When my kids were little I read them thousands of picture books (well, it may have been the same book read over and over, those days are a little hazy!) and over the years I developed a feel for the rhythm and form of a picture book. Then I started to get my own story ideas which were scribbled down on bits of paper and post-it notes. When my youngest child started in kindy I decided to do something about these ideas by starting with two short online courses. I learnt the basics of writing and moved onto wanting to try writing a novel. I approached my writing teacher and got started working on a three month mentorship. Mentorships are great for people starting out as it is a great way to get support and guidance in those crucial early stages.
What were your greatest obstacles starting out? How did you overcome them?
Prioritising my writing and motivating myself. Nobody else cares if you write or not. Learn the basics, do some courses and make sure you have a good grasp of the basic principles of writing before embarking on a big project. Join a writers group or critique group and find those who are willing to encourage and support you.
How do you keep yourself motivated and disciplined?
You really need to be your own taskmaster when it comes to writing. I’ve found giving myself deadlines or making myself accountable by telling other people my writing goals keeps me on track.
How do you manage your writing time with everything else you do? How has that changed from when you were starting out?
Most people have busy lives and there is always something/someone else vying for your time and head space When I first started out I would get up early or work at my computer after the kids had gone to bed. Now I tend to work during 9-3 when the kids are at school. . I find its best not to view writing as having to compete with family or work commitments.
Where do you write? How do you arrange your working space?
I write either at my kitchen table or at my local church. Not kidding! I have been given permission to access a tiny room at the back of the church so I can write in peace. The room is internet free and has nothing in it but a desk and some chairs. I earmark my writing time and set off with a coffee thermos and some snacks. Perfect. As long as I have a clear space on my desk for my laptop, I’m happy.
What are your essential writing tools?
Computer, pen, paper and some quiet in which to daydream.
What’s the one thing you wish you’d known when you were starting out as a writer?
How long everything takes. This includes learning the basics of writing, waiting to hear back from submissions through to developing networks with fellow writers and people in the publishing industry. It all takes time but it’s worth it!
What do you read and how do you read as a writer?
I read a lot of young adult and children’s fiction but really I’m a bit of a book floozy and will read pretty much anything that catches my eye. I do tend to have a bias towards Australian women writers and I’m continually amazed at the quality of work produced by Aussies. Reading great writing always spurs me on to expect more from my own writing. It teaches me not to settle, to experiment and to look for ways in which I can improve.
How do you overcome ‘writer’s block’?
I try to think of writer’s block as just a part of the writing process. It’s really just my mind saying that more thinking is required before I can proceed. It can be frustrating but finding a way through and coming up with a solution gives me a real thrill and is part of the reason I love writing.
What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Every journey is different. If you’re willing to be persistent, work hard, be patient and generous you will make progress and hopefully have some fun along the way too.
Elizabeth Kasmer lives on the Sunshine Coast with her husband, three mini ninjas (cleverly disguised as boys), a dog and a snake. Becoming Aurora is her first novel and the first young adult work to win the Queensland Literary Awards Best Emerging Author prize since it was established in 1999.