Growing up in regional Australia has its unique joys, but it also comes with hardships, especially if you’re someone who wants to thrive in the creative field. Jordan from Pottsville, a small town in New South Wales, offers up his tried and tested tips for success.
I grew up in Pottsville, around halfway between Byron Bay and the Gold Coast. Ever since a young age, I always had a passion for writing. While most kids played sports or ran around in the backyard, I was on the computer writing fiction stories.
After high school, I decided to complete a creative writing degree at university, which fine-tuned my skills. When I still wasn’t getting anywhere, I realised it was because I wasn’t sharing my work for people to read. I was scared, insecure and unconfident. I thought this perfect dream of being an established writer would just be handed to me on a plate.
That was five years ago, and now I’m 24 years old with my first fiction novel published and working as a part-time content writer. This never would’ve happened if I hadn’t taken a leap of faith and gained the confidence and determination to call myself a writer.
Why regional voices are important
The creative industry is already a highly competitive one. With fewer creative resources in regional areas, it’s often that these special voices aren’t heard. It’s not that writers from regional areas aren’t unique or don’t have original stories – quite the opposite actually.
Regional writers are raw, they are underrepresented, and they work hard to achieve their dreams despite limited resources.
If you’re a regional writer with a unique story to share, don’t hold back. Sprinkle that creative dust into the air. It only takes the right person to read your work for your hard efforts to be noticed. It’s not going to happen overnight, but here are some lessons I’ve learned for getting your story out there.
How to take feedback from editors
Sometimes we can write something, and in our eyes, it seems like the best thing ever. This may not be the case to your readers. The role of editors is to help you steer your story in the right way through constructive feedback so that it can become the best it can be.
Calling out to fellow writers in your town and meeting regularly to share work is also a great way to gather a tribe and get honest feedback. Maybe you have a friend or family member that’s an English teacher that can help? Reedsy is an affordable website to find freelance professionals to read your work.
Remember: The most important part of the writing process is the re-writing. Feedback isn’t personal, it’s beneficial to your progression as a writer.
Finding a sense of community
Social media groups such as Young Australian Writers on Facebook are great online communities for young writers to keep up on national writing opportunities, whether that be events, jobs, publishing opportunities, pitching stories to digital platforms, magazines and newspapers, or just to network and connect. You never know, a noteworthy connection might have grown up in the same hometown as you!
Apply for grants
Don’t have the funds to help move your creative project forward? The Australia Council For The Arts and ArtsHub offer pathways to government body funding for professional development, courses, mentorships and residencies in the creative industry. ArtsHub has great tips on how to write a successful grant application.
Attend writer’s retreats and residencies
Writer’s block is a real thing, and it may be the environment you’re trying to express yourself in that’s just not giving you any inspiration. Writer’s retreats and residencies are designed to create a space where we can shut off from the outside world and focus purely on our creative projects.
Those with a working project may be interested in Varuna House in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. To connect with other writers and access mentoring, check out South Australian organisation Carclew.
This year I attended a fully funded 10-day writing retreat for young regional writers run by Carclew called Writing Place in the Flinders Ranges. We were mentored by three professional Australian playwrights and wrote a monologue that was to be read by teenage performers in theatre at the end of the retreat. For me, connecting with other creatives was the biggest gain from this retreat, and to switch off from the outside world (there was no internet or reception) and focus purely on writing.
Arts funding bodies have residencies in every state, so do some research into what different states and territories have to offer.
Whichever writing style is your niche, whether it be poetry, short stories, novels, screenwriting, plays or prose, Australia has various competitions for all types. The Writers Bloc and Treefall Writing list loads of opportunities. From your local council to national publishers and media networks, there’s always a competition to have a go at.
Time to get some deadlines in your diary, loose change to enter, and the prize money could be yours, along with an award for your portfolio.
So there’s some basics for you as a young regional writer to get started on your creative career. Patience is key. Start with a goal, and then break that goal down into steps on how you’re going to achieve that goal. Passion goes a long way – all the way to success. Happy writing!