Why you're here 3
Generating ideas 4
Form and media 4
Seeking an audience 3
Things I wish I knew 5
Why you’re here
You’re here because you want to write. You may have already begun a writing practice or you may be looking for some inspiration and advice on how to get started.
Some people are endowed with endless creative inspiration and never have a problem sitting down to write. But such people are few and far between and the rest of us secretly hate them. For the majority of people, writing is hard work. And that work can seem overwhelming, especially when you’re getting started. At such times, it is useful to have a bag of tricks to dip into. It’s also important to start developing a regular writing practice that suits your life and is flexible enough to withstand some changes. We’ll cover these topics later in the course, but at a bigger level, it’s also important to think about what is motivating you in the first place.
Why do you want to write? What is driving you to do this?
This is a question we’ve asked many Queensland writers and their responses can be grouped into a few types of responses:
Love: Almost every professional writer expresses some form of love for the craft, for reading, and for stories generally. Picture book writer Robin Adolphs talks of her childhood, of the books by Enid Blyton that kickstarted her imagination, and how the love of stories can be passed from generation to generation as children who read grow up to become adults who write.
Self-discovery: Kylie Kaden describes writing as a kind of ‘purge’, working things out in life. Edwina Shaw says writing helps her ‘make sense of the world’. Sally Piper feels a social or moral obligation to share stories, to begin a conversation around issues that are important to her.
Because you have to: Many writers (Nick Earls, Talitha Kalago, Sandy Curtis, Simon Higgins, Lisa Walker, Kim Wilkins) equate writing with a kind of addiction or compulsion. Nick Earls puts this view most succinctly: ‘I write because it feels worse not to.’ For many writers, stories become something inside that won’t leave you alone until you get them down. John Ahern has a slightly different take on the same idea, describing the feeling of becoming lost in the storytelling: ‘[I’m] often surprised it’s 2pm when it felt like minutes at my desk.’
Sharing your stories with readers: Benjamin Law, Cass Moriarty, and Dave Lowe all describe sharing something you have learned, an idea you have formed, people and situations you’ve created, with people you don’t know and have never met.
It’s in the making: While a published work in any form is an extraordinary achievement, not one author talked about publication as a motivating factor in their writing. Rather, the pattern that emerges is one of gaining satisfaction from the craft itself. This is what Karen Foxlee talks about when she says:
‘It’s in the making.’
Your motivations might align with some or all of these at various points in your development as a writer, but that final act of sharing stories with others—whether on a page, a stage, a record, a podcast, a blog, or any other way—is something common to every writer whose work you’re familiar with.
As satisfying as it can be on its own, a text is just a vehicle to reach someone else. As a writer, you place your trust in an audience to understand you and to see the world the way you do, even if just for a little while. It’s important to remember that whenever you sit down to work: there will be someone else, a real person, on the receiving end of this.
Though it might seem abstract at first, when you write, you are making a very human connection with someone else.
Then again songwriter Dion Read is not entirely wrong either when he says: ‘Honestly, for the most part, I think it’s ego.’