Writers have to write

Writers Write!

Anchee Min and Steve Bisley
Anchee Min and Steve Bisley at PWF 2014

Writers have to write (sounds silly but surprisingly, I think sometimes people think they will be smitten with inspiration and the writing will simply pour onto the page –  a perfect copy. However, it doesn’t happen like that … in the words of someone famous “writing is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration!

Writers also have to read copiously and regularly and, well once you’ve done your reading (which now often includes blogs and social media) much of the writing time has been gobbled up.

So it’s about self discipline – you need to set aside a window of time to write each day and keep to that – even if it’s only for 10 -15 minutes a day.

Perth Writers Festival 2014

I wrote those words a year ago and now, after being immersed in the literary smorgasbord at the 2014 Perth Writers Festival, that message hasn’t changed.  Memoirist, Bruce Russell, ran a workshop  “Curing Writer’s block.” You think that didn’t get aspiring writers excited!

After general introductions and some music to help to get writers in the zone, Bruce starts off with “Write a scene about …”

“But, just a minute,” says one of the students, “We’re here because of writer’s block and you ask us to write a scene. What’s that about?” and proceeds to write two pages on his annoyance of not knowing what to write? And there before our very eyes was the birth of a brand new character.

Bruce Russell, Sarah Turnbill, Anchee Min, Steve Bisley
Bruce Russell talks to Sarah Turnbill, Anchee Min, Steve Bisley

The Memory Board

Memoirists Steve Bisely (Stillways), Sarah Turnbill (Almost French) and Anchee Min (The cooked seed) discussed memory and writing memoir with award winning writer Bruce Russell.

When writing a memoir you are calling up your version of events what to put in, what to leave out and with more polishing and editing the more real it becomes.

Steve Bisely’s memoir, titled Stillways will have you recalling your own school days as he vividly describes his life growing up in rural Australia back in the 50s and 60s. I love the way he describes things just as they were. For older folk who remember those times, they will recall  vivid memories, while younger people reading the book will go    ‘Wow ‘ – that’s amazing that life was so different, so primitive compared to today’s technically charged world.

Bruce Russell speaks to "not absolute beginners"

Bruce Russell speaks to “not absolute beginners”

Not absolute beginners

D.W. (Dave) Wilson. Tracey Farr and Jordi Punti spoke to Bruce Russell about their debut novels and their writing journey.

Detail is important write every day about what you see, hear and feel

Dave Wilson said he wrote one sentence after another, listened to the voices and ended up with around sixty thousand words.

Voila! There it is again – keep writing.


Is a short story harder to write than a novel?

This was a question posed to the panel and while we often hear that a short story is more difficult to write than a novel, these writers didn’t think so. Wilson said a novel is structurally more technical than a short story – it’s like building a cupboard or a house – which is harder?

Punti expressed the pleasure and pain of writing a novel as times ten compared to writing a short story. A short story might take three weeks to write while a novel may take six years. Writing a short story is like running a hundred meters, while a novel is like running a marathon

UWA resident peacock
UWA resident peacock

Write what comes

The human experience is totally unique for every single person and expressing feelings and reactions is what people want to read.

When I’m not sure what will happen next in my novel in progress, I write a letter to my protagonist and ask him where he is and what he thinks. He does write back and I usually find out something new about where he is and what he’s doing. Once again – mission accomplished – I am writing!

You often hear writers say that after a while the characters start to steer the novel and secondary character will start tapping you on the shoulder to give them some more to do. For this to occur you have to be writing.

So and what else can I say but I’m off to write another page and my message to all writers is keep writing.

PWF 2014
Perth Writers Festival 2014




    • Good to hear from you Carol … yes it’s a good way to get to know them and keep the writing momentum going.
      I should have another post soon … watch this space!

  1. Thanks Ingrid for this insightful post packed with great advice. I realise that I’ve just: read by reading your post; and, written by commenting. Let’s all keep it up!

    • Thanks for stopping by Wanda … I’m ashamed to say I haven’t blogged since Feb and now I will get back to it. It does help if there are comments, otherwise, sometimes you feel like you’re talking to yourself.
      There are some very lovely and inspiring pictures on your blog. keep up the good work and I’ll try and do the same.

  2. What an awesome wrap, Ingrid. You tell it like it is, and was, and brought back some great memories for me, along with a whole lot of tips from the sessions I didn’t get to. Loved it, and loved the pics too. I love your message to writers – yes, just keep writing, so true!

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