OK, so maybe feasting is out of the question for most writers, but literary festivals are not. And I use the term literary quite loosely – I include book, writing, spoken word and even art (so long as some aspect is word-related) festivals in this.

There are some great ones out there. I spent my Saturday at Deal Noir in deepest, darkest, foggiest Kent (in the UK), listening to crime writers discuss their writing processes, publisher expectations, reader hate mail, real-life fears, research, sexism, ice, travelling and comedy. Was my head spinning by the end? Yes (and not all of it down to the free wine). Did I come away with more ideas than I can possibly use? Definitely.

Writers get ideas from everything, so sometimes it’s worth being reminded of that by absorbing words uttered by people whose works you love, hate, admire, or have never even heard of.

And it’s not only about discovering new authors or processes or books. It’s also about mingling with like-minded individuals. Meeting book-lovers and writers and publishers is both interesting and useful. Their suggestions, book recommendations, ideas and research are always eye-opening in some way.

So, go to festivals, immerse yourself, listen and mingle. Just try to never find yourself in the position I did and spend a whole day on a table with someone you’ve previously had a few conversations with on Twitter, only to realise it was them once you’re back home and checking your Twitter feed…