How 'Creativity for Writers' sparked a new novel

How ‘Creativity for Writers’ sparked a new novel

Following the first-ever run of our new course ‘Creativity For Writers’ Roz Watkins shares her experience experimenting with new rituals, pinning down creativity and how the online course sparked a new novel.

Roz Watkins

I came to The Professional Writing Academy’s Creativity for Writers course having already written four novels, but struggling with my fifth. I’d been through some difficult life changes, separating from my partner and moving across the country, but now I really needed to get on with my next book!

I’d tried my usual strategies of industrial amounts of coffee and wandering around the countryside hoping my unconscious mind would create a plot for me. But it wasn’t happening.

I found myself censoring all my ideas before I gave them a chance. Nothing was good enough. I think I’d become hung up on the importance of a book having an amazing hook, and I was ruling out anything that didn’t seem to have that. But good hooks are often on the edge of being ridiculously implausible, so I might think of something but then quickly tell myself it was too daft to take any further.

So I was hoping the course on creativity might teach me some new ways to access ideas, and help me put aside my judgement and develop those I had.

I’m the sort of person who always thinks if I just do one more course, I’ll finally become competent and know what I’m doing. I’m not there yet, so I’ve done lots of courses! And I’ve probably read hundreds of books on writing. But there was plenty of new information in this course. I loved that it was evidence-based.

Creativity is a hard thing to pin down but there is research on what works and what doesn’t, and this course covered it really well, exploring ideas from a wide range of disciplines. Although it included important insights from the arts, it felt quite scientific, which I liked.

I found Francesco to be very supportive and interesting. He answered questions directly and clearly in the Zoom chats and gave good feedback on our work. He was downtoearth and obviously hugely knowledgeable. Paula was also really helpful, and the group was supportive.

It was fascinating to read other people’s work and see their creativity emerging!

I found the ideas on rituals particularly interesting. I’ve started going through more of a routine when I sit down to write (get a coffee, sit in a particular chair, remove the cat from the keyboard, set a pretty glass timer for a halfhour sprint) and that really helps get my mind in gear.

I also find I tend to have ideas when I’m out and about, especially walking by the sea, so I’ve made sure I always note these down rather than assuming I’ll remember them (which I don’t!) I’m trying to stop censoring my ideas too early, reminding myself of some of the bizarre ideas I’ve turned into plots in my previous books!

I’m now 15,000 words into the new book, and happy with what I’ve done so far, so I can safely say the course was a success!

Try the course for yourself! Find out about Creativity for Writers.

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Meet your Alum

Roz Watkins

Roz Watkins is the author of the acclaimed DI Meg Dalton series. The first book in the series, The Devil’s Dice, was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger award, and was The Times Crime Book of the Month. Roz was previously a patent attorney, but this has absolutely nothing to do with a dead one appearing in her first book! She lives in Cornwall with two demanding cats, and likes to walk by the sea, scouting out good murder locations. The Red House, a standalone thriller, is her fourth novel, and will be published in June 2023. 

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