I’ll clear the air straight out and admit I haven’t been writing much fiction recently. But I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and a lot of paid non-fiction writing, and a heap of Facebooking and Twittering and blogging both paid and unpaid. And the latter led me to these two super-fantastic pieces of the internet which I really feel the need to share!
First up is something that you might have already seen, as it’s really been doing the rounds of the “creative types” (I try to include myself here …), but if not then go now: How to Steal Like an Artist from Austin Kleon. The subtitle is “And 9 Other Things Nobody Told Me”, and basically it’s a summary of a presentation he made to college students, so it’s along the lines of things he wished he’d known back in college. My blurb does not do it justice at all. It’s inspiring and for me in particular, the big gems are:
An artist is a collector … your job is to collect ideas. The best way to collect ideas is to read. Read, read, read, read, read.
Oh, and importantly he reminds us that you should read good stuff – otherwise “garbage in, garbage out”. He also talks about “impostor syndrome” (something I discussed often with some colleagues back in my university working days) – how many educated people don’t believe they are any good at what they do, that they’re just “faking it”, and although I’d never thought of applying that to my writing, it’s 100% true.
Pretty much everything Kleon says is worth repeating but I’ll just grab two more points: “Use your hands” (don’t spend every moment typing!) and “Side hobbies are important” – so true, and something I always try to make time for. There are all kinds of other useful insights so I highly recommend it.
Secondly, Bianca at the bigwords blog put up an utterly fantastic post this week about her four new mentors – four Australian writers who I also “know” through Twitter, and who prove that becoming a published writer can be done at the same time as being friendly, interactive, busy, messy, clean, inspiring, and usually even normal. While the ultra-inspirational effect is probably best for women (and especially for Australians, as we are sometimes not so good at believing we can “make it” in the world of writing!), I think there’s something in it for everyone.
For me, some of the most salient points included the advice that Lisa Heidke got not to rush getting published – that the average time for a writer who’s not going to crash and burn to go from starting to write a manuscript to publication is ten years. That still gives me a few years’ grace! Anita Heiss (amongst excellent serious advice) mentioned that chocolate is part of her writing routine and of course, it would be remiss of me not to adopt advice from published experts. Kylie Ladd talked about starting to write fiction with two young kids at home and therefore not having the time to have writer’s block, and it reminded me of Natasha Lester saying something similar; giving me hope that I still can get more fiction writing done even with the small boy around. And Kerri Sackville compared the urge to write to the urge to eat chocolate cake, something I also have to agree with.