You may already have your MWF schedule planned out – but in case you don’t, here are a few highlights to pencil into your diary for this weekend.

For the self-improvers

Louis de Bernières: Ask a Novelist
Trying to finish off that pesky last chapter? Got a character that just won’t die? Get some tips from the top (“top” here being the international bestselling and beloved writer of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin).

Friday August 21, 3pm

How to be Creative
Craft-lady extraordinaire (and author of book and blog Meet Me At Mike’s) Pip Lincolne is full of ideas on how to tap into your inner artist. Whether you’re a weaving type or a writer type, this session is full of inspiration for the creative life.

Saturday August 22, 10am

Health & Happiness Dot Com
Blogging gurus Leo Babauta (Zen Habits) and Sarah Wilson (I Quit Sugar) share their tips for the good life with MWF director Lisa Dempster. When someone’s skin is this glowing, it’s probably safe to follow their lead.

Saturday August 22, 7.30pm

Extraordinary Routines
You know that feeling, where you’re sure you’d finish your Pulitzer-winner, cure cancer and also remember to call your parents, if only you structured your day better. Take a look inside the daily lives of some of our most creative minds, and see how they make it work.

Sunday August 23, 10am

For the mavericks

Is Funding The Arts Doing Good?
This panel pits notably fiery social justice thinker Peter Singer against two celebrated arts advocates on the question of where our philanthropic money should go. Things are going to get heated.

Friday August 21, 4pm

Dolores Redondo: Spanish Crime
This Spanish novelist sold more than 600,000 copies of her gripping crime series, The Baztan Trilogy, in her homeland alone. She’ll discuss her mystical thrillers, in her native language. So what if you don’t speak Spanish? It’s free. Live dangerously.

Friday August 21, 5.30pm

Under Surveillance
Award-winning journalist and foreign correspondent Andrew Fowler talks with Crikey’s politics editor Bernard Keane about issues of privacy and security in today’s surveillance state. Fowler literally wrote the book on Julian Assange, so this is one to catch. Your incognito windows don’t cut it anymore.

Saturday August 22, 4pm

For the feminists

Women in Media: Keeping up Appearances
Media aces Ita Buttrose and Jessica Rowe discuss “the enormous pressure” on women in the industry to look and act in the “proper” way.

Friday August 21, 4pm

Annabel Crabb & Kate Grenville: Wives & Mothers
Two of Australia’s best female writers, a chronicler of our time and one of our history, reflect on being a woman today vs. being a woman in the days of yore. How far have we come?

Friday August 21, 7pm

WTF is Women’s Fiction?
There’s a “women’s” category for everything – especially literature. But is that a good or a bad thing? And what is “women’s” even supposed to mean? This Stella Prize event unpacks the various stereotypes, in genre and in the book industry more generally.

Sunday 23 August, 2.30pm

The Melbourne Writers Festival runs from August 20 to 30 at various locations around Melbourne. The full program is available here.