So, you want to be a writer?

So, you want to be a writer? Brilliant! Full marks.

But are you prepared to do the work?

I know loads of people who want to be writers. They talk about being writers, talk about writing, and some even call themselves writers. But what does it actually take to be a writer? Here are my findings (drawn from my personal experiences to date) so far:

  1. YOU NEED TO WRITE: preferably every day, even if its only a few lines. How can you call yourself a writer if you don’t ever put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). This one is a no-brainer.
  2. YOU NEED TO READ: every day if you can. You need to read widely, across genres, themes, styles, age groups, etc. AND you need to think about what you have read. What did you like/dislike about the piece? How does it compare to your own writing? What does that best-seller have that your book doesn’t?
  3. YOU NEED TO GET YOUR WRITING OUT THERE: Enter those competitions, submit to those journals, submit pieces to other blogs, set up your own blog. If it’s sitting in the drawer then it may as well be a blank note book.
  4. RECORD IDEAS AS THEY COME TO YOU: Carry a notebook and pen, utilise that app in your phone. Don’t let opportunities pass you by.

And some other “recommended” items:

  • Join your local writing groups/organisations
  • Research writing styles
  • Read reviews
  • Read other writers’s blogs, sign up for newsletters
  • Monitor book sales and best-seller lists
  • Go to libraries and book stores and look at what’s selling
  • Research agent and publisher requirements
  • Research journals that take the genres you prefer to write in
  • Monitor writing competitions and deadlines
  • Look into short-courses (and longer ones) which cover various aspects of writing, marketing and publishing
  • Set up your own social media profile (research it, work out what suits you)
  • Set up a writing space, just for you.

Your next challenges will be finding the time, managing rejection, and getting that all-important frank and honest feedback on your work. After all, the writing is only the start of the journey.

And good luck with it all. Keep the faith, but more importantly do the work.

Sarah Jackson is blogger who has self published five short story science fiction e-books, and a junior grade children’s book “Pete and the Persian Bottle”. She is working to improve her standard of writing, with the aim of bagging a contract with a traditional publisher. And so the journey continues…


2017 Book Review List by Genre

Rating Scale:

  1. *****  Fantastic! You’ve gotta read this one!
  2. ****  Great. Well worth a look
  3. ***   OK. You may enjoy it.
  4. **    Not so great. Either dull, badly written, or just plain awful. Not recommended
  5. *     Unspeakably bad. Couldn’t finish it

FICTION: Chick Lit (inc. Romance)

**** ½ “The Starlight Tide” by Sarah Key

*** ½   “A Chance This Christmas” By Joanne Rock

FICTION: Crime/Mystery

***** “Dark Town” by Thomas Mullen

***** “Right Wrong Number” by Jim Nesbitt

**** ½ “The Drowning Pool” by Ross MacDonald

**** ½ “Finders Keepers” by Stephen King

**** ½ “Murder in Mr Martha” by Janice Simpson

**** “Ask the Parrot” by Richard Stark

**** “The Dry” by Jane Harper

**** “The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Cafe” by Alexander McCall Smith

**** “The Nakamura Letters” by Frankie Bow

**** “Mother’s Day” by Frankie Bow

**** “The Musubi Murder” by Frankie Bow

*** ½ “The Cocktail Waitress” by James M. Cain

FICTION: General/Literary Fiction

***** “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” by Horace McCoy

**** “Mr Love and Justice” by Colin MacInnes

**** PENNY: Hands I passed through…Things I saw…Stories I can tell” by Peter Davidson

** “Trumpeter Ville” By Dean Gessie

FICTION: Horror/Thriller

***** “Stephen King Goes to the Movies” by Stephen King

**** ½ “The Thing on the Doorstep and other short stories” by H.P. Lovecraft

FICTION: Science Fiction

**** ½ “Renascene” by Leigh Goodison

** ½ “Project Emergence” by Jamie Zakian

FICTION: YA/Children’s

***** “The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast” by Alan Aldridge

**** ½ “The Epiplectic Bicycle” by Edward Gorey

**** “Fantastical Beasts and Where to Find Them” by J.K.Rawling

**** “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs

**** “Taronga” by Victor Kelleher


NON-FICTION: Art/History/Music

**** ½ “Brave New World” – NGV

**** ½ “Homage New Orleans” by Leon Morris

**** “Bedlam: London and its Mad” by Catharine Arnold

*** ½ “Australia Remembers When” by Bob Byrne

*** “The History of British and American Author-Publishers” by Anna Faktorovich 

NON-FICTION: Biography/Autobiography

**** ½ “Role Model” by John Waters

**** ½ “Snowy Campbell: Australian Pioneer Investigator of the Brain” by Malcolm Macmillan

**** “Bury my heart in Bermondsey: Memoir of A Funeral Director” by Barry Albin Dyer

** ½ “Uncommon Character: Stories of Ordinary Men and Women Who Have Done the Extraordinary” by Douglas Feavel

NON-FICTION: Gardening

**** “There is no excuse for ugliness” by Clive Blazey

NON-FICTION: Humour/Gift Book

**** “A Bag of Roosters” by Michael Leunig

**** “Better Call Saul: The World According to Saul Goodman” by David Stubbs

**** “The Bumper Book of Debauchery For Girls and Boys” by Chis Grosz & James Cockington

**** “F in Spelling – The Funniest Test Paper Blunders” by Richard Benson

**** “Five Forget Mother’s Day” by Enid Blyton & Bruno Vincent

**** Make Trouble” by John Waters

**** “Man Caves” by Jasper White

**** “The Travelling Leunig” by Michael Leunig

*** ½  “Shakespeare’s Insults For the Office” by Wayne Hill & Cynthia Ottchen

*** “Your Cat’s Just Not That Into You” by Richard Smith

NON-FICTION: Self-Help/Instructional

*** ½ “The Doodle Revolution” by Sunni Brown

*** “French Women Don’t Get Fat” by Mireille Guiliano


**** ½ “The Best American Travel Writing 2016” edited by Bill Bryson

**** “The Road to Little Dribbling” by Bill Bryson

*** ½ “The Best Travel Writing, Volume 11: True Stories from Around the World” by James O’Reilly et al (ed)


*** “Savage Obsessions” by Glen McNamara

You can access a PDF of all the reviews via this link: 2017 Book Reviews by Sarah Jackson