Have You Ever Lost Your Writer’s Voice?

Tania, me and Claire

I have. It was gone for over a month, but now it’s back – thanks to some great writer friends and the stars.

I’m in Canberra this week with my son who’s doing work experience at Mount Stromlo Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics. He loves astronomy so it’s going to be a great week for him.

It has worked out well for me too because it has given me time to write, and the opportunity to catch up with writer friends like Tania McCartney and Claire Saxby (who happened to be in Canberra by chance).

But most important of all, I’ve had the chance to step back and look at things from a new perspective.

I came to Canberra expecting to work on a new manuscript. I had put aside my work in progress after receiving some unsolicited feedback on my writing style that took me by surprise (not in a good way) and dried my words up.

I’m not normally this fickle – normally one manuscript is the centre of my focus and I don’t deviate from it until the current draft is finished, and I put it aside knowing that I’ve gone as far as I can at that point in time. But over recent weeks, I’ve been unable to touch my work in progress.

Inspiring Ellen Hopkins and Mo Johnson

On my way to Canberra I deviated, and that’s where I found the first piece of my voice. I went from Melbourne to Canberra via Sydney where I caught up with the Mo Johnson (author of Boofheads, Something More and Noah’s Garden, and Ellen Hopkins. Ellen’s amazing books, Crank, Impulse, Burned (and many more) were what first inspired me to try my hand at verse novels.

It was so exciting to be among YA novellists talking about YA novels. I’d been feeling a bit disheartened lately because although I’ve had quite a bit of interest from overseas, it appears that Australian publishers are not publishing the kind of YA that I write at the moment.

Just being with Mo and Ellen and talking about our writing was invigorating. It also reminded me that we have to write what’s in our hearts. As Ellen says, “We have to tell the story that we need to tell”.

Ellen’s words reminded me that although being published is fabulous, we write because we have something to say.  And so we must say it…no matter how many setbacks we have…no matter who is going to read it…we have to tell our stories in our own unique way.

So this is my week for putting aside all the things that have held me back from working on my YA thriller…that it might be ‘too dark’ or ‘too different’ or ‘too something else’.

After a long break, I’m getting back into it with fresh eyes and renewed vigour. I believe in this manuscript (I almost always have:) and I’m determined to make it work.

The break has been good for both me, and the manuscript, but now it’s time to immerse myself in it again.

Today, when I was lunching with Tania and Claire I realised that I’d let the words of one person paralyse my writing.

Whether it’s a bad review or a ‘too personal’ rejection, it can cripple our creativity, but the fact is that we have to move on.

I’m lucky to have my ever-optimistic and supportive crit buddy, Alison Reynolds who has encouraged me and had faith in me every step of the way. I’m lucky to have such wonderful and empathetic writing friends who have helped me more than they know.

If you lose your writer’s voice, here are my suggestions on how to get it back.


  1. Take a break from your manuscript
  2. Identify what’s holding you back and deal with it
  3. Find or read about inspirational people to inspire you (go to conferences, join writer’s group, go places where you can meet and share with other writers)
  4. Read books by people who inspire you.
  5. Have ceremonial burnings of painful reviews or rejection letters
  6. Celebrate your successes, large and small

Have you ever lost your writer’s voice? How did you get it back?

We’d love you to share your stories and suggestions in the comments section of this post.

Happy writing:)



The reason I’m up at 4.00am writing this post isn’t just that I have to get my eldest out of bed at 5.15am to go to his school athletic’s carnival, and I’m paranoid I’ll sleep through the alarm.

It’s also become I’m buzzing with excitement – albeit through sleepy eyes.

Tomorrow, I fly to Brisbane to start my May Gibbs Creative Time Residency Fellowship and in case you haven’t guessed already…I can’t wait.

Not only will this give me the chance to catch up with my lovely Queensland writerly colleagues, but it will also allow me to pay attention to those clamouring characters in my head – the ones that have been dying to burst out and tell their story – the ones I’ve been deliberately keeping at bay until I get to Brisbane.

For one whole month I’m going to be working on my new YA psychological thriller series.

I’m already missing my boys and my menagerie in advance, but with the wonderful advances of modern technology I will be able to keep in regular contact through Facebook, Twitter and emails. If I’m lucky, they might even pay me a visit during the school holidays (the boys at least…unfortunately, you can’t have rabbits in Queensland – unless you are a magician).

Anyway, I digress – this month in Brisbane is ALL ABOUT WRITING!

My first week is going to be a huge amount of fun – doing a series of workshops for yrs 5 to 10 at the State Library of Queensland called Heroes and Villains, which is already fully subscribed (thanks to all the friendly and very helpful staff at SLQ who have worked so hard to bring all this together).

During that week, I’ll be working on my planning and research for my series…AND AFTER THAT…it’s fingers to the keyboard, and three weeks of serious writing.

Being awarded a May Gibbs Creative Time Residency Fellowship is one of my most exciting writerly achievements, and I intend to savour it.

So I’ve set myself the goal of writing a blog post EVERY DAY about what I’m doing/have been doing that day in a world that will for those four weeks be devoted entirely to writing.

Hope you enjoy my posts. Feel free to ask any questions as we go.


P.S. Tuesday Writing Tips will continue as usual for the month I’m away.