Saturday 24 September 2011


Ok, I originally intended this to be a review of this year's Brisbane Writers Festival, but, seeing as I only managed to make it to one workshop and one seminar, I feel that limited attendance does not a review make. (However, this is two more visits than I managed last year, so, yay for me).

So, I decided I would quite like to write down a bit about some stuff that I've learnt in the past year. Just an overview of advice from workshops I have attended since I make the foolish/brave decision to start putting pen to paper on a regular basis.

So, it goes with out saying that I really needed some guidance. This won't be a blow-by-blow account of each workshop, as I suspect that won't make particularly riveting reading, but I'll just share a few points that have helped me, both motivationally and in actually honing any skill that I may, or may not have.

Firstly, the best advice I've been given is to allow myself to write a really CRAP first draft. Maybe I'm a bit dense, but this never occured to me before. I remember writing a paragraph back in 2000 and whatever, shutting down the Word document and cringing at the thought of anyone reading such piffle. Now, I have nearly 65, 000 words worth of possible piffle but that really doesn't matter - I now know I could have the capacity to transform it into non-piffle at some stage in the future. The important thing is that it is THERE.

The second piece of advice has, unlike the above, always been an obvious one, for me, anyway. Write something that you WANT TO READ. The whole process has always been so instinctive for me, that I'm not even sure I would have the desire to emulate any particular trend without falling in love with it first. So, yeah, don't follow a trend. Unless you love it. Or you're some sort of super-manipulative machiavellian genius. In which case, I'm sure you'll be just fine.

Finally, I recently read an interview with a young television writer/actor whose advice to budding writers was to attend as many workshops as possible because you never know what gems you might pick up and where they could lead. My first thought was, yeah, well, if you're loaded, then no problem. Money, or lack of it, is a major consideration for me, as with many, I'm sure. I have no formal creative writing qualifications, and I'm not sure I ever will, so I feel like I have to pick the classes I do attend carefully. I was reluctant to go to a YA workshop at the Brisbane Writers Festival as I suspected it would be going over old ground, but I decided to give it a whirl. And a bloody good job I did, because in a 'first paragraph' exercise, I wrote an few short sentences that put a whole different take on an idea I'd been mulling around for ages. Yes, I did do exercises that I'd done previously, and yes, it did go over things that I already knew. But it was enjoyable and inspiring and got me thinking. So, maybe don't attend EVERY workshop going, but don't write it off without very good reason.

So, the title of this post. Well, I still consider writing a risk of sorts. A risk with my emotions and my confidence. But it gets easier the more I do it.

Oh, and write and read EVERYDAY. Everyone says that. And so they should. It's good advice.

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