Novella Writing by Nick Earls

Any time we think of the novella in terms of being between things – between the short story and the novel, typically – we miss what can be great about it and we miss a chance to become better at writing it. Take a good close look at it specifically, and at the tools that work best for it, and we maximise our chances of turning out compelling work.

For the reader, the novella is an evening away from Netflix and devices. It’s a plane flight from Brisbane to Cairns. It’s a movie-length read. It gets you in deeper than a short story typically can, it goes to work on you like a novel, but it lets you out the other end the same night. Two-thirds of Australians say they want to read more and here, in a hectic life with novels piling up on the bedside table waiting for holidays, is a way to do make it happen.

For the writer, if you’re like me, the novella is the biggest story you can keep in your brain in its entirety while you’re working on it. Wherever I am in a novella, I can look back and see the beginning and look ahead and see the end. With a novel, there’s that middle bit. Twenty thousand words in, the beginning’s no longer in sight, the end is a long, long way over the horizon and doubt can start to creep in. I have my notes, and some kind of roadmap, but I’ve left where I started and I can’t quite see where I’m planning to end up. With its surety of topography, the mid-novella writer can think through which levers to adjust, which strings to tweak, invisibly, to bring details to the surface at just the right moment and make the journey take the shape it needs to. The novella embraces detail. It’s great for subtle revelations about the inner workings of people, and for casting light on its themes from unexpected angles. It’s ideal for a single plotline needing more depth and elaboration than a short story allows, or for two plotlines in interesting collision. That is, it’s between the short story and the novel in scope and form as much as it is in mere length. And it occupies this space with sufficient clarity that it’s reasonable to see it, and plan for it, as a form in its own right.

The novella has always been contested ground. In 1992, Richard Ford edited The Granta Book of the American Short Story. It met with acclaim and Granta signed him up again, for a book that I’m betting was originally slated to be The Granta Book of the American Novella. Not in Ford’s hands though. Under his close scrutiny, the very concept unravelled and slipped through his fingers, admittedly in an erudite and quite scholarly way. The more he thought about it, it seemed, the less amenable the novella was to being pinned down. And the more he cornered academics in offices and hallways and demanded novella definitions, the more they shrugged their sloping tweed shoulders and mumbled into their beards.

‘I’m not mad at the word—I just don’t know what I might mean if I used it,’ Ford ended up saying, in his highly readable introduction to what became, wait for it, The Granta Book of the American Long Story.

I wanted to know what I meant when I used the word, so I made novellas my PhD topic. If Richard Ford turns up at my office door, I’m ready to talk. If he wants to turn up to my workshop, he’ll get two hours of it – an inventory of contemporary novella tools that get the best out of the form, useful info on willing novella markets around the world.

Yes, it’s possible to look at the novella throughout history, and to slice and dice 19th-century German Novellentheorie into smaller and smaller sub-particles and walk away shaking your head, but it’s also possible to take a clear-headed look at what works now. Don’t go nuts trying to make your definition bullet-proof – or, even sturdier, Richard Ford-proof – instead take a look at the tools that can make fiction great when it has a novella’s length and breadth and scope. There’s value in that, and compelling novellas can come from it.

Learn more about the compelling world of novellas directly from Nick Earls, in our upcoming seminar Writing Novella on the 1st of May 2019.

Historic Writing by Caylie Jeffery

“History, it is said, was written by the victorious… the winners. But history is really a patchwork of stories about ordinary people whose daily lives and legacies have become the fabric of our world.” Nicole Christian, History and Social Sciences Educator


I hated history as a youth. I’ll admit it. Despite a strong educational beginning with a fascination for early Australian explorers, a monotonous history teacher in my middle school years was all it took to wipe that slate clean of any interest whatsoever.


It took another 35 years to be bitten by the nostalgia bug, and start my journey back into my city’s rich and fascinating historical past. This then led to a personal fascination with people’s historical stories, and then, finally, to my own ancestral journey.


I became an accidental historian the day I decided to look into the back-story of some old documents I’d found hidden under the Lino of my hundred-year-old home in Milton. When I shared my discovery on social media, the community’s response was astounding! So many people wanted to help me research, and answer the questions that arose from what I’d found.


Over the course of a year, we developed an online research group, establishing a safe space for sharing ideas and telling stories. We gathered over one million words about the people and times surrounding those hidden documents, and I was able to pull the most important words together in my latest book, Under the Lino.


Each of us has a lifetime of stories to tell, and behind that, is a rich and varied historical trail that deserves to be explored! We might have a chest full of black and white photographs, letters from our elders, video or audio recordings of events and stories, and perhaps, family keepsakes and heirlooms that are gathering dust on our shelves. What are we doing with it all? Will our children and grandchildren be able to decipher the background? Or will they have to embark on a journey of exploration after we’ve gone, and taken most of the answers with us? Or, even worse, will it all end up in a skip?


Collecting stories from other family members is not always easy, but if you use photographs and keepsakes to jog memories, while audio recording with a few well-placed questions, you’d be amazed at what you can discover.


History begins with us, always, and works backwards. Our family, our houses, our schools… there’s so much to discover about our fabulous heritage! I use mind mapping, family tree and journaling techniques to gather information, gleaning stories from old letters, and notate conversations and anecdotes I can remember from years gone by.


There are some wonderful writing programs, such a Scrivener, which can augment your information, and assist with organisation, or perhaps, you’d like to stick with paper scrapbooking. The new world of self-publishing and e-books opens up simple methods of sharing at reduced costs, so all family members and interested parties can access your work.


Family history research sites like are useful for building trees and making familial discoveries, and is just that, a treasure trove of online resources containing books, images, historic news articles, maps, music and other fabulous archived information that might lead you to what lies in amongst your family’s history.


If nobody else in your family is doing it, be the driving force that creates your family’s fantastic patchwork of history! They will thank you for it one day, I promise.

Get started with your own fantastic historical writing project by joining Caylie Jeffery at our interactive workshop, Under the Lino: Writing Historical Fiction on the 27th of April.

Eight to twelve year old’s are more mature than we were at the same age. More aware of world matters, and more astute about the environment, relationships and human rights. Research shows they have an eight second attention span, are image driven, and seek immediate gratification.

How can a mere book accommodate all this?

There will be exceptions, of course, but these basic rules might just help you nail that middle grade fiction you’ve always wanted to write…


  • Develop a small number of strong characters. Say four plus a few secondary ones thrown in. Avoiding a large cast of characters whose names and roles can be confusing, will prevent our young readers losing patience. A quick way to reduce the cast is to merge any similar characters to make one. Resist naming the whole friendship group. Even if they’re in the story, do they all need names and roles? Ditto for that large family. Including (or naming) only one good friend, or one endearing sister/aunt/brother can work extremely well.
  • Gone are the days of the shallow, dare we call them, ‘Enid Blyton’ style characters. Although having lots of jolly good fun, they can be hard to relate to. Genuine characters have flaws. For readers to identify and bond with the characters in your story, they need to see them struggling with some inner conflict. Is your protagonist shy, afraid of the dark, small for their age, big for their age, embarrassed about their accent, hair, big toes, or little sister? Surprisingly, even the slightest flaw can make a character more endearing, and seeing them overcome that flaw by the end of the narrative can make the story oh so rewarding.
  • For this age group, the main character’s voice tends to be light-hearted and intimate, and is often the only voice we hear. That is, the story is frequently only told from one character’s point of view.
  • Books of today, like those of yesteryear, involve little adult intervention. It’s the kids who solve the problems. Antagonists don’t even need to be too evil, but, like all good characters, they must have flaws.


  • Readers of this age rely heavily on visual action. They like plots driven by conflict, which should be introduced early. Avoiding too much back story, info dumping and reducing long flowery descriptive passages will definitely help you achieve this.
  • Avoid too many sub plots. Decide on one main problem and hook your readers from the start.
  • Transitions are really important. Quickly anchoring and orientating the reader at the start of each scene will help keep them involved in the story.
  • Humour: can you weave some in subtly (or overtly) through the story?
  • Sentence structure: most kids can manage a few new, complicated words, but they can’t abide boring writing. Strong verbs, minimal use of adjectives and adverbs, and varied sentence length will help keep your writing interesting.


  • Speech often lets us down when writing for this age group. Ten year old boys don’t talk like middle aged women, and since dialogue is so crucial for engaging young readers, keeping it real, and not using dialogue as a tool for dumping large chunks of information is important.
  • Spoken language, not just accents or slang and trendy words, can tell us a lot about a person, and is a useful tool in the ‘show not tell’ Remember, less is more when it comes to dialogue (and for adverbs and adjectives for that matter).
  • Avoid having your characters sitting around, making polite conversation. Boring! As well as developing characters, dialogue needs to move the plot forward, (but not in a corny, Agatha Christie kind of way).
  • Beware long speeches. Use tags and beats to break up long dialogue, and weave in movement and small snippets of backstory as needed.
  • Said’ is okay most of the time.
  • Internal dialogue is just as important as external dialogue

Lastly… my favourite part of being a writer…read, read and read. Find everything you can get your hands on, published here in Australia in the past five years, to help cement the points above and drastically improve your prose. Happy writing everyone!

For these ideas on improving your writing and more, join Samantha Wheeler on the 13th of April 2019 at her hands-on workshop, Writing for The Middle.

Writing for The Middle Feature Image

Writing for The Middle Feature Image

Your blanket was a cape. A stick was a sword. The table was your fortress.

Now, the blanket is just a blanket. The stick is thrown onto the roadside. And you write and write on the table.

Children say they want to grow up quickly. They want to experience our world of adulthood, but for us, it is the opposite. We want to go back to their world. A world where imagination is not bounded by reality.

Why does imagination get grounded as we age? Is it just reality reminding us of how cold this world can be? Perhaps it’s that we learn science, which inhibits us from imagining the answer to something we don’t know.

Maybe it is just that we have finally grown up. But have we?

We have books that tap into our inner child. Writers such as JK Rowling’s Harry Potter inspires children and adults a-like, despite being initially rejected as not being fit for children Roald Dahl’s wonderful world was written by the author in his most troubled-years as an adult. Jeff Kinney’s books were not published until 10 years after he had written them. The most wonderful stories we read aren’t written by children, but by adults, just like you and me.

So, the imagination is not lost after all. Don’t confine yourself to the limits of reality. Break beyond that. Challenge the things you see around you. Put colour into the most mundane objects. Bring out the five-year old in you that loved to tie on a cape, grab the sword, and march on to the castle to rescue your favourite teddy bear.

Adulthood doesn’t need to be just black and white. It can be just as colourful as a child’s world. We don’t lose our imagination. It is just hidden away, trying to survive the harsh reality of being an adult.

Tap into your childish ways and head down to our workshop “Writing for the Middle with Samantha Wheeler” on the 13th of April to learn more about how to write fiction suitable for young readers.

White Themed Post Feature Image

White Themed Post Feature Image

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have exploded on the social media scene. Many industries depend heavily on these applications to share their products, updates, and messages to their customers. No matter what type of audience you want to reach, there is always a different category of customers for each social network.

As a writer, promoting your latest book is just the same as Nike promoting their latest footwear. You need to know and understand your audience – Where do they normally lurk? What catches their attention? By strategically choosing the correct social media platform, you can share your latest work to the correct audience.

We live in a border-less world. Your audience wants to know you personally. They want to interact with you. Gone are the days where idols are admired from a far. Many celebrities use social media to share their daily lives with their audience. They want to know who is the person that wrote their favourite book. For example, what does their favourite author do in their spare time? What kind of personality does the author have? Favourite animal: Kittens or Puppies? By establishing a personal connection with your audience, you can build a strong relationship with them and in turn, gain valued loyalty from that audience.

After all, your main audience will be your main customers, and using social media can assist in selling yourself to them. Convince them of your personality and your beliefs. When your audiences feel that they can relate to you, it will naturally draw them to your books. They will want to read inside the mind of the person that they know.

In the end, understanding the key differences between social platforms and utilizing those networks can help you to broadcast yourself to your audience. Remember, your audience doesn’t want to read a book written by a stranger, they want to read a book written by you.

Want more tips on how you can brand yourself as an author? Check out our event “Love Your Brand: Marketing Yourself As an Author” with Kylie Fennell by clicking here.

Journaling for Writers with Caylie Jefferies

Words. Incredible things that aid communication.

We writers use them to paint pictures in people’s minds, to draw out emotions they never knew they had, to help them to walk in shoes they’ve never worn, and to give them a birdseye view of cultures, places and situations that are beyond their imaginations.

But what about our minds? The writers’ emotions, imaginations, thoughts? How can we tap into our own abyss when words fail us?

I once did a memoir-writing class with Kristina Olsson, and she said, quite wryly, that many memoirs should be classified as fiction while a lot of fiction is often based on fact, which was highly amusing to us all, and not a little bit ironic.

Mem Fox regularly shares how her picture book characters are based on true happenings in her life, some of them quite sad.

On the flip side, autobiographers are often hamstrung by living relatives who could take umbrage at the truth, thus the need to hide the worst of their experiences under blankets of alternative facts. And let’s not forget, time plays tricks with our memories, as do trauma and fear, so while it’s not a perfect recollection we might be reading, a memoir could very well be a justifiable alternate reality.

So where do we find the truth as writers?

In journals and in letters, that’s where.

I started ‘honest’ writing as a child (and then, later, as a parent) to connect with my core beliefs, my foetal intuition, my true self and my emotional barometer. Journal entries and letters allowed me to get to know what was truly going on inside my head and my heart, when I wasn’t able to share openly with the people around me.

I prefer to journal-write by hand as the pace of my pen (a fast-flowing one, mind-you!) matches the speed of my thoughts. The kinaesthetic value of pressing down harder when I’m angry and making BIG, FAT, CHUNKY CAPITALS when I’m FURIOUS, is enormously satisfying!

I use journaling to debrief, to reflect, to understand and to move on.

I rarely use a journal when life is happily busy, or at a status quo. I write in them when I’m at an emotional extreme, because I feel feelings so intensely at those times, there needs to be an overflow outlet to stop me imploding and exploding – my trusty pen.

For the most part, those extreme words don’t get to see the light of anyone else’s day. They’re private words, because they’re raw. They’re honest. They’re potentially hurtful to people I care about. But they’re true at the time and they’re real.

They’re so real, that when I read them back, days, months, years later, I am instantly transported to the time I last wrote them. The time I was so angry, I may have been bordering on insanity. The time I was so sad, I was living on a razor’s edge. The time I was so happy, I was maniacally unpredictable. Extremes that frighten others if they’re verbalised, but fall safely on the wonderfully deaf ears of paper.

Paper doesn’t judge you, berate you or cry when you’re angry with it. It doesn’t talk back, inflame or extinguish the words pouring out of your true self. It won’t mock or belittle, undermine or patronise.

Paper becomes a safe and empathic conduit, intent on helping you to rid yourself of unhealthy thoughts and feelings, in order to make way for rational thought, positive emotions and ingenuity.

And most importantly… paper burns.

When all has been said and done, there’s no need to go back, so after you’ve cathartically released those words into a fiery furnace, it’s time to move on.

The path to creativity has been cleared, and a fresh sheet of paper awaits your gentler touch and your excited scrawl as your ideas start to flow. Your memoir, your novel, your family history, your shopping list, or that letter you’ve been meaning to write.

I first learned about using letter-writing as a form of emotional regulation when Women of Letters came to Brisbane. Marieke Hardy and Michaela Maguire initiated soirées where influential people shared personal letters to small groups of social change agents, in a bid to open up a form of unconventional communication.

I listened in rapt wonder to letters read out to ‘my regret’, ‘a problem I never solved’, ‘my 80-year-old self’ and other non-human entities. What a thrilling solution to so many conundrums!

When you’re writing a letter to an idea, it suddenly becomes easy to use your imagination and emotional angst to tap into worlds that are no longer available to you. To open up conversations with people who have died or won’t listen, with your younger self, with your elderly self, with ideas like fear, anger and lost opportunities, is a breakthrough event for many writers.

And for those of us experiencing the dreaded writers’ block… why don’t you grab a pen and blank sheet of paper and write a letter to it explaining how it makes you feel. “Dear Blockage, What’s going on? You’ve been there for months now? Why won’t you leave me alone?”

Before you know it, you’ll have a cramp in your hand as those words rush out of you like an uncorked champagne bottle!

So come on then, finished the letter, pop some corks and celebrate the results!

To explore the joys of journaling further, join Caylie Jeffery at the upcoming workshop Journaling for Writers.

Spy Feature Image

Spy Feature Image

The target: A literary agent

Objectives: Finding a good one

Searching for the right agent can be tough as good literary agents are elusive. They don’t come easy and certainly not in high numbers. But what does an agent do?

Well, think of the agent as a messenger. Your manuscript will be pitched by that messenger to the publishers for production. They should have the right contacts in the publishing industry. A literary agent may help to promote your work, update you with the details of your progress, negotiate your contracts, offer advice for your following work or all the above. An agent is many things and finding an excellent one can really change things for you, therefore researching your target is important to ensure that you find the right one for you.

As such, your target should have the following expectations:

Your target should represent your genre. Most agents will explicitly tell their prospective authors through their website or social media outlets. Don’t find an agent that represents non-fiction when you like to write stories about the make-believe.

Find an agent that has a good sales track record. Chances are that the agent will have had experience and a certain amount of success in selling the books that they are representing. Finding an agent that has a good list of publishers that fit into the category of books you are trying to write can also help to boost your chances of getting published exponentially.

An agent should be well-versed in the ins-and-outs of a book contract. They need to know how to negotiate the proposal to the publisher and to advise you if there is something shady or unscrupulous about the organisation that you may be pitching to. An excellent agent should also help you to target your queries and proposals to specific publishers.

-Mission Completed-

If you want more clues on the target, come along to our seminar “What To Expect When You Get An Agent” – with Justine Barker” on the 23rd of March to learn more.

Taking a Leap into Publishing Post Image

Many writers understand writing a manuscript requires determination. You want to share your ideas with the world, but not many young writers know what to do with their manuscript upon completion. You can place your thoughts on pen and paper, but how can you convert that draft into a print or e-book?  After all, a novel can bring great potential but only if presented to the right people.  So, what options exist to get work published?

There are two main options for publishing your novel – Traditional Publishing and Self-Publishing.

What is the difference between the two?

Traditional publishing, as the name suggests, is the traditional way of getting your book published. You send in your manuscript, along with a synopsis of the novel and the listed target audience to a literary agent or publishing company.  If accepted, the publisher will offer you a contract and help to print and distribute your books to retailers. Often a publisher will also help you to promote and advertise your book as well. If your book is successful, you get to receive royalty based on the number of copies sold.

Authors can also choose to self-publish.  Here you complete your novel and upload it directly to a platform or to a book manufacturer. From there, the manufacturer will print your novel based on the amount of orders received from their respective website. This method is more cost-effective and a quicker way to get your novel from an e-draft into a physical copy. However, the downside to this method is that the manufacturer will not help you to promote or distribute your work. You will have to depend on your online social platforms and invest your own effort into the promotion of your book.

Want to learn more on how you can take that step forward to publish your novel? Our workshop “Inside Publishing with Emily Lighezzolo” on the 23rd of March can help young writers, aged 16 to 25 learn the steps of getting their novel publish as well as learn the ins-and-outs of the publishing industry in Australia.

When Visual Meets Text Post Image

Films and books tell the same thing to their audience – stories.

Books tell their stories by creating an imaginative world inside the reader’s mind, letting them see the colours and experiences as they flip through each page. By contrast, films show their audience what to feel by visually spoiling the audience.

These storytelling differences are why many book readers often feel disorientated when they watch film adaptations of their favourite books. The colours that they see; the touch and smells of the adventures in the story; even the portrayal of the protagonist seem vastly different from what they have perceived through their imagination.

The reason behind these differences is quite simple. Often, the screenplay writer film is not the same as the original author. What the audience sees in the film, is what the screenplay writers visualised the book to be, rather than what the writer originally intended.

After all, not everyone sees the same red colour. What might be maroon to some, might be wine-red to others.

On the other hand, viewers and critics feel much more connected to a screenplay adaptation that is written by the original author. The original author knows his story best, and he knows the key scenes that are in the story. He prioritises the feelings and sensations of the character and the motivations that drive the story.

In the end, a writer and a filmmaker may want to tell the same story but use different voices to tell that story. Whether or not the same red colour from the novel appears on screen, can depend on who is writing the script.

Are you planning on taking your novel to the next step? Want to show off your work on the big screen, then strap up your writing supplies and head down to our 3-day writing course “Screenwriter’s Bootcamp with Veny Armanno” to learn the fundamental understanding of writing a movie script and the essential skills needed to develop a professional screenplay.

Cooking up a Synopsis Featured Post Image

Cooking up a Synopsis Post Image

Ingredients :

1 novel
1 writer
1 notepad
Assortment of coloured pens (adjust to individual taste)
Laptop with a Backspace button
1 cup of Chamomile Tea


1 paper shredder machine


1. Preheat the keyboard by typing the events of your story. What is the primary plot arc that you want your readers to know? See the story through your viewer’s eyes. Your audience does not know the twists and turns your plot takes: What do you want your synopsis to show?

2. Mix your novel’s background. Establish the reality of your novel. List the important conflicts and events that help shape the plot and how it affects your protagonist.

3. Add in your characters. When we read stories, we often empathise with the main characters of the story. Which of your target audiences would you like to relate to? What challenges make your character stand out?

4. Bake your synopsis for 5 minutes. Make sure that you remove any unnecessary details. The publisher, editor, competition assessor or even grants body want the specific details and unless they ask for a longer synopsis, keep it short, sweet and succinct.

Want more great recipes for baking a synopsis? Come join our workshop “Cooking Up a Synopsis” with Laurel Cohn on the 10th of March 2019.

Writing YR Way Blog Post Featured Image

Writing YR Way Blog Post Image

“If I waited for perfection… I would never write a word.”

—Margaret Atwood

You finally got a hit of inspiration. After hours of brainstorming and countless post-it-notes, you finally came up with the perfect scenario for your inspiring characters. You write a few lines but find your mind is not in the right place.

You had gusto!  You had momentum!

All that seems to be gone now, and you still haven’t moved past “Chapter One”.  You quickly fall out of it, abandoning your masterpiece for other projects, but your idea is still tugging at the side of your brain. Your inspiration was one-of-a-kind, and you were sure that this was the one.

How can you get it back?

Well, we understand that it is hard enough to write a sentence, let alone a mind-blowing novel. However, the daunting churn in your stomach that you feel is normal for most writers. The initial rush of excited-ness faded, leaving you at a loss of how you should proceed with your manuscript.

So how should you keep your writing momentum going all while avoiding the creative slum? Here are some quick suggestions!

  1. Expand your story

Take your sentence of inspiration and expand on it. Think what are your character’s favourite or nasty habits? Figure out what adjectives or verbs can be associated with your character’s temperament. Researching a certain topic can provide a clear understanding of what your topic might be, and from there you will be able to define the challenges and solutions that you need to resolve. Once you have a mind-map surrounding the main details of your idea, it can be easier to write the little details in.

  1. Set some time aside to write

Believe us when we say we know how hard it could be to set aside time to write. Amongst the crazy schedules and never-ending chore list, it is hard to find some quiet alone time for us to focus on our writing. But you will have to be firm about it and make some time to write. Take an hour everyday to sit down and only think about your story. Let your chores and stress worry themselves after the hour. During that time, shut out all distractions and resist the urge to nit-pick at small details like a pen out of place or the wrong drink in your hand. Once you find yourself concentrating on your words, you will notice the momentum slowly come back to you.

  1. Don’t be afraid of mistakes

Nobody writes a bestselling novel on the first draft. Even the most accomplished writers have had to go through endless corrections and re-drafts before their story is finally complete. Therefore, don’t aim for perfection on the first try, instead be brave and write your words boldly. Get your editor or an honest friend to read your drafts. Listen closely and fix those mistakes. Through writing and correcting, your story may end up in an even better place than it was before.

Still want more tips? Boil yourself a cup of tea, grab a notepad and head down to our workshop “Writing Your Way Through: Narrative Structure and Momentum” by Kathryn Heyman on the 9th of March 2019 for more solutions on how to maintain your creative momentum till the final word.

Inspiration Lacking

Inspiration Lacking

As writers, one of the biggest problems we can face is a lack inspiration…

So you’ve set a goal to up your writing game in 2019 and (finally) finish that manuscript you started this time last year. Or maybe you’ve decided it’s time to take your writing hobby more seriously and turn it into a part or full-time career. Yet, when it comes to putting pen to paper, you find you’re struggling to get started or keep up the momentum required to reach the finish line. As writers, one of the biggest problems we can face is a lack inspiration. We either find ourselves scraping at the bottom of the inspiration barrel or so overwhelmed with ideas, that we’re unsure which one to pick or how to execute it. But never fear, our top three inspiration-busters are here and ready to help spur your creativity.

Go outside

Sometimes a bit of fresh air and the chance to take your mind off the situation at hand is all we need to refill our creative tank. A change of scenery not only helps clear your head, allowing you to return afresh, but can also help relieve stress, which is known to hamper imagination and creativity. So put the pen down, close your laptop and go for a short walk in the great outdoors! Allow your mind to float to anything but your seemingly blank page or Word document. Watch a bird make a nest in a nearby tree, enjoy the laughter of children playing in a nearby park or take Fido for a walk. The perfect idea pops into your head as you do so.

Create a physical ‘Creativity Tank’

Repurpose an old glass jar or cardboard box as your ‘Creativity Tank’; a physical object to which you can add all of your creative writing ideas (the good, bad or outright crazy) when the thought first strikes. Keep scrap paper or sticky notes nearby and whenever an idea pops into your head, jot it down and add it to your ‘tank’. It could be an obscure name you overhear on the daily news (perhaps a name for a future character), a scene from a movie (a potential setting for a future fiction piece) or even a line from a song on the radio (a possible title idea). You could even encourage others in your household to add their own ideas to your ‘tank’. Then next time you’re stuck with pen in hand and rather blank page, you can dive into your creativity tank and use one of the ideas you’ve collected. Don’t forget to put them back either – they might come in handy more than once.

Observe, observe, observe

How often is it that we find ourselves so busy or wrapped up in our own little worlds that we take very little notice of what’s going on around us? This inspiration-buster, while similar to taking a walk outside, is all about combining observational skills with imagination to spark your creativity. Listen to ambient conversations as you wait at the checkout to buy your groceries. Take a walk down a pathway or road you’ve never bothered to explore. Strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you on the bus. You never know what you might discover or where it may lead.

If you’re eager to learn even more techniques to encourage your creativity and maintain your creative mojo, head along to our ‘So You Want to Write?’ workshop on March 2. Led by Kill Your Darling founders, Hannah Kent and Rebecca Starford, this workshop is one not to be missed! Register online via Eventbrite.

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