Freelance writer, born and bred in South Australia.
Published October 5th 2016
Some of us were brought up in creative families. Some of us learnt creative writing in school. Some of us discovered creative writing on our own - be it in a library, a bookshelf in a friend's house, or somewhere else. Some of us are young, and some of us are old.
But, if you are visiting this page, then I can assume you have something in common with other people that are also. You want to become a creative writer.
Well, all of you aspiring poets, novelists, fiction & non-fiction writers, you have come to right place. This is a comprehensive guide designed for you, because I was once a fiction artist hidden in the dark, too.
Firstly, most people will be unable to do creative writing as their full-time job. The industry is difficult to get into for a career and does not pay well. The creative writing world also does not get much funding from the government anymore.
Secondly, it is very highly unlikely that your writing will make you famous. Authors like J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, and Dr Seuss not only had to be incredibly determined and talented, but it's possible that their popularity was also ignited with a bit of luck. A significant number of writers only get adequate recognition after they're dead. This includes Sylvia Plath and Anne Frank.
Your desire to become a creative writer must stem from your love for writing & reading - NOT because you want money or popularity. Without the genuine passion, you simply will not accomplish anything.
2. Join the SA Writer's Centre
The SA Writer's Centre is the key to becoming a part of the Adelaide writing scene. They will teach you, support you, and allow you to establish yourself as a writer in the community. It is an opportunity to connect with like-minded people who are trying to achieve the same goals as you.
Joining as a member only costs $75 per year or $44 for a concession. If these prices seem too hefty, then you haven't yet comprehended the amount of assistance provided by the SA Writer's Centre.
Some of the benefits of being a member include:
Discounts on all SA Writer Centre events and workshops;
Priority booking for workshops;
Free access to meetup events;
Discounts on consultations and manuscript reading services;
Access to a mentorship program;
Promotion of book launches;
Free access to issues of the writing magazine, Southern Write;
Involvement in members-only events;
Invitations to meetings, seminars, launches, etc.
3. Consider taking a writing course
Every good writer is aware that they will never stop learning. Taking a course, short or long, will undoubtedly permit your writing to flourish. Courses and lessons give you the opportunity to practice writing, perfect your skills, and receive priceless advice. It will also grant you the chance to study other writers' work and become inspired or taught from them.
If you would prefer an online course, there are also some options. One of the best includes the Creative Writing course at Open Colleges. This can be completed in your own time, at your own pace. There is a maximum period of 18 months to finish.
Some of the above options can end up being relatively expensive. With most of them, a HECS-help loan can be arranged to support you financially. However, a Creative Writing Stage 1 course at the Australian Writers' Centre may be a cheaper option. They only do in-person classes in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, so you will have to complete it online. But, the five-week course only costs $395.
4. Enter some writing competitions
Competitions are fantastic for multiple reasons. One is that you can get your writing out in the open and get some oh-so-scary judgement. Two is that it forces you to actually put pen to paper (some competitions are based around themes, meaning your ideas/brainstorming are already being kickstarted in a certain direction). And, the third reason is that it gives you the chance to possibly win something.
It is best to predominantly enter local competitions (South Australian or Australian), rather than international. Overseas competitions usually don't accept entries from Australia, or will allow you to win without bothering to send you a prize.
This page and this page both have long lists of competitions that require you to send in your original work. The prizes range from receiving money, to having your work published.
Always check individual requirements and eligibility before entering. Some may cost to enter, and others are free. Be wary that many creative persons enter such competitions and you need to edit your work intensively to have any chance of winning. Do not expect to win.
5. Attend local writing events
The biggest writing event in Adelaide is the Adelaide Writers' Week, which is a part of the Adelaide Festival. This seven-day extravaganza is a dream for local and international creative writers. It is proudly the largest free literary festival in all of Australia.