Becoming a Writer ...


I often get asked,

“Have you written that book yet?


“How can you have a blog and you haven’t published a novel yet?”


“You’ve published articles and stuff but don’t you need to be a published author or at least have a novel before you start giving writing advice?”

The answer to all these questions and more is:

I’m just getting started.

After around eight years of writing I’m still not good enough or ready (brave?) enough to write a novel and that’s why I haven’t written a novel. 

I have a question though.

Why should I have to or need to write a book anyway?

Writing is my hobby. 

I admit I do write articles and get paid for my efforts but it’s not all about the money. 

It’s about honing my craft. Actually I spend more money on reading to learn about writing than I ever earn writing. Writing for me is something that’s always different and keeps me interested.

I see so many of my online writer friends leaping immediately into writing a novel, novelette or ebook and I have to admit I cringe because I’d rather see them practice their writing and gain a few grammar, punctuation, editing and spelling skills along with finding their voice and creating great plot, characters etc before going headlong into getting published.

It’s a bit like sex.

As virgins a lot of people want to get the thing over with so they can say they’ve done it and believe they’re now all grown up or may want to brag that they did it at this age or that age or waited until marriage etc.

Well, that’s how I see novel writing. 

If I do it all in the beginning and don’t wait to understand a bit more about the magic around the novel writing process it will all be over with and done with and that would be so sad. I would have missed so much.

So rather than slut my writing-self around I’d like to take the time to get to know my style (if I have any), my audience (same again), know my voice (that’s a tough one) and be able to plot and plan the way I want to write. I want to explore what I should read and how I can please others, share the love and receive back some of that writerly love too!

Become a writer first.

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Ten Tips to Excite the Writing Out of You ...

It's the weekend!

Sometimes writing (or being a writer) can get a bit too serious. Considering the weekend is here, LET'S PLAY!!!

Write with unadulterated abandon.
Here’s Ten Tips to excite the writing out of you ...
  • Write naked
  • Write in the bath (shower)
  • Record a story whilst in the shower. (You will need a voice activated recorder for this one).
  • Write while blowing bubbles (if you don’t have any bottled bubbles) go steal some dish washing liquid and make a loop with a fine piece of wire or a twisty and get blowing.
  • Write out loud (yes, that’s what I said. Speak the words out loud to the dog if you must and write them down as you go. Also, write what the dog says too).
  • Write backwards, upside down, left handed. Writing in a mirror is fun. Anything to frustrate the writing process.
  • Write about something you’ve never been game to write about before.
  • Write in another color or use several colors or use a different form: crayons, textas, charcoal, or something you’ve never written with before. If you are going to use a rock I have some nieces that are expert at writing on the side of their Mum and Dad’s vehicle. Warning:   This is expensive.
  • DON’T write at a local coffee shop. It’s old hat and JKs already been there!
Most of all (as always) enjoy yourself!

Where are some of the places and ways you like to write?

Zak - Writing Weekend 

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WHY Writing Workshops?

WHY Attend Writing Workshops? 
This blog post is part promotional part educational.

How it came about.

I may have mentioned this before and I’m not too shy to mention it again. I co-ordinate a local writer’s group in Albury-Wodonga (where I live) called Write Friends. We meet once a month to read aloud and critique each others’ work, present and promote writing, discuss improving our writing and presentation skills along with writing exercises and the occasional guest authors/speakers attends.
We also enjoy socializing in our writerly ways.

We have a membership with the Victorian Writers Group and from our name being listed on their website we were contacted by Anne Gracie, a Harlequin Books and Berkley Books published author (with many awards under her belt) to spread the word about an upcoming writing workshop(s).

Anne Gracie will be one of the participating speakers at Trinity College, Melbourne University along with Kate Forsyth and Shane Maloney. Diary jot a weekend of fiction writing workshops from 15th-17th June, 2012. Keep the date available and book early.

How exciting!

I’d love to go but I have way too many commitments (unless I wangle my way out of something) so I’ve got to get the word out so others don’t miss out.

I thought what better way than in a blog post?

The presenters are bestselling and award winning novelists, Kate Forsyth (fantasy, children's, YA and historical) Shane Maloney (crime) and Anne Gracie (historical romance.) The program is run in association with Bryony Cosgrove (Head of the Publishing and Communications Program at Melbourne University).  Ali Watts, senior editor at Penguin Books Australia will attend on the Sunday. (I stole that from their website ~ you will find it by clicking here).

It all starts Friday evening with a meet and greet session and a workshop to get you writing. Saturday and Sunday are intensive workshops covering some key areas in writing popular fiction, and there is a dinner on Saturday night. Yum.

If you missed all that go here for details: Well, that’s the promotional bit done.

NOW, let’s have a closer look at writing workshops.

Have you ever attended a workshop?

Do you get much out of them?

Do you know what the purpose of a workshop is? (Apart from the obvious:  promotion, selling, marketing, ego-rubbing and/or flogging-off products, especially flogging products, etc).


Not all workshops are like that but to figure out what a workshop is really offering takes work.

To get the most out of attending a workshop you need to have a plan.

What’s that old saying? Something about if you fail to plan you plan to fail?

If you don’t have a plan you will achieve very little and gain even less out of attending a workshop. Workshops can be expensive and you need to decide before you sign up what you hope to gain from the workshop and whether this workshop is the one for you.

Will it fill your needs as a writer?

You need to read up before attending the workshops to find out what will be covered.

DO (that is, complete) any of the suggested readings (homework) before you attend.

You need to look at what the authors are presenting and what they have written. It’s good to have an idea of what to expect so you can attend with a clear set of goals to achieve the most out of your experience at the workshop.

I love conferences and workshops. I love learning. (If you haven’t figured that out already you haven’t been paying attention Tsk! Tsk!)

I also like food, drink and chats, especially food.

But do I get all that I should from these conferences and workshops? No, I’m not talking about the food now, (although?) ...

 And, do you? Get all you should.

It‘s not really enough to go for the food, the drink and gaze admiringly at the speakers hanging on the edge of your seat expecting any moment they’ll say something so earth-shatteringly incredible that it’ll change your writing world. It’s much more than that. It’s about the effort of being the writer you want to be.

In order to gain as much as you can from these workshops and not only come home with autographed collections of books you paid a handsome prince and four maidens for and may never find the time to read. 

You must do your homework on the presenters and also DO what they suggest. For the workshops at Trinity you need to read from the works of the authors presenting (*cheeky grin* there's that 'buy my book' angle I was suggesting earlier *snickers*). No. Seriously.
IF you want to gain from the workshops you do need to understand how these writers write and what you want to learn from them.

Remember to ask yourself these questions.

Would I want to write like this presenter/author does?

Do I admire his/her work?

Write up your specific questions before you get to the workshop.

This is not about ego. It’s about learning. People will know immediately if you’re simply smart-arsing your way with fake questions appearing like a know-it-all with a pre-orchestrated performance to impress.

It’s not a rub-your-own-ego event, although I’m sure you’ll see some of this as inevitably these events attract people like this as well as those genuinely wanting to learn. So, prepare your questions with intelligence and sensitivity to ask what you need to know as the writer you want to become. These workshops are for your benefit not only the presenters and organizers.

You must decide what it is you want to learn from attending the workshop.

And don’t be afraid to ask questions because chances are other attendees have similar questions but are too afraid to ask.

Planning is paramount for making the most of your experience.


Use a checklist.

Write out your goals for the workshop.

Choose the workshop you want to attend before making the booking and pose your questions around that presenter. Notice that the Trinity workshops give you the choice to attend one or all events.

Know the presenters and find them on-line, learning as much about them as possible.

If the workshop is expensive make sure you contact other people who have attended this, or similar workshops previously to make sure this is the right workshop for you.

Make a list of who you want to meet.

Contact them beforehand if possible and arrange to meet at the workshop.

Remember your brain ~ stay hydrated and eat before attending (avoid sugary foods and preferably eat low Gi foods) so your brain will function as it was intended.

Wear comfortable clothing and especially good fitting shoes. Sorry no Fashionistas here!

Take useful notes. 

Take it from me, it's easy to write useless notes. I've become an expert at this over the years. Many a time I've scrawled copious notes only to find later my writing made no sense at all and yet at the time seemed perfect. 

TIP!  Make sure what you write at the workshop will make sense when you read it later.

When returning from workshops rewrite your notes and jot down anything you learned or anything else you had been hoping to learn. If you are attending a second day make sure you get those unanswered questions dealt with.

Collect business cards from writers and presenters and keep in contact with people you found you had a connection with on the day.

Go through all of this a week later and work on staying connected after the workshop.


I guess.


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Getting your novel or short fiction story published ...

Getting your novel or short fiction story published ...
Do you find it tough getting your stories published?

Like all markets the writers market is crammed with competition and this is a good thing.

Yeah, it is, really.

Competition makes us try harder. 

It makes us sets goals and achieve. 

It makes us    ~     s        t        r        e        t        c        h       ~

They say it’s easier to publish non-fiction than fiction but what’s easier?
What’s your definition of easier? Making stuff up or researching for hours and hours on a topic? 

OF COURSE it’s not really that simple is it?

The main thing is we should never give up.

Don’t feel alone, yeah you may be a frog in a birds mouth or a bird in a frogs mouth, but many of the now famous authors had trouble getting their fiction published too. Think of J.K. Rowling, Stephen King or John Grisham, Dan Brown or James Patterson

Did you know that James Patterson first published in 1976? 
That means he's been publishing his work for well over thirty years and how many years before that did he write? Practice, practice, practice got him there in the end. 

Did it not?

So now we know that many fiction submissions get turned down every day and even those people who put a book out every year or every second year also struggled at one stage and persevered until they too became published.

There are so many books published every year and yes this makes it hard for your novel or short story to get noticed but do not despair because for every book published there are more readers out there wanting to read something different. I’m one of them myself. It takes me years to write a novel and only a week or so to read one so don’t be bemused and get writing!

There’s hope for us yet.

Also, there’s a lot of less than wonderful fiction out there but remember editors are often rejecting stories not because they are bad but simply because that particular story at that time didn’t fit their theme for the week, month or year. Your work was possibly not a good fit in that particular niche so if you believe you have written something worthwhile (and you believe it's good) then be brave and re-submit your work to another publisher.

Keep trying!

An edible frog catches a small bird. Sometimes frogs too can achieve bigger better goals ...
A rare photo from pia aalbers. 
Never give up!

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Writing Quote: James Patterson ...

“If you want to write for yourself, get a diary. If you want to write for your friends, get a blog. If you want to write for others…become an author.” ~ James Patterson.
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Writers ~ Reveal Riches ...

“The greatest good we can do for others is not just to share our riches with them, but to reveal theirs.”  ~ Zig Ziglar

I don't know, there's just something about writing that lets you deal with your life. Not only does writing offer others enjoyment but it can be soothing for your soul. So if you're feeling dull, bored or down do some writing and express those angry or frustrated emotions in words. It helps. 

Writing ~ It's not such a bad way to spend ten minutes
(or one's life).

See you next time.

Have a wonderful week everyone, health and happiness to you all ....

Zak - Striving for greater writing growth