The week that was: Sydney Writers’ Festival

Posted on May 25, 2015

A.L. Tait Sydney Writers' FestivalWhat a week it’s been! I spent three days at the Sydney Writers’ Festival, immersed in the world of words, and what a wonderful world it is.

My workshop ‘Writing With Children: How to have a novel and a family’ on Wednesday went extremely well, despite a few technical issues (aren’t there always technical issues???).

Main three takeaways from that one:

• You must give yourself permission to write and make it a priority (because no-one else will)

• We’re all busy, all the time, but we can decide what we want to be busy about

• Getting a novel written is all about deeply unsexy things such as routine and discipline. If you wait for the Muse, you’ll never get it done.

I had a wonderful group of writers and the feedback has been fantastic, so I’m thrilled. Relieved and thrilled.

On Thursday I headed off to the State Library for a panel on Social Media for Writers, along with Jan Cornall, Kylie Scott and the effervescent Walter Mason moderating.

Main three takeaways:

• Don’t try to do everything all at once – choose what’s easy for you, and start with that.

• No matter which platform you choose, engage with people, don’t simply blast messages and links at them.

• It’s never too soon to begin. Social media is about time in the game, as much as time spent on the platform.

It was a really fun, lively panel, and I will never forget Walter’s tips for smooth elbows (wear avocado skins on them for a while) – something he learnt via Twitter!

Sunday was Family Day and it was HUGE. I took the boys with me and they were beyond excited to see Andy Griffiths speak (almost as excited as I was to meet him), and loved every minute of the Illustrator Battle Rounds. We visited Belinda Murrell in her Magic Garden, and I had a chance to read my book (as well as a Famous Five adventure) in the Enid Blyton StoryTime Clubhouse (that’s me reading in the photo, supplied by the lovely Emma Noble). Seriously, it was like being part of the Secret Seven.

I have no takeaways from Sunday, beyond the fact that kids are the best fans and being at Sydney Writers’ Festival wearing a participant’s lanyard was one of the most exciting experiences of my writing life to date.

And now, back to the computer…


  1. Vivienne

    A great summary. The social media tips are very helpful – it can feel overwhelming but these tips are very grounding.

  2. Zoe | A Quirky Bird

    I love,
    “You must give yourself permission to write and make it a priority (because no-one else will).”

    I’ve recently embraced that and now get up at 4.30am to get some daily writing in. Zoe xx

    • Allison Tait

      Brilliant Zoe! I’m so impressed by early risers…

  3. Vanessa

    The avocado trick intrigues me. I might have to try that.

    • Allison Tait

      I KNOW! I’m just not sure I’m that committed to smooth elbows…

  4. Christine @ Adventure, Baby!

    I missed the whole writer’s festival – poor planning on my behalf to go away at the same time. I wish I’d been to your session. I’m very very slowly writing a book and your advice is great. I totally agree with your “busy” statement. There is usually the time for things you deem the most important with some shuffling around and sacrifice.

    • Allison Tait

      It was great – but the best thing about it is that it happens every year! By next year, you’ll be just that much more advanced with your own project. 🙂

  5. Bel

    I started to carve out writing time about a month ago, and I’m loving it, I look forward to my two hours every Friday to put words to paper. And Andy Griffiths is one of my faves as a teacher, every year I start by reading his chapter called Shut Up, I make sure there are a couple of kids chatting up the back and I scream it at the top of my lungs……shocked faces appear and I then display the book and say “what? That’s what the chapter is called”. Hooks them in that’s for sure!

  6. Rowena Sierant

    I learned so much and felt so inspired after your workshop (at Nowra Library). It really made me think about where I want to be as a writer…now…in a month…in a year….and so on. Since then I have been pumping out that first draft – FIRST…. The other stuff in life, that was getting in the way, can come afterwards.
    Thank you for giving so generously of your time, knowledge and self.

    • Allison Tait

      Aw, thanks Rowena. I’m so pleased to hear that you’re making progress!

  7. Jodi Gibson (JF Gibson Writer)

    You must give yourself permission to write and make it a priority (because no-one else will) — I need to read this Every. Single. Day.

    • Allison Tait

      I need to create an automated email system that just sends it out regularly!

  8. Karen

    I gained so much from travelling from Melbourne to be part of your Writing with Children workshop, Allison – more than three takeaways! Thank you for sharing all your wisdom and knowledge – I am off to a flying start this week.

    • Allison Tait

      Oh, that’s SO brilliant to hear, Karen! Thanks for making such a huge effort to come. 🙂

  9. Maxabella

    I wish I could have been there. x

  10. Collette

    HI Allison,
    Both your Sydney Writers’ Festival events sound great. Both your workshop and the panel you were on are exactly the type of things I’d be really to keen to get to – but with three children of my own a quick trip to Sydney was not on the cards. So I’d love to hear if you are planning to be part of the Melbourne Writers’ Festival as well.

    • Allison Tait

      I would love to, Collette, but it depends very much on the organisers! 🙂

  11. Cheryl Rosario

    Today I made a decision and gave myself the ability to tackle things in small doses, leaving plenty of writing time. I’m finally starting to take control so I don’t feel guilty when I take time out to write. Day one, starting with small steps but at least I’m starting.

    • Allison Tait

      That’s the way to do it – eat that elephant one bite at a time! Good luck – and well done for starting! The starting is sometimes the hardest bit!

  12. Erin

    Love your takeaways:) Love hearing all about the weekend, sounds absolutely awesome!

  13. Tracy

    I was just sitting in my little courtyard thinking, I’d love to just grab my laptop and write but that I probably should work on my admin/accounts etc., when your email dropped into my inbox. Reading your post gave me instant permission to write, I’ll just grab a glass of Rosé before I start! Thank you Alison

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