The annual All In! Young Writers’ Festival returned this year with a record number of speakers and sessions.
Held at *SCAPE, 90 speakers and moderators have been lined up for the three-day Festival – double the number of presenters who offered their insights last year. Participants could also choose from 50 sessions, workshops and fringe events to attend this year, up from the 35 sessions offered in 2016.
Launched in 2009 by the National Book Development Council of Singapore, All In! is aimed at being a platform that brings together professionals and young aspiring writers to interact and network.
This year’s All In! has witnessed several firsts, according to Festival Director Kenneth Quek. A compilation of essays submitted through the YOUTHspeak Essay Competitions was launched by the Book Council in this year's All In! as well as an exhibition of short films by young filmmakers.
LOCAL YET GLOBAL: Film and TV producers Jason Chan and Christian Lee were among the top favourites during the first day of conference sessions at All In! 2017.
The Festival kicked off on 10 March with three masterclasses on scriptwriting, picture book writing and illustrations.
A day later, the Festival moved into full swing as participants heard from a range of speakers who spoke on various topics such as freelance writing, science fiction, drama and experiential marketing. Besides panel discussions, fringe events featuring the Cambodian Writers Collective and the Singapore Monologue Slam were also held.
Panellists who spoke on March 11 urged aspiring writers to venture into the unknown and continue to hone their craft, even if it involves making mistakes.
“Writing is an exploration,” said Andreas Winfrey, managing editor of Indonesia’s leading lifestyle publication CLARA Magazine. “You start from nothing and learn as you go.”
Mr Nicholas Yong, author of the short story collection Track Faults and Other Glitches: Stories of the Impossible in Singapore and the zombie novel Land of the Meat Munchers, urged aspiring writers to read widely across all genres. “After you read, just start writing... make mistakes, ask for help and get better."
While the fear of failure would always be there, Ms Nicole Seah, managing editor for online literary magazine Parallel Ink, added: “You can’t be afraid. Being afraid is going to close you off to so many opportunities.”
Many experienced writers offered a piece of advice that is only too familiar to those present at the Festival: Practice makes perfect. “The more you practice, the easier ideas will flow,” said Valerie Oliverio, who works in publishing and pens poems on her Instagram account.
But beyond the hard work, magazine editor Darren Ho wants writers to “experience life in all its different forms.”
“It gives you the ability to have the opinion that I’m looking for (in a writer),” said Mr Ho, who has been the editor of AUGUSTMAN (Singapore) since 2011.
Many of the delegates felt the insights shared at the Festival were helpful. For example, student Millie Goh felt the sessions were “insightful”.
“I actually found it hard to ask questions because they gave so much information,” said the Cedar Girls Secondary School student.