How do I get started?
Writers often begin by thinking about the kinds of writing they enjoy reading and what kind of writing they would like to learn more about. When deciding what your next steps should be, QWC recommends that you:
Read widely – this helps you build an understanding of how narrative works and how stories are told. When reading a novel think about how the author introduces characters and setting, and how the plot moves forward. Think about genre (what makes this romance, crime, literary fiction?) and who you think the story was written for (audience).
Engage with different modes of storytelling – it’s important to remember that stories don’t just live in books. Television, plays, radio, magazines, graphic novels, games and blogs all need good writing to entertain and inform.
Explore your ideas – writers are inspired by lots of things, and it can be tricky keeping track of it all. Some writers draw inspiration from their personal experiences, some use music or photographs to get themselves in a creative headspace, and some use research to build the world of their story. No matter what inspires you and your writing, keeping a diary or creative journal can be a great way to record of your ideas and develop them.
Write – maintaining a regular writing practice is one of the best skills you can learn as a writer. Set time aside for you and your writing, free yourself of as many distractions as possible, and write whatever you can. This will be challenging at first, but with regular practice you will find it easier and easier to get started each time. As you gain confidence, you can begin setting yourself activities and targets. As with any skill or craft, the more you practice the better you’ll get.
How do I develop a regular writing practice?
Writing regularly takes discipline and determination. Writers write and authors finish!
There are a few steps you can take to form a regular writing practice which is the foundation for developing as a writer:
- Form creative habits – carry a writing journal (or use your mobile device) to jot down ideas when they come to you.
- Take yourself seriously – if you are serious about becoming a writer you need to give yourself permission to make it a priority. You’ll be surprised what you can achieve in 5-10 minutes a day.
- Find time and space – try to find a regular time and place to write.
- Communicate your goals – tell your friends and family about your writing project and ask for their support.
- Train like an athlete – as you become a writer you need to accept that like training for a marathon, it takes a lot of regular training to improve and reach your goals. A little work every day will pay off in the long run.
QWC has a writers’ guide on developing a regular writing practice.
I want to know more about writing for children & young adults
Children’s literature ranges from books for babies to books for children up to the age of 12. These books are often illustrated, so that the pictures and words work together to tell the story. Categories of children’s literature include: picture books, beginner readers, lower and upper primary, middle grades and educational writing.
If you a writing a children’s picture book and want to know more about illustration take a look at our FAQ on finding an illustrator.)
Young Adult (YA) literature is aimed at a readership aged between 13 and 19. Young Adult books range greatly in length from 30,000 words to 100,000 words. In recent years YA novels have got longer as readers have shown an appetite for longer works particularly in the fantasy genre. Common themes include search for identity, coming of age, sexual awakening, tolerance, peer groups and belonging, first love, dealing with grief, family issues and finding independence.
Communities and additional resources:
How do I find an illustrator for my children’s book?
If you are pitching your manuscript to a traditional publishing house, it is likely the publisher will match your work to an illustrator of their choosing; you won’t need to find one yourself.
If you have written a children’s book and are looking for an illustrator, the resources below may be helpful:
The Style File showcases the work of some of Australia’s most talented book illustrators.
Illustrators Australia is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to strengthen the illustration community, allowing members to browse the portfolio section and commission an illustrator.
If you intend to hire an illustrator, you will need to consider pay rates and / or royalty payments. Recommended rates of pay for illustrators are outlined by the Australian Society of Authors can be found here.
I want to know more about writing poetry
Poetry comes in many forms of expression from readings, slam, spoken word and performance to music and lyrics and collaborations, from the written page or screen to installations, and more.
It is worth noting that there are some scam competitions and aggressive publishing services that target poets. While there are many legitimate companies who will help get your work to your audience, not all have your best interests at heart. These links outline things to be mindful of when submitting your work:
Communities and additional resources:
Small Presses in Australia that currently specialise in publishing and promoting poetry include:
How can I help my child who is interested in writing?
A good first step is to connect with your local library or bookshop to see if they run after-school or holiday programs for children on reading, writing and storytelling in your area. Your child’s teacher or school librarian might also be able to help.
- QWC offers a joint Youth Membership with Express Media
- Brisbane City Council Libraries
- Summer Reading Club
- State Library of Queensland – SLQ also delivers writing events for children and young people. Their What’s On page lists what’s available now and throughout the year
- Brisbane Writers Festival – UPLIT Brisbane Writers Festival is an annual reading and writing event held every September, and offers a range of reading and writing workshops for children as part of the Word Play program.
There are many great resources online for young people interested in stories, like The ABC Splash website, which has activities and free resources available on writing, stories, and other kinds of media.
QWC also recommends the book Juicy Writing: Inspiration and Techniques for Young Writers by Brigid Lowry (ISBN 9781741750485). This is available through our bookshop, or you might be able to request a copy at your school or local library.