Bumble Bizz Food Writing Panel and Workshop, Manchester

Last week, Bumble Bizz came to Manchester to host a panel of food writers in their “Bread and Butter of Food Writing” event. I was in great company on the all-female panel. Here’s what I took away from the event, plus a little exercise to try if you’re suffering from writer’s block!

When Daisy from Yolk approached me to be on the panel, I agreed right away. I immediately felt excited and (strangely) at ease, not worrying about the event or stressing about it once. Which is highly unusual for me.

If you know me, you’ll know that one of my number one personality traits (or defects) is that I worry. I try, on a daily basis to not let my worries overcome me. Sometimes they do get the better of me. But not this time. I was ready to take part in the event, to share my insights and experience as not only a food blogger but a freelance writer, too.

It was held at the Cow Hollow Boutique Hotel (which is gorgeous by the way) and we got cosy in the lobby, on cushions and with our pens and writing pads at the ready!

What is Bumble Bizz?

Bumble is a dating app. And Bumble Bizz is the business-networking version. So instead of hooking up for a dinner date, you can meet like-minded people to work or collaborate with instead. Pretty snazzy, if you ask me. I’ve not used it yet, have you? Despite that, it’s ace they’ve been hosting these ‘skills sharing’ panels and workshops across the UK recently.

The aim of the ‘Bread and Butter of Food Writing’ panel was to give people expert advice on how to write better about food.

The Food Writing Panel

Two food bloggers (myself and Sarah from North West Nosh) a food and drink writer (Abbie Moulton who is a professional freelance writer for In Style magazine and others) and Hester (who owns a pop-up porridge business and works for Co-op Food).

So in our day-to-day lives, we write about food. We get paid to write about food, Sarah is even writing a novel (not about food, but still). So we chaired the panel and discussed various topics, from our favourite piece of food writing, developing your own voice in food writing, and digital vs. physical writing. Plus, the crazy, wonderful world of social media.

A tool to overcome writer’s block

At the event, I had the opportunity to teach the audience a skill I learnt, way back in my University days. At Uni, I worked in the Writing Centre (yes, that was a thing) as a writing tutor for two years. Our job was to help other students become better writers. And we learnt the art of ‘Free Writing’.

Free writing is simple and is used to overcome writer’s block and to uncover angles in your writing, working it into something meaningful and cohesive.

It can also be used as a form of journaling to help overcome stress and anxiety. Basically, it’s incredible. And everyone should give it a go, at least once!

How to free write

A traditional free write will last for 15 minutes. You simply get yourself a pen and a piece of paper and a timer. You decide on the topic, set the timer for 15 minutes, and begin writing.
The catch is, however, that you are not allowed to stop writing. No stopping, whatsoever, for the entire 15 minutes. If you don’t know what to write, you simply write “I don’t know what to write” or “blah blah” or whatever until the next related thought comes into your head. The idea is that this gets ALL thoughts on the topic, down onto the paper. What writer’s block? I hear you say…
When the timer is up, you should be left with something that resembles everything you know about that topic. About two A4 pages worth for a 15 minute free write, depending on your handwriting.
You then go through a process of annotating, grouping ideas together and using that as the basis to structure your final piece.

Give it a go: Your last meal on earth

At the event, I ran a taster, 3-minute free write with the audience, on the topic of what would your last meal on earth be?

We got some incredible results. Freewriting really can unearth some great leads and stories behind your writing. And for anyone who didn’t discover anything; keep practising free writing and you will get there. Writing is a like a muscle, so in order for it to be strong, it must be exercised!

What I learnt from these three amazing women

I am so happy to have been part of such as inspirational event. The key points I’m taking away to apply to my own writing, are:

  • When blogging, remember the power of storytelling.
  • What can I bring to this post to bring it to life?
  • How can I better get across my passion and enthusiasm in my writing?
  • If you want to be a good writer, you must be a good reader.
  • Talk to people I know within the food and drink industry (loads!)
  • Strive for a balance between great words and great photos.

Networking, dinner & drinks

It was great to speak to some lovely food writers and bloggers after the event too. Elsa Eats writes food reviews on her site, Christine is a lifestyle blogger wanting to focus more on food and I also met Jacob who’s a food writer from London who’s just moved to Manchester.

If you came to the event feel free to leave me a message on my blog or over on Twitter @sophiesscran, let me know what you thought and if you’ve given free writing another go since!

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