Last Wednesday we were so lucky to have Louise Cusack as our Special Guest.  Thank you so much Louise for leading us in a wonderful night of writing. We also had a record nineteen Racers in attendance! Our total word count was in the thousands and genres ranged from non-fiction essays on meditation, to sit-com scripts, to speculative fiction/urban fantasy, and ‘zines/journals. We are an interesting bunch indeed. Louise also responded to a few questions from our Racers:

How do you fit writing time into life? Or life into writing time?

Well writing is my day job so that makes things a bit easier, but I still do mentoring, manuscript assessment and writing workshops, so prioritising works for me. I make lists of things that MUST be done that week, and things that I want to get done, and things that are more ‘wish list’. Now that I’m doing a computer game residency there are stipulated hours for that, so everything else fits around it. I can do research or editing for as little as ten minutes and make progress, but I wouldn’t try to write draft for ten minutes. I’d find that frustrating. If I only had 5 minutes I’d meditate.

And some non-writing stuff is important. We need to nourish our family and friend relationships, to eat, sleep and get exercise too. But when it’s a choice between writing and watching reruns of ‘Friends’ then writing should most definitely come first!

Her latest project?

I’m creating draft of the ‘story’ I’m working on with an International computer games company. I was selected to do a residency with them, so this is an exciting new project for me. Fascinating to be thinking about ‘story’ in such a different media (and particularly as I’m not a gamer myself) but I do know fantasy world-building!

Advice for approaching and finding publishers for freelance writers?

Do some research in the local bookstore and find books that are as close to what you’ve written as possible. Then note the publisher, and check the author’s acknowledgement page to find out who their editor and agent are. Those are two people who might be interested in your stories. If that publisher and/or agent are open to submissions, then send them whatever they’ll allow (query letter and synopsis, or the manuscript itself). If they’re not open to submission you have to find a different publisher or come at them sideways – do they judge writing competitions?

Louise even directed us to her blog post about the importance of an author’s attitude and the lessons we can take from cats. Yes, cats. Check it out here.

"I told you I was wiser than you, intern..." - Toby, king of the intern's house.

This week I will be leading the Writing Race solo, and in lieu of an exciting ‘Hey look we have a Guest Captain!’ post I thought I would share with you some interesting links from around the great wide web. This week at the Australian Writer’s Marketplace we’ve been thinking a lot about writing productivity.

How can we make the most of the hours that we have to write?

How can we fill the pages faster and more efficiently and actually finish projects within the timeframes we set ourselves?

Do we need huge chunks of time to write, or can we make the most of the in-between times?

Of course we realised that we aren’t the only writers who wonder these things, and so we turned to the Google for our answers, and came up with some links from some of our blogging-author favourites.

Fantasy author Rachel Aaron sets herself the awe-inspiring goal of achieving 10,000 words per day! In this post she explains how she ramped up her daily word counts from 2,000 to 10,000 over the course of a few months, and how we can apply this to our own writing. She acknowledges that not all writers are able to dedicate full-time hours to their story as she is able to, but that even part-time and hobby writers can use her strategies to increase their output.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch comes from a two-writer household (she is married to Dean Wesley Smith). After a deadline-filled April Rusch sat back and looked at how they had survived without starving to death or missing their deadlines. She writes in this post about the writing habits she uses to maximise her output in the time she has, and what habits have stood her in good stead over her writing career.

The ever-witty novelist, screenwriter, and game designer Chuck Wendig offers up a straight-talking no-holds-barred plan to increase writing output . Chuck’s tips range from eating and sleeping habits to dealing with self-doubt, and this post is a mine of helpful suggestions that are applicable to all of us writers pro or amateur. Chuck also offers a writing plan that, if followed, will earn you a full-length first draft novel in a year (there is a language warning attached to both of these posts).

Author Janice Hardy ran a five-part series about being a productive writer, and each of these tips is worth checking out. Hardy covers everything from finding the right time and place to write, to the benefits of leaving sentences unfinished.

Hopefully these links will help all of us to make the most out of the hour we have together at this week’s Writing Race. Remember to head over to our Facebook page and join the event (click here for a direct link to the event page) so we know that you are coming. Then, meander over again at 7:50pm on Wednesday 15th May and we’ll kick-off at the usual time of 8pm. If you are new to the Writing Races, or you need a refresher, take a look at our AWMonline Writing Race FAQs.

We hope to see you there!

Amy Chatwin is a currently undertaking her Masters in Writing, Editing, and Publishing at The University of Queensland. She has also attained a Bachelor of Health Science (Nutrition and Dietetics) and Bachelor of Applied Science (Human Movement Studies) from Queensland University of Technology. She is based in Brisbane and blogs about food, books, running, and everyday abundance at Thoroughly Nourished Life.

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