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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.

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.

The one thing I wish I’d known when I started: 16 children’s and YA authors reveal all

The one thing I wish I’d known when I started: 16 children’s and YA authors reveal all

“What’s the one thing you wish you’d known when you started out as an author?”

It’s a big question, and one I’ve been toying with over the past week.

The problem is, there are just SO many things I wish I’d known. Narrowing it down to one seems impossible.

So I decided to get some help to articulate my thoughts, and rounded up some of Australia’s best and most popular children’s and YA authors to answer that question for me. To create a kind of encyclopaedia of super tips for beginner writers.

And I’m so glad I did, because this post contains some of the most insightful advice that any aspiring or beginner author, of any type or genre, could ever ask for. I wish I’d known every single one of these things when I started out.

Mostly, though, I just wish I’d known how very much I didn’t know.

 

16 Australian children’s and YA authors share the one thing they wish they’d known when they started 

 

 

Jackie French

Jackie French children's author tips“What I wish I’d known when I began? Everything!

I found a publisher under ‘P’ for publishers in the phone book – the first one was Angus and Robertson, who I still publish with. My manuscript was so badly spelled  and on a machine lacking a working ‘e’ that they pulled it out to laugh at. I didn’t even know what genre I was working in.

These days I dutifully tell beginning authors to research their genre; to see what kind of manuscript a publisher is looking for, and  to use their spell checker, then check their spell checker hasn’t changed their ‘camels’ into ‘condoms.’

But you know what? None of that matters in the long run. If your writing is compelling and saleable it will be accepted.  If it so good that the reader HAS to turn the next page, the publisher will probably refer you to another company if they don’t publish your genre. Editors are editors because they love books, and will go to extraordinary lengths to help a writer of brilliant promise.

You are a writer. Write. Write well, and then rewrite, rewrite and rewrite. Don’t write what you think publishers want, as thousands of others will be writing the same. Write the story that has its teeth in your throat and won’t let go till it is words on the page.

PS. If the editor says ‘that bit doesn’t work’ believe them. An editor may not know exactly how to fix the problem, but if it doesn’t work for them, it won’t for the public either. Never think that because you are ‘the writer’ that the book is yours. The words are yours, but the book is created by an editorial team, the marketing team, the design team, the proofreaders and many others. I always feel guilty that only my name is on the title page, and feel forever blessed that my words are taken by the team to work on.”

Jackie French is the author of ‘around 300’ books for children, YA and adults. Her latest releases are Christmas Always Comes (PB, ill. Bruce Whatley) and No Hearts of Gold (adult fiction). Find out more about Jackie here

 
 

 

Jack Heath

Jack Heath children's author tips“There’s a lot I wish I’d known when I started my career as a (very) young writer, but the main thing is this: “no-one cares what you think.”

I wasted a lot of time blogging, making Youtube videos and tweeting. It was important to me that my views on every topic – politics, science, the environment, life – were public knowledge.

I saw myself as a social commentator – but I realise now that I was a novelist.

People didn’t like me, they liked my novels. I should have spent my time working on my books, rather than play-acting as a celebrity.

In a broader sense, I should have focused on writing, rather than being a writer.”

Jack Heath is the author of 37 books for children and adults. His latest release for children is Kid President Totally Rules!. Find out more about Jack here.

 

 

Pip Harry

Pip Harry children's author tips“As an emerging writer, I thought that when I cracked an elusive publishing deal, all the rejections (so many rejections) would be behind me. That shiny debut novel would be my golden ticket to open doors and yesses. To festival invites, prestigious fellowships and award ceremonies. My ‘thanks but no thanks days’ would be a thing of the past. Surely?

But even as I snagged that exciting first book deal and built a career as a YA and middle -grade author, the set-backs, knock backs and failures stuck around.

Hello, rejection, my old friend.

Even as I put the finishing touches on my seventh children’s book, I’m still getting brutal (sometimes baffling) ‘not right for our list’ emails from all corners of the globe. Sometimes they sting a little, but I usually bin them and move on quicker than I would’ve ever believed possible as a younger, more fragile writer.

Instead of crying into a tub of cookies ‘n’ cream and shredding my latest manuscript when I miss out, I accept that all art is subjective. Some people will love my work, others not so much. C’est la vie. Better to be brave, take chances and back yourself and your ideas, than believe the naysayers and critics.

To be a successful author, long term, you have to reinvent yourself often, try new things and be ready for the disappointments when they come – and oh boy, they will. Have a few writing pals on hand to commiserate when you don’t hit the bullseye. But know, in your heart, the stories you’re telling are important, sometimes vital, and they will find an audience.”

Pip Harry is the author of seven children’s and YA novels. Her latest release is Are you there, Buddha? for middle-grade readers. Find out more about Pip here.

 

 

Gary Lonesborough

Gary Lonesborough author tips“The one thing I wish I’d known before I started was how long publishing takes and that I would need to read my book over and over and over again.

It was a year and a few months from signing the contract to the book being published and it was really hard to predict what my life would look like by the time the book came out. I didn’t know where I would be living, what I would be doing, what job I would have.

Having to read the story over and over was interesting, as I would find myself excited to learn new things and come up with new ideas while, at the same time, really just wanting to get to the end.

By the time we had finished editing, I was ready to never read the book again.”

Gary Lonesborough’s debut YA novel The Boy From The Mish was released in February 2021. Find out more about Gary here

 

 

 

Nat Amoore

Nat Amoore children's author tips“I wish I’d known the weird tightrope I would end up walking between taking advice and forging my own path. I did all the ‘things’ – taking courses, attending festivals, talking to people in the industry, reading the books, listening to the podcasts – but when I actually found myself ‘in’ the industry, I realised I had to pull a Frank Sinatra and do it my way.

I’m not saying don’t listen to the advice. But listen and be ready to set it aside if it doesn’t line up with who you want to be as a creator.

I discovered that some advice I’d heard over and over during the proceeding years, didn’t gel with how I wanted to exist in the kids book world. And that’s because many different creators have a completely different focuses.

So know what your focus is, keep that focus, and make your own decisions based around that. And sometimes that takes bravery. So be brave. Nobody owns your career or your art but you.”

Nat Amoore is the author of three middle-grade novels. Her latest release is The Right Way To Rock. Find out more about Nat here.

 

 

 

Jenna Guillaume

Jenna Guillaume children's author tips“The one thing I wish I’d known when I started writing is that it doesn’t get any easier. Sorry if that’s terrible news! But you don’t magically get more time or energy or ideas or confidence once you’re published.

If anything, you have less time, less energy, more self doubt… Maybe that’s just me and my brain?

But what I’ve learned is that I still need to make the time and create a space for myself to write, and to prioritise the writing and enjoying the process over the “business” side of things. It’s easier said than done, but so important and ultimately what is most satisfying.”

Jenna Guillaume is the author of two YA novels and a novella. Her latest release is The Deep End, an Australia Reads special-edition novella. Find out more about Jenna here.

 

 

 

 

Will Kostakis

Will Kostakis children's author tips“After signing to my first publisher, I was given a stack of books to read and told to come back with a sense of which author I wanted to be like.

I chose one author I admired, they nudged me towards another.

As a grateful 17-year-old, I was like, “Sure!” And the editorial process was who I wanted to be wrestling with who they wanted me to be. The book suffered.

After it failed to set the world ablaze, I worked on my craft and found a publisher who believed in my vision of who I could be, and supported that. The result was a novel that better reflected me. But it was a reintroduction, it came after a five-year hiatus and the publisher nudged me towards changing my name (William Kostakis became Will Kostakis)…

I know all the talk of personal branding is dehumanising (we’re people, not products!) but there’s a reason for it. I know we all like to pretend we like to be challenged, stimulated and surprised as consumers, but deep down, we really don’t. We like the taste of Coke as it is. We like movies that reheat familiar beats.

When you have a favourite author, you know what you expect from them. If you pick up their latest book and it isn’t what you expect, you’re a little annoyed. I had plenty of those experiences as a reader, but as a writer, even though I was perceived as the author I always wanted to be, I felt stifled by what a Will Kostakis novel was.

So I kept the broad strokes and added the fantastical. While I refined my craft and added to my toolkit, and found new readers … those who entered a bookstore for the new Will Kostakis novel they expected were let down. I hadn’t built strong enough foundations to experiment.

All this is a long-winded way of saying: Ask yourself who you want to be. What kinds of books do you write? What themes do you explore? That first book of yours needs to capture that, and the next few need to echo it.

Find your niche, but build a strong foundation before you really experiment, because in today’s industry, we’re building houses of cards. Considering how long it takes to write and release books, rebuilding can take years.”

Will Kostakis is the author of six YA novels. His latest novel is Rebel Gods, book #2 in the Monuments series. Find out more about Will here.

 

 

 

Alexa Moses

Alexa Moses children's author tipsI wish I’d known that publication wouldn’t be the meat that would sustain me. Of course publication is a necessary first step in a career, but it’s not the panacea I’d  imagined. The real nourishment comes from the work itself.

One of the hardest parts of being a writer, for me, is the week after I finish a manuscript. Off the email shoots, and the characters and world that have occupied me for months vanish.

I should be celebrating but that’s when I fall into a slump.

I drift around the house letting cups of coffee go cold. I lie on the rug beside the dog, certain I’ll never write anything good again. I’d thought being a ‘published’ author would fill that hole but it doesn’t. I’m not myself again until I catch a new story.”

Alexa Moses is the author of six books for children, from picture books to middle grade. Her latest middle-grade novel is Michaela Mason’s Big List of Camp Worries. Find out more about Alexa here.

 

 

 

Inda Ahmad Zahri

Inda Ahmad Zahri author tips“If I had known how invaluable rejections were in this gig, I would’ve spent less time down in the dumps every time one came my way.

A kind of alchemy happens when you flip that ‘No’ – embrace it, own it, use it. It leads to better writing, better ideas, better stories, and eventually, a rightful home.”

Inda Ahmad Zahri is the author of five picture books – two published and three on the way.

Her latest release is Night Lights (ill. Lesley McGee). Find out more about Inda here.

 

 

 

 

 
Mark Smith

Mark Smith children's author tips“The thing I wish I had known before I was published was that I would actually be running a small business – with me at the centre of it – once my book came out.

I had naively thought once the book was released, I’d be free to move on and get stuck into my next project. In reality, the most time-consuming (but also enjoyable and rewarding) part of being an author is just beginning in the run up to publication day.

You get to meet your readers, booksellers and interviewers and share the project you’ve been working on for so long. But, as a consequence, your writing takes a back seat.

You have a window of about six weeks when the publicity and marketing teams will be working overtime to to get your book some traction in the market, but after that, it’s largely up to you. And, of course, that next project is still waiting.”

Mark Smith is the author of four YA novels. His latest release is If Not Us. Find out more about Mark here.

 

 

 

Allison Rushby

ALLISON Rushby children's author tips“I wish I’d been more attuned to listening to my writer gut before making changes to my work. There’s a lot of personal opinion in publishing and I think at the beginning of my career I was too ready to change my work to take in every little comment I received from an agent/publisher/editor/other writer about my writing.

Of course, when you hear the same thing over and over again from different sources (for example, your protagonist is too whiney, the end of your novel too rushed etc.), it’s well worth listening to what people are telling you and make changes accordingly. However, it’s also good to know that sometimes one person’s opinion is just that – one person’s opinion.

I had a novel out on submission a while ago where the feedback was a great example of this. I had one editor say they loved the voice, while another didn’t love the voice. Another editor thought the pacing of my mystery was too slow, another thought it was “solid”. One editor loved the start, another thought I’d started in the wrong place.

It’s very easy to run off and start changing your manuscript, but sometimes you find you end up not changing it for the better.

Allison Rushby has written 30+ books for children, young adults and adults. Her latest release is When This Bell Rings, a middle-grade novel. Find out more about Allison here.

 

 

 

Oliver Phommavanh

Oliver Phommavanh children's author tips‘Value your work. Don’t do free stuff all the time, hoping that it’ll pay off someday.

When you put a price on your work, you’re letting the world know that you’re serious about what you do.’

Oliver Phommavanh is the author of ten books for children. His latest release is Brain Freeze.

Find out more about Oliver here.

 

 

 

 

Jacqueline Harvey

Jacqueline Harvey children's author tips“The one thing I wish I’d known when I started was that you really have to manage your expectations. One book (most likely) won’t make a career (unless your initials are JKR). You will have to work consistently hard over a long period of time to ‘make it’ as a children’s author and even then there are no guarantees.

Heed advice from publishers and editors – but make sure that you write the stories that make your heart sing.”

Jacqueline Harvey is the author of 48 books for children. Her latest release is middle-grade novel Kensy and Max: High Voltage, with a picture book, That Cat, coming in 2022.

Find out more about Jacqueline here.

 

 

 

 

 

Lesley Gibbes

Lesley Gibbes children's author tips“When I first started writing I was 40 with a new born baby and an 18 month old. I knew nothing about the industry so some of my concerns were really grassroots. My main concerns were ‘am I too old?’ and ‘if I can’t illustrate can I be a picture book author?’.

I’m so glad I reached out to the writing community and found out.

So I would tell my newbie self ‘no, you’re not too old, all you need is a great manuscripts and no, you don’t need to be an illustrator to write picture books the publishing house will find one for you’.

Another thing I wish I had known sooner was how absolutely fabulously lovely all the authors, illustrators, agents, editors and publishers are. It’s a wonderfully supportive community of people who genuinely want to see you succeed and celebrate your achievements. Why did I wait so long?”

Lesley Gibbes is the author of 14 books for children, including picture books and junior fiction. Her latest release is Dinosaur Dads (ill. Marjorie Crosby-Fairall), with a new paperback edition of Searching For Cicadas out in January 2022. Find out more about Lesley here.

 

 

 

Kate Foster

Kate Foster children's author tips“A thing I wish I’d known before starting my writing career is that the days I don’t write any words (or the words I do write are truly terrible!) are equally as important as the days I produce thousands of words.

I always knew thinking days were essential, but as I develop as a writer I realise it’s nearly always these days when I emerge from the forest with clearer visions, plot points fixed, fresh ideas to try out, and with less pressure to achieve perfection.

People say write every day, but that doesn’t work for me.”

Kate Foster is the author of five books for children (one out now, four on the way). Her latest release, Paws, was published in April 2021, with a new novel, The Bravest Word, coming in May 2022.

Find out more about Kate here.

 

 

 

 

Tim Harris

Tim Harris children's author tips“The one thing I wish I knew is that it’s okay to be yourself. During the drafting of many of my first short stories, I remember questioning whether the writing was ‘Paul Jennings’ enough.

It took a surprisingly long time to understand the importance of finding a unique writing voice.”

Tim Harris is the author of 12 novels for children. His next release is Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables Join Forces (out on 1 March 2022).

Find out more about Tim here.

 

 

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A L Tait The Fire StarAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher, and a new ‘almost history’ detective series called the Maven & Reeve Mysteries (you’ll find book #1 THE FIRE STAR here).

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

If you want more insider secrets on being a children’s author, don’t miss my new one-hour course, created with Sue Whiting. Called ‘7 Things You Must Know To Be A Children’s Author’ it’s your short-cut to career success. Find out more 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.

8 practical writing tips to try today

8 practical writing tips to try today

As the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast approaches its 400th episode, I’ve been thinking about all the golden writing tips I’ve heard over the years.

I’ve shared many of them here on this blog (most recently here), but it seems that every episode throws up a new nugget of practical writing advice that either reinforces what I know I should be doing, or adds something entirely new to the mix.

I wholly recommend listening to the author interviews on the podcast in full – you simply never know which words will turn the key in the lock for you – (and you’ll find them all here), but in the meantime, here are eight more writing tips you can start using today.

Click the author name and episode number to go directly to that episode.

 

Put it out there

“Tell everyone that you’re a writer. Once you put it out there, you have to put your money where your mouth is and write.”

Christie Nieman, episode 349

 

Allow yourself time to breathe

“Be patient. It’s a long, protracted, difficult process, trying to tease a novel into being, so allow yourself the time to develop something of merit and worth. Don’t worry about word counts, or volume, or any of these things that are largely extraneous, they do not matter. More often than not, if you’re writing to a word count, all you’re doing is presenting yourself with more editing work.

So just be careful about what you put down on the page and allow yourself the time to breathe and think and, and, and plot things out slowly.”

Craig Silvey, episode 352

 

Learn to force it

“I used to write as a hobby, which meant that when I felt like writing, I would write and I would enjoy it. And if I didn’t feel like writing, I wouldn’t do it because you only have to do a hobby when you want to.

[Part of being a professional writer] is learning to force it when you’re not feeling it. I think there is a lot of nonsense around creativity; that you have to be feeling it and you have to have a Muse and all that kind of stuff.

[For me], it’s a job and you have to treat it like any other job. You do it when you have to do it.

And the only way you can get better at that is through practise.”

Lili Wilkinson, episode 359

 

Be prepared to edit

“No book is ever perfect in the first draft. How can it be when you’ve made up an entire world out of nowhere? You’ve created a whole set of lives and stories out of nowhere and you’re never going to get it right first time. So you have to be prepared to edit. And to know that that’s what every writer goes through.”

Monica McInerney, episode 363

 

Mortals can do it

“I think growing up with a published writer [Thomas Keneally] in the family taught me one important thing, which is that mortals can actually do it.

If I hadn’t had an example, in my own family, of an actual flesh and blood human who could actually write, I would have thought that [writers] were all gods and it was all beyond me.

But seeing that the person who gave me piggyback rides was able to write and get published and have a successful career showed me that it could be done.”

Meg Keneally, episode 367

 

Listen to the girls in the basement

“The third book in The Rogues trilogy was a book that I probably plotted more intensively than I have ever plotted anything before. And yet, unexpected things still happened. And some of those unexpected things were the most beautiful things in the book and were the things that I ended up most pleased with and most intrigued by.

So it’s a matter of letting myself be loose enough in my writing, letting myself be unconscious enough in my writing, letting what I’ve heard described as the girls in the basement speak up in unexpected moments.

Even when you’re in the middle of writing something, you’ve got to allow space for them. Because that’s when the valuable stuff comes.That’s when characters become their most individual. And it’s when the world becomes its most intriguing. Let those girls speak up.”

Lian Tanner, episode 369

 

Be open to feedback

“Always be open to feedback, because there are two halves to a story. There’s what you think you’ve written and what somebody reads.

The whole point of being a good writer, it’s not about being verbose, it’s not about being clever. It’s about reducing the gap between what you think you’ve written and what people actually read.”

Will Kostakis, episode 379

 

Finish the work

“Finish the work. I think that’s really important. Especially when you’re writing early drafts. That’s what works for me, finishing the work, even though I might think that that early draft is terrible. I can always revise it later.”

Remy Lai, episode 383

 

So You Want To Be a Writer bookAre 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 So You Want To Be A Writer podcast for more practical 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.

 

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