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, every day. Even if it’s just for 20 minutes. Don’t answer the phone, don’t talk to your mother, etc. Take a workshop writing course, so you learn to give and get criticism and be your own best editor. And when you reach the point where you think your story is truly the worst piece of garbage created and want to throw it out…don’t.
What you’re REALLY afraid of is finishing and finding out you’re not as good as you assumed you are. Instead, you should finish that story and edit it until it is flawless, and something you’re satisfied with. Otherwise, you’ll never believe you can actually finish any piece of fiction. And read. A ton. It will inspire you to be just as clever, prolific, and eye-opening as the authors you admire..”
“Get it down, get all your ideas and anecdotes down, no matter which order and in what shape. There! You’ve inadvertently just written half your book! Well, maybe not half, but, you know, a good whack of it. I think it makes it a lot easier to write a book when you’ve already got the bones there.
Also – just give me a second to get up onto this soapbox conveniently placed to my left – please stop talking about how you want to write a book, and write a book. It’s no more impressive telling people you “want to write a book,” than it is to say you “want to climb Everest.” You gotta take action! Action is the thing! Action is the thing.“
“You don’t have to be a ‘writer’ to write. I’m not. You just need a goat.”
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, was published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.