Susannah Hardy is an actor who always knew she could write, but wondered how she could improve her skills, and if it was possible to make a living from her writing. She had always had a love for writing, often creating material for her performances. But she admits, “I wrote from instinct, and I realised I needed tuition”.
Unsure of how to get that tuition, she says her mother noticed an ad in the local newspaper in 2006 advertising the Australian Writers’ Centre Newspapers and Magazine Writing Stage 1 course. She decided then and there that the course would be the perfect way to polish her nascent skills, and so she enrolled immediately.
Her instincts proved spot on. “The Australian Writers’ Centre Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1 course was perfect, just what I wanted. It helped me to work out what makes for a good story idea, how to pitch it well, and how to get it published.”
Valerie Khoo was also integral to her learning experience. “She was so inspiring,” Susannah says. But the inspiration didn’t stop at the end of the course – for which Susannah is immensely grateful. “Valerie always made herself available for advice and encouragement, which is impressive considering how busy she is.”
Freelance Writer & Actor
She followed up the Australian Writers’ Centre Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1 course with the Advanced Fiction Writing Technique course in 2010 and found this equally as good. “Jenni [course presenter] was fantastic, and I am currently tentatively working on an idea for a novel at the moment, when time permits [she is a mum to two kids].”
Making it happen
Following the Australian Writers’ Centre Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 2 course, Susannah submitted an article to the My Career section of The Sydney Morning Herald, which was accepted, convincing her she could make it as a writer. On the back of this initial success, she proactively approached other magazines, and was subsequently published on at least two occasions in Notebook.
Her proactive approach, which she freely admits is something actors routinely employ to gain work, yielded placements and ongoing relationships with Country Home Ideas, Modern Home and Inspirational Kitchens and Bathrooms. “I have a profile on a home in most issues of Country Home Ideas and the work is quite consistent,” she says.
She has also had articles accepted to Practical Parenting, My Child and Cosmo Pregnancy, which are not magazines she initially thought she would target. “I was going to write for Cosmopolitan and Cleo, but I realised that, as a wife and mother, I should write about what I know and love,” Susannah says. Renovating is also a passion so writing for magazines like Modern Homes was a good fit, too. “I will give any topic that interests me a go, even obscure ones.”
What writing has given her
She is appreciative of what writing has given her. “I find that writing is a great way to earn a living since I can fit it in around my work as an actor, and the demands of family life,” she says. “It also keeps me sane.”
She is the first to admit that the life she has now as a freelance writer would not have been possible without the Australian Writers’ Centre, and that it made all the difference in pursuing her dreams of being a writer.