Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Superhero Writing Tips for Librarians

I co-present a travelling workshop: the ‘Superhero Librarian Roadshow’. I've written about this initiative for SCONUL Focus.  The idea is to encourage librarians to be loud and proud of what they do – and to actively seek opportunities to showcase aspects of their regular work and special projects which could benefit from being shared. So often we information professionals are self-effacing and reluctant to talk about our achievements. We need to get our capes on, adopt our alter egos and shout about how we are pushing the library boundaries.

As a published author, I am relatively new to the game and until two years ago I had never published anything even in an internal newsletter. I am just a subject librarian who has finally seen the light and is having tremendous fun getting out there and writing about library stuff. So  here are a few top writing tips from the superhero angle:

Superman’s tip: Beginning is half the deed

Don't agonise over the opening paragraph being perfect. It will hold you up no end.  Write something to start. Anything. Just begin. You can hone it into immaculate prose later. 

Black Widow's tip: Be Prepared

Get the structural integrity sorted right from the get go.  Draft your headings with outline summaries of what might be covered in each section. The sous chef approach often works.  Chop it up in advance into small chunks and then it's so much easier to tackle individual bite-sized ingredients, before you pull it all together. Much less daunting than addressing all five courses in one hit.

Spiderman's tip: Go with the flow
Once the creative juices are working and it's all flying out from the keyboard, don't stop for anything. Coffee/Pizza/Prosecco/Visits to the gym/Messaging your Mum. Let it wait. Carpe diem.

Iron Man's tip:  Big yourself up
Be confident through all the highs and lows that this piece is going to be absolutely stellar.  Eventually. Even when an interim draft reads back as completely underwhelming. Hang on in there in the certain knowledge that ultimately your writing super powers will triumph.  

The Hulk's tip: Get an angle
Look at what's trending.  Develop some contemporary threads - and use the zeitgeist vernacular which will of course change daily.  Lots of social media hashtag surfing required here to see what's doing it for librarians in your particular area at the moment.  

Batman's tip:  Dare to be different
In the relentless pop-ups of posts and downloads your maverick piece needs to stand out. If you don't grab the attention with some kind of new gimmick, your reader is going to get easily distracted by the multiple other windows they have open and wander off-piste altogether.  Remember humour is a great engager. Aim to elicit at least a wry smile and then reel them in slowly.  

Wonder Woman's tip: Phone a friend
There's nothing like the advice of a fellow professional to honestly critique your awesome offering. Helpful hints on verbosity, sentence structure, glaring omissions and unnecessary content are always valuable. Find a friendly editor. 

Captain America's tip: Let it go!
A certain amount of tinkering time is productive. But eventually you have to stop.  Sometimes there is such a thing as over-finessing. There are other calls on your time. If you think it's good enough, take a deep breath and press send. 

Book a gig with the roadshow here
Superhero librarian presenters are:

Superhero team - Leo, Wendy & Claire

Captain America addresses troops

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