April 17, 2013

WICE 2013 Summer Writing Course - Zoë Brân's thoughts on Non-Fiction

Zoë Brân 
These days it's easier than ever to write and be read by a wide readership, even a global readership. Writing for a publisher who will pay you is however becoming a more difficult prospect, certainly more difficult than it was nearly 20 years ago when I wrote my first non-fiction book. This is not to say that there's no money in writing, on the contrary, online writing is fast becoming an excellent source of income. So, it's important for writers whether aspiring or established to be aware that we are now at a turning point in the history of publishing when the ways the past - author, agent, publisher - are currently being superseded by the Internet and online publishing. This is an exciting development and one that we should welcome as it offers a previously unknown level of artistic licence and author freedom.

What I encourage all my students to do, in any discipline of writing, is to consider what they want to write and why they want to write it. One of the best ways to ensure publication, in any form, is to be absolutely clear about your commitment to a chosen genre and certain that it is the best way to express what it is you want to say to the world. Non-fiction offers a wide variety of possible genres from autobiography and biography to travel literature or blogging about food or make up. Which of these many possibilities is right for you? Finding the best use and direction for your skills and talents is one of the things I particularly enjoy working on with students.

Perhaps you are already well advanced with your writing? How is it possible to improve it? Non-fiction walks a line between storytelling and fact and one of the key elements of almost all writing, regardless of genre, is the weaving of research into a harmonious whole. As a former Writer in Residence at The University of the Arts here in London I worked with students across many topics, including journalism, fashion and business, helping them manage their research and edit their work. The second key element, common to all genres, is of course, editing. How do you go about your research and editing? Is it possible to make them easier and simpler?

Ultimately, any success in terms of readership, income or both, depends upon the happy conjunction between what it is you want to write and what is the world wants to read. Awareness of the market, trends and the links between online and hardcopy are essential for any aspiring writer. Online social networking platforms are increasingly important to many non-fiction publishers seeking to maximise their marketing and sales advantage and these are things that any writer is able to develop for themselves.

We are all limited by our expectations and perceptions of the world around us and these limitations naturally feed into our creativity and our writing life. Over the years I have used simple techniques to open up students’ creative thinking processes thereby allowing fresh perspectives and new directions to emerge. Changing the way we see writing itself (I dictate all my writing, including this blog post), the world of publishing and our possible readership, can help us to find our voice as a writer and the best place to express that voice.

© Zoë Brân 2013

-Zoë Brân's The Art of Non-Fiction course will be offered at:

When:  June 24, 2013 to June 28, 2013
Where:  The American University of Paris

***Enrollment is limited.  Reserve your spot now at The Art of Non-Fiction (PWU242).

For more information about Zoë Brân visit www.zoebran.com