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Daily Archives: November 15, 2011

Guest post: ‘Setting up a spoken word website’ by Rachel Cochrane

I’m delighted to bring you this guest blog post, today by Listen Up North’s Rachel Cochrane.

Setting up listenupnorth.com a spoken word entertainment website

Ten years ago I gave up a professional post in the NHS to realise my ambition to become a scriptwriter. Many years and countless rejections later, I was determined that the next thing I wrote was going to find an audience.  This decision coincided with the advent of digital media and for the past year I have been setting up spoken word entertainment website listenupnorth.com showcasing my own and other writers’ work.  Visitors to the site can listen online or via downloads to radio plays, short stories, poetry and book extracts.

Having built up content and a following, I am now exploring ways of monetising the site to make it a viable concern including advertising and sponsorship. I would like to share with you 10 things I have learnt along the way:

  1. Be prepared to be out of your comfort zone – I am not the world’s most outgoing or confident person but to achieve what I want I have had learn to fight my corner, become self-assured about what I am doing and shout it from the roof tops.
  2. Take responsibility – You have to be the driving force that ensures that your project is on course and comes to fruition.
  3. Networking – Many writers spend solitary lives avoiding communication with others!  You need people that can help you build and support what you are trying to do both creatively and as a business venture. Find network groups that are not just other writers.
  4. Numbers matter – Not only is it very satisfying to get your work out to an audience but the number of hits and especially subscribers matter when you wish to attract funding, whether from public or private sponsorship or advertising.
  5. Publicity – There are lots of ways that you can raise awareness of your work without spending huge amounts on marketing.  Encourage those involved with your projects to spread the word about what you’re doing. Try a workshop on how to exploit social media for business.  Whom are you trying to attract?  Where can find you find them?  How you can target them? Networks made on social media can pay dividends at this point.  Are there any current topics or issues that your creative work can hook into?  Any blogs posts you can write for other sites? Don’t forget traditional media: a story in the local newspaper, a guest spot on local radio, a talk to local groups in village halls.
  6. Look for opportunities – I undertook a creative entrepreneurship course to learn business skills and then a digital fellowship to develop my digital awareness.  Both these university-based schemes had mentor support.
  7. Be prepared to learn new skills – To make my radio dramas and other recordings, I had to learn about directing (i.e. just stand there and sound like you know what you are doing!), producing and I undertook a course at a local college to learn technical skills such as recording and editing.
  8. Collaboration – Some projects, whether business or creative, are too big to manage alone and this is where networking is invaluable.  Other people may have the skills and knowledge that you need and vice versa.  It is important to establish at the outset the role of each party, what they expect to achieve and any boundaries. At present I am collaborating with another writer on a joint package to attract advertising to support both our businesses.  My soon-to-be-released short film Celia was a joint venture between myself, a producer / director and an actor, each of us looking for a vehicle to showcase our talents. Click here for a link to the trailer for Celia.
  9. Run it as a business – Money should not be a dirty word to creative people! Make sure that what you are doing does not just become an expensive hobby.  Fact: without bringing in money I cannot hope to maintain what I have worked hard to create not only for myself but also for other writers.
  10. Make sure you still find time for your own writing!

Hear hear! Thank you Rachel.

After many years of scriptwriting full-time and several shortlists, Rachel decided to bypass the cumbersome commissioning process and take advantage of the advent of digital media.  After being selected for the Creative GLEAM scheme at Durham University Business School and a DigitalCity Fellowship at the Institute of Digital Innovation, she has now set up a spoken word entertainment website listenupnorth.com, recording her own dramas and inviting other writers to submit their quality work for you to enjoy.  Rachel is about to launch the pilot episode of her webdrama Celia, the deliberations of a middle-class, middle-aged woman which bears no resemblance to her own life – honest.  Catch the trailer http://listenupnorth.com/drama-page/338.

You can find more about Rachel and her work via the links above and you can also find her on Twitter and Facebook. You can also email her at enquiries@listenupnorth.com. I shall be interviewing Rachel later this month but in the meantime you can read her author spotlight.

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!).

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with novelist Laura-Wilkinson – the one hundred and eighty-ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

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Guest post: ‘How to find your voice’ by poet Kerry Hammerton

I’m delighted to bring you an extra guest blog post, tonight on the topic of finding your voice (literally), by Kerry Hammerton.

How to find your voice

Whenever I go to poetry readings I am struck by how good poems sometimes don’t get the attention that they deserve because the reader mumbles the words. The reader fails to project confidence about their writing and their poems.

And some poets get it right! and read their work with the confidence and passion that makes the listener sit up and take notice. I am not talking about being a performance or a slam poet, but rather a poet who is able speak their poetry with confidence and conviction.

What I want to share with you is a simple way of reading your poetry that will project you and your work in a confident way.

What you will need for this exercise (yes, I am going to get you to do some work!) is a poem that you will be reading or would like to read a poetry event.

What I want you to do is sit slumped in your chair. Yes, that’s right; sit slumped in your chair. What I now want you to do is read that poem without lifting your eyes from the page.

How did it sound? Flat, dull, without any energy?

Now what you need to do is stand up. Pretend you are standing in front of that microphone and you have a sea of faces in front of you (of course the hall is packed out! everyone has come along to hear you read your fabulous new poem).

Stand with both feet firmly on the floor, your feet slightly apart.

Now take a breath, inhaling up your spine, feel your neck elongate.

Long exhale down your front, allow gravity to soften your jaw and shoulders.

Ask yourself the question: what would it feel like if there were a little bit more ease right now?

Inhale up – lengthening your spine.

Exhale down – softening down the front. Allow gravity to soften your jaw and shoulders.

Imagine that there is a pull from above your head that equals the pull of gravity.

Focus on the space around you –

in front of you;

behind you;

to left;

to the right;

above and below.

Feel that your head, heart and belly are aligned.

Now imagine that you have a mentor who is standing behind you supporting you. This mentor can be a poet who you admire or a friend or family member who is very supportive, anyone who will help you to have confidence. You can even imagine that they are standing with their hands supporting your lower back.

Now read your poem.

You should have noticed a difference – that your voice feels more confident, a little slower and has more energy.

It may take you a while to be able to this practice without the prompts – my suggestion is that you do this practice as often as possible. You may want to make a recording of the practice and play it back to yourself.

This is a practice that has been adapted from Conscious Embodiment. More about Conscious Embodiment and Conscious Embodiment Coaches can be found here.

Thank you Kerry… I’m hoping that will come in very handy if I’m ever… no, confidence… when I’m asked to do an in-person event. 🙂

Kerry Hammerton will be a Guest Blogger at Mslexia http://www.mslexia.co.uk/blog from April to June 2012. Her personal website is www.kerryhammerton.com, one of the writing groups she belongs to has a poetry blog where they publish a monthly edition: www.thepoetryplatform.wordpress.com. Kerry also has an author’s page on Books Live: http://kerryhammerton.bookslive.co.za.

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me at email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!).

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with YA/Adult fantasy author/illustrator, poet, and non-fiction writer Vonnie Winslow Crist – the one hundred and eighty-eighth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also now view / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords. Thank you.

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2011 in ebooks, events, ideas, poetry, tips, Twitter, writing

 

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