I interview writers every week here on the Booktopia Blog. My Ten Terrifying Questions have been answered by over 250 published authors ranging from mega selling global stars like Jackie Collins and Lee Child to brilliant, relatively unknown debut authors such as Favel Parret and Rebecca James.
In each of these interviews I ask the following question:
Q. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Now, for the edification of aspiring writers everywhere, I will pull together answers to this question from three very different writers and post them here once week. Some will inspire, some will confound but all will be interesting and helpful in their own way…
“Write! It sounds stupid, but it’s the only way. Write and write and write, and then write some more. Think about what you’re writing, and why, and how. Read widely, pay attention, and write. Show your writing to people you trust, submit it places if you like, but just keep writing.
I’m up to year eleven, and I hope she’s right. Writing can be lonely and horrifically frustrating and disappointing and cruel- it can make you bang your head against your keyboard and question yourself day after day. But if you want to do it, if you have to do it, you just have to persist… and when it works, even if that’s just for a paragraph or even a sentence, it’s the most satisfying thing in the world.”
“Speak with your own voice, because it’s the only thing you have to offer a reader that is yours alone. Be true to your characters, don’t manipulate them for the sake of a clever plot twist.
Beautiful prose is not enough…you need a story. Write for a reader…if you’re writing for therapy, then write a diary. Don’t listen to flattery…seek objective opinions on your work because your friends and your mother will always lie.
Don’t write drunk…what looks like a work of genius when it’s swimming in front of your eyes at 3AM will not look so good in the cold light of day. And lastly, don’t give up…practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect, but it does make better.”
“I give encouragement.
Advice is useless.”
About the Contributor
While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. Now, as the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.