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Saturday 17 June 2017

Lian Tanner: What Writers Need

Johanna Baker-Dowdell reports on a writing session conducted by Tasmanian author Lian Tanner as she provided important advice on writing to a spellbound audience of primary students.

I’ve been a storyteller for my whole life: from pulling apart films in great detail to share with those who did not have the experience, to writing Anne of Green Gables fan fiction before I even knew there was such a thing. By the time I left high school I was writing a column for my local newspaper and had dreams of being the next Murphy Brown.

Lian Tanner
As I approach the second year of mentoring grade 5 and 6 students in creative writing for The Write Road, I thought it relevant to reflect on children’s author Lian Tanner’s advice for writers.

Lian spoke at the Writer’s Cafe that concluded The Write Road program last year and shared some salient tips on what writers need with her audience of primary school students, their parents and teachers.

She told the almost 50 aspiring authors they were now part of a “great and honourable tradition of writers who started off as children who loved stories”.

And Lian followed those words with these four tips on what all writers need to do to get the creative juices flowing:
  • to daydream, as daydreaming is one of the most important things a writer can do,
  • take risks, because being creative is all about taking risks,
  • live life deeply and passionately, because we need to notice everything around us – and inside us,
  • go out and have adventures.
And of course Lian is right. Like everything that is worth doing, writing takes time to develop. First there’s the watching what is happening in the playground outside, or how our friends respond when they disagree, or even the different ways people walk. Then comes the kernels of ideas, that just form out of those musings and develop into full-blown ideas if we give them time and attention – and are willing to write them down.

The risk is something more difficult to embrace, but the rewards are worth it. You never know what you’re capable of if you keep doing the same. But, if you take a risk, like Lian advises, you can discover more about yourself and those around you than you thought possible.
A popular, highly successful series that Lian Tanner has written.

While these young writers have not felt the full scope of emotions that present themselves throughout life’s triumphs and challenges, they will soon enough. These students need to take note of how they feel each and every time their hearts swell or break, because it will become something they draw on in their writing time and time again.

And the most important tip of all: have adventures, because to have adventures is to live.

May they all keep writing throughout school and choose careers where stories are important.

Johanna is a journalist and author of the book Business & Baby on Board.

Editors' note: Lian Tanner demonstrates this passion for writing through the extensive range of exciting fiction she has crafted. Read of some of her own inspirational strategies on her website.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful experience it would have been for those students, parents and teachers to be in the audience listening to the simple yet profoundly influential advice of Lian Tanner. Her advice with its universal appeal is applicable to all students, in all cultures and situations who dare to dream and resolve to translate their experiences and adventures into shared stories. We can only speculate on the impact on those young lives both now and in the future!