Tips for writing success
Here are some tips which have allowed me to hone my skills, boost my creativity and achieve my goals. They have been hard-won, but are vital for success.
Step outside your comfort zone
Our brains are hardwired to stick with what’s familiar in order to keep us safe, but in today’s world, we must take risks. In my case, entering creative writing competitions and submitting poetry for publication was anxiety-provoking, but payed dividends. I ended up receiving Highly Commended in the Lane Cove Literary Awards for my short story Triple Zero in 2019 and my poetry has been published in Woman’s Day and Gardening Australia. I have also recently completed my first novel, which has been both challenging and rewarding.
The Thailand Cave rescue in 2018 is another example of this. Pioneering cave divers from all around the world, including Dr Richard Harris, Dr Craig Challen, Vern Unsworth, John Volanthen and Richard Stanton pulled together and used their creativity, knowledge and experience to solve problems nobody thought possible. They put their physical, professional and emotional lives on the line and demonstrated that previously inconceivable tasks were doable. It’s highly unlikely any of us will become involved in something like this in the future, but never shirk an opportunity to learn, grow or make connections between seemingly disparate worldviews.
Praise is lovely, but too much can lead to complacency and arrogance. Humility is crucial and developing your emotional intelligence will stand you in good stead at university, the workplace and beyond. One way to do this is to surround yourself with like-minded people and straight-talking mentors. My writers’ group has provided me with moral support and critical feedback which has given me a sense of perspective and a willingness to continue honing my craft. In other words, don’t be a big fish in a small pond!
Over the years, I’ve witnessed double rainbows, cherry blossoms, chanting tree frogs, technicolour sunsets and a spider’s web studded with raindrops. I’ve drawn on many of these for inspiration and am grateful to have basked in nature’s jewels. In addition, spending time outdoors will not only lift your spirits, but increase your productivity. However, for completely different reasons, you should also observe your gut. If a person, situation or decision feels wrong, take a moment and regroup. It’s not always easy, but sometimes, you just have to say no.
Look for the silver lining
When I was teaching in country New South Wales (Australia), I was caught in a dust storm. I could barely breathe and wondered if there had been a nuclear explosion! I logged onto Facebook and Sydney’s skies were blood red too. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so alone and after a few hours, the air quality improved. Several years later, I wrote a poem about it and one of the characters in my novel has the same experience while studying at a regional university. Because I had been through this, I was able to capture her terror and sense of powerlessness, which was a great gift.
In conclusion, don’t be afraid to walk your own path. Seek out mentors, challenge yourself, develop your emotional intelligence and make time to reflect. And even if you face trauma and difficulty, there is often a silver lining. Just like snowflakes, we are all different, which enables us to make a unique contribution. What will yours be?