10 Top Tips For Aspiring Writers
Kirsty Manning debut novel, The Midsummer Garden, (our number 1 read for winter), has just been released, and Kirsty has been signed for 2 more novels due to the success of this book.
Kirsty Manning grew up in northern New South Wales. She has degrees in literature and communications and worked as an editor and publishing manager in book publishing for over a decade. A country girl with wanderlust, her travels and studies have taken her through most of Europe, the east and west coasts of the United States and pockets of Asia. Kirsty's journalism and photography specialising in lifestyle and travel regularly appear in magazines, newspapers and online. In 2007, Kirsty and her husband, with two toddlers and a baby in tow, built a house in an old chestnut grove in the Macedon Ranges. Together, they planted an orchard and veggie patch, created large herbal 'walks' brimming with sage and rosemary, wove borders from chestnut branches and constructed far too many stone walls by hand. Kirsty loves cooking with her kids and has several large heirloom copper pots that do not fit anywhere easily, but are perfect for making (and occasionally burning) jams, chutneys and soups. With husband Alex Wilcox, Kirsty is a partner in the award-winning Melbourne wine bar Bellota, and the Prince Wine Store in Sydney and Melbourne.
Kirsty has kindly written her top 10 tips for aspiring writers below.
1. Read widely. Most writers I know are great readers across every genre, not just the area they write in. I read biography, historical fiction, commercial, literary fiction, poetry and crime. Study how great writers perfect their craft and then step away and find a way to make it your own.
2. Be passionate and be fixated because it will take up an enormous amount of headspace and so you need to make it count.
3. Be disciplined and do the work. There are very few writers who have the story just pour from their fingertips. Most rewrite and re-work and massage until it is ‘just so!’ It will likely take far more time, and far more re-writing than you expected.
4. Learn the craft. There are so many amazing writing courses around, along with online writing communities. Try both, if you can.
I did this course to start me on the path.
Writing is a craft. You need to skill-up to write a novel and it’s a lot of work.
5. There’s many great podcasts and websites around with fabulous advice.
Here are some I visit regularly.
Note: sometimes when I’m struggling with writing, they can get too much and make me feel quite like I’m never going to measure up. Sometimes you just need to give yourself a break from the advice, and find your own solutions to a problem. Be kind to yourself.
6. Do some exercise, get outside and make sure you have a hobby that can help you switch off and fill up that creative well. I love travelling, hiking alone up my mountain, being in my garden. When I’m stuck on a plot twist you’ll often find me mulching or transplanting grasses by the hundred!
7. Get yourself some discerning readers and listen carefully to their feedback. You don’t have to agree, but it’s curious to see how your words create reactions in people. They won’t tell how how to write, or what to change. What you need to look for is their emotional response to a character or particular situation. If they are not feeling it, then you need to look at changing how you approach that section.
8. Write what you love. Writing is a long game. Chances are you will spend years lost in the story and characters. So don’t write what you think you should, write what you love because you will spend a hell of a lot of time with this story every day. (Dare I use the word, obsessed?)
9. Find your style. You might want to write a certain way (I wanted to be a cross between A.S. Byatt and Geraldine Brooks and David Baldacci!) but what comes out will be unique. Embrace that and learn to love it. Hone your writing style, like you would your fashion style.
10. Your book doesn’t really exist until someone reads it and brings it to life. So always be gracious when someone has taken the time to send you some feedback.
If they have constructive criticism, or even anything negative, do not under any circumstances act like a princess or spoilt toddler having a tantrum. Or refuse to speak to the person again! You are an adult and you chose to do this, remember! Someone had taken the time and effort to think about your work. So always, always be gracious, thoughtful and kind. Say thankyou.
And at Cazinc, we say thank you Kirsty for your inspirational article.
Are you an aspiring writer? Kirsty would love to read your comments below.