If you read my Business of Writing column in Writing Magazine you may recall that I’m currently working a Short-term temporary employed contract for a couple of days a week. Last week, I had to reacquaint myself with the joys of the Staff Away Day, when everyone in the organisation gathered together in a village hall (in the middle of nowhere) to make complete fools of ourselves.
There were the usual team-building exercises: people being blindfolded and others describing pictures that those blindfolded who had to replicate them. And then there was the playdough exercise … well one of two, which involved making the playdough in the first place, before part two, which involved us re-creating a scene from a classic film.
I say I had to reacquaint myself with this joyful experience because, having been a self-employed writer on a full time basis for the previous 15 years, staff away days were, how shall I put this, not exactly a barrel of laughs. A team of one makes these things difficult.
But, of course, in the world of publishing we are never a team of one. Even if we self-publish we still need help perhaps with editing, proofreading, book cover design, etc.
There are numerous ways in which writers can have team away days. These include:
- local writers’ groups. (I go to two, and they offer a regular monthly fix for me to share news, moan about problems, and have a laugh.)
- professional bodies. Organisations like the Society of Authors, NUJ, Crime Writers Association, etc often have annual gatherings or regional get togethers. These are a fantastic opportunity to meet up with fellow writers and catch up on industry gossip.
- writers’ conferences: Winchester, Fishguard, Swanwick, NAWGFest – are annual events worth going to.
I’ve also had opportunities to meet editors in their offices, and if ever you get the opportunity, you should take it.
Simply putting a face to a name changes a relationship. I’m sure I wouldn’t have got the Business of Writing column in Writing Magazine, had I not previously met the editor at a conference.
I’m sure many of us who’ve been on team away days can list a litany of horror stories, of having to do things we wouldn’t choose to do, if given the choice. But writers’ away days can prove to be useful business opportunities.
Although, if someone brings out a tray of playdough, just bear in mind things could get a bit messy!