How to Land The Big Author’s Deal: Q and A with Sarah Lotz

  BY ALEX SMITH   I can remember a few years ago having weekly meetings at a little cafe in Noordhoek with Sarah Lotz and a couple of other writer friends. Sarah and I had recently completed our MA in Creative Writing. We'd drink black coffee and discuss the state of publishing, rage about poorly edited novels, and lament over the seemingly impossible quest to land The Big Deal. Then a close friend of Sarah's, Lauren Beukes, won a major international prize - the

5 Ways to deal with Writer’s Block – by Helen Brain

  You sit down to write, and the words just can’t come out. When they do they seem flat and empty. You fear you’ve lost your touch, and the more you panic the worse it gets. You’ve got writer’s block.   How Does Writer’s Block Feel? One well known writer describes it well: “When I wrote my first book, I had no expectations, nothing to compare my work to. If it bombed, it bombed. If it did ok I would just be grateful. But when

Writing for the Web: Things you don’t know you don’t know

Keywords, hyperlinks, SEO, search engine – that’s just the start of what you’ll need to know to write for the web. Hayley Leibowitz explains how to navigate the field of Web writing. It’s writing isn’t it? How difficult can it be? Well, as an experienced writer of everything ranging from medical studies to feature articles and scriptwriting, I soon discovered that writing for the web is an entirely different monster. Updating my writing skills I took the course titled Writing for the Web

Learning in the Digital Age: 3 Ways e-Learning has Changed the Way We Learn

  The shift from print to digital media is affecting the way people learn. In the age of e-Learning, skills can be attained in an environment of your choice, on a smartphone or laptop, on your own, in your own time and for free.   by Wendy Ruiter     e-Learning is interactive   Linda van der Loo (Head Learning and Leadership Standard bank Group, Founding member of the ELearning Institute South Africa) highlights the changes in training from ten or twenty years ago where there was a

Freelance writing – Ten Top Tips to Thrive as a Writer

    Follow these ten top tips for getting started as a freelance writer, and you’ll convince editors to publish your work. By Fran Weerts   Like art, freelance writing is often regarded as a hobby. It may appear self-indulgent - taking enthralling trips in the name of research, fraternising with fascinating people and no boss to remark on your tardy start to the day. In reality, though, your life as a freelance writer will be somewhat less grand. Freelance writing will be demanding of your time,

What past students say about our writing courses

  Course reviews from graduate students at The Writers College        The following course feedback was received  from students worldwide, after they had completed their courses. Apart from the occasional spelling mistake that has been corrected, these writing course reviews are unedited. “I have really enjoyed learning new skills and understanding proofreading. I will be looking for more writing courses with similar content in future. I enjoyed working with Rosemary. She was always willing to give me advice on where I could

Making Time to Write – by Ginny Swart

  You want to write, you've got a great idea for a story, you've made a few notes - but your life is just too busy to get behind your computer. Sound familiar? The trick is to manage your time in a way that gives an hour of "me-time" every day.  Here's how...   First, decide when you feel the freshest and most creative. For some people, this might be 5.30 in the morning, before the rest of the family is up and demanding your

Starting out as a freelance journalist – how to de-clutter your brain with mind maps

  BY SAMANTHA MOOLMAN So, you have decided you want to become a freelance journalist and you’re raring to go. In order to choose a direction, you need to learn how to de-clutter your mind with mind maps.   You might feel like you’ve hit a brick wall and don’t know where to begin. You might be drowning in a sea of countless writing opportunities that you can pursue, but you can’t decide which one is right for you. Without a clear-cut vision, it’s

Swan Lake – My Writing Journey

BY SUZETTE LEAL   I would say that my venture into the world of words started thanks to Tchaikovsky. Had the Russian master not composed his first epic ballet, I probably would never have realised that my forte was not within the realm of hand-eye coordination. It all began when I was seven. I was in Miss Miller’s level one class and we twirled around in our pink tutus every Tuesday and Friday afternoon. My mom and Auntie Susan took turns driving the

How to write for the Web: 10 vital tips

      We know that 79% of Web users scan pages; they do not read word-by-word. So what can you do to make your web articles scanable?   Remember to write less. People have a really short attention span. Between 300 and 500 words is a really good length for an article and the maximum words you should put on a web page.   Many people recommend highlighting. They make words bold, but I find it distracting for the eye and prefer only to use it

Writing Business e-mails that Sell

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston is a business writing trainer. She comes up with these 12 essential rules for e-mails on her blog:   Grab the client in the subject line and opening sentence. Create a reason to open the email and read it. Focus on just one purpose in each message. Don't make the client (or you as the writer) go in different directions. Focus on you--not on I, we, or your company. Clients focus on themselves--so should you. Describe benefits to your client--not features or

HAYMAKER – by Clinton Matos

    Well, it’s all about power, isn’t it? That’s where and why my life intersects the here and how of what you’re reading. For disclosure: I’m going to tell you that I only recently turned twenty. I’m a tad shy on the “hard knocks” front, but I assure you I punch well above my class in cynicism and jadedness. What I’m not going to tell you is about any great adversity I had to endure or some imagined slights which may

My Writing Journey – International Short Story Competition – December 2015

  Write us a 1000-word story about your journey as a writer. Make it funny, quirky and/or inspirational. We will publish the best story in our quarterly newsletter and on our blog. Plus the winner receives $200 (R1000 or £100). Entry is free and entrants are welcome from all over the globe. Send your story to  Closing date: 12 pm  31 December 2015   Previous winners: Haymaker by Clinton Matos - Winner September 2015 African Dream by Olakunle Oladiran - Winner May 2015 Magic by Thorne Busakwe - Winner January 2015 My

Email Interviews: Potential Minefield or Essential Tool?

  BY CORRINA COETZER Writing stories based on interviews can present a load of challenges to journalists. Setting up interviews can take time and effort, but with tight deadlines, and possibly working in different time zones, most journalists don't have the luxury of extended chats with their interviewees.  The email interview is a possible solution. Like a coin though, it has two sides.   Why email interviews can work   They save time An email interview is less time consuming. You don’t have to spend endless hours

Writer’s Block: Don’t Agitate, Meditate

    Writer’s block can happen to the best of writers, and meditation can be a powerful panacea.   BY DESIMA BEUKES   You know the feeling - the words just won’t come and your article deadline is looming. The more you stress about your writer’s block, the worse it gets. Scientists have discovered that meditation can be a powerful way of minimising writers’ block. Not only can meditation lessen the panic from staring at those blank pages; it also leads to mindfulness and restored creativity. The word

An Interview with writer and novelist Mary Miller

Mary Miller is an American-born fiction writer. Her debut novel The Last Days of California has sold over 25,000 copies. Mary gives us a peek into her life as a writer and shares advice on how to start out in the writing industry.   Born in Mississippi, Mary Miller never thought of writing as a career. After publishing her first short story collection Big World, Miller’s career grew substantially. In 2014 she published her first novel, The Last Days of California which

Web Writing Plagiarism – How to Avoid being a Copy (Cat) Writer

  BY KERRI LEO   There is some amazing, original, web content out there. We have all experienced reading a blog post or article that we wish we had written ourselves. This article is about how to ‘use’ other’s original content to complement our own, without becoming a Copy-Cat.   Plagiarism as Defined by Wikipedia Plagiarism is the “wrongful appropriation” and “stealing and publication” of another author‘s “language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions” and the representation of them as one’s own original work.[1][2] Wikipedia is an excellent online

Q and A with Rian Malan – South African Writer and Journalist

  Just waking up in South Africa presents you with extraordinarily strong writing material, says Rian Malan, who has written widely about the country and its people, its tragedies and triumphs. His best-selling book, My Traitor’s Heart, has been translated into eleven languages. As a journalist, he has written for newspapers and magazines across the globe. Yet, he talks about his writing with a humility that belies his success. Or perhaps it’s this very humility that has helped him succeed. KAREN SOUTHEY speaks

Four Tips for Starting a Great Blog

Starting a blog that is okay is very simple. The secrets for how to start a great blog are also simple, but it takes a little bit more work and planning. These four tips will help you hit the ground running.   Get set for social media When picking a blog name, many people only check whether there’s a matching domain name available. By the time you get to integrate your blog with social media, it’s possible that someone else may have

Eleven Ways to Draw in your Reader

  Here are 11 ways to draw your reader in and keep them hooked. Each one of these ways takes time to master, so do expect to do quite a bit of sculpting and playing with words until you get it perfect. Use strong, visual verbs to set the scene. Some writers suggest that your verbs should outnumber your adjectives in each paragraph. For example, note the verb usage in this opening by Bisantz Raymond as quoted in her piece “Give Your Writing

Freelance Writing: A New Midlife Career?

  BY GINA PAYNE   Changing careers is scary. While fear can hold back writers of any age, embarking on freelance writing at midlife might be harder still. Perhaps it should come with a warning:   “risk of implosion ahead”.   With midlife commonly a time of re-evaluation, career changes at this life-stage are often driven by a desire for greater meaning from life. So imagine this. You’re considering freelance writing as an alternative career. Then doubts swarm. Why? Because the move will take you outside

How to Write Effective Dialogue

In all stories, certainly those that get published, people talk to each other. Do you remember reading when you were a child? Most children enjoy the “talking bits” the best, and will happily skip the scenic descriptions. Adult readers are no different: they enjoy reading the conversation. Dialogue is also visually essential. But more about that later. Writing believable dialogue Conversation between the characters breaks up the paragraphs that describe action or scenery, and keeps the reader interested, but this conversation needs

Vital Ways to Improve your Chances of Winning a Short Story Competition

After ten years of evaluating thousands of short stories in our national writing competitions, our Writers College judges have compiled a list of eight basic tips to help you onto the shortlist.   Before you enter a Short Story Competition, it might be worthwhile defining exactly what a short story is - and what it is not. A short story is not a commentary on current affairs, an article about collecting clocks or a humorous opinion piece for the back page of a

The Writers’ College Student Success Stories

Some of our students have gone on to occupy full-time jobs in the magazine and/or publishing industry. You can read short interviews with past-students here. If your story, manuscript or article was accepted for publication after completing one of our courses, please do let us know: Here are a few writing success stories from our students from around the world. Glenn McGoldrick, who has had a story "A Little Drama" accepted for online publication by Glenn was a student on the Writing

Magazine Journalism Course Success: Ansie van der Walt

Ansie van der Walt completed the Magazine Journalism Course at SA Writers College. Apart from working at her new job as assistant editor at an Australian publishing house, Ansie is the owner of the blog She's also the originator of the African Flower Chain Project, where she ‘planted’ 30 hand-made African flowers across South Africa and elicits inspiring letters from around the globe.  Ansie has turned writing and needlework, both hobbies and passions of hers, into a full-time career. 1. What writing successes have