“The course has encouraged me to take a whole new direction with my writing”

Daisy Jervis describes her experience of WriteMentor’s 5-week writing fundamentals course with author Lindsay Galvin

Tell us a bit about yourself as a writer

Hi, everyone! I’m Daisy. I’d probably describe myself as a writer who often has many ideas but the delivery of a pigeon attempting to build a nest. However, this pigeon from the Southeast has grown in many ways since 2018 (when I first enrolled on a CBC picture book course) and is now writing book four – if you don’t include the two picture books and lower Middle Grade hidden in the depths of my laptop. The best thing about my writing journey so far has been the people who’ve inspired me and supported me along the way and still do. Emma Finlayson-Palmer, my wonderful Spark mentor/the beacon of encouragement and feedback joy has helped me shape the Middle Grade I’ve just started querying (Hello trenches! We meet again!) and has given me advice in cauldron-loads (I’m convinced she’s magical).

On WriteMentor’s Preparing for Submission course with Aisha Bushby, I was incredibly lucky to meet my current writing group, the Lightning Hyenas, and they are the most talented and inspiring people. I cannot wait for their books to be out in the world – trust me, they are ones to watch! Currently, I’m editing a feisty Young Adult about a kickass group of girls who take on a system that’s been plaguing their lives. 

What made you decide to do WriteMentor’s WriteWords course at this point in your writing journey?

When the WriteWords course was announced, I was in a pit of frustration with editing and in all honesty, the basics were taunting me. I love drafting so much more than editing. Why couldn’t I nail that rhythm? How could I make my writing less of a train of thought and more of an organised, impactful group of words? Having previously learnt an entire notebook’s worth of advice on Lindsay’s Middle Grade course, and because I adore her teaching style (Yes, handouts! Woo, spontaneous session tasks!), I clicked that link to sign up as soon as my mischievous Wi-Fi hub would let me (definitely a Loki variant). I loved how that the course would focus on the basics and how to use them to really develop your writing. 

In what way has the course helped shaped your writing and/or yourself as a writer?

WriteWords has encouraged me to take a whole new direction with my writing. Before starting it, I was convinced that I had found my comfortable writing zone within Middle Grade, and this is where I was going to stay. But then, I let go. When completing tasks on the course, I experienced with style and voice using Lindsay’s advice, and it was a really fun experience – one which I want to continue. To quote NSYNC, Bye! Bye! Bye! comfort zone.

Focussing on aspects such as dialogue, tense and POV, made me realise I was boxing myself into one category, scared of my lack of experience in other genres and age groups, instead of focussing on how to use the basics of writing to develop voice and plot regardless of which story you’re writing. I must mention that my fellow course mates were all incredible writers, and their feedback was always spot on. WriteWords was such a safe space to share and comment on each other’s work and that also made the course a really positive experience.

Three ways WriteWords has shaped my writing: 

  1. I pay attention to sentence structure when editing. Sometimes, they work. Often, they need editing. Occasionally, me and the delete button are besties. 
  2. Adjectives and adverbs are used sparingly. If it’s not important to the voice, plot, or scene – ditch it.
  3. Dialogue is a joy. It is my favourite part of drafting. One word swap can make all the difference. Google-searches-for-synonyms is where it’s at.

What was the best piece of writing advice you learned from the course?

This is a tricky one to answer. Okay, I’m going to quote this line from Lindsay’s handout on point of view and tense – ‘getting to know your characters will help you know who needs to tell this story.’ I’ve chosen this aspect of writing to focus on, because since the course I’ve been writing my openings in different tenses to see which one works better. Before, I would never have swayed from my reliable first person, present but when you find a tense or POV that clicks, that is the moment that your main character also finds their voice and a way of telling their story. Without a doubt, it works. And then there’s no looking back – until you finish that draft, then the editing begins! 

Twitter: @DaisWriter

Ready for WriteWords?

Improve your storytelling at the word and sentence level, develop your writing style, and refine your fine editing skills with author Lindsay Galvin on WriteMentor’s writing fundamentals course. 

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From that first spark of a story idea to submitting a polished manuscript to literary agents, WriteMentor’s online courses support children’s writers throughout their writing journey. Advance your craft and gain insights from published authors.

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