13 Australian authors share their creative rituals

Some writers swear by their creative rituals. And, we get it. Once you get into a creative routine, it can be hard to break – especially if it provides you with inspiration and motivation.

We asked Australia’s top authors, poets and illustrators – nominees for the 2019 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards – to share their creative rituals

Alison Whittaker, Blakwork (Poetry):
I keep a book by the bed and in my pocket, and once they’re full, I file them. I try to write in bursts and in isolation, when the time works. One peppermint tea, a banana and a Whittaker’s Coconut Block. I’m mildly allergic, I recently found out, but the lower face numbness is a fine price. And grounding!

Meredith Lake, The Bible in Australia (Australian History):
My ‘ritual’ is to just keep plugging away in the time I have, whether the words are flowing easily or not.

Billy Griffiths, Deep Time Dreaming (Australian History):
I read my words aloud, constantly, so I can hear the rhythm of the prose. You will often find me at my desk muttering.

Above: Billy Griffiths

Clare Atkins, Between Us (Young Adult Fiction):
If I have the luxury of time I like to sink in to writing slowly, starting with a whole day of catching up on sleep, doing yoga, eating healthy food and walking in nature. It refreshes, refuels and inspires me to wake up early the next day, get a cup of tea and jump straight into writing.

Eddie Ayres, Sonam and the Silence (Children’s Fiction):
Procrastinating isn’t a ritual? I listen to some beautifully played music before I start, often cello music. It helps with a nice cadence at least, even if the words are rubbish.

Jill Jones, Viva the Real (Poetry):
I don’t have any rituals, but I often read something by someone else before I get started, usually poetry or some non-fiction, just to remind myself what writing can do.

Maria Tumarkin, Axiomatic (Non-Fiction):
No rituals. Just coffee. I need it to write.

Above: Maria Tumarkin

Judith Beveridge, Sun Music: New and Selected Poems (Poetry):
I will often light incense or a scented candle. 

Kirli Saunders, The Incredible Freedom Machines (Children’s Fiction):
I’d say my better writing has always been served alongside some food and a good cup of something warm, so writing in cafes or restaurants is a bit of a habit of mine. I often start by ‘writing the surface’ which for me means writing what I’m feeling, or the context of my thoughts at that given moment. I find this helps me identify what I’m trying to articulate sooner.

I carry a notebook with me everywhere. I always write in black, and always on unlined paper, if not on my laptop. My favourite pen to write/draw with is a 0.4 artline felt tip.

I also don’t write picture books until I have the entire story in my mind. I like to let a tale marinate for months or even years before I place it on the page.

Suneeta Peres da Costa, Saudade (Fiction):
I have some rituals, such as writing new material in the morning, when the mind is fresh. I keep notes through the day on my phone or in an old-fashioned notebook, so that I can use them later.

Laura Elizabeth Woollett, Beautiful Revolutionary (Fiction):
I’m a method writer, which means I do certain things to get into character. Music is extremely important to my process; I’ll often make playlists that are relevant to the time periods and characters I’m writing about. I also like to surround myself with objects and images that relate to what I’m working on, and have even found my fashion sense changing dramatically between projects.

Matt Ottley, The Incredible Freedom Machines (Children’s Fiction):
Tea… tea… and more tea!

Melissa Lucashenko, Too Much Lip (Fiction):
I play a lot of online scrabble to warm up.

Find out more about the shortlist for the 2019 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards here

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