Tweed jackets. Moleskin journals. Closet narcissism. If clichés about writers have sparked an allergic reaction in you to literary festivals, then try the National Young Writers’ Festival. It’s a four-day series of panels, workshops and parties that manages to be ambitious, freewheeling and mercifully pretension-free. The festival, which sees more than 80 writers head to Newcastle at the start of October, spans everything from fiction and journalism, to poetry and comics. It also proves that the solitude of writing goes best with a side of community.

Here are Broadsheet’s top picks:

Salon Talks
The wilds of the comments section can’t beat the intimacy of sharing ideas with your favourite writer offline. This year’s Salon Talks series lets you discuss end-of-the-world theories, talk feminism or get into freelancing finances with David Henley, Clementine Ford and Benjamin Law.
Cambridge Hotel, October 3, 4, 5, 5pm.

Funny Ladies
Join comedians such as Claire Sullivan and Genevieve Fricker as they riff on the highs and lows of being a female comic, putting Christopher Hitchens’ claim that women aren’t funny to rest for good.
Gun Club, October 4, 2pm.

Zine fair
Channel your ‘90s DIY spirit at this tribute to small press, zines and printed ephemera. It might inspire you to make your own.
Hunter Design School S, October 5, 11am–5pm.

Where I’m going, where I’ve gone
If you haven’t picked up a volume of poetry since high-school English, writers such as spoken-word poet Loren Elizabeth and hip-hop artist Omar Musa – who’s drawing acclaim for his blistering first novel, Here Come the Dogs – prove why this often-overlooked genre is home to some of the most virtuosic writing today.
Royal Exchange, October 4, 11am.

Epic word-nerd battledome
Featuring the likes of Lawrence Leung and Ben McKenzie, this attempt to uncover the festival’s champion writer is equal parts spelling bee and Hunger Games.
Cambridge Hotel, October 5, 6pm

The National Young Writer’s Festival runs from October 2–5.