To celebrate the new year, a selection of authors who won or were shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards have shared some of the best habits and rituals that help them get their words on paper, perfect for any writers wanting to brush up their habits, and for curious readers wanting to learn more from behind-the-scenes.
We'll be announcing the winners of our special PMLA book pack giveaway shortly - details at the bottom of the page.
HOW DO YOU GET STARTED EACH DAY?
Charlie Ward, shortlisted in Australian History for A Handful of Sand: The Gurindji Struggle, After the Walk-Off (Monash University Publishing):
Check the news, trawl the social media and get cracking.
Josephine Bastian, shortlisted in Australian History for A Passion for Exploring New Countries: Matthew Flinders and George Bass (Australian Scholarly Publishing):
It's important to go straight to my study, sit down, and get started. Don't turn the radio on, possibly not even take time to make a cup of coffee. Nothing should lead outwards or vie for attention - let the kitchen tap drip, don't ring the plumber, don't make out the shopping list - bound to be something in the fridge for supper.
WHEN DO YOU PREFER TO WRITE/WRITE BEST?
Dianne Touchell, shortlisted in the Young Adult category for Forgetting Foster (Allen & Unwin):
Under contract. With a deadline. I’m a stick, not carrot, girl.
Suzanne Falkiner, shortlisted for Mick: A Life of Randolph Stow (UWA Publishing) in the Non-Fiction category:
Morning for new writing; afternoon for editing and redrafting. Night-time for reading around the subject.
I write best just as darkness is falling - odd but true.
Ryan O’Neill, winner of the Fiction award for Their Brilliant Careers (Black Inc):
Whenever I can find the time. Writing at night is becoming much harder as I get older. I’m always too tired.
Janet A. Holmes, shortlisted in Children’s for Blue Sky, Yellow Kite (Hardie Grant Egmont):
As soon as I wake up is often good. But walking can also be a surprisingly productive time. I stop when I need to and write on my iPhone. Sometimes, a story or poem is ready at a most inconvenient time, like in the middle of vacuuming. If the impulse is really strong, I just stop what I am doing and try to get the words down before they disappear.
Eileen Chong, shortlisted in the Poetry category for Painting Red Orchids (Pitt Street Poetry):
I have a very loose routine, and I don't think the actual act of writing is the only part of writing. Writing takes place within me when I am reading, thinking, cooking, shopping, gardening... But I write best when I have finished all of my chores (and can't put off writing any longer), and when I have had plenty of time to allow my thoughts to percolate. Wordsworth said it best: poetry is 'emotion recollected in tranquility.'
DO YOU HAVE ANY WRITING HABITS YOU CAN SHARE?
Liz Tynan, winner of the Australian History category for Atomic Thunder: The Maralinga Story (NewSouth Publishing)
I have mostly written non-fiction, which may well be different to fiction. I like to write out of sequence and tackle only the parts I feel like writing at any given time. Writing in-sequence feels like a straitjacket.
Wendy Orr, joint winner of the Children’s category for Dragonfly Song (Allen & Unwin):
After many years of writing directly onto the computer, I've started writing by hand, especially for verse. I also interview my characters, writing the questions with my right (dominant) hand and answering with my left – it’s bizarrely effective.
SOME OF THE WORLD'S BEST KNOWN AUTHORS HAVE WRITING RITUALS AND SUPERSTITIONS THEY OBSERVE. WHAT ARE YOURS?
I'm pretty kooky in most domains, but when it comes to writing I just back up my work religiously.
Read the full list of winners here.
This competition is now closed. Thank you to everyone who entered - winners will be announced shortly.
Book Pack #1: Australian History
A Handful of Sand: The Gurindji Struggle, After the Walk Off by Charlie Ward (Monash University Publishing)
A Passion for Exploring Countries: Matthew Flinders and George Bass by Josephine Bastian (Australian Scholarly Publishing)
Atomic Thunder: The Maralinga Story by Liz Tynan (NewSouth Publishing)
Evatt: A Life by John Murphy (NewSouth Publishing)
Book Pack #2: Children & Young Adult
Forgetting Foster by Dianne Touchell (Allen & Unwin)
Blue Sky, Yellow Kite by Janet A. Holmes (Hardie Grant Egmont)
Dragonfly Song by Wendy Orr (Allen & Unwin)
My Brother by Dee, Oliver and Tiffany Huxley (Working Title Press)
Book Pack #3: Fiction & Poetry
Their Brilliant Careers by Ryan O’Neill (Black Inc.)
Painting Red Orchids by Eileen Chong (Pitt Street Poetry)
Competition ends 5pm Monday 22 January 2018. Books can only be mailed to an address within Australia. Winners will be contacted directly by UPLIT.