My Essentials for Being an Author

Vermeer's writerWhen I run writing classes, people often ask for hints on how to become better writers (and so do children – thankfully, for a future of great stories still to come!)

These are the essentials I pass on…..

  • Have an active imagination. Always ask, WHAT IF?

  • Be an acute observer of people, nature, places and things. Learn how to develop an ‘artist eye and ear’. Be aware of all your senses, totally.

  • Read voraciously (like a foraging seagull) with a hunger for story.

  • Learn by osmosis, and from the wise advice of the experienced and the successful; to glean more information on how to do it better from books and the web, and also from workshops run by those who have been ‘through the mill’ themselves, and who’ve gained much knowledge from their wide experience.

  • You will face manuscript rejections – regard them as your apprenticeship. Even experienced writers get manuscripts rejected. We are a small market in Australia. Unfortunately, a fact of life.

  • Never give up. If you are truly meant to be a writer, perseverance and toughness is essential at those most vulnerable moments of painful rejection or ‘so-so’ reviews. But you will pick yourself up, learn from the experience and start editing and re-writing to make your story even better.

  • Join a small writers’ group you can trust in – everyone there will understand the mountains we travail in this job; they will support, just like you would do in return.


Image: Johannes Vermeer’s portrait of a writing woman in 1670-71. One of his beautiful studies of women in the sublime light of his studio.

10 thoughts on “My Essentials for Being an Author

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  1. I love “learn by osmosis”. I always say that’s how I learned to write – I never had any classes but I read so many books that I sucked it all in!


  2. Yes, Karen! I’ve found that after years of being an artist my ARTIST’S EYE is on high alert much of the time. I wonder sometimes if people realise, bahahaha πŸ™‚ Thanks for commenting.


  3. Hi Sheryl,
    What a great writing post!
    Love all your tips for beginner, emerging and experienced writers.
    I particularly liked “Be an acute observer of people, nature, places and things.”
    That’s what I like to do. I take a notebook where-ever I go, observe life and ask questions. Love being a life-long learner.
    Take care, Karen Tyrrell πŸ™‚


  4. Great advice, Sheryl. Thank you for sharing. Sounds like the advice to never give up is just as timely now as ever.


  5. Dimity, it appears in this case to not be the story’s fault, but the hard cold fact of marketing not being totally convinced it will sell a ‘trillion copies’. At least, I know several very well-respected and experienced publishers thinks it’s a beaut story, and one in particular who I have enormous respect for, really likes my style of writing. That, believe me is a huge boost. πŸ™‚


  6. Ah, take heart Sheryl. I sympathise with thee! It just wouldn’t be a new week without a disappointing reminder that we are far from perfect. Such a wonderful leveller. πŸ˜› I wonder if other occupations offer the same emotional encouragement, LOL. xx


  7. Thanks for your comment, Dimity. Yes, sage advice never goes astray even when we think we follow these things … says she who has to pick herself off the floor of despair at a (albeit, beautiful and encouraging) rejection letter. πŸ™‚


  8. Sage advice, well delivered. And always nice to hear again as a gentle reminder. Thanks, Sheryl.


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