Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Guest Post: Practice There is No Other Way by Juliet M Sampson

Welcome everyone. Today I am proud to be sharing this wonderful guest post by Australian author Juliet M Sampson about why is it important for authors to practice their craft. Thank you Juliet..

Practice there is no other way
By Juliet M Sampson

Changing professions can be challenging not an easy decision to make, but the secret ingredient to success is the power of practice. There is no other way, plain hard work and commitment. In the case of writing you can dream of being a published author but without practice, time and effort the steps to reach your goal will never happen. 

Having written and published two novels Behind the Mask and Bon Voyage! and being in the editing stages of the third Dance Demons, I wanted to share with you the importance of practicing your craft. Let’s begin the journey. 

As a little girl I was told practice makes perfect. When I started learning to ride a bike I was on training wheels and needed to practice. I would ride around the park practicing and developing my skills of balance and coordination. After a while I finally mastered them and the training wheels were taken off. I was riding on two wheels. 

Practice also applied when I started to learn dancing. The basic steps were taught and to improve I was told I needed to practice. Not only in class did I practice my dance steps but also at home. So many hours were put into the whole process.  In doing this I knew that eventually I would be able to add on the more difficult dance steps.

And let me tell you, the same principle relates to writing. It may not seem as obvious in this craft but it strongly applies. Everyone needs to start at the beginning there are no short cuts.

I had a dream I wanted to pursue. At the age of 28, I left full time teaching and committed to writing. I bravely wrote my first novel Behind the Mask with no formal writing training, only the skills learnt in Year 12 and from university assignments. This writing style was not like writing a novel. 

After completing and publishing my first novel with Brolga Publishing, I dived
into the next book as I knew this was what I wanted to do. Write! Unfortunately I did not have the finances to afford doing professional writing courses but as fate happened when I was nearly finished writing the second book, I met Bryce Courtenay the guru of writing. Extremely proud to see I had published a book, he encouraged me to improve my craft by attending his course. As the famous saying goes ‘when the student is ready the teacher appears.’ Saving up my pennies I pinched myself when I was able to attend his course. Excited to bring along my manuscript for the second novel to his class, I was shocked to hear that he wanted all students to start a new story. This is where it all began for me. 

Bryce taught his students many skills at his final Master Class and I felt proud that he allowed me to attend. The room was full of writers with years of formal training, having degrees in professional writing and aspiring to find the key ingredients to write a successful book. The main point I took away was practice, write every day and this is what I have done for my third book Dance Demons. I write for at least two hours a day, five to six days a week.  

Yes we all know writing stories is about character development, conflict, settings and much more but if writers do not practice and commit to their craft, the story is never going to happen. No one is going to write it for you.

Since Bryce’s course I have attended many other writing courses. But I have learnt Bryce was right and his point of practicing your craft needs to be done daily. The more I write the better it sounds. 

My third novel Dance Demons excites me. Yes I have been working on this story for at least two years but the way it has developed has amazed me. During this time I had the chance to pitch Dance Demons to a publisher but I refused the opportunity. I knew my story was not polished enough and admitted to myself I wanted to keep practicing my craft. Looking back on this decision I know it was the correct one as I feel confident with the way my writing has improved, thanks to practice. ‘You only learn to be a better writer by actually writing.’ Doris Lessing

Another important tip for new writers is the next book needs to improve and I am pleased to say I have received this feedback from the first novel Behind the Mask to Bon Voyage! my second novel.

Recently I came into contact with a lady named Jennifer and again the same saying applied ‘when the student is ready the teacher arrives.’ Jennifer works in the publishing industry and has encouraged me to re assess my work. 

I am proud of each book I have written. It takes a lot of hard work to complete a manuscript. This year I attended an author’s conference where Isabelle Carmody spoke. Isobelle has written 35 books and has had four major publishers. I enjoyed hearing her talk and one point I remember her making was writers have different ideas at different ages. You mature as a writer and I know this is what I have done. 

So practice, practice, practice and I promise you will see results. Hard work pays off in the end. Happy writing. Spread sunshine and inspiration.