Top Tips

These amazing 'Top Tips' are shared with me by some of my author friends. They are full of useful information for those who are just starting out or seasoned professionals who just need a reminder.

These 'tips'  are what they live by as an author.

For those who aspire to reach the literary heights these authors have reached, every piece of advice is invaluable.

Aaron Blabey
I don’t know. It’s different for everyone. There’s no formula or magic bullet. All I can say is, my work improved – and became much more popular with children - when I wrote the following two phrases on my studio wall – DON’T BE BORING - DON’T BE PRECIOUS. The first one is self-explanatory. The second relates to my favourite part of writing, which is editing. I find it useful to be single-minded, brutal and unforgiving. If one of my precious ideas gets in the way of a non-boring story, I KILL IT. “Kill your darlings”, as they say in the movie business. And then, if I’m still in doubt, I refer again to phrase one.
Aaron Blabey Author
Adam Wallace
Write and write and write and read and read and read and listen and watch and see and hear and write and write and have FUN and throw away any need to be perfect and write some more and read some more and most of all don't be scared to try ANYTHING! Changes can always be made.
Adam Wallace Author
Aleesah Darlison
Never ever give up on your writing dream. I faced many rejections before I was published, and still do, in many different forms. But you never know what (acceptance) will be waiting for you around the corner. So, whatever you do, keep on writing and submitting and thinking positively. Throughout all of this, your writing will be improving and so will your chances of publication.
Aleesah Darlison Author
Bill Condon
The thought of spending hours staring at a computer screen is very daunting, so I set myself small goals. I use an oven timer and set it for a half an hour. My aim is to write until the timer goes off. It's a short enough time to make it achievable and I have a sense of satisfaction when I go the distance. Whenever I do this I nearly always want to keep going when the half hour is up. This works for me. Give it a try.
Bill Condon Author
Belinda Murrell
Five tips which all begin with P! They are: Passion – write what you love. Write from your heart. Don’t try to follow trends. Write for yourself and have fun doing it! Persistence – there are so many writers with talent, who write extremely well. But to succeed as a writer you need bucketloads of determination and tenacity. Succeeding as a writer can only be achieved through lots of hard work over many years! Practise – write constantly. Write every day. Take a notebook with you everywhere and fill it. Pack your bags – travel the world and have amazing adventures. Work at various jobs, volunteer, experience life, fill your notebooks with sights, people and experiences. There’s nothing like crawling down in the tunnels under the streets of Paris, galloping a horse across the countryside, sailing down the river on an ancient fishing boat, or climbing the ramparts of a medieval castle to get your imagination bubbling. Patience - The flip side is sitting at your desk. At some point the book won’t get written unless you sit at your desk and stay there! Just keep chipping away until it’s finished.
Belinda Murrell Author
Andy Griffiths
Many fledgling writers misplace a lot of energy worrying about how to get their writing published. That energy is much better spent using writing to deeply explore yourself and the type of stories that only you can tell. Try to find the types of stories that you get a delicious thrill out of writing whether or not they eventually get published. That’s one of the most important rewards of writing and one of the most important keys to eventually getting published. Oh yeah, that and not listening to my annoying writing tips.
Andy Griffiths Author
Christopher Cheng
As well as all the other great tips mine would be - KEEP A JOURNAL.  It’s your Ideas Book.  Do you have a great idea?  Scribble it down in your Ideas Book. Did you see something amazing that might be a great story?  Scribble it down in your Ideas Book.  Smell something really really bad?  Scribble it down in your Ideas Book.  And then sometime down the track you might need to weave them all together to create your story.
Christopher Cheng Author
DC Green
Write! Writers write. Writers write every day, in fact, even if just for half an hour, so the writing becomes a habit. The more you write, the more your writing improves, and the more dizzying your word counts will become. In other words, apply bum glue liberally to your computer chair. It’s that simple!
DC Green Author
Jack Heath
Forget about genre and focus on emotion. What do you want the reader to feel in this scene? Scared? Longing? Amused? Disgusted? Fascinated? Everything else must serve that goal.
Jack Heath Author
Dianne (Di) Bates
Finish what you start. And then edit it to within an inch of its life.
Dianne (Di) Bates Author
Emma Quay
It is the wandering mind which seems to come up with ideas for stories. I, and many other writers and illustrators, seem to get most of my ideas whilst on public transport. It must be something about having unstructured time, when thoughts are free to roam. I always have a sketch book with me to jot down ideas. So my Top Tip is a bit of a strange one: don’t play with your mobile phone on the train. Imagine if J.K. Rowling or Hilary Mantel had been playing Candy Crush on their famously fêted railway journeys!
Emma Quay Author
Deborah Abela
As you write ask yourself: Is this sentence earning its place in my story? Could the story exist without it? Is it adding something the reader doesn't already know and drawing them towards the climax? It is easy to get caught up in descriptive passages or wonderful moments, but is it taking your story ever forward…if it isn't, maybe it doesn't deserve to be there.
Deborah Abela Author
Allison Tait
Get the words written. Writing is not convenient. It takes up time, energy and brain space that many of the people in your life will think is better spent elsewhere. Do it anyway. Make time for it and finish your book!
Allison Tait Author
Claire Saxby
The only thing you can't edit/improve is the white (empty) page. Write that first dreadful, awful first draft. Acknowledge that it will be anything but perfect. No one need ever see it. Once you have some - any - words on a page, the work can begin.
Claire Saxby Author
Heath McKenzie
There’s no right or wrong way to draw! Nobody is a BAD drawer, just possibly unconfident or unhappy with how they do it! The worst thing you can do is to give up - keep going, make a mess, find the good in that mess and go from there!
Heath McKenzie Author
John Heffernan
Start by writing short stories. Try to capture many different stories in compact form where every word counts. You can always expand them later into longer short stories or picture books or graphic novels, full-blown novels, videos, films, or whatever. But it means that you have a kind of bank of story ideas to draw on, and you’ve done some valuable practice and mind expansion along the way.
John Heffernan Author
Lesley Gibbes
Modeling from other successful books will fast track your writing skills like nothing else. Read exquisite pieces of writing, write them out in long hand, analyze them and learn.
Lesley Gibbes Author
Peter Carnavas
I think it’s important to work on your craft as much as possible. If you have any spare time, write, draw, read, paint, compose… even if you think it’s rubbish the next day, it’ll have enriched you or taught you something in the process.
Peter Carnavas Author
Jackie French
Think! The most beautifully written story is boring if it's ideas are boring. Best seller lists always have at least one book so badly written it makes you cringe to turn the page, but you do keep turning, to find out what happens next. You don't need one inspiration to write a book, but at least ten thousand, twisted and plaited together. Writer's block is never as heavy as a tray of devonshire tea or bottles of beer, and far easier on the back and feet. We have the best job in the universes. Enjoy it.
Jackie French Author
Jacqueline Harvey
Create characters that you love spending time with. Whether they are the heroes or the villains you have to enjoy writing them. This helps create authentic voices and makes them believable.
Jacqueline Harvey Author
Janeen Brian
Check each page of writing. How many senses, besides that of SIGHT, have you used? Remember we have FIVE! Make sure your characters live and breathe and also use their senses.
Janeen Brian Author
Jeff Kinney
I'd recommend to anyone seeking to become a cartoonist or illustrator to copy someone else's style, to see how it's done. Then you'll have a tool to help you create your own unique style.
Jeff Kinney Author
Jen Storer
Get playful! Commit to letting go and relaxing.That’s when you’ll tap into your unique gifts and talents.
Jen Storer Author
Judith Rossell
Write about what you love, and write the story that you would have loved to read when you were a kid. Find out what good writing habits work for you, and stick to them. If you need to give yourself a treat every time you finish another chapter, then do that. Whatever it takes. Learn to be a tough critic of your own work. Good luck!! Keep going!!
Judith Rossell Author
Jules Faber
Tenacity is your greatest weapon. You are the hero of your own story. If you give up after a single rejection, all is lost. You must combat it, get back up, dust yourself off and try again. And again. And again. Until you are victorious. If you lack tenacity you must question why it even matters to you.
Jules Faber Illustrator
Justin D'Ath
Nowadays writer needs to have very thick skin and a huge amount of self-belief and dedication to their calling – and it should be a ‘calling’, cos if you don’t love it you’d be better off – financially and mentally, driving taxis.
Justin D'Ath Author
Kate DiCamillo
The more human you are, the better writer you will be.
Kate DiCamillo Author
Katrina Germein
Don’t rely on your favourite childhood books to know what makes a good story today. Read contemporary stories for inspiration but remember what it felt like to be a kid. Remember the thrills and remember the terrors. Use your emotions. Engage the senses. Entertain.
Katrina Germein Author
Libby Hathorn
Give yourself the dignity of time to write and a place to write, which translates to taking yourself and your writing life seriously. Always write what excites or moves you which means write ‘with heart.’ The well-spring of your own life, real and vicarious experience, is amazingly rich. Just believe in it and draw on it!
Libby Hathorn Author
Lucy Cousins
Create a world that you love yourself, and your enthusiasm will shine through.
Lucy Cousins Author
Margaret Wild
Read, read, read! If you read wonderful books, your own writing will improve because you will be inspired to try harder and write better.
Margaret Wild Author
Mem Fox
DO 'show' and do not 'tell': try to reveal action and character through what the characters say and do.
Mem Fox Author
Michael Gerard Bauer
Write about the things that are important to you. The things that move you in some way, whether that be to laughter or tears or maybe even anger. And go for long walks by yourself. Seriously. And as you walk, let your mind go free to wander off on pathways of its own choosing. If I were to nominate the one thing that best helps me uncover stories, work out plot problems, get to know characters or simply find the words I've been struggling with for ages in front of the computer, then this would be it. Walking and wondering and day-dreaming about the story.
Michael Gerard Bauer Author
Michael Salmon
Create your own private fantasy world: a Middle Earth or a Narnia, where only you may enter. A place where ideas and images grow freely until they’re ready for the outside world. You hold the only key, good luck.
Michael Salmon Author
Nick Falk
Don’t worry whether what you’re writing’s good, bad or not silly enough, just keep writing. The journey of writing is the fun bit. The destination is just what happens at the end!!!
Nick Falk Author
Oliver Phommavanh
My tip is to carry a notebook and everyday, write down 5 ideas/observations. No matter how ordinary or mundane they may be. Some days you may have more, but have at least 5 things down everyday. Get your mind to anticipate gathering and absorbing things around you. Once a month, look back and see what ideas have stuck or what can be used for your stories. It's okay if the ideas lead to nowhere, it's all about training the creative mind!
Oliver Phommavanh Author
Paul Collins
Perseverance. A manuscript has never been published by staying at home.
Paul Collins Author
Paul Jennings
Think of a weird or unusual idea which the reader can't resist. Use short sentences to hook the reader in and to make the story sound tense and exciting. Short paragraphs are easier for the reader. Introduce dialogue to involve the characters, help reveal their personalities and add new information to the plot.
Paul Jennings Author
R.A. Spratt
Write to your audience. Tell them a story.
R.A. Spratt Author
Sally Murphy
Persist! You need to persist with finishing a draft. Then, persist with the editing and revision process. Revise, revise, revise. Finally, persist with getting published. Keep learning, submitting, networking. It might not happen overnight, or even in the first year. Persistence is key.
Sally Murphy Author
Sally Rippin
When writing for children, I find authenticity is created by remembering yourself as a child rather than observing children from the outside. Remember how you felt at the time and don't trivialise these emotions with an adult's perspective. What can seem unimportant to an adult can be earth-shattering to a child.
Sally Rippin Author
Sarah Davis
Your first idea isn't necessarily your best idea...it's just your first idea. And you think of it first because... it's obvious. And obvious ideas are ...boring! Take your first idea and push it, twist it, turn it inside out, take it apart and put it together backwards. Then you might have something interesting....
Sarah Davis Artist & Illustrator
Shaun Tan
Finish!
Shaun Tan Illustrator
Stephan Pastis
To always entertain yourself when you write. Write the story you want to read.  Make yourself laugh, cry. Author of the Timmy Failure series.
Stephan Pastis Illustrator
Sue Whiting
Being a writer involves more than the time spent at the keyboard. Being a writer inhabits you. It becomes a way of life. You must observe – really observe. Listen. Experience. Live. Feel. Read. Be open, challenging. Curious. And when you put pen to paper, you need to have a story to tell – one worth telling, not matter the genre. Then it's your job to tell it with heart and absolute honesty, letting your wonderful self shine through onto the page.
Sue Whiting Author
Susanne Gervay
Get into the culture of children’s writers, otherwise you will flounder as there’s so much to learn in this profession. Join your local writing group. Create your own critique group. Do some classes. Belong to writers’ organisations. Get online to Creative Kids Tales and children’s book blogs. Follow your favourite authors and illustrators. Publication is a very rugged road, but if you have friends and colleagues on the journey, you’ll have great buddies to celebrate, commiserate, but continue the march forward.
Susanne Gervay Author
Tania McCartney
Whatever you do, write what you love. Write what resonates with you. Write with originality and your own voice. Don’t try to copy, don’t assume, don’t ruin your creative spark by worrying what people will think or what you feel publishers might like. Listen to your heart and remember that original thoughts come from risk-taking and fearlessness. Heartfelt originality (along with tenacity, excellence and hard work) is the key to success in any creative field.
Tania McCartney Author
Terry Denton
I find I need to be constantly drawing and reading. I do life drawing, sit playing with paint, browse ideas from other artists that I can steal and work at my art constantly. And I read lots, constantly constructing images in my head. That’s the illustrators great tool… the imagination.
Terry Denton Illustrator
Tohby Riddle
Take the job of making a book very seriously, then have a lot of fun!
Tohby Riddle Author & Illustrator
Tristan Bancks
Have the courage to write the kind of book that you love to read. Write from your gut, not from your head. Don’t think two drafts. Think sixteen. The best writing workshop you can do is to read a really well-written book. And ignore me entirely. Make your own rules.
Tristan Bancks Author
Ursula Dubosarsky
Try to finish whatever it is you've started - whether it's a story, a poem, a song - whatever it is. I found that I learned the most about writing from finishing drafts. It doesn't matter if you finish it badly - that's how you learn how to finish it better next time.
Ursula Dubosarsky Author
Wendy Blaxland
Read the writers who make you catch your breath, learn as much about the world of writing and publishing as you can, and then write, write, write. Write from your heart the work that only you can create. Take risks. Always keep on polishing your work, reading it out loud and never, ever give up. Then as a writer the universe will shine through you.
Wendy Blaxland Author
Tim Harris
Be influenced in uniqueness. Read widely. Identify books you love. Listen to other authors talk about their craft. Take on board the nuggets that inspire you. Then mash it all up and let it flow out as something that is uniquely yours.
Tim Harris Author
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