Hello and welcome to KSP's Top Tip Tuesday blog series, designed to inspire your writing habits - or just distract you for a few moments! - during the coronavirus pandemic.
These top tips have been retrieved from the KSP archives. They will be published fortnightly on Tuesdays and come to you courtesy of past Writers and Fellows in Residence.
Top Ten Tips
By Jake Dennis, KSP's 2011 Young Writer-in-Residence:
'Residencies are opportunities that few receive and so I prepared myself so that if I did not receive the KSP placement, my writing career would not be over. I was overjoyed to be awarded the residency because it allowed me to set aside time which I could dedicate entirely to writing and learning about writing. I had access to a range of local journals, the internet, and two other young writers with which to converse and socialise. I enjoyed meeting these writers, writing new poems, and completing poems I had begun many years or months ago.'
Educate yourself as much as possible. You can do this by reading, viewing, and listening to as many primary and secondary texts as possible. Take in the originals and analytical texts of art, performances, life experiences, etc. and learn about everything that may interest you (psychology, geography, religion, etc).
Strive for excellence in your work. That is, aim to create a piece of art with as few flaws as humanly possible.
Learn from others. Others’ knowledge and expertise, particularly in the editing and drafting process, are invaluable to a writer so make as many connections and attend as many good workshops and writers groups as possible.
Find a place to write. A room of one’s own is ideal but if circumstances prevent this from being possible, find or create a space for writing. If this means that you have to sit crouched writing on an envelope using a free pen with your back against a streetlamp that is absolutely fine. A poem I wrote doing just that was published in three journals this year. So learn how to focus anywhere and you can write anywhere as long as you have something to write with and something on which to write. Writing instruments and paper are available at various places absolutely free of charge.
Know the reason you write. In order for you to feel confident of yourself as a writer you must know why you write, who you write for, and what you aim to achieve through writing.
Find people who respect you and support you as a writer. Whether they are strangers, acquaintances, family, lovers, or friends, it is important to have the support of others.
Increase your public profile. Submit your work to as many journals as possible (the literary, the emergent, and the un-obvious) because it looks better to have been published than remain unpublished. Read your work in public as well and if you have the knowledge or resources create a website for your work.
Be responsible and aware of the implications and power of writing. Write nothing that is racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. Aim to only promote awareness, equality, and love through your work.
Live your life. Most writers, if not all, draw on their life experiences and write the best about what they’ve known personally, witnessed, or researched. Therefore, in order to write it is essential to live rather than remain in permanent hibernation.
Teach others what you have learned. I believe that the gift of knowledge should be passed on to others.
Want to carve out your own time to write in a dedicated writing cabin? KSP Writers' Centre has one place left in Laurie Steed's Spring Story Retreat in September 2020. You can also apply for a 2021 KSP residency or fellowship. Details here.
Dr Jake Dennis is a singer, actor and internationally published poet from Perth, Western Australia.
A soulful jazz, swing, blues, and contemporary music vocalist, Jake Dennis’ talent lies in his ability to capture audiences with his heartfelt performances and theatrical stage presence. Performing since 8 years of age, Jake has done shows at WA’s best venues including DownStairs at His Majesty’s Theatre, Ellington Jazz Club, Laneway Lounge, Universal Bar, Perth Town Hall, Rigby’s Bar, and the Don Russell, Kalamunda, Mandurah, and Subiaco Performing Arts Centres. He has also performed live on X Factor, Access 31, Aurora TV, RTR FM, Telethon, Pirate Radio, Heritage Radio, & Twin Cities Radio.
Jake Dennis has been published in journals such as Art Monthly Australia, Cordite Poetry Review, Lost Coast Review USA, Page Seventeen, Poetry NZ, Strutco UK, Voiceworks, and Westerly. He won the 2014 Right Now: Human Rights Poetry Competition and the 2011 Now & Then: Literature Prize.
Jake Dennis was the 2009 Editor of Grok Magazine and worked as a freelance journalist for Drum Perth, Science Network WA, and MeDeFacts. He previously worked at The University of Western Australia and volunteered with RSWA.