Over the last 7 days leading up to the London Screenwriters Festival at Regents College, I’ll be preparing a special (text-only, sadly) Lowdown looking at how you can get the most from your weekend and the biggest bang for your buck.

You can read Day 1 here and Day 2 here.

Day 3: Making the Most of Your Schedule

After yesterday’s blog about how to pick apart the schedule and select your sessions (another interesting note on which Monica Solom has blogged once again), it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty of how you make the most of the workshops you’ve chosen.

Here’s a quick, 5-point Lowdown on getting what you need:

  1. Pause before the start to work out what 3-5 nuggets of info or tips you’d like to come out with at the end of the session and write them out on a blank page in your note book.
  2. Make notes through the talk. If you’re not a great – or natural – note-taker, don’t worry, I’ll have more on making notes in tomorrow’s Lowdown.
  3. Listen carefully. You’re looking not only for your 3 key nuggets, but also the extra bits of info that you wouldn’t have thought of or hadn’t realised were important until they came out of the speaker’s mouth. But you’re also listening to make sure that when it comes to Number 4 you’re not going over old material.
  4. Ask questions. If you find yourself without key notes written by your important pieces of info you’re after, ask. Don’t EVER be shy to ask a question in a panel or a talk. All of the sessions will have time for a Q&A and, if it helps you achieve your goals for the festival that we talked about yesterday, there’s no such thing as a stupid question. However stupid you may feel asking it, you’ll feel even more stupid if you don’t and you walk away without at least broaching the subject.
  5. Talk about it. When you’re filing out, when you’re heading across to the next session, when you’re grabbing a cup of coffee or a bite of lunch; talk about it with anyone and everyone. Nothing seals information in your brain better than forcing your brain to process it so you can sum it up to someone who wasn’t there (maybe you’re “workshop buddy” who’s been taking in a competing session. Equally, discussing it with someone who was also in the session can help you see things from another angle that you may have missed.

There is an untold wealth of information to be discovered, mined and absorbed at the festival. Even once you’ve narrowed your choice of workshops and sessions right down, you still need to be aware of what you want to glean from each individual element on your personal schedule.

With 5 minutes of forethought and an hour of concentration, you will emerge from each and every block a wiser person and, hopefully, a better writer.

Tomorrow on the Countdown Lowdown, we’ll take a brief gander at note-taking: an investment in learning.

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