Archive for June, 2011

One crucial aspect of your ‘Voice’ is – not surprisingly, when you think about it – content.  You have to be able to fill the two hundred pages of your book with more than passion – although passion helps. And content is what keeps the reader on board – whether the book they hold is a memoir, a travelogue or a work of creative fiction.


So make the content interesting.


That’s not so hard, in itself.  But having enough of the stuff to create a story – sufficiently interesting to illustrate your pet theme  – can be a challenge.


Which is where the Writer’s Notebook comes in.


I love notebooks. And I have far more than I shall ever have time to fill. Besotted by stationery as I am, I find buying notebooks – alongside buying books – a knee-jerk reaction to almost any situation which requires killing time. Train-stations, conferences, dental appointments – my strategy is usually to arrive early and buy a book and a notebook.


But the first trick is not to buy a notebook so beautiful you don’t want to write in it. Buy beautiful ones if you must. But there are some very practical and inexpensive ones you should buy at the same time. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself reluctant to sully the blank page.


And the Writer’s Notebook is above all a tool to provide you with detailed content so you’ll be able to complete your novels.


So what do you put in it?


Heaps of stuff.  Record, for example:

  • Overheard snatches of speech
  • Dialect words and phrases
  • Potential plotlines arising from real situations happening around you
  • Words and phrases to describe people (physical, mental, emotional, and always with body language) – and build up your own stable of characters, noting any inconsistencies.
  • Potential settings – floor-plans, maps, landscapes, old buildings etc
  • Words and phrases to capture sense impressions
  • Story themes and ideas
  • Openings/closings (even in single sentences)
  • Words which intrigue you.
  • Cliches – so you can recognize and avoid.
  • Potential titles – Anything that has that ‘ring’ to it.
  • Details – of anything – which may be useful.


On July 2nd, an Out of the Box Workshop on ‘Finding your Voice’ will delve more deeply into these possibilities – and help you learn other ways to establish your own unique brand of writing. Costing £20 per participant, it will be held from 10am-12.30pm at The Consevatory, 28 Park West, Heswall, Wirral, CH60 9JF, UK. For further information or to make a booking, please contact me via Elizabeth@lonelyfurrowcompany.com or telephone 0151 342 3877.


And, if you don’t live close enough  to Heswall to join us on July 2nd, please remember these workshops travel –even as far as Spain. So distance, no object!


Looking forward to seeing you on July 2nd,

Kindest regards



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An Out of the Box  Creative Writing Workshop

This is the holy grail of the writer’s art and craft. We’ll be looking at the elements of word and phrase, content and theme. And you’ll then be able to tell the stories that matter to you in your own way!

Published writer Elizabeth Gates MA will teach you how.

£20 per person

July 2nd 2011

10am – 12.30pm

Lower Heswall, Wirral, UK

Tel: 0151 342 3877

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It all started when I was climbing the conning tower of the UK’s latest nuclear submarine.  Yes – you’ve guessed it. HMS Astute. My knee not so much gave way as disappeared out of my leg completely.  And that was it – over twenty years of freelance journalism and poor workplace ergonomics (I work from home) were catching up with me. Musculo-skeletal disorders were rearing their pretty ugly heads. Along with a rather peculiar form of adrenaline-aversion which is triggered particularly by deadlines. And deadlines – as we all know – are an essential tool in journalistic productivity.

‘No work’ was not an option and ‘Less desk-bound work’ and ‘using my expertise’ were imperatives.  And – with unusual foresight as opposed to journalistic crisis management – I just happened some time ago to have taken a coaching course. So now, I was able to re-jig my career – for the fourth time if you include motherhood.

I still do occasional medical journalism assignments and I’m working on a series of short stories and a novel.  But, since 2005, when I founded the Lonely Furrow Company, a new world has opened up. Trained in co-active coaching, NLP and transactional analysis, I am now a writing coach.

As a result, clients ask for my help with projects ranging from novels to academic theses. And tricky but common writing coaching problems  include writers’ block, time management and work life balance, where to find ideas, how to handle feedback and how to write a book proposal.

But, it doesn’t stop there. I improve people’s communication skills – personal and professional – by drawing on my eclectic knowledge of literature and my Masters in Sociolinguistics. Communication impacts on human relationships and the simple equation is: better communication skills = better relationships. Of course, other aspects such as shared values and a GSH help. But communication contributes here too.

Within the Lonely Furrow Company stable, there is also the workshop facilitation service, Out of the Box Workshops. Some workshops on offer embrace creative writing for personal development – such as memoir writing and journaling – writing coaching, creativity and opportunities for peer review. Others deal with media coaching issues such as how to write a winning press release or how to give a good account of yourself, your work and your organisation when interviewed by the media. Other presentations deal with corporate interests such as the role of communication in leadership and team building and yet more, deal with the highly-charged areas of family breakdown and healthcare.

And I am a storyteller. I use story to help people reflect on their personal and professional lives. And I train others in the use of story. Clients for these workshops range from healthcare workers to family lawyers to organisational leaders.

In fact, put simply, I tell stories for a living and help others to do the same. And this – in the brave new world of the economic downturn – is what retirement means.

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In July, three Out of the Box Writing Workshops are due to run  – led by published writer Elizabeth Gates MA.

July 2nd               Finding your voice

This is the holy grail of the writer’s art and craft. And, in this workshop, we’ll look at the elements of word and phrase, content and theme. You will then be able to tell the stories that matter to you in your own way.

July 9th                Memoir and Journaling

Have you or members of your family kept journals? Do you want to start?  This workshop will teach you: how to write, how to organise your materials, and how to do justice to the materials others have left you.

These Creative Writing workshops will take place at The Conservatory, 28 Park West, Heswall, Wirral CH60 9JF (10am – 12.30pm). Cost is £20 per participant. For further information, please contact Elizabeth on 0151 342 3877 or email elizabeth@lonelyfurrowcompany.com

July 20th               Style – academic, blogging and journalism. You’re an expert. You want to reach a wider audience but how do you do this? Articles on the Internet or in print could be the answer. But you must adapt your academic style to these other media. And this workshop will teach you how.

Unless otherwise stated, all professional development and communication Out of the Box workshops will take place at The Conservatory, 28 Park West, Heswall, Wirral CH60 9JF (1pm – 3.30pm). Cost is £25 per participant. For further information or to book an in-house workshop for your organisation, please contact Elizabeth on 0151 342 3877 or email elizabeth@lonelyfurrowcompany.com

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