This post is #7 of a 10-part series in the lead up to a writing conference being hosted by Fiona McIntosh (October 2019). Please follow along with my weekly posts as I share some writing tips and experiences I’ve gained while writing my manuscript and preparing for this wonderful opportunity.

One of my very first jobs as a journalist was in a radio newsroom. It was in a regional town and the entire news service comprised of… just me! I would get into the office around 4:30am and work away in a dark corner, record in a booth and have the first bulletin ready for the on-air breakfast show. It was a great role to start my career with (I’d done lots of free work experience beforehand, hoping for the job when I graduated!) but also, quite lonely. I didn’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of or to keep learning from. 

In 2012 when I decided to start my own freelance business I went back to being a solo worker. So, last year when I decided to throw myself into a writing workshop and get my manuscript done, I was pleasantly surprised at the writing friends I made. This endeavour has been made so much more delightful because of my fellow nutters who have listened to this calling! Honestly, we all think we’re crazy but can’t walk away from trying to become published authors.

As part of this lead up to Fiona McIntosh’s National Conference I thought would ‘interview’ two great writing pals and see what keeps them motivated. We will definitely be meeting up at the conference, encouraging each other at pitch time and sharing a glass of wine! Read on!

Shannon Beau – Fantasy Fiction

I met Shannon at a writing workshop and when I say a whirlwind of excitement, laughter and inspiration I am talking about HER!

Shannon’s taking on an epic tale of worlds and battles and heroic characters that absolutely blow my mind.

She’s also an art teacher and encourages others to find their passion via The Digital Bohemian.

What has made you want to write a manuscript?
If you’ve met me you know that everything I do is big! And so, with the idea of writing a story, it has to be big! This would be the biggest marathon or largest adventure I’ve ever embarked upon and it was to prove to myself that I could do it. 

How are you approaching the task of writing? Any tips?
I’m a planner. So I have Onenotes on Pinterest boards, on post it notes, on journals. I loosely plotted the entire thing making note of what were my big key themes, plot points and character motivations and have then jumped in and seen where it has taken me. 

What’s the greatest writing lesson you have learnt to date?
That a first draft is not representative of your potential or your ability. Keep writing little ones!

You can find out more about Shannon and get inspired via her website or Instagram.

Kylie Hough – Historical Fiction

Meeting Kylie has been all kinds of twists of coincidence… we have both done the same writing course but at different dates.. mutual friends connected us… We just happened to live in the same city, close by, with kids at the same school! Kylie is a very thoughtful person with a beautiful writing style — check out her poetry on her Instagram account!

What has made you want to write a manuscript?
I don’t know what made me want to write a manuscript if I’m honest. For long as I remember I’ve written but for the most part, writing has resulted in diary entries, letters, short stories, and poems. Perhaps it was something of a dare to myself to see if I could do it – and I did, twice – I really don’t know.

How are you approaching the task of writing? Any tips?
I approach the task of writing like anything in my life I really enjoy and care about, that is to say, with gusto. I have self-discipline and drive in spades (thanks Mum and Dad!) so it’s never a problem for me to sit at my desk and do what needs to be done. I treat writing a novel like I do studying for a unit at university – they’re both jobs that demand time, enthusiasm, concentration and energy, and I find I get back what I put in. 

As far as writing tips go I think persistence and work are key. I’ve had an essay and two short stories published and have another in the wings, and what I’ve learned from putting my work out into the world is that if I keep working, eventually something is going to stick. Sit down, do the work, believe that (eventually) you’ll succeed and submit, submit, submit! Whether it’s a short story or a novel you’re working on the motto has to remain the same: put in the work, persist, and you will get where you want to go. And as an aside, I’m told it’s a golden extra to be able to cite your published works when you’re ready to submit your manuscript to publishers.

What’s the greatest writing lesson you have learnt to date?
There are so many great writing lessons I’ve learned, but the greatest? For me, it might just be that in writing I (finally!) found a place where I belong and a mode of self-expression that (at last!) enables me to make (a little) sense of the world I live in.

Follow Kylie on Instagram.

If you’re a writer, please don’t think you have to do it alone. Meet other writers and keep chatting, go to events and book launches, and find the right kind of support people that will keep you going!

J x

Get some more great insights in these posts: