Being Cool or Being Prepared

A confession -

We all like to think we're cool. And it's generally seen as the cool thing to do to leave work until the last minute, wait until you have to get it done, right up to the deadline or even beyond.

I'm not cool, far from it. And I can thoroughly recommend being that way.

I've been fortunate enough to get invitations to teach at some excellent writers' schools again this summer. There's the wonderful Winchester in June -

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And the splendid Swanwick come August -

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(Forgive the alliteration, it's almost always awful anywhere. Anyhow...)

I'm months away from the courses, which are both in novel writing, and... I've already started preparing. Shaping up the outlines, honing the content, thinking of some quirks and twists to make them interesting.

And you think that's preparing well in advance? For the first extended teaching I even did, back in Swanwick in 2011, I started work almost a year before the course.

Not cool, I know, but as for the results... well, I got invited back, and have been privileged to be asked to teach at many places since, and not just in Britain but across Europe.

Without being overly pompous about it, people pay a lot of money to come on these courses and they're very keen to learn all the tricks of the writing trade they can. I strongly believe teachers owe it to them to put on the best possible show.

So, if it comes to a choice between being cool and being prepared, I know which way I go every time.