complete for your business to be perfect. To sweat over every little detail. Change your mind a dozen times and then go back to how it was originally.

Remember, your customers, your audience only see the finished results. They can only respond to what you publish, or create. And if it takes you forever to do it, they may lose interest and move on.

You wouldn’t watch a blank TV screen would you? Or listen to static on the radio?

Set your deadline, stick to it and publish.

Additional tip: The handover

At the end of each shift in the newsroom, I would leave instructions in a handover note to the person on the next shift.

Even if you’re not handing over to anyone else in your business, think about what you can do to set yourself up for a good start each day.

At the end of each day at the writing desk, I write a to-do list for the next day’s activities. Plans may change, just like they do in the newsroom, but it’s always a good place to start.

For more on how lessons for the newsroom can help you make decisions, work to deadlines and trust in your team, check out John Young Media.

For more writing, marketing and time saving tips, sign up to my mailing list.

0

Emergency back-up blog post – do you have a lifeline ready?

Emergency back-up blog post

When I worked as a journalist in a busy BBC newsroom, we used to have something called the emergency tape. It was a programme that we could put on the air in case of an emergency, for example if we needed to evacuate the studios because of a fire alarm, flood etc. It was rarely ever used. But it was a real lifeline if we needed it.

I was talking about the idea of emergency back-up content earlier this week. And wouldn’t you know it, I could have really done with a blog post ready and waiting in reserve.

I always schedule time in my calendar to write, edit and create images for my blog posts. But this week that time was demanded on another project, and then a family emergency meant I really had nowhere else to schedule it.

How back-up content can help you stay on schedule

When I set myself the challenge of writing a blog post every week for a year (on top of my regular writing work) I had a few emergency blog posts banked up in reserve. That meant that if I was travelling, or working away; if I felt sick or an important event clashed with my dedicated blogging time, I had a back up to rely on.

I didn’t use all of those back-up blogs that year, but they haven’t gone to waste, as I used them to create content for my website and inspire content that I now use in my freelance writing, training and brand storytelling business.

Always have ideas in the bank

As a BBC radio and television reporter, I also had a bank of  ‘rainy day/anytime stories’. These were ideas that I could pick up on a slow news day and turn into a radio or television package.

I’ve applied the same strategy to regular writing tasks in my time. When one idea has lead to another, or when I’ve got more research and information than fits the word count for that task, I’ve filed it away to come back to when I needed it.

Do you have back-up content ready to go?

This has become my emergency blog post. Hastily pulled together when I’ve had ten minutes or so while travelling.

What I’ve learned this week is to make full use of that valuable newsroom training.  To go back to the discipline of making sure that I do have content ready to publish quickly if I need to.

Is that  a strategy you could use in your business too? What do you do when you’re short of time? Out of contact? Or if you just need some business content in a hurry.

As they say in broadcasting, normal service will resume as soon as possible.

0

How Strictly Come Dancing can make your writing sparkle

How Strictly Come Dancing can make your writing sparkle

Photo by Martin Barák on Unsplash

In a flourish of glitter and sequins, it’s back on our screens, whirling through Saturday night TV from Autumn until Christmas. In case you’ve had your head in a bucket, I’m talking about Strictly Come Dancing of course.

I make no secret of the fact that I’m a big fan of this annual extravaganza of celebs learning to perform the foxtrot, samba and cha-cha in pursuit of the glitterball trophy. Whilst I love watching the dancing, I’m reminded how it can be a wonderful form of expression – just like writing.

Here’s what Strictly can teach you about writing that sparkles:

Gotta have rhythm

The Strictly dancers, both professionals and celebrities, have to feel the beat of the music to move in time.

Writing has its own rhythms. Does yours plod along like a beginner stomping through a Paso Doble? Or does it zing and click like a high-energy Jive?

A good writer knows that using too many sentences of the same length, one after the other, becomes as dull and flat-footed as the contestant who gets ditched in week one.

Switch it up with a change of pace. Razzle dazzle ’em. Throw in an unexpected word. It’s the equivalent of a cheeky wink at the judges.

How Strictly Come Dancing can make your writing sparkle Click To Tweet

Style matters

tango dancersEvery dance has a different style –  from the romantic flowing movements of the waltz, to the hip action of the samba.

The same goes for writing. A good copywriter can switch between the smooth flow of a lengthy article that seeks to draw you in, and punchy eye-catching words that grab your attention instantly.

The professional dancers know that you have to start every dance by capturing the attention of the audience and finish with a flourish that will have them on their feet.

To write well you need to apply the same principle. Hook your readers with an engaging headline and leave them with a compelling call to action.

Hook your readers with an engaging headline and leave them with a compelling call to action. Click To Tweet

Master the technique

I’m no expert in dancing, but the Strictly judges will point out what they’re looking for from different dance styles. Woe betide you if you put an audience- pleasing lift into the routine when it isn’t strictly allowed.

In writing, that’s like understanding the conventions of grammar and spelling and knowing when to flout them.

Or knowing that changing verbs from the passive to the active will make your writing more direct and engaging – like facing down your partner in a Tango.

Practice, practice, practice

dancing coupleThe professional dancers on Strictly  make it look effortless, but it takes years of training and effort to do what they do.

Writing may not be quite as tricky as mastering the quickstep, but the more you practise, the better and more confident you become.

As a writer, I know that my first drafts are never going to be as clear, precise and powerful as the finished article.

It takes time to write, edit, review and rewrite. I’m always looking for improvements I can make to produce a polished performance for the final show.

Get the audience on your side

It’s not always the ‘best’ dancers who win through to the next round of Strictly Come Dancing. The watching audience votes for their favourites – the ones who have entertained them, made them laugh.

Thinking about your audience is essential for a copywriter. If you can appeal to their emotions, surprise, delight and thrill them in the same way that the couples do on the dance floor, you’ll be onto a winner.

Put your feet up and enjoy the show

I’m unashamedly a fan of Strictly Come Dancing. Just like music, dancing connects with me at a purely emotional level, that I don’t even pretend to understand.

As a writer, I’m like a dancer in the way I feel the rhythm of words, delight in a neat turn of phrase and express meaning through my creative craft.

Sometimes I stumble, sometimes I soar.  I always dream of sweeping you off your feet with some wonderful words.

0

Finding your writing voice and what that means

Finding your writing voice and what that means

A lot of writing advice talks about ‘finding your voice’. But what does that mean?

We all have a unique ‘physical’ voice. The tone, accent and language you use are formed from a unique mixture of your background and education; where you’ve lived and worked; who you’ve associated with, who you admire and whose customs you adopt.

Speaking vs writing

Studies have shown that we start to recognise human voices in the womb. In the early stages of human evolution, being able to distinguish whether someone was friend or foe in the dark, would have been an important survival trait.

In contrast, writing is something we’re taught to do. It’s a skill we have to learn and it doesn’t come as naturally as speaking. So our writing voice is more likely to be influenced by education, and what we’re taught about writing.

And that’s where there’s can be a disconnect between our speaking and writing voices. In being taught to write, we assimilate all these ‘rules’ about grammar, spelling and punctuation. And they can sometimes get in the way, making us fearful of making a mistake when we write.

What happens when we write?

I’ve seen it more times than I care to remember in business communications. When someone picks up a pen or taps their fingers on a keyboard, their ‘voice’ changes. It becomes more formal. It looks for clever sounding phrases. It adopts things it’s seen written elsewhere in a bid to sound professional.

Man in a suit tightening his tieThat’s how you end up with nonsense like “leveraging our partner ecosystem” and “assuring you of our best attention” (an email sign off that I used to see on a daily basis).

Say those phrases out loud. How do they feel?

That’s a tip I use in my business writing workshops.Read what you’ve written out loud. Ask yourself ‘Would I actually say that?

Read what you've written out loud. Ask yourself 'Would I actually say that?' Click To Tweet

If you have to mentally wrinkle up your nose, or adopt an unfamiliar tone to say it, then it’s not natural and authentic. And your audience, your customers will sense that.

Why our spoken and written voices differ

When we speak, our communication is spontaneous. We don’t use complete sentences. We get distracted. We intersperse our words with pauses, umms and errs that give us time to think.

When we speak, our body language, facial expressions and tone give clues to our meaning and intention. We understand if someone is being sarcastic, joking or being serious. Our spoken voice is full of our personality.

When we write, we don’t have these extra clues to illustrate our meaning. The words we use have to do all the work. So it’s important that they are clear.

But your written voice can represent your personality in the same way that your spoken voice does. Use words to paint a picture, tell a story, conjure up ideas in another person’s mind. Drop in a colloquial phrase or a favourite word. It’s all about being authentic.

Use words to paint a picture, tell a story, conjure up ideas in another person's mind. Click To Tweet

Finding a voice for my clients

Cup of coffeeIn writing for clients I have to adopt voices. It’s a bit like being a impressionist. I listen to them talk about their business. I read their written content carefully. I look for words and phrases they use and mimic their rhythm and style.

When I adopt a brand voice for a client, it’s often about dialling up or dialling down certain elements. One client has a lovely chatty tone of voice, so as I write for them, I imagine popping into their kitchen for a cuppa.

Another client is incredibly creative, bursting with ideas and enthusiasm. I throw in words that appeal to the senses and drop in a one-word sentence for impact.

How I help improve your writing voice

Sometimes my job is to give a client’s voice clarity. I edit out words that you don’t need, strip away the fluff and focus on what matters so that you present the best version of your business.

Sometimes my job is to give a client’s voice a confidence boost, so instead of words like ‘maybe, might, a bit’, I use words like ‘can, will and lots’.

singerOften my job is to give your communication clarity. That means structure and punctuation that makes it easy to read. It’s a bit like a singing coach showing you where to breathe when singing a complicated line.

When I correct grammar and spelling, it’s about avoiding distractions, and preventing you from looking stupid. Think of me as the friend who’ll tell you that you have spinach in your teeth, or your dress tucked into your knickers before you head out to impress someone.

Think of me as the friend who'll tell you that you have spinach in your teeth Click To Tweet

As a copy and content writer, I choose my words carefully. The trick is to keep my client’s voice, but give it a tidy up. Just like you might brush your hair more carefully and put on a clean shirt for an important meeting.

The voice I use in these blog posts is mine. A unique mixture of my background, education, influences and interests. You may not be able to detect my accent, but my writing voice is authentically mine.

5 creative writing prompts to spark fresh ideas for your business marketing

5 creative writing prompts to spark fresh ideas for your business marketingDo you ever think I don’t know what to write? I’ve said all that already? There’s nothing new to add?

I hear that a lot from businesses I work with. Most of the time you’re thinking about what you’re doing, your customers, your products, making sales and generally getting on with business. Thinking about how you write or talk about what you do to market your business doesn’t cross your mind until you find yourself stuck for inspiration.

If you’re looking for something to say in a blog post, facebook update, newsletter, instagram post or any other place you market your business, try one of these creative prompts to get you started.

Ever think I don't know what to write? Try one of these creative prompts Click To Tweet

1. Write in the style of… a detective novel, a fairy tale, a science fiction adventure…

How would you sell your products and services on a space ship? What would happen if the local outlaw came into your store?

If you feel like you’re always saying the same thing the same way, deliberately adopting a new and alternative style can shake up your thinking and give you some new ideas.

Open book2. Pick a sentence at random

This works well with a fiction book, but a newspaper, magazine or other printed item can work too. Choose a sentence at random, write it down and continue on from there.

An alternative starting point can give your writing a whole new direction.

3. Choose an object and tell its story

Select an item on your table, in your pocket, or just something you can see. Now write about life from its point of view. How did it get there? What’s its purpose? What are its goals and dreams?

This is a great creative prompt if you’re looking to freshen up the way you talk about products or services that you sell.

A great creative prompt if you're looking to freshen up the way you talk about products or… Click To Tweet

4. Write ten sentences

Write ten things about your day. They can be simple and mundane, or detailed and elaborate. They don’t have to link up or follow on from each other, so you can write something about having breakfast and then something a customer said to you. The only rule is to write complete sentences.

If the thought of writing anything feels daunting, this is a great way to grasp the confidence to do it. It’s just ten sentences after all.

Direction sign post

5. Write about a journey

It could be something as simple as a walk to the bus stop, or a trip into town. It doesn’t have to be that tale of the time you walked the Macchu Picchu trail.

Think about a journey and how you would tell the story of that journey to someone else.

This is a great way to get you thinking about structure and order as you write, because all journeys have a beginning, middle and end.

Think about a journey and how you would tell the story of that journey to someone else. Click To Tweet

How will any of this help me write about my business?

Writing creatively is about having fun, loosening up and forgetting about what you think you can or should be writing.

These creative prompts won’t necessarily give you something to use in your business straight away, but they will shake up your thinking and give you a fresh new place to start.

Look for the unexpected words and phrases that come from writing with a different set of expectations. Are there any that you can use?

As a copywriter, I often have to write about stuff that can seem pretty boring at first glance. I have used all of these tips and more to help me come up with fresh ideas and new perspectives.

Creative prompts will shake up your thinking and give you a fresh place to start. Click To Tweet

Want support and encouragement to write more creatively?

Try out some of these creative writing tips for yourself and join me for a day’s creative writing retreat at Christmas Farm in Northumberland on Saturday 23 September.

Fuel your creative inspiration with lunch fresh from the farm garden, plus plenty of tea, coffee and cake.

Book your spot at the writing table today 

For more hints and tips on great writing for your business, sign up to my mailing list

Top 5 Days Out in the North East

I’m really looking forward to having some friends come to visit this weekend. I love sharing all the amazing scenery, culture and activities that the North East has to offer.

When North East Family Fun – A UK Family Travel & Lifestyle Blog asked me to pick my  Top 5 Days Out, in the North East it was hard to choose just five, but I did my best.

Coastal and wildlife adventures

Kayaks on Cullercoats Bay

Kayak tour from Cullercoats Bay

Puffins on the Farne Islands

Watching the puffins on the Farne Islands

Seals off the Farne Islands

Seal spotting on a boat trip to the Farne Islands

Wild outdoor activities

Wild swimming at Linhope Spout

There’s also a place full of local history and scandal. And top city cultural spots that offer a window on the world.

Discover more about my favourite days out on North East Family Fun

All of these places and experiences have provided rich inspiration for my writing as well as a welcome break from my writing desk.

Whatever you’re up to, have a great weekend!

0

Why creativity is important in writing for business

Painting of peacock and peahen by Gail Armstrong

Peacock and peahen by Gail Armstrong

During the creative writing workshop I hosted in June, I set a free-writing exercise using animals as a prompt. Gail, an artist who creates paintings and drawings of people and places around the North East, wrote about a peacock.

The idea took such a hold that she returned to it as part of her own free-writing practice. As an artist, she was able to visualise her words and draw the beautiful picture of the peacock protecting a peahen that I’ve used to illustrate this blog post. You can see more of Gail’s work on her website.

I hadn’t planned to use that particular exercise in that workshop, but conversations around the table in Beth’s cabin sparked the idea and I felt confident enough to go ‘off script’ and try it.

Creativity inspires creativity. Look at the world of professional creative art. You’ll hear music inspired by books and poems; paintings inspired by music; dance inspired by stories; sculpture inspired by movement. Creativity inspires.

Why creativity is important in writing for business

For all that’s so impersonal about the word ‘business’, business is essentially about people interacting with other people.

From the simplest of individual transactions (“I want that. I’ll pay you for it”), to more complex and subtle negotiation (“I want to be part of that. I’ll give some of my personal data in return”), business is about the exchange of goods, services and ideas between people.

Writing is a creative pursuit. In a world of business, it’s easy to lose sight of that in the midst of targets, focus groups, measurements and ROI. But I hope that in writing for business I never have lost the motivation and desire to be creative.

Connect with readers through empathy

tango dancersWhen Robert Frost wrote: “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader,” he was talking about the power of poetry to connect writer and reader through empathy and shared experience.

In business writing I say: “Boredom in the writer, boredom in the reader.” If I don’t find something interesting in what I write, why should you read it?

It’s up to me as a business writer to find something that excites, intrigues, delights or concerns me and to use that as a means of connecting with readers, customers, audiences.

All business thrives on creativity. Audience, targets, focus and goals are all important, but playing, trying new things, looking for inspiration outside the world of business is vital too.

Looking for creative inspiration?

If you’re looking for inspiration and time to write, join me for my next writing workshop in Northumberland. We’ll enjoy an environment that nurtures creativity. I’ll give you some prompts and time to explore your own writing. And you’ll be fuelled with tea, cake and lunch to keep your inspiration flowing.

Find out more and book your place.