Aspiring writers tend to face similar hurdles throughout their journey, and even published authors hit a wall from time to time. At Supanova in Brisbane, last November, we caught up with some of our Supa-Star authors to try and figure out the secret to success.
(Sevenwaters series, Blackthorn & Grim series, Warrior Bards series)
“I usually have three bits of advice. The first one is: you need to read. You’re never going to be a successful writer if you’re not a reader. And don’t just read in the genre you want to write in. Read as widely as you can… because that is the best way to soak up style and technique without necessarily having to go to classes to learn it. Be a reader first.
The second is: don’t write what you think will sell. You don’t write to become rich and famous; you write because you desperately need to write. You want to write and you’ve got a story that you really need to tell.
That leads on to the next bit of advice, which is writing because you feel passionate about it. You’ve got a story that is busting to get out. Keep working at it. Do a little bit every day. Work on your craft and polish it. Get people to look at it and give you feedback and you’ll eventually get there.”
(The Medoran Chronicles, Whisper series)
“Read, and read a lot. You don’t know what you like to write unless you know what you like to read. And you also find out what you don’t like to read when you’re reading a lot as well. Read anything and everything, and read widely. It’ll help you hone your own craft.”
(Monuments, The Sidekicks, The First Third)
“Read more. Write more. If you think you’re reading and writing enough, you’re not. Just do more. Share your work. There are two sides to a story: what you think you’ve written and what you’ve actually written. And to see what a reader sees, you need to show you’re writing to readers and see what they think.
Don’t be afraid to get critical feedback. Sometimes it’s scary, but you’ll learn from it and grow from it. If you get positive feedback, you’re on the right track. If you get negative feedback, then you’ve got an opportunity to get better. So, put yourself out there, and you will improve.”
(Perigord series, Plato Wyngard series, The Raven’s Prophecy series)
“Persistence. Having the persistence to just keep going at it even though most people are on your side but don’t think you can do it. Let your imagination dictate where you want to go, and listen to criticism.”
(Plato Wyngard series, The Raven’s Prophecy series)
“Read the genre you’re interested in. Study what you’re reading, what you like, why you like it. And then write in the genre you know.”
(Valentine, Ironheart, Misrule)
“My advice is not very complicated, but it is the hardest advice of all. All you have to do is write. You’re a writer when you write. You just have to sit down and finish something, and then go back and make it better. It’s only through the process of writing that you become a writer.”
(The Witch Who Courted Death, Who’s Afraid?, The Wailing Woman)
“My biggest advice to people who are aspiring authors is to really examine how much you want to do the thing. A lot of people will look at the pros of publishing and the pros of being an author, but it is a really tough industry. It can be really hard to go through creatively, emotionally and personally.
The editing process can be something that’s difficult to adjust to. It’s one of those jobs that’s a lot of hard work that won’t love you back, so you have to really want to do it without the thought of reward. It’s something that can take a long time. You have to have a lot of patience. It’s a lot of hard work.”
(The Black Jewels trilogy, The Others series)
“Write for the love of writing rather than publishing. It’s a marathon to write a story, and you have to love the process rather than being published. And then you learn to write by writing. That’s how we all learned. You just write and it can be over a process of years. You just keep writing, and you just try to write the best story you can at the time. Never put down the young stories. They taught you how to write. They may not be good; they probably won’t be. But they are the journey you had to take to write the good stories. Honour your young stories.”
Lead image: James Lindsay, Maria Lewis, Lynette Noni, Jodi McAlister, Anne Bishop, Will Kostakis, Juliet Marillier and Marc Lindsay at Supanova 2019 – Brisbane. Photo by Aoife Hilton.