Monday, November 14, 2011

The mystic portal (of writing opportunities) awaits:

This afternoon, I got an email from a friend-of-a-friend who is newly free from the shackles of highschool and is looking to develop her craft and expand her exposure to good writing opportunities. Some of you are at a similar stage in your own writing journey, so I thought I'd share with you a few avenues you can venture down and explore, particularly if you are somewhat new to the game.

Hunting out the opportunities and resources that are right for you can provide awesome experience for you to grow and develop your craft. Entering competitions and submitting your work to a variety of different publications and media is an excellent way to mature as a writer. Writing to strict guidelines will really hone your work, help you develop your voice, and teach you that boundaries don't always stand in the way of creative freedom.

One of the best resources for a writer of any level is a membership with your state writers' centre. State writers' centres stand apart from other writerly educational environments (like, say, online workshop businesses) in that they are just as dedicated to the development of craft -- or more so -- as they are to actually running a business. Many of them offer student or concession memberships, and most memberships include access to a print or emailed newsletter. This can provide you with regularly-updated information on a whole array of writing opportunites, contests, and workshops, as well as some good meaty articles. Check out Queensland Writers' Centre (which I love because I know and appreciate it) as a good jumping-off point.

The Australian Writers' Marketplace is like the bible of national writing opportunities. It's a fat book bursting with brief submission guidelines and details for hundreds (thousands?) of periodicals, newspapers, and webzines. It also has a section listing national competitions and entry guidelines (or where to go to find them), as well as information on writers' centres and educational opportunities. It's a hefty book and a bit of an investment, but most libraries will carry a copy (request they get it in!) or put it on your Christmas wishlist. You could really go crazy with this one.

Podcasts are a great way to learn and be inspired without having to fork out dough or commit to a six- or twelve-month course. Currently I'm really enjoying The Sydney Writers' Centre podcast. I've had fun finding some great resources on iTunesU as well. Search the iTunes store and see what you can discover. There are lectures online by great professors at such excellent universities as Yale and Harvard -- all for free, too.

Sign up to mailing lists at your local library, your state library, and your favourite bookstore. Libraries are (obviously) passionate about literacy and this often carries through into great literary and literary education events. Book talks with authors are, on their own, a fascinating way to get inspired and learn from people who have already made it. What's more, attending events like author talks can introduce you to other local writers (and sometimes even publishers), all of whom you can learn from and network with. Writing is a lonely craft; it's nice to have friends.

Finally, I must toot a horn for Katie's frequently-updated list of writing opportunities. Be sure to check it out -- then go write something.


  1. Thanks for the recommendation for my writing opportunities page! It's looking a little empty at the moment - all of the competitions seem to have eased off after October. On the up side, there's a fantastic manuscript opportunity for YA writers from Hardie Grant Egmont!


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