One new year’s day, Susannah Hardy made a decision that would change the rest of her life. She decided she wanted to earn money from writing. Already working as an actor, Susannah then enrolled in a course at the Australian Writers’ Centre. That set her on a path where she now has dual careers – as an actor, as well as a successful freelance writer, published in Australia’s top magazines and newspapers.
“I had been working as an actor and I always loved to write,” says Susannah. “I’d reached this decision where I thought ‘I’m going to earn money from writing'.”
Since that fateful decision and subsequent success as a feature writer, Susannah has also followed her writing passion into the world of fiction and is now a published author. Her debut novel Loving Lizzie March, published by Pan Macmillan was released June 2021. And she has a second manuscript on the way.
A big decision for the new year
“I just got up one day, it was actually a new year's day, I woke up somewhere up from the North Coast, and went ‘I’m earning money from writing'. I just had no idea how I was going to go about it and if it was at all possible.”
That’s when Susannah found the course Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1 at the Australian Writers’ Centre. And it was a decision that changed the direction of her life.
Freelance Writer & Actor
A successful new career
It was a five-week course, where students commit to a two-hour class each week. Susannah says: “The course taught me how to get out there and pitch a story, get commissioned, write it, all the nuts and bolts – the practical side of writing. After that, I got published pretty quickly. So it got me going, it gave me the push I needed to get out there.
“I have been published in The Sydney Morning Herald, Herald Sun, Practical Parenting, Cosmo Pregnancy, MyChild, Notebook Magazine, Country Home Ideas, Modern Home, Backyard Landscaping Ideas, Kitchen and Bathroom Ideas.”
Great career choice to fit around family
Susannah is also a busy mother with two young children and has found writing a flexible way to earn an income. “It’s great what I’ve achieved so far,” she says. “And it fits into my lifestyle, so it’s perfect when I get acting work. It’s perfect for a family with young children, dropping kids off to school or going to ballet. I can fit it in around all that and work from home – and that suits me. The freelance aspect of it is perfect for me. It’s fantastic and hopefully it will expand and, once my kids are at school, it will become my full time career as well.
“I enjoy writing articles about interesting people and events, human interest stories, I also like writing on relationships and I’ve got two small children so I do enjoy writing on baby and parenting issues as well.”
Getting paid to do what she loves
Before doing the course, Susannah thought that earning an income as a writer would be “a bit of a long shot”, but she trusted her instincts, learnt the skills she needed and is now being paid to do something that she loves.
“The best thing about writing – and being paid to do it – is that I’m actually being paid to write, which I absolutely love to do.”
However, it’s not just the course that has helped Susannah; she says the Australian Writers’ Centre community has been invaluable. “One of the best things about doing the course was that it didn’t just end once the course finished, it’s an ongoing community feel with the teachers and with the students alike, and that has been a great support over the years. It’s all very well to do the course, but once you get out, it’s great to have that support.”
Susannah says: “Finding this course and going to the Australian Writers' Centre changed my life for the better. Definitely.”