ACT Writers Centre

Taking five with Debbie Richardson

Taking Five

Debbie Richardson is running a seminar Get Motivated to Write with a Little INK-couragement Sunday 15 March at the ACT Writers Centre, designed for those wanting to find more inner determination and motivation to write. She will share helpful lessons she’s learned throughout her writing career, plus you’ll take home tips that will keep you fuelled to keep writing, keep writing, and keep writing. 

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1. Tell us a little bit about yourself & your writing background

I’m one of those writers who woke up one day and said “I want to write novels for the rest of my life.” I might as well have said I want to fly helicopters because I didn’t have any skills to become a novelist other than I loved to read.

When I began writing in 1996, I was twenty-six and there was no such thing as home computers, internet didn’t exist, neither did blogs or social media, and nobody logged onto a publisher’s website to read their submission guidelines. I had to go to the library to borrow “How to write” books and then sit at a typewriter and shape a book based on the books on my shelf. And then, when it was finished, I had to look up the Yellow Pages for the list of publishers, or purchase writing journals from the newsagents; though they were usually UK based journals. No wonder many author biographies in the front of books read: “This writer is a journalist,” or, “This writer is a teacher.” I was absolutely clueless. Not having a background in writing made for a long and slow journey for me. But, considering I’m the type who enjoys the journey as much as the destination, it was probably the right path for me.

2.  What is it about writing that you love?

Everything! I love forming an idea. I love brainstorming it. I love writing the first draft and seeing those words add up. Then I love editing because that’s where I turn junk into fine art. And, I also love the admin side, such as updating the website and creating flyers, even though admin does cut into writing time. I love promotion and marketing. I would like to say that I don’t, but I’m often on social media or emailing sites for reviews, not because I have to, but because I enjoy it. I get bored easily, so having my finger in all of the pies satisfies my personality. Lately I’ve been playing with desktop publishing so I can create banner ads for blogs and memes for Facebook and book covers. I also love talking about writing, in case you can’t tell.

3. What do you find to be the hardest part about writing?

The hardest part is always starting a new novel. Biting into that first draft after I’ve turned junk into fine art is like having a chef in your home for a week and then returning to eating three minute noodles. The book I’m writing at the moment is broken down into twelve 10,000 word episodes, so I’m effectively starting a new first draft every 6 weeks. It’s like being on a rollercoaster ride of “Yah, I’m finished,” “Eek, I have to start with a blank page again,” “Yah, I’m finished.” I also find writing less is harder than writing more, such as, a 3,000 short story is harder to write and edit than a 68,000 word novel, which sounds strange. Oh, and the waiting game after I’ve submitted a book to an agent or publisher.

 4. Can you give us a little tip on keeping yourself motivated to write?

Celebrating the small wins is a great way to stay motivated. Writing a novel is a lot of work. I’m fortunate that I now work part-time, but when I used to work full-time, it was like painting a house one brush stroke at a time. So whenever I complete a novel or get a short story published, I go out to dinner with my husband. I also like to stick motivational sayings around my office. One of my favourites is: “The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best,” by Henry van Dyke. To me, this saying means that while I strive to write a book as mind-blowing as “To Kill A Mockingbird”, I may never achieve it. But it doesn’t mean I should give up writing. I should always be striving to write the best book I can. And I think it’s “always striving” that keeps my wheels spinning, and once they start turning it can be hard not to stay motivated.

 5. You’re running a 2 hr seminar at the Writers Centre on Sunday March 15. What can participants expect to take away from it?

I have six great tips to share that I’ve learned over the years that will help participants become mentally tough enough to withstand this extremely competitive industry. Some of these tips are from writing seminars I’ve attended, some from other seminarsSandra Sully was a guest speaker at a seminar I attended ten years ago, and one of her gems of advice stuck with me and if you want more time to write, this is the piece of advice you need to hear. I also have a background in sales and I used to train people on how to write a business plan, which is a helpful process when it comes to setting and reaching goals. Plus, I attended a “behind the scenes” seminar at a publishing house late last year, so I can expose a few myths such as: are publishers really interested in discovering the next big thing?

Debbie Richardson writes speculative fiction as D L Richardson. She began writing in 1996 at a time when Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Anne Rice were her influences. Many of her earlier works remain unpublished but she never gave up doing what she loved. Her first short story was published in 2005, and she has had four more short stories published, four novels, one short story anthology, and a novella. She is currently working on a four book series.


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