January is that time of the year when most writers ponder the year ahead, draw up planning lists and (be still my fluttery heart) open those new notebooks we hinted about before Christmas. And, like the two-headed god Janus, for whom January is named, we might look back at the year that has been and consider our successes and failures.

Despite the cold and the long wait until pay day for my non-writing part-time job (hey, needs must...), I'd had a mini epiphany - a miniphany, if you will. You can read about it here on my personal playground or I can summarise for you it in a few words: Focus on the writing; there's a good chap.

Now, although there have been some eyewateringly priced writing courses circulating recently, I think that writing courses have their place. 

I'm indebted to a novel writing summer school at Falmouth Uni, some years back, run by Jane Pollard. It changed the way I approached novel writing forever. And I also learned some surprising things on an Arvon Comedy Writing week at Totleigh Barton. (Chief among them, why being one of the only sober ones in a room full of angst and alcohol can be truly memorable - but that's another story).

However, there are some questions that never come up on a creative writing course Q & A session. Here's my list of things every writer needs to know.

Feel free to use the comments box to add your own questions and to provide some of the answers!

1. How many copies ought you to sell before you commit to working on a sequel?

2. How deep into your own personal life do you dig for inspiration?

3. What is the maximum number of times one is permitted to revisit a personal theme or experience in one's writing before it is considered at best samey and at worst obsessive?

4. What if your work doesn't fit any genre?

5. Does self-publication of a previous novel inspire confidence or concern in an agent / publisher?

6. Is it possible to make a living as a writer without some significant degree of compromise?

7. How can a writing group cope when one person gets a publishing deal?

8. Does repeating the mantra 'it's not about the money' weaken a writer's resolve to make difficult decisions about their work?

9. Is a book ever finished if it isn't published?

10. Whose permission / approval are we really after when we spill our guts across the page and then hold the result up for public scrutiny?

11. Might there be a better way of doing this?

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