Stuffed animals, book signings and sea shanties: Literary happenings across London

Feeling bloated after your holiday? It could be worse. Find out more from the Horniman's Walrus next month.

Feeling bloated after your holiday? It could be worse. Find out more from the Horniman's Walrus next month.

First published in News
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Four months into my lottery-funded Arts Council funding, I’ve written 40,000 words of the novel but am in desperate need of some light creative relief.

So if, like me, you’re keen to flex those literary muscles in a supportive setting, here are my top tips for your writing schedule over the next few months.

What to do?

The award-winning Dulwich Books in Croxted Road often boasts stellar author events and is teaming up with the Horniman Museum next month to hold a Taxidermy evening to launch Kate Mosses’ new book, The Taxidermist's Daughter. 

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There will be sparkling conversations (including Sandi Toksvig chatting to Mosse), music, refreshments and even a taxidermy photo booth. It takes place on September 11 and costs £10.

The Bookseller Crow Bookshop in Westow Street, Crystal Palace, hosts a book club and regular readings from authors with recent visitors including author Kerry Hudson. You can sign up to the mailing list to keep informed of what’s going on. 

Secondly, it would be worth signing up to goal setting community Write Track if you haven’t already. This monitors your writing progress and provides support, exercises and tips.

The Word Factory runs regular short story sessions with advice and opportunities for networking and mentoring. One of the founders, Paul McVeigh, also writes a really helpful blog which is packed with advice and interesting interviews

On September 3, author David Mitchell will be signing his latest novel, The Bone Clocks, at lunchtime at the London Review of Books. This legendary store has a jam-packed event schedule and sometimes featuring gin cocktails and music from a sea shanty choir.

Where to write?

The Southbank Centre (which is running a literary festival next month) is also a good space with lots of tables, plug points and ample chance for people-watching.

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In terms of writing space, I would recommend The Montage cafe in Forest Hill which is full of hidden corners and expansive tables to spread your work out on. The fact there is also delicious cake on offer is merely incidental.

I was tipped off about this place by Miniaturist author Jessie Burton when I interviewed her for News Shopper – you can read more about her advice for aspiring writers here.

What to read?

I've also found some books very helpful recently.

How to Write a Novel in a Year is written by Louise Doughty, who has not only written excellent books but also taught on Arvon courses. It's fun to read, accessible and inspiring.

The title of How to Craft a Great Story put me off slightly because it sounded a bit old-fashioned and like I'd have to be sitting round a campfire on a scout weekend to appreciate it. How wrong I was. It's actually packed with technical tips on how to create plot and structure your story in a way which appears effortless.

Write a Novel and Get it Published is part of the same series and is similarly practical. It's written in a down-to-earth tone but is extremely comprehensive.

A friend also recently tipped me off about Paris Review’s interviews with authors which contain a wealth of knowledge on writing.

For more information on the Arts Council's grants for the arts, visit this website.

Do you have any tips? Let me know on hwood@london.newsquest.co.uk or tweet me @Saltounite

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