Two posts writers must read (especially Aussie or female ones!)

I’ll clear the air straight out and admit I haven’t been writing much fiction┬árecently. 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.

Amanda Kendle


  1. I am so glad you got inspired by that post. I approached all four women hoping they’d be involved and it is with such grace and generosity they all said yes. I need to keep rereading their advice and then I need to sit down and write. That’s the whole point of it really – make the time to write.

    Good luck with your journey x

  2. I so understand the ‘imposter syndrome’ – I feel this pretty much every day. And the doing stuff with your hands, it lets one part of your brain switch off for a while, or rather, go on working on stuff without you even being aware of it. That’s why I love cooking and baking (and why I should be doing more bike riding).

    Great post ­čÖé

  3. Thanks for the links, I’m hopping over to check them out now!

    As for not rushing to get published, that’s something I’ve been working on reminding myself lately. I’m in this for the long haul; I want a career, not a book or two. So why do I feel so much pressure to “hurry, hurry, hurry!”? Well, I have some answers, but they’re all lame/external. I need to look *within* myself for the truth, for the pace, for my calm.

  4. @bigwords, yes, making time, so true – they really remind me it’s possible to write (and even be published!) despite all the demands of family, paid work, chocolate eating and so on! Thanks again. I’ll be re-reading it regularly I think!

    @Meredith, now I know why I’ve been doing all this baking lately! Your mention of bike riding reminded me that I’ve also been swimming heaps lately and that really makes a difference – I often solve writing problems mid-lap. (And then try desperately hard to remember the solution for the rest of my swim!).

    @Kristan, yes the rush to publish is an interesting issue and her comments made me feel a little more relaxed. If I were in your shoes I would feel more pressure though I’m sure, because having made the commitment to write full time I would feel the peering eyes of those around me waiting to see some “result”, but you’re so right to just look for your own calm pace and do it your way.

  5. Hi Amanda, I also stumbled across the bigwords blog and thought what a great idea that was – to choose 4 mentors whose work you not only admire, but also their publishing story too. There’s so much bad news about how dire the publishing industry is at the moment that it’s nice to read about people being inspired by and still wanting to be part of the publishing industry. And maybe it’s just me but I find that, even though I’ve had one book published, I doubt everything about my second book so I still love hearing other writers’ advice and stories too!

  6. Absolutely agree, Natasha, it was a great idea and a real “good news story”. Slightly less good news is your concern about your second book – I’d imagine it would get easier? At least a little, perhaps?

    Incidentally I finished “What is Left Over, After” last night and LOVED it. Will be writing more about it on the blog soon! Thanks so much!!

  7. Thanks Amanda, I’m really glad you liked the book. It’s the best feeling when people tell me that.
    And yes, I’d hoped I would worry less about the second book but I worried just as much as with the first. And I’m not pleased to report that I just started book number 3 yesterday and 1.5 pages into it I think I’ve written the worst piece of rubbish ever. But at least now I know that’s how I always feel so I just have to tell myself to get over it and keep writing!

  8. that’s brilliant – thanks for suggesting a really interesting read. I might print out some of the slides and stick them on my wall to provide regular sane advice and inspiration…

  9. I do love the chocolate theme in all that advice! I have to mix writing with a strict exercise routine, merely so I can eat as much as I like to while writing…

    And thanks for your supportive comment on my blog – wishing you all the best. x

  10. @ Natasha, congrats on starting book #3! I’ll be very much looking forward to it. No pressure. (When will book #2 be likely to come out?). You give me a lot of hope in saying that you thought you wrote rubbish yesterday – I think that every day – so perhaps I still have a chance!!

    @ Shannon – you’re very welcome ­čÖé

    @ Megan, yes that’s very true about the exercising. My exercise of choice is swimming – I get lots of excellent ideas in the pool – and then burn extra calories trying to finish my laps before I forget the ideas. Then, can eat more chocolate.
    And all the best to you too, again x

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