EWF – Writing Intensive for Under 25s

0 Comments 12 June 2015

During this year’s Emerging Writers Festival, the young writers of the Signal Express will recapping of a variety of events so you can catch up (or refresh). Find out more about EWF on their website.

During the Emerging Writers Festival, Signal Arts and Express Media held an event titled, Intensive Writing for Under 25’s, geared at helping new writers get some tips to help them succeed. Bhakthi Puvanenthiran, digital entertainment editor at The Age, talked about pitching and working with an editor.

Bhakthi mentioned one of the biggest mistakes she sees is the writer spelling the editor’s and publication’s name wrong (yup this actually happens often). She emphasised that one of the most important things to do in your pitch is to follow an outline: in a short sentence describe yourself, what the piece is about and why it is important and then things like word count.

Bhakthi explained that a good way to break down the barriers between writers and editors is to think about the different skill sets of each, editors are there to provide a second pair of eyes, the kind of scrutiny you are not able to get from inside your piece. “You don’t learn to be a good writer until you work with a good editor”, she said.

Some of the tips she highlighted as incredibly important include knowing the publication cycle of the publication you are pitching to and showing you are open to working with the editors to write a piece that suits their publication. All this goes back to the point that you need a good relationship with your editors and the people you work with. “Phones might be scary, but you will build relationships with your editors way better over the phone than over email,” Bhakthi said, “Even offer to meet up with coffee on their side of town. Real time is better than email.”

Both Bhakthi and Brodie Lancaster (founder of the zine Filmme Fatales, staffer at Rookie, action chief at The Good Copy and contributor to Pitchfork and Vulture), emphasised that as writers we need to not be precious, we need to be clear on how much we are willing to compromise when being edited. We are not our pieces and the easier we work with editors, the better it is.

Brodie had an amazing 80 piece slide show, with quirky names like ‘pitch better have my money’. She explained that the single most important part of being a writer other than knowing how to work the tax system, was be nice to people. Just be nice to people, and the rest works out.

Brodie explained, money may be ‘gross’ to talk about when you are a writer, but ‘writing is a transaction that you’re entering into, so you need to get better at talking about money.’

Some of the important things to know and check include what the processing times are for the publication so you know how long you will wait before getting paid. She also emphasised that the perfect job needs to tick three boxes: it is fun or it teaches you a lot, it advances your career and it pays well. “The dream job is all three, but the perfect job is at least two of these,” she said.

Brodie recommended the blog of Anne Friedman and that this tax form. As well as knowing what to claim on tax and to keep organised spreadsheets, it’s all about organisation!

The most important take-aways from the day were be nice and to have a blog. Know what you are doing and what you need to do, and read all the forms. The paperwork might be incredibly complicated, but equipping yourself with these skills will prepare you for life.

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