Paul Jennings on Writing and Life

Australia’s beloved children’s author, Paul Jennings in a beautiful and candid interview about his struggles and inspiration. He has shaped so many childhoods. A must watch interview with a humble and talented Australian gem.


Source – Viceland


Eight Rules for all Writers

Writing has changed my life. It hasn’t bought me fame or fortune, but it has given me something better – lifelong companionship. Life changes and we change, but there is solace in knowing that as long as my brain functions and my hands work, I can write. Writing cannot be taken away from me; I will always nurture my love for storytelling.

Writing provides me with the pure and simple pleasure of creation. It is something which has simplifies my life and grounds me. I can be content to spend time with my writing instead of going out. I can relish in my own solitude. Writing and other creative outlets are the best and cheapest form of therapy I know. You feed your soul, when you create something out of nothing. With this being said, learning to love your creative outlet can take time.  There are many obstacles to over leap, before you can confidently commit to your creativity. Here are eight rules I firmly believe in.

Manage Expectations

Rome wasn’t built in a day. If traditional publishing is your ultimate goal, I have recently learnt (much to my dismay) that obtaining a publishing deal can take anywhere between 3 to 10 years. Don’t give up when the road gets tough, that’s what separates the amateurs from the professionals. Invest time in your project and make it the best it can be.

There is a cure for writer’s block

Many writers debate whether there is such a thing as writer’s block. Personally, I find the more you write, the more ideas will come. Writer’s block festers when you are stagnant. Start a different project to get the creative juices flowing. Read outside your comfort genre. Jog.  Have a change of scenery. See a foreign film. Don’t focus on your inability to write and the stories will flow.

Set goals and smash them.

Set goals! It could be reaching a specific word amount or finishing that certain chapter. It can be emailing a certain number of submissions. Stay committed to your goals, keep them secret and smash the heck out them. Clap for yourself! There is nothing worse than making goals, telling the world about them and then getting nothing done. You will feel like a fool.  Writing is my secret, private world. I only share milestones or competitions wins. I don’t allow people to see failures or the struggle.

Don’t do it for the money

“A writer never forgets the first time he accepted a few coins or a word of praise in exchange for a story. He will never forget the sweet poison of vanity in his blood and the belief that, if he succeeds in not letting anyone discover his lack of talent, the dream of literature will provide him a roof over his head, a hot meal at the end of the day and what he covets most: his name printed on a miserable piece of paper that will surely outlive him.”

This quote by author Carlos Ruiz Zafon, sums up every writer’s desire. It is a writer’s dream to be able to live off their creativity. Sadly, for most writers this is an unrealistic dream. Writers do not earn a whole lot of money. When you put financial pressure on your creativity, you lose that joy of creating and replace it with anxiety. I don’t write for the money, but money is always a great bonus and incentive. If I can get it, I go for it, if not – c’est la vie.

Don’t compare

Comparison is the thief of joy. You will never be Hemingway or Wilde or Woolf – accept it.  Try not to think about Snooki or Khloe Kardashians as best-selling authors or your brain might explode. Trust that your stories are unlike anyone else’s and this is a good thing – even if the market seems to be telling you otherwise. I’ve never been tempted to emulate another writer’s style, it sounds tedious and pointless. All I can do is focus on making my style the best it can be.

Don’t be a hater

Don’t see other writers as competition. Everyone is fighting their own battle and it is possible to coexist and befriend other writers. This is where Twitter and other social media platforms are great and keep you informed on contest and literary agents. It does not take much effort to support other writers and hope for some good karma. Share, review, and give praise.

Don’t follow trends

Trends dry up; think of the literary vampire plague. If you write for a particular group of reader, I fear you may be limiting yourself and trying to emulate best-sellers. If you are lucky and your genre is exploding, make the most of it.

Embrace for rejection

It is heart-breaking and soul sucking to have your labour of love rejected. It is an unavoidable part of the process and writing is subjective. Don’t allow rejection to hinder you from continuing to write and sharpening your craft. This is another part which separates amateurs from professionals. Don’t take the rejection personally and don’t dwell on it. If you are lucky enough to receive feedback, follow it and don’t hold a grudge.  Remember, a creative life is not for the faint-hearted.