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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! 

On being a children’s author, creativity and change

On being a children’s author, creativity and change

Creativity and change. The two things go hand in hand…

In case you missed it, I am no longer co-hosting the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast.

Call it a seven-year itch, if you like, but after 462 episodes the love had gone out of my labour of love, and so I had to break the news to the wonderful Valerie Khoo that I was calling it a day.

I am so proud of what Val and I created together, the help, support and advice we have given aspiring and emerging writers over the years, and the space we made each week for authors to share their thoughts and promote their work.

Val continues to host the podcast solo, so I’m pleased to say that it remains as a go-to for writing and publishing insights. It’s hard to let go when you’ve spent so much time building something so brilliant, but these are the decisions we have to make as creative people and I am looking forward to using that time for other projects.

I’m also coming up with some new ways for you to access all of my writing and publishing knowledge, advice and experience, so stay tuned!

The Your Kid’s Next Read podcast continues to go from strength to strength and I am thrilled to focus on that at present.

Which doesn’t mean I haven’t been out and about chatting about writing in other places…

 

On being a children’s author

Allison Tait writing quoteIrma Gold corralled me on a very honest day for this interview for Secrets From The Green Room, the podcast she co-hosts with Craig Cormick.

We had a very frank discussion about my writing and publishing journey, structural edits, my worst rejection ever and why being a children’s author is like being on the kids’ table at the wedding.

You can listen to the episode here.

 

 

 

 

Creativity and change

Allison Tait Andrew Daddo interviewAs I said at the top of this post, creativity and change go hand in hand. In face, one of the things you need to learn to embrace in a creative life is change – not always easy.

It’s a lesson we’ve all learnt in spades over the past few years, so I welcomed the opportunity to have an in-depth chat about it with author Andrew Daddo for Dani Vee’s Words and Nerds Podcast.

As someone who’s made a living from the ebbs, flows and currents of different forms of creativity across his entire career, Andrew is well positioned to offer some excellent tips about staying afloat.

We talked about rips, writing and being a Daddo, and it was just a chaotic and enjoyable experience. Much like a creative life, I guess.

You can hear it here.

 

 

One thing I’ve realised over the past few years is just how much I like podcasting, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to do more guest spots, both as interviewer and interviewee. I’ll keep you posted!

 

Allison Tait podcastAre 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.

“Don’t kill the dog” plus 13 other useful writing tips

“Don’t kill the dog” plus 13 other useful writing tips

Useful writing tips are not that easy to come by. There’s a lot of ‘read widely’ and ‘write lots’ in the writing advice given out – and for good reason. Those two tips are the cornerstone of any writer’s career.

But when it comes to the nitty gritty, the really useful writing tips, you have to pan a bit harder for the gold.

Which is one reason that Valerie Khoo and I ask every author we interview for the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast for their top three writing tips.

Trawling through the transcripts of 450+ episodes takes a lot of time, so I’ve pulled this selection from more recent episodes.

For hundreds of other tips, check out our book ‘So You Want To Be A Writer: How to get started while you still have a day job’, or listen to all 450+ episodes. There’s an awful lot of gold in there!

You’ll also find practical writing tips here and tips you can start using today here.

In the meantime, click the episode number next to each author’s name below to listen to their full interview.

 

14 useful writing tips from Australian authors

Chris Flynn, ep 337

You’re not always working on the book that you think you’re working on. Sometimes you’ve got a bunch of ideas, and those ideas are parts of different stories. Other times they seem like very different ideas, but they’re actually part of the same story, but you just can’t see it yet.

Loads of writers will write hundreds of thousands of words before they can see where the 60,000-word story is.

You need to keep going.”

 

Katherine Firkin, ep 341

It doesn’t have to be fun. Quite often I see [on social media], the comment that if you’re not enjoying [the writing], you shouldn’t do it. And I understand people mean well, but I think you need to push through. I remember going through my second and third draft hating myself, hating life, hating my writing, but I pushed through because I had made that commitment to myself to get it done.

It doesn’t always have to be fun, and it’s not always going to be fun. But you need to treat it as a job, drag yourself to the desk and get it done.”

 

Christie Nieman, ep 349

“Tell people you’re a writer. Once you put it out there, you’ve got to put your money where your mouth is.”

 

Meg Keneally, ep 367

I have to know three things about every character that I write and make sure that I know them intimately: what they love, what they fear, and what they want.

As in what they really want, not what they think they want or what they appear to superficially want, but what is really driving them.

If you can answer those questions, and if you spend a bit of time interrogating yourself about the answers to those questions, then it automatically leads to characters which are more fleshed out. And it leads you through the story as well. Because that last one, what they want, is what’s going to drag your character through the story so that you can torture them, as we like to do, and throw up obstacle after obstacle that they have to overcome.

Torturing characters is fun.”

 

Lian Tanner, ep 369

“Learn to take criticism. It’s absolutely crucial. If somebody gives you criticism, you don’t always need to take it, but you do need to think about it . Look very seriously at what they said, and try and improve your work in the light of what they said.”

 

Benjamin Stevenson, ep 373

Don’t kill the dog. Because people don’t like it when you kill animals in books and films. So avoid the household pet. Humans, they’re up for grabs, but household pets, definitely not.”

 

Will Kostakis, ep 379

Write for joy. Write the truth and write for joy. Don’t write for money, because you will likely be sorely disappointed.

Write because it lights a fire inside of you. And that is where success comes from. If you’ve lit a fire inside of you, the odds are, you know, you’re going to light a fire inside somebody else.”

 

Sophie Green, ep 418

Get out of your own way. We can all put a lot of obstacles in our paths, including saying that we’re not good enough to do whatever it is we want to do.

We can trip ourselves up with those obstacles. And we can keep tripping ourselves up for the rest of our lives if we want.

But ultimately, if you do want to write something, and complete it and show it to people, you need to get out of your own way.”

 

Tim Ayliffe, ep 426

Never be afraid to hit delete. I think that sometimes we can spend a lot of time trying to polish something that isn’t quite there, or rewriting and rewriting because we think that will improve it.

But one of the most difficult lessons I’ve learned is that if you’ve written yourself into a corner, don’t try to get out of it. Just delete the corner and start again.”

 

Karen Wyld, ep 430

Break down the barriers for yourself and others. Even if you’re not aware of those barriers, there are others out there who are experiencing them. Learn what they are and bring people up behind you. form your support squad, whether that’s online or in real life. Find your supports.”

 

Matt Murphy, ep 432

Australian history is unwritten. It’s all sitting there, in dusty archives waiting to be unearthed. Look at the work of Tania Bretherton [The Suitcase Baby, The Suicide Bride]. She digs up fantastic Australian history stories and brings them to life. And it’s my honest belief that there are many stories that are sitting there waiting to be unearthed.”

 

Tony Park, ep 433

Do your research retrospectively. Write your manuscript – put all your time and effort into getting your story down and writing it – and put the details in later.

If I don’t know something, whether it’s a fact or a figure, how to fly a helicopter, how to perform emergency surgery, or what type of weapons someone who’s going to use, I just put in a filler. I make it up and I just write a little note to myself in bold – even just the word check in brackets – and then I carry on writing my story.

When I get to the end, and I do my first edit, I go through the manuscript from start to finish. I may or may not still need that piece of information. If I do then I go about finding it.”

 

Amy Suiter Clarke, ep 434

Explore different types of story. There are a lot of craft books out there, but a lot of craft books are written by people with the same experience. So one of the things I tried to do is to make sure that I’m reading books that are written by people who aren’t from Western cultures.

Look for craft books and novels written by authors of colour, and particularly authors of colour from different countries, because you’ll experience different storytelling techniques that are absolutely incredible, and so unpredictable, because you’re not used to reading stories told in that format. It’s such and education, and its enriching as both a writer and a reader.”

 

Kyle Perry, ep 440

“Focus on your sleep. When you get good sleep, your brain does all this amazing stuff, especially in dream sleep, in REM sleep, and your creativity is hindered if you don’t get enough sleep.

I’ve noticed that if I am not looking at my sleep, my writing just falls apart like threads. And I don’t think enough creatives are encouraged to prioritise their sleep because we are taught to ‘get out there and hustle’. Whereas in reality, if you sleep, I guarantee you’ll see greater output.”

 

Allison Tait podcastAre 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

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

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