Bianca Breen: time, inspiration, and motivation.
Bianca Breen stayed at KSP Writers' Centre in June 2022 as an Upcoming Writer-in-Residence.
As writers, we are always grappling with three very important things: time, inspiration, and motivation - getting those elements to line up is a project in itself. But two weeks as a KSP writer-in-residence offered all three.
Before the residency started, I dusted off a 50,000 first draft of a YA fantasy novel, excited to work on it. But then the doubts crept in (more than usual, anyway) that the novel wasn’t going to amount anything, that I was wasting time on it. Those doubts are completely banished.
To hole up in a cabin in the middle of the bush with only my novel meant I had the opportunity to throw my complete creative energy behind its development, and it completely paid off. Past-Bianca had already worked out the bare bones of the plot, which meant I got to do all the fun stuff like develop characters and include more details in scenes. Once I had a couple more plot notes set, I went back to the beginning to experience the story as the protagonist and reader would.
And that’s how I spent my two weeks, just sinking deep into the novel and experiencing it for what felt like the first time (complete with excitement and suspense, even though I wrote the thing). I found I couldn’t wait to wake up in the morning and write. I didn’t want to shut my laptop off after dinner. I was so completely enthralled with the story, so energised by it. I’m so grateful that my time at KSP Writers Centre gave me that.
There was so much else about the experience that I enjoyed outside the writing. The view and the garden of course, and the full access to the main house and Katharine’s writing cabin, taking a walk with the other writer-in-residence and attending one of the weekly writers’ groups. There was so much to absorb and it all fed into my work. Speaking of being fed, the chocolate waiting for me upon arrival was so good. I know that’s not the point of the residency, but I can’t say it wasn’t a highlight.
I knew the residency would be a fantastic opportunity, but I could never have anticipated just how much I would get out of it, how much love I could foster for my work. Even if this particular novel is never published, I have enjoyed the experience, the process, and the knowledge that I am now one of many names in the KSP alumni. It’s validation that, though I don’t have a book deal just yet, I am on the right track and what I do matters.
And that’s all an aspiring writer really needs to know.
Bianca's writing tips:
Read! I know you hear this all the time as a writer, but the market changes so fast and it’s so important to understand what is being published and what is selling, and how you can keep your own work relevant.
Always know the ending of your story. Enjoy the journey but know where you’re going.
Write the first draft fast. You’ll learn more writing a story from beginning to end than rewriting the same paragraph over and over.
Commit. Writing takes time, and while sometimes it is so much more appealing to stick Netflix on, your book will only get written if you turn up and do the work.
Attend events with authors and industry professionals, learn, keep up with what’s happening in the publishing world.
Make writer friends – they won’t look at you like you’re crazy when you try to figure out a plot hole or make character expressions in the mirror, unlike your family.
Don’t get bogged down in research during the actual writing, stick a placeholder in and move on, or else you’ll just get distracted and the flow will stop.
You do not need to know your character’s star sign (unless it relates intrinsically to the plot). Readers will get to know your character through their actions.
Write fantasy on a ‘need to know’ basis – this is about not getting bogged down in research again. Get the story down, come up with the magic stuff as the story needs, then you can go back in later drafts and do more worldbuilding.
The situation can ALWAYS be worse for your characters.
~ Bianca Breen