Writing NSW Kids & YA Festival

Saturday June 30, 2018 at Writing NSW, Rozelle

It was apt that this year’s Writing NSW Kids and YA Festival began with a panel discussing the benefits of joining a writers’ group. The fresh perspective, the camaraderie, the motivation to keep on keeping on – all that can come from a good writers’ group – and the same is true of a good writing festival. So what were the words of wisdom from the program packed with talented authors, illustrators and publishers? The key takeaway was that to succeed in the book industry, you need passion.

As bestselling author Jacqueline Harvey put it, while speaking with author and Festival Director Belinda Murrell, “writing is a marathon not a sprint – look at it as a long term proposition”. Harvey spoke of years of hard work and perseverance before really hitting her stride as an author. Finding the initial motivation to stop talking about wanting to write and actually start writing was the first hurdle – and the years since have taught her that there’s no substitute for hard work, and no greater joy than connecting with readers around the world.

What are the keys to success?

·       Read widely. Reading is the most essential tool to be equipped with for writing. – Garth Nix

·       Make the personal universal [in your writing - so that readers from all walks can find something that resonates with them in your work]. – Kirli Saunders

·       Write the thing that you want to read, and try not to think about publication [while you’re working on it]. – James Bradley

How do you write? / How does your writing day look?

·       Lots of authors and illustrators spoke of beginning their day with a walk, and walking being the best thing to clear the head, think through storylines, and nut out characters and ideas.

·       Jaclyn Moriarty explained that for most of her books she begins by putting together a very detailed plan of what’s going to take place.

·       Megan Jacobson uses music and Pintrest ‘mood boards’ to help her get into the headspace of certain characters.

·       Tamar Chnorhokian has revisited places from her past, such as her old school, to help bring back the feelings and memories of the place and time she’s now writing about.

Who has been influential in your career?

·       Jacqueline Harvey spoke of the good advice she’s received from fellow author, Markus Zusak including, when stuck with what should happen next in a story, to “just think about the obvious and do the opposite”!

·       James Bradley mentioned that, starting out, author Michael Ondaatje was an inspiration: “if he can write a book that says all these things, then maybe I can too”.

For a full festival program, including biographical information about the festival speakers, search the event archives at writingnsw.org.au