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Creativity can be managed – here’s how

Creativity can be managed – here’s how

“I’m waiting for creativity to strike.”

“I’m waiting for the Muse.”

“I’m not feeling inspired.”

Creativity is often thought of as something that ‘happens’ to us – not something that we make happen.

But, in this list of top 10 tips for writers, bestselling author Graeme Simsion says that creativity can be managed.

I wanted to know more about this idea so, in this snippet from our recent interview, available exclusively in the Write With Allison Tait online community, I asked him to explain exactly what he meant by that.

 

 

 

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait and you can find out more about me here and more about my online writing courses here.

Subscribe to my newsletter for updates, insights and more amazing writing advice.

Or check out So You Want To Be A Writer (the book), where my co-author Valerie Khoo and I have distilled the best tips from hundreds of author and industry expert interviews. Find out more and buy it here.

Come and write with me!

Come and write with me!

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve established a new online writing group called Write With Allison Tait.

For over a decade now, I’ve been sharing my journey as a writer, my tips and tricks, my highs and lows, my inspiration and, especially, information for over a decade now.

I’ve written countless posts here on this blog, as well as guest posts for sites such as the Australian Writers’ Centre, Write To Done, The Creative Penn, Anne R. Allen and more.

I talked endlessly on the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast for 462 episodes across seven years and two million downloads, and co-wrote a book of the same name with my co-host Valerie Khoo.

I’ve taught classes and workshops for writers of all ages, spoken at conferences and festivals, mentored and coached, coaxed and cheerled.

I bring a background in journalism, writing non-fiction books, writing fiction for adults, writing fiction for children, content writing, blogging, podcasting, speaking, social media, editing… you name it, when it comes to writing and publishing, chances are I’ve done it.

Now, I’m bringing all of my knowledge, experience and expertise into one spot.

 

Introducing Write With Allison Tait

 

WRITE WITH ALLISON TAIT, is my new paid Facebook community for writers of all kinds, at all levels.

My key words when creating the group were these: Information. Inspiration. Motivation. Connection.

That’s what you’ll find there.

You can find all the details and join here, but here’s a taste of what’s on offer:

•Monthly livestream ACCESS AL AREAS (see what I did there) Q&A sessions with me

Quote from member Alison after our first session: “Thanks for a great start, Al, 60 minutes of gold already in the bank!”  

•Monthly Industry Insider interviews (prerecorded video and livestream) – my first one is Monday 16 May with GRAEME SIMSION, and I have an exciting schedule planned

Practical writing tips and advice – I’ll be in the group regularly offering my thoughts and answers to questions

•A library of articles, posts and interviews, regularly updatedabout everything from how to get a book written to how to build your brand as an author

Connection with likeminded people who are on the same writing journey as you are

Accountability within a supportive environment

Motivation – I’ll be running my #writeabookwithal challenges inside this group

News and updates about competitions, submission opportunities and more

It’s a brilliant, supportive community of writers and I do hope you’ll join me. All the details are here.

 

Allison Tait how to be a children's author Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait and you can find out more about me here and more about my online writing courses here.

Or check out So You Want To Be A Writer (the book), where my co-author Valerie Khoo and I have distilled the best tips from hundreds of author and industry expert interviews. Find out more and buy it here.

Graeme Simsion’s Top 10 Tips For Writers

Graeme Simsion’s Top 10 Tips For Writers

Graeme Simsion is not only the author of The Novel Project, a new writing craft book, and a bunch of international bestselling books, he’s also a very generous soul.

When Valerie Khoo and I began our So You Want To Be A Writer podcast all those years ago, Graeme was my very first interview in episode #1, revealing many tips along with discussions about a duck suit.

When we celebrated 100 episodes (still many years ago, as we had recorded well over 460 episodes when I said farewell last year, as well as clocking up over two million downloads), Graeme, by that stage, a multi-international bestselling author, graciously popped back for an update on his stellar career, talking about the joys (and jitters) of following up his incredibly popular debut novel, The Rosie Project.

And now that I’m starting Write With Allison Tait, Graeme has kindly agreed to be my very first guest expert, a session that will feature in the group in May (I have such an exciting schedule of guests I can hardly contain myself!).

It’s almost like he’s put me on his To Do list as The Allison Project and I am so grateful for his support.

As a taster, Graeme has compiled his top 10 writing tips, shared below.

 

Ten Writing Tips from Graeme Simsion

1.     Know why you’re writing. And what you want.

Some writers want a bestseller, some critical acclaim, some to change the world. Some write for the pure joy of writing, and some write for therapy. Accept that if you’re aiming to do one, it’s likely you won’t achieve the others. Don’t complain when you don’t. (Whenever someone tells me their novel is semi-autobiographical, I push them to explain whether they’re writing for therapy or publication. ‘Both’ is seldom a realistic answer.)

 

2.     Writing can be taught and learnt.

I shouldn’t need to say this: to me it’s obvious that you can improve your writing by learning theory, practising and getting feedback. Yes, there are people who can write a book without any study, and people who will never write a good book no matter how much they study, but study will make both of them better writers than they would have been.

Practically, join a course and / or a writing group. Read about writing, do lots of it, read others’ work critically, get your own work critiqued.

 

3.     Learn the language of storytelling.

Which is, to a large extent, the language of story structure. You need words to be able to critique and accept criticism, and, more importantly, to articulate what you’re doing or trying to do.

Writers in my experience are far more literate about sentence structure than story structure. (Screenwriters are the opposite). You need both.

Did I mention that story is important, at least if you want your book to sell?

 

4.     You need a process.

It can be as simple as ‘sit down and wait for the words to come’ or as  complex as you need to make it. I use the nine-stage process described in The Novel Project.

The important things are that (a) each day when you start work, you know what you’re going to be doing and (b) that you revise your process after each project to reflect what you’ve learned.

 

5.     If your process isn’t working, change it.

In particular, writing by the seat of your pants (‘pantsing’) is a choice, not an identity. I see so many writers getting stuck, typically at around 30,000 words, abandoning their work, starting again…almost inevitably they’re working without a plan.

Maybe time to think about modifying your process to include a planning stage.

 

6.     You don’t have to write every day.

Many of the (possible) stages in writing a novel are not about getting words on the page.

Before the drafting you may be devoting time to  concept, title, character, plot points and an overall plan. Afterwards, there’s editing.

Throughout, there’s problem solving.

Sure, write something else to stay in shape if you want, but a day in which you do nothing but come up with a brilliant title or decide it’d be better if two characters were combined is a good day.

 

7.     Creativity can be managed.

There are many practical techniques to improve your creativity. Start with noting when you have your good ideas, including solutions to problems. (Often it’s while doing some routine, non-intellectual activity such as walking or driving).

Start thinking about such times as your creative times, and specifically devote them to your biggest creative challenges.

 

8.     Interrogate your characters’ decisions—especially the big ones that drive the story or reveal important information about your character.

Dig deep; why did they do this? Think like a shrink. The answers will give you insight, inform other more minor behaviour by your characters, and often suggest set-ups to make the decisions more convincing and powerful.

 

9.     Show don’t tell is good advice—and amongst the most commonly given.

Failure to follow it is one of the most common problems that writing teachers see. It’s sometimes their own fault for failing to explain exactly what it means—I’m amazed how many writers find it hard to explain or are not sure if they’re doing it.

I see it as writing in scenes: if you can imagine your prose as playing out in a movie, in real time, you’re showing. If not, it’s telling.

 

10.  Believe your editors and early readers when they tell you there’s a problem—no matter how bad the solution they’re proposing.

So when they say, ‘I suggest you change A to B, the message is that A is not working. B may be worse, but that’s not the issue. Your job is to find C.

_________________________

 

Graeme Simsion writing tips

Photo by Darren James

Graeme Simsion is the internationally bestselling author of The Rosie ProjectThe Rosie EffectThe Rosie Result and The Best of Adam Sharp, as well as Don Tillman’s Standardized Meal System, Data Modeling Essentials and, co-authored with Anne Buist, Two Steps Forward and Two Steps Onward.

His latest book is The Novel Project: A Step-by-Step Guide To Your Novel, Memoir or Biography.

 

 

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait and you can find out more about me here and more about my online writing courses here.

For full details about Write With Allison Tait, my new online writing community offering Inspiration, Motivation, Information and Connection, go here

4 new writing books by Australian authors

4 new writing books by Australian authors

Is there anything better than a new writing book to inspire, motivate, inform and entertain?

I’ve written before about my favourite books about writing – heck, I’ve even written a book about being a writer myself – but I’m always happy to discover a new one, and particularly when they’re written by Australian authors.

Because who better to help shape the ideas, words and careers of aspiring Australian writers than those who have trodden a successful path before them?

Fortunately for me, we seem to be experiencing a halcyon moment for writing books of this kind, with four arriving in the mail for me in recent weeks. Here’s a little round-up for you (click the titles to find out more and buy the book at Booktopia).

 

New writing books by Australian authors

 

The Novel Project by Graeme Simsion

four new writing books by Australian authorsSubtitled ‘A step-by-step guide to your novel, memoir or biography’, this book is a lovely, accessible overview of the process of writing a novel from preparation right up to working with an editor.

Graeme Simsion is the author of the internationally bestselling Rosie trilogy, and he draws on his own experiences through each stage, while also offering universally useful tips and advice.

From basic writing principles, such as explaining three-act structure, to the thornier questions every writer must tackle, such as choosing a point of view, this is an accessible and readable guide.

I also like the fact that Graeme points out that the processes described in the book are what’s worked for him (and worked well), but that every writer needs to work through and figure out their own process along the way.

Having made some notes, I’m going to give this one to Book Boy (18), who loves a book about writing, and who, I think, will benefit a lot from this one.

 

What To Do When You Don’t Have A Book Coming Out (& Even More Sage Advice) by Angela Slatter

new writing books by australian authorsAngela Slatter is one of my co-presenters at the Australian Writers’ Centre and, frankly, I love her work. She is funny and sharp and infinitely sensible as a teacher, brilliant as a writer and well worth a follow on Twitter.

I read Angela’s gothic fantasy novel All The Murmuring Bones last year ahead of our interview for So You Want To Be A Writer podcast and was blown away by the spare luxury of her language. I was completely unsurprised when it was recently shortlisted for the 2021 Aurealis Awards.

But I digress. We’re here to talk about writing books, right?

Angela recently released the latest in a series called Writer Chaps, through Brain Jar Press. The series consists of short, specific collections of essays, no thicker than the average book chapter. But packed full of information.

What To Do When You Don’t Have A Book Coming Out is a collection of essays about sustaining your writing career after your book has launched.

I loved it because it is full of the same things that I have been banging on about on this blog for years – the importance of networking for writers, using blog posts and social media to put yourself in front of people, how to use your ‘waiting’ time wisely.

There’s also a very useful section on applying for grants, which is, I admit, an area I haven’t explored much but… why not?

Angela’s first Writer Chap called You Are Not Your Writing & Other Sage Advice is also well worth checking out.

 

Look – it’s your book! by Anna Featherstone

four new writing books by australian authorsThe sub-title on this one says it all: ‘Write, publish and promote your non-fiction book: a self-publishing guide for Australian writers’

Anna Featherstone describes the book as a comprehensive guide for Australian writers, and at 360+ pages, I think the claim is supported.

Covering everything from how to work out what you’re going to write to researching, writing, editing, formatting, publishing and promoting your book, it also goes beyond the creation of the product into … well, everything else that a self-publishing writer needs to know.

And that’s a lot.

I think one of the biggest mistakes writers often make is in thinking that the major work in self-publishing (or, in fact, publishing at all) a book is in the writing.

But the writing is just the beginning and the hard graft of self-publishing (or, in fact, publishing at all) is in finding an audience for that book and then actually getting the book into the hands of people who want to read it.

Anna has been on my radar on social media for many years, and has self-published several books herself, focussing on non-fiction. This book is the book that she couldn’t find to help her along the way.

The one that she hopes will answer the questions an aspiring self-publisher might have before they get to them.

It’s specifically for authors of non-fiction, and the advice within is a nuts-and-bolts overview of the entire process from start to finish. Find out more about it here. 

 

The Writer Laid Bare by Lee Kofman

four new writing books by Australian authorsThe latest addition to my writing shelf is The Writer Laid Bare by Russian-born, Melbourne-based author Lee Kofman, subtitled ‘Mastering Emotional Honesty in a Writer’s Art, Craft and Life’.

Part memoir, part craft book, Kofman deep dives into some of the most difficult-to-pin down aspects of a writer’s life – unearthing your true voice, bringing searing honesty to the page, stilling your mind enough to find space for creativity – as well as the bare, practical truths of the discipline of writing, the need to look after your body as a writer, the ability to fail with grace.

This is a literary approach to writing craft, weaving in the voices and advice of other authors, past and present. I plan to spend some time with it.

It’s that kind of book.

 

 

7 things children's authors must know presentation (Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait and you can find out more about me here and more about my online writing courses here.

In exciting news, I’ll be interviewing three of these authors in coming months in my brand-new online writing community, opening on 2 May 2022.

Find out more here and join my newsletter list to see exactly who’s on the schedule! 

Want to be a children’s author? Here’s what you need to know

Want to be a children’s author? Here’s what you need to know

So you want to be a children’s author?

Before I became a children’s author, I think, like most people, I thought it was just a matter of writing a children’s book.

Write a great book and, voila!, you’re a children’s author.

And it’s true. But also not true.

 

You don’t know what you don’t know

I think back on myself in those months before Race To The End Of The World came out and I blush for 2014 Allison.

I. Knew. Nothing.

And so I learnt how to be a children’s author the hard way. Because, you know what? It’s not easy.

I’ve been lucky, though.

First, I’ve had the benefit of learning from my immediate experience in publishing eight books and the generosity of my circle of children’s author friends.

But, through seven years’ hard work on So You Want To Be A Writer podcast, four years of running the Your Kid’s Next Read community AND nearly a year of creating the Your Kid’s Next Read podcast, I’ve been drowning immersed in the children’s publishing industry.

This year, I’m looking at new ways to share what I know and I’m thrilled to be launching a practical video presentation for aspiring and early career children’s authors.

 

7 things you must know to be a children’s author

Created with award-winning, bestselling author Sue Whiting, the one-hour video presentation is called ‘7 things children’s authors must know’ and is full of the kind of practical knowledge, insider tips and useful information that are usually hard-won through experience.

Plus, there’s a downloadable cheatsheet to help keep you on track.

All for $14.99 (AUD)

You can find out more about the course and buy it here. 

Sue and I hope you love it!

And stand by for further announcements about Creative Coaching Sessions or my brand-new online Write With Allison Tait community, both coming soon! Sign up for my newsletter for an exclusive launch discount.

 

Allison Tait how to be a children's authorAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of middle-grade series, The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher, and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries.

You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

 

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