5 surprising writing tips from top Aussie authors

We know what you’re thinking. Ask a writer for writing tips and chances are they’ll say “read more” and “write more”. There's a good reason for that. Reading widely and getting the words written are two cornerstones of every successful author’s career.

But every week on the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast we ask our guests for their top three writing tips – and some of their answers surprise us. So chances are, some of these tips might surprise you!

1. Be Kind
“I think kindness is sometimes completely overlooked, but everyone involved ­– in kid lit especially – is so, so passionate, and it's a labour of love. I think it can be really frustrating as an aspiring writer to come up against silence or people being too [busy] to see your work but I think, ultimately, everyone is trying their best.

“I think keeping that in mind can help you get further in your career than you realise.” – Wai Chim, Episode 442

2. Focus on your sleep
“This is a tip I will preach from the rooftops: get focused on your sleep. When you are sleeping – when you get good sleep – your brain does all this amazing stuff, especially in dream sleep, in REM sleep and your creativity is hindered if you don't get enough sleep. I’ve noticed that if I am not looking after my sleep, my writing just kind of falls apart like threads.

“But I don't think enough creatives are encouraged to prioritise their sleep. We’re taught to ‘get out there and just hustle.’ In reality, if you sleep, I guarantee you'll see greater output.” – Kyle Perry, Episode 440

3. Don’t be afraid to make things clear
“Don't be afraid of making things very clear to the reader [when you’re writing an audio book]. It’s going to be much harder for them to jump back and forth, than in a print book [to find out] ‘who was that guy again?’. So you need to be pretty clear and pretty explicit.

“Make allowances for the fact that, frankly, your reader may might be doing the shopping while they're listening – they might be looking at a shopping list as crucial developments come forth. So you need to be not afraid of being a bit more direct with them.” – Jack Heath, Episode 439

4. Read your work out loud
“Do not ever submit work [to a publisher] or enter work into a competition or whatever until you've read it out loud. Find a willing listener if you can, but read it to the wall if you have to. I’ve used programmes like text to voice. Yeah, I’ve had a whole novel read out loud to myself using text to voice.” – Sofie Laguna, Episode 438

5. Explore different types of story
“There are a lot of writing craft books out there, but a lot of craft books are written by people with the same experience. So one of the things I tried to do is, especially with my reading, is to make sure that I'm reading novels written by people who aren't from Western cultures.

“There are different storytelling techniques [in those novels] that are not the ‘right way to write a story’ (according to the [typical writing] craft books), but they are absolutely incredible, and so unpredictable, because you're not used to reading stories told in that format.

“So I think that exploring that is really important and powerful work to do as an author from a craft perspective. Try to explore novels or writing craft books written by authors of colour, and particularly authors of colour from different countries, because it's such an education, and it's enriching, as well as an experience as a reader.” – Amy Suiter Clarke, Episode 434

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Allison Tait is the author of three epic middle-grade adventure series for kids: The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries. A presenter at AWC and former co-host of the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast, Al reads a lot, writes a lot, and blogs at allisontait.com.

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