The National Writers Conference traditionally kicks of every year with the 5 by 5. This morning the festival ambassadors offered the National Writers Conference. Here it is.
Oslo Davis is an illustrator who has worked with the New York Times, The Age, The National Gallery of Victoria and The Melbourne Writers Festival amongst others. He is also an acclaimed animator. @oslodavis
1. There is no ‘Natural Genius’. They don’t exist. In an article by Malcolm Gladwell he wrote, ‘There are no naturals’. Malcolm Gladwell is the writer who coined the phrase 10 000 hours rule, in which it takes 10 00 hours or approximately ten years to master your craft. My job is a desk job. It involves a lot of admin. Instead of natural talent, you need a natural enthusiasm.
2. Think of the perfect outcome. When writing, try to envisage what the perfect result from the work would be. Ask yourself, ‘What would make me interested?’ Then make that.
3. Don’t fret over awards. I’ve never won anything and seen many undeserving people win. The results from awards and grant offers are based on fashion, marketing trends and the goals of the organisation awarding them. So much of the award process is luck.
4. Don’t read the reviews.
5. Choose your audience. Be measured in who you receive reviews from. Create for people who’s opinion and sense of humour you like and respect. If there are strangers out there who love your work, that’s great, however it’s those few people who really matter.
William McInnes is an actor, columnist and author, writing pieces that celebrate life whilst encompassing the wide emotions and situations being human can bring. WILLIAM McINNES
1. Back up.
2. Don’t trust spell check.
3. Show your work.
4. Be careful what advice you take.
5. If you think you have an original idea. You don’t.
6. ‘I’ll give you one more for free’. The arts are public. Jobs in the arts are the people’s jobs. Never take yourself too seriously but take what you do seriously. There is luck in fortune. If you have to write, you’re more to be pitied than scholared.
Sulari Gentill is the author of the award-winning Rowland Sinclair Mysteries. Under the name S.D. Gentill, she also writes a fantasy adventure series called The Hero Trilogy. She has ABC bookclub and appears in heaps of youtube videos – @
1. Disregard the rules. There are no rules. People think there are rules but there are just tips and suggestions. If you write well, readers will not notice that you are not following ‘the rules’. They will be caught up in the story you are telling. Take advice but protect what you love; it’s makes you different.
2. You don’t need an epiphany to start. There are many ways and reasons to start. You absorb stories when you’re young and the people around you will influence your work. There are people in our heads. I chose an area of writing my husband would be interested in. I chose it for practical reasons, to connect with the person I live with. It doesn’t matter why you start, just do.
3. Allow the reader in. Trust your reader. They are allowing you into their head. It is an intimate privilege. Trust them and acknowledge what the reader brings. A reader bring richness and experience and knowledge to your work. Trust the reader to imagine what they want or need. Let go of the control to dictate every detail of the picture to your readers. Give them room to move. This engages your reader.
4. Make friends with other writers. Build yourself a community. Other writers understand what you go through and how you can be wounded from a review. Writers tend to be the most non-judgemental people in the world. We choose a life where our soul is being judged. Being around other writers teaches you humility.
5. Love the art of writing. Writing is the privilege of making things up. Often we talk ourselves into the idea that writing is agony. Sometimes it is really hard but you must remember that what you’re doing is a privilege. Story telling is glorious. Let yourself love the process.
Kylie Ladd is a novelist and psychologist. Her works include After The Fall, Last Summer and Into My Arms. Kylie’s latest novel is Mothers and Daughters. I personally have a soft spot for Kylie Ladd since she is one of very few writers to have toured through the Far South Coast on NSW. I met Ladd at CANDELO BOOKS in Bega during the Wordy Women tour. Kudos for the trip Kylie! – @kylie_ladd
1. Read forensically. Ask yourself, ‘Why does it work? Why doesn’t it work?’ This is the best method to learning to write well.
2. Read ‘That Crafty Feel’. Read Zadie Smith’s essay. It perfectly captures what it is to be a writer; the highs and lows.
3. Don’t Panic. It is normal to cringe when reading your own work. It’s normal to despair. Don’t let it stop you writing.
4 Write for art. Edit for cash. Writing is a business. I have had to rewrite the last 50 000 words of my book. I did so with tears in my eyes. I wish that I had known this when I started.
5. Getting published won’t change your life. Six months after book comes out, your life will be the same. There is a thrill when you see someone on a bus reading your book, but ultimately your life will remain the same. The act of writing turns out to be its’s own reward.
Anna Poletti is a Lecturer in Literary Studies and Director of the Centre for the Book at Monash University. She is the Chair of the Sticky Institute management committee. @
The truism of writing comes down to finishing your work.
1. Stay at the desk. This is how I write the thousands of words I write for publication. I get out of bed and I get to the desk. Between the bed and desk I allow no room. From there, I earn the right to leave the desk, have breakfast, shower or go for a work. I earn this by working. Find a way into your material. Keep going. Write out the ups and downs.
2. Go for a work. Or any kind of physical exercise. Move our body and allow your brain to shift.
3. Write for someone. I need to have an audience to get my writing going, an actual reader. A person. Write for one or two people you have in mind. If I don’t know who I’m writing for or who would give a shit about my writing, I can’t finish.
4. Believe that you are the person who needs to write this. ‘Who am I to think I can pull this off?’ I need to believe that I am the best person to write this. When you know this, staying at the desk becomes easier. If you don’t write this work, no one will.
5. Change medium. For a time, facing down the blank page made me sick. A typewriter saved me. The physicality of punching out the words helped me finished my Phd. Get a nice notebook, good paper and quality pens. Changing tools can be an important alternative to the keyboard.