Review: The Emerging Writer 0 Comments

Review: The Emerging Writer

The concept of being a writer has always been an abstract one. When do you start calling yourself A Writer, and when are you cease being an ’emerging’ one? Does it come with your first byline, or your first pay check? This book might not have definitive answers, but it sure has some great tips on how to make things easier. An offshoot of the wonderful Emerging Writer’s festival that took place earlier this year, The Emerging Writer is a bit like a cheat sheet on how to cope in the writing world.

The Emerging Writer is edited by the ever-excellent Karen Pickering and written by writers who fall in the categories of both ‘emerging’ and ‘established’. Packed with insightful and invaluable advice, this book is a must-have for any budding writer who wants an insider’s view on how the industry works.

For ease of reference, it is loosely dived into four sections:

  • Why – Why do we choose to write? Why do we continue to write after we experience setbacks?
  • What – What should we write and how do we choose a subject matter?
  • Where – How does your location affect your writing opportunities? How much should we let our own location influence the setting of our own writing?
  • How – Rather than focusing on written content, this focuses on the practice of writing. This section is a guide on how to write effectively given time restraints, procrastinating and other distractions.

In her editorial, Pickering likens this book to a map that can serve two purposes: a guide a budding writer to follow, and to mark the path where others have been. The Emerging Writer is a must for all writers trying to find their way.

Perhaps the most striking this about this book is that it was written by ordinary people who have found success, despite feeling just as lost as everyone does at the beginning of their journey. Whether it discusses writing comedy, moderating audiences, translating text or suing a former employer, each piece is somewhat relatable and applicable to the creative process of writing.

Van Badham’s ‘It’s Not You, It’s Us (On Eating Biscuits)’ explores the relationship between women and their ability to assert themselves in the playwriting industry. It really struck a chord with me about how women can unconsciously devalue themselves, but Badham does it in such a way that it avoids playing the blame-game. It was possibly the most eye-opening and wonderfully simplistic piece on gender issues I have ever read.

Previous editor of Voiceworks, Johannes Jakob, writes a wonderfully resonate piece titled ‘How to Behave Around a Dying Gazelle’. This piece questions how writers and editors do their job, knowing what could go wrong. There was definitely something in this that most people can relate to, regardless of their area of discipline.

Bhatkhi Puvanenthiran’s ‘The Awkward Silence’ discusses the lack of communication that occurs between most writers and their editors about how much a piece is worth. She even opens a discussion about how much a freelancer’s words are worth, and for how long we ought to write for nothing, and when our words become worth paying for.

What is most engaging about this compilation of advice, anecdotes, cartoons and flowcharts is that it brings to life the concept that no writer takes the same path, but can end up in exactly the same place. Encouraging, entertaining and inspiring, this is a must read for anyone wanting to grow as a writer.

If The Emerging Writer sounds like something that might tickle your fancy, you can find out more information on how to purchase a copy by clicking here.

By Megan Hanson


Megan is an EdCommer and Melbourne-based freelancer who writes and edits primarily for arts and lifestyle publications. She tweets @Megan__Hanson and her work can be seen at

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