CKT's Top Tips

The CKT 'Top Tips'  page contains tips from the cream of Australian children's literature. These 'tips'  are what they live by as an author.

For those who aspire to reach the literary heights these authors have reached, every piece of advice is invaluable.

Jackie French

Jackie French's Top Tip

'Think! The most beautifully written story is boring if it's ideas are boring. Best seller lists always have at least one book so badly written it makes you cringe to turn the page, but you do keep turning, to find out what happens next. You don't need one inspiration to write a book, but at least ten thousand, twisted and plaited together'.

Jeff Kinney

Jeff Kinney's Top Tip

'I'd recommend to anyone seeking to become a cartoonist or illustrator to copy someone else's style, to see how it's done. Then you'll have a tool to help you create your own unique style.'

Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo's Top Tip

The more human you are, the better writer you will be.

Andy Griffiths

Andy Griffiths' Top Tip

'Many fledgling writers misplace a lot of energy worrying about how to get their writing published. That energy is much better spent using writing to deeply explore yourself and the type of stories that only you can tell. Try to find the types of stories that you get a delicious thrill out of writing whether or not they eventually get published.

Libby Hathorn

Libby Hathorn's Top Tip

'Give yourself the dignity of time to write and a place to write, which translates to taking yourself and your writing life seriously.

Terry Denton

Terry Denton's Top Tip

'I find I need to be constantly drawing and reading.'

'I do life drawing, sit playing with paint, browse ideas from other artists that I can steal and work at my art constantly.'

Margaret Hamilton

Margaret Hamilton's Top Tip

Most important for anyone beginning in writing or illustrating children’s books is networking with others in the field.

Wai Chim

Wai Chim's Top Tip

Don't try to mirror your own journey after someone else's success or society's expectations. Everyone has their own path.

Heath McKenzie

Heath McKenzie's Top Tip

There’s no right or wrong way to draw! Nobody is a BAD drawer, just possibly unconfident or unhappy with how they do it!

Tohby Riddle

Tohby Riddle's Top Tip

'Take the job of making a book very seriously, then have a lot of fun!'

Anna Walker

Anna Walker's Top Tip

Draw things you love, draw things you are curious about, draw things that amuse you and keep those drawings.

Frané Lessac

Frané Lessac's Top Tip

Everyone writes and paints differently. How YOU do it, is unique.

Allison Tait

Allison Tait's Top Tip

Get the words written. Writing is not convenient. It takes up time, energy and brain space that many of the people in your life will think is better spent elsewhere.

Aaron Blabey

Aaron Blabey's Top Tip

I don’t know. It’s different for everyone. There’s no formula or magic bullet.

All I can say is, my work improved – and became much more popular with children - when I wrote the following two phrases on my studio wall –

Lesley Gibbes

Lesley Gibbes' Top Tip

Modeling from other successful books will fast track your writing skills like nothing else.

Claire Saxby

Claire Saxby's Top Tip

The only thing you can't edit/improve is the white (empty) page. Write that first dreadful, awful first draft. Acknowledge that it will be anything but perfect.

John Heffernan

John Heffernan's Top Tip

Start by writing short stories. Try to capture many different stories in compact form where every word counts. You can always expand them later into longer short stories or picture books or graphic novels, full-blown novels, videos, films, or whatever.

Peter Carnavas

Peter Carnavas' Top Tip

I think it’s important to work on your craft as much as possible.

Margaret Wild

Margaret Wild's Top Tip

Read, read, read! If you read wonderful books, your own writing will improve because you will be inspired to try harder and write better.

Emma Quay

Emma Quay's Top Tip

It is the wandering mind which seems to come up with ideas for stories. I, and many other writers and illustrators, seem to get most of my ideas whilst on public transport. It must be something about having unstructured time, when thoughts are free to roam.

Lucy Cousins

Lucy Cousins' Top Tip

Create a world that you love yourself, and your enthusiasm will shine through.

Jules Faber

Jules Faber's Top Tip

Tenacity is your greatest weapon.

You are the hero of your own story. If you give up after a single rejection, all is lost. You must combat it, get back up, dust yourself off and try again. And again. And again. Until you are victorious.

Sarah Davis

Sarah Davis' Top Tip

Your first idea isn't necessarily your best's just your first idea. And you think of it first because... it's obvious. And obvious ideas are ...boring!

Wendy Blaxland

Wendy Blaxland's Top Tip

Read the writers who make you catch your breath, learn as much about the world of writing and publishing as you can, and then write, write, write. Write from your heart the work that only you can create.

Susanne Gervay

Susanne Gervay's Top Tip

'Get into the culture of children’s writers, otherwise you will flounder as there’s so much to learn in this profession. Join your local writing group. Create your own critique group. Do some classes. Belong to writers’ organisations. Get online to Creative Kids Tales and children’s book blogs. Follow your favourite authors and illustrators'.

Katrina Germein

Katrina Germein's Top Tip

Don’t rely on your favourite childhood books to know what makes a good story today. Read contemporary stories for inspiration but remember what it felt like to be a kid.

Judith Rossell

Judith Rossell's Top Tip

Write about what you love, and write the story that you would have loved to read when you were a kid.

Stephan Pastis

Stephan Pastis' Top Tip

To always entertain yourself when you write. Write the story you want to read.  Make yourself laugh, cry.

Christopher Cheng

Christopher Cheng's Top Tip

As well as all the other great tips mine would be - KEEP A JOURNAL.  It’s your Ideas Book.  Do you have a great idea?  Scribble it down in your Ideas Book.

Deborah Abela

Deborah Abela's Top Tip

'As you write ask yourself: Is this sentence earning its place in my story? Could the story exist without it?

Is it adding something the reader doesn't already know and drawing them towards the climax?'

Jack Heath

Jack Heath's Top Tip

"Forget about genre and focus on emotion.

What do you want the reader to feel in this scene? Scared? Longing? Amused? Disgusted? Fascinated?"

Michael Salmon

Michael Salmon's Top Tip

Create your own private fantasy world: a Middle Earth or a Narnia, where only you may enter.

A place where ideas and images grow freely until they’re ready for the outside world.

Nick Falk

Nick Falk's Top Tip

Don’t worry whether what you’re writing’s good, bad or not silly enough, just keep writing. The journey of writing is the fun bit. The destination is just what happens at the end!!!

Paul Jennings

Paul Jennings' Top Tip

'Think of a weird or unusual idea which the reader can't resist'.

'Use short sentences to hook the reader in and to make the story sound tense and exciting'.

'Short paragraphs are easier for the reader'.

Janeen Brian

Janeen Brian's Top Tip

Check each page of writing.

How many senses, besides that of SIGHT, have you used? Remember we have FIVE!

Ursula Dubosarsky

Ursula Dubosarsky's Top Tip

Try to finish whatever it is you've started - whether it's a story, a poem, a song - whatever it is.

I found that I learned the most about writing from finishing drafts.

Justin D'Ath

Justin D'Ath's Top Tip

Nowadays writer needs to have very thick skin and a huge amount of self-belief and dedication to their calling – and it should be a ‘calling’, cos if you don’t love it you’d be better off – financially and mentally, driving taxis.

Sally Murphy

Sally Murphy's Top Tip


You need to persist with finishing a draft.

Then, persist with the editing and revision process.

Di Bates

Dianne (Di) Bates' Top Tip

'Finish what you start. And then edit it to within an inch of its life'.

Bill Condon

Bill Condon's Top Tip

'The thought of spending hours staring at a computer screen is very daunting, so I set myself small goals. I use an oven timer and set it for a half an hour. My aim is to write until the timer goes off. It's a short enough time to make it achievable and I have a sense of satisfaction when I go the distance. Whenever I do this I nearly always want to keep going when the half hour is up. This works for me. Give it a try'.

Paul Collins

Paul Collins' Top Tip

'Perseverance. A manuscript has never been published by staying at home'.

DC Green

DC Green's Top Tip

‘Write! Writers write. Writers write every day, in fact, even if just for half an hour, so the writing becomes a habit. The more you write, the more your writing improves, and the more dizzying your word counts will become. In other words, apply bum glue liberally to your computer chair. It’s that simple!’

Jacqueline Harvey

Jacqueline Harvey's Top Tip

'Create characters that you love spending time with. Whether they are the heroes or the villains you have to enjoy writing them. This helps create authentic voices and makes them believable'.

Adam Wallace

Adam Wallace's Top Tip

'Write and write and write and read and read and read and listen and watch and see and hear and write and write and have FUN and throw away any need to be perfect and write some more and read some more and most of all don't be scared to try ANYTHING! Changes can always be made'.

Tania McCartney

Tania McCartney's Top Tip

'Whatever you do, write what you love. Write what resonates with you. Write with originality and your own voice. Don’t try to copy, don’t assume, don’t ruin your creative spark by worrying what people will think or what you feel publishers might like. Listen to your heart and remember that original thoughts come from risk-taking and fearlessness. Heartfelt originality (along with tenacity, excellence and hard work) is the key to success in any creative field'.

Aleesah Darlison

Aleesah Darlison's Top Tip

‘Never ever give up on your writing dream. I faced many rejections before I was published, and still do, in many different forms. But you never know what (acceptance) will be waiting for you around the corner. So, whatever you do, keep on writing and submitting and thinking positively. Throughout all of this, your writing will be improving and so will your chances of publication.’

Tristan Bancks

Tristan Bancks' Top Tip

‘Have the courage to write the kind of book that you love to read. Write from your gut, not from your head. Don’t think two drafts. Think sixteen. The best writing workshop you can do is to read a really well-written book. And ignore me entirely. Make your own rules.’

Belinda Murrell

Belinda Murrell's Top Tip

'Five tips which all begin with P! They are:

Passion – write what you love. Write from your heart. Don’t try to follow trends. Write for yourself and have fun doing it!

Mem Fox

Mem Fox's Top Tip

‘DO ’show’ and do not ‘tell’: try to reveal action and character through what the characters say and do.’

Sue Whiting

Sue Whiting's Top Tip

‘Being a writer involves more than the time spent at the keyboard. Being a writer inhabits you. It becomes a way of life. You must observe – really observe. Listen. Experience. Live. Feel. Read. Be open, challenging. Curious. And when you put pen to paper, you need to have a story to tell – one worth telling, not matter the genre. Then it's your job to tell it with heart and absolute honesty, letting your wonderful self shine through onto the page.’

Oliver Phommavanh

Oliver Phommavanh's Top Tip

‘My tip is to carry a notebook and everyday, write down 5 ideas/observations. No matter how ordinary or mundane they may be. Some days you may have more, but have at least 5 things down everyday. Get your mind to anticipate gathering and absorbing things around you. Once a month, look back and see what ideas have stuck or what can be used for your stories. It's okay if the ideas lead to nowhere, it's all about training the creative mind!’

Sally Rippin

Sally Rippin's Top Tip

‘When writing for children, I find authenticity is created by remembering yourself as a child rather than observing children from the outside. Remember how you felt at the time and don't trivialise these emotions with an adult's perspective. What can seem unimportant to an adult can be earth-shattering to a child.’

Michael Gerard Bauer

Michael Gerard Bauer's Top Tip

‘Write about the things that are important to you. The things that move you in some way, whether that be to laughter or tears or maybe even anger. And go for long walks by yourself. Seriously. And as you walk, let your mind go free to wander off on pathways of its own choosing.

  • 'Creative Kids Tales is a fabulous community of passionate, hardworking and committed writers. If you're looking for new and exciting talent that's dedicated to the children's book industry - look no further than CKT!'


    Wai Chim

  • 'Creative Kids Tales is a brilliant resource – for established writers and those just starting out. I wish it had been around when I was a new writer. There are lots of invaluable tips and great advice.
    Congratulations Georgie – it’s fabulous.' -

    Jacqueline Harvey
  • 'If there's anything emerging authors struggle with (beyond the dreaded writer's block), it's receiving recognition or even acknowledgment of their work – battling for a slice of that incredibly elusive publishing pie. Georgie Donaghey has created a priceless promotional and networking station that allows new authors to not only share their work, but gain the courage and nous to take their work to a whole new level. Creative Kids Tales is a valuable addition to Australia's burgeoning children's book market.' -

    Tania McCartney
  • 'Everything you need is here, on Creative Kids Tales! Oh, how wonderful this would have been for the young Emma Quay, knowing she loved children’s picture books but not knowing a soul in the industry. Down to earth, comprehensive, friendly, realistic and encouraging advice — this is an invaluable resource. Bravo!' -

    Emma Quay
  • 'I would have loved to have had access to when I was starting out! It's an invaluable source of information, inspiration and encouragement for both emerging (and fully-emerged!) writers.' -

    Andy Griffiths
  • "What a wonderful website and wealth of resources. I wish I’d discovered it sooner - but I can still enjoy it now, and have added it to my list of resources for new writers."
    "Keep it up, Georgie!" -

    Wendy Orr
  • 'What can I say? Well if you have clicked this far and uncovered these words you KNOW that this (Creative Kids Tales) is a terrific resource full of ideas and connections.
    SO dig deeper and get connected!' -

    Christopher Cheng
  • 'Creative Kids Tales offers new writers the joy of publication on their journey of craft and creativity.'
    'It’s a warm and wonderful home.'

    Susanne Gervay
  • 'Emerging from one's chrysalis of anonymity into the prodigious world of creative children's writing and publishing is a daunting prospect. Georgie Donaghey's Creative Kids Tales is a superlative source of inspiration and information for the bourgeoning writer and illustrator. She has created an invaluable platform from which writers, both developing and established, can view, promote and share each other's work, and most importantly aspirations. A fun, friendly, and informative forum that everyone in the kids' lit industry can benefit from.' Keep it up Georgie! -

    Dimity Powell
  • 'Congratulations on a brilliant site, and a superb first year!'.
    Jackie French is Australian Children's Laureate for 2014 – 2015

    Jackie French
  • 'This site is such a wonderful resource for writers and illustrators at every stage of the journey. I've learned more about some of my favourite people in children's literature here, but also had the joy of discovering whole new worlds of talent.' -

    Anna Branford
  • 'CKT is such a valuable site for anybody wanting to learn a bit more about making children’s books. When time travelling becomes possible, I’ll steal all the info from this site and deliver it to my younger, aspiring self.'


    Peter Carnavas

  • 'Creative Kids Tales is a treasure trove of resources and insights, compiled with dedication and enthusiasm. A wonderful resource for anyone who is interested in picture books and children's literature.' -

    Sarah Davis
  • 'Creative Kids tales is the perfect place to go for inspiration and to recharge the creative batteries.'


    Frané Lessac

  • 'Creative Kids Tales is a great forum for people who spend most of their working time alone. It is interesting and inspiring to see and hear what other authors and illustrators have to say.' -

    Lucy Cousins
  • 'The thing I like about the Creative Kids Tales website is that the authors come across as real people who face the same problems that beginning writers do and that there’s plenty of practical advice.' -

    Duncan Ball
  • 'Buckets of thanks to Georgie for creating Creative Kids Tales. There’s a wealth of wonderful information and resources for everyone interested in creating books for kids – and a warm sense of community.'

    Meredith Costain
  • 'Creative Kids Tales is such a great website for navigating this industry – not just for authors and illustrators, but for parents and teachers and librarians and publishers and kids and storytellers of all sorts. It’s awesome!' -

    Jules Faber
  • 'It's easy to feel alone when writing, and clueless about what happens next. Creative Kids Tales offers answers and community - invaluable resources.'


    Claire Saxby

  • Writing can be a lonely profession. By necessity, you need to work alone much of the time. But it is wonderful to have a website which eases that by connecting creators with each other and with a wealth of information and resources.
    Bravo! -

    Sally Murphy
  • 'CKT is like the friendly and helpful colleague I could have done with when I started out. Back then I didn’t know anyone who was a writer or illustrator of books.'


    Tohby Riddle

  • 'What a great site! We all tend to work in isolation in our own little caves. It’s great to see all the other cave dwellers out there and realise we are not alone. What a great resource!'


    Bruce Whatley

  • 'I love the grumpy cat videos, hahaha it's so grumpy ... oh, wait, wrong website. Ah yes, Creative Kids Tales. Brilliant! Getting published is an amazing, frustrating, brilliant, lonely, creative journey, and is awesome in that it helps both published and pre-published authors by providing support, inspiration, a community, and by allowing authors to learn from other authors, and who better is there to learn from .. .except maybe that grumpy cat, hahaha, hilarious.' -

    Adam Wallace
  • 'This is a great website. Nowadays, when getting published is so hard and staying published not much easier, everyone needs all the help they can get. And here's Help with a capital H!' 'Go Georgie! Creative Kids Tales is an inspiration for all writers of children's and YA fiction.' -

    Richard Harland
  • 'Creative Kids Tales is a unique and valuable online resource for new and established authors. The site provides a wealth of information and insight into the children's writing world.' 'Thanks for all your support, Georgie, and keep up the good work.' -

    Aleesah Darlison
  • 'Creative Kids Tales deserves all its accolades. Thanks to its creator, the site provides brilliant support, inspiration and encouragement for anyone who loves creating children's books. I have no hesitation in passing on your link.'
    Well done, Georgie! -

    Sheryl Gwyther
  • 'Thanks for having me on Creative Kids Tales. It's a great resource for emerging writers and illustrators and I hope it will have a long future.'

    Sally Rippin
  • 'What a wonderful website Creative Kids Tales is, supporting and helping Australian authors in their quest through the dark thorny forest of the publishing world. Georgie should be congratulated for all her hard work and fearless leadership!' -

    Kate Forsyth
  • 'The Creative Kids Tales site is great fun and full of information about authors and their books!' -

    Isobelle Carmody
  • 'Once you find an easily-accessible, up-to-date and vibrant source of writing help and encouragement, you should value it and use it! Thanks to Creative Kids Tales, that’s all available, just with the tap of your finger:
    Well done, CKT team!' -

    Janeen Brian
  • 'Creative Kids Tales is an awesome resource you should totally check it out.' -

    R.A. Spratt
  • 'Creative Kids Tales contributes a wonderful sense of community to the Australian kids’ book scene, from sharing insightful interviews, to writing competitions and now a conference. It’s a great organisation to follow online and be a part of!'


    One More Page podcast

  • 'Creative Kids Tales is a fantastic resource for aspiring writers that showcases emerging and published authors and illustrators and provides links to publishers' websites, helpful hints and competitions.'

    Rachel Keyes
  • 'Creative Kids Tales will jump-start adults seeking to become writers!' -

    Jeff Kinney
  • 'Creative Kids Tales has inspired, encouraged and supported not only the published, but also us hopefuls still learning the ways of the publishing world. Thanks for providing not only an amazing site to scroll and learn through, but also providing friendship and a real sense of chasing our dreams.' -

    Kelly McDonald
  • 'What a great asset you are to the children's book industry, Georgie.
    Long may Creative Kids Tales rule!'

    Paul Collins
  • 'CKT is informative, relevant, recent and fun! It’s an exceptional resource for anyone involved in children’s literature.'


    Tim Harris

  • 'I wish Creative Kids Tales had been around when I was first starting out! What a brilliant way to connect with other authors and find out about the lovely world of kids books.' 'Go Georgie! I think you're amazing.' -

    Deborah Abela
  • 'Wow! What a wonderful resource.
    Congrats to everyone involved with Creative Kids Tales.'

    George Ivanoff
  • 'Thanks for being such a strong advocate for children’s literature, the power of stories, and reading.
    Keep fighting the good fight and call on me anytime.'

    Tristan Bancks
  • 'Having been a publisher and an author and now proprietor of Pinerolo, the Children’s Book Cottage, I am passionate about promoting children’s books. Creative Kids Tales is such a welcome part of this network and I salute them for their support and their inspiration to so many. On their seventh birthday I wish them many, many happy returns.'


    Margaret Hamilton

  • 'Creative Kids Tales is a lovely online meeting space brimming with support and ideas for writers.'


    Katrina Germein

  • 'Creative Kids Tales provides such a valuable service. Writing can be a lonely business at times, and seeking publication can be daunting. So it is especially wonderful for writers to be able to access such a comprehensive site where information, experiences and the ups and downs of writing for kids can be shared.' Well done, Georgie! -

    Sue Whiting
  • 'The details available on this site, for emerging writers (or those emerged) is incredibly helpful. From creating stories- plotting, dialogue and character building- to the support writers can seek for their work, be it mentoring or seeking a publisher, it’s all there. An excellent easy-to-access writers’ site!'


    Libby Hathorn

  • 'It's about time that we had something like Creative Kids Tales. It's a treasure trove for information and news, plus it showcases talent from aspiring writers. It's a wonderful springboard for anyone who wants to dive into the Children books world!'
    Keep up the fabtastic work! -

    Oliver Phommavanh
  • 'Creative Kids Tales would’ve been mighty handy to know about back when I was sitting about drawing and writing and having no idea what to do with any of it! Go explore and create knowing you have such an amazing resource at your back!'


    Heath McKenzie

  • "Whether just starting out or with many books under your belt, Creative Kids Tales is the perfect place to go for all things writerly. Sharing the inner world is a wonderful thing for solitary writers, and it's all there on Georgie's website.
    Happy reading!" -

    Anna Fienberg
  • Creative Kids Tales offers a brilliant platform for established and emerging creators to keep in touch and learn from each other. That is a great thing for this most isolated of all professions (apart from On-site Antarctic Penguin Imitators). -

    Terry Denton
  • 'Georgie Donaghey’s Creative Kids Tales is deservedly going gangbusters! What a wonderful forum and multi-storeyed resource for shiny new authors, legends of the industry and every writer in between!'

    DC Green
  • 'Creative Kids Tales is ambitious, specific and professional - the Top Tips section alone is a must-read for every aspiring children's writer.' -

    Jack Heath
  • 'Georgie and the team at Creative Kids Tales have a wonderful passion for children’s stories, and this site is a wonderful place to visit to find and share ideas!
    Well done guys!' -

    Nick Falk
  • What a terrific, enthusiastic, informative and creative resource - of value and interest to so many people.
    I'm delighted to be a part of it.

    Ursula Dubosarsky
  • 'If a website can be described as 'homely' or 'a friendly place for emerging writers to visit' then that's how I would describe Creative Kids Tales. It's probably the only Australian website for children's writers that I visit regularly and actually feel part of. When I need motivation, interesting writers to read about, or just a peek at my own 'baby steps' towards being a published writer, I visit the Creative Kids Tales family.' A big thank you to Georgie and Rod for a great website. -

    (Pat) Patricia Simmons
  • 'I’m thrilled to be Creative Kids Tales author of the month.' 'I hope in some small way by me taking part, I might help and inspire young authors and artists to follow their own artistic path.' 'The key I believe is to seek to enjoy what you do. Even though doing your best is a constant challenge I find it is a worthwhile one. So, get drawing and / or writing.' Good luck ! -

    Leigh Hobbs
  • 'CKT is a great resource for both established and emerging authors. I like the way you're always coming up with new and exciting initiatives at your site. And I love reading the fascinating journeys and achievements of the writers you profile here.' -

    Dee White
  • 'Congratulations to Georgie Donaghey for her hard work and enthusiasm in setting up a site that has been sorely needed to promote current Australian children's writing. Not just for the established, but for up and coming, Creative Kids Tales showcases talent and provides information essential for anyone in the industry.' -

    Dianne (Di) Bates
  • 'I stumbled on to Creative Kids Tales by accident. I thought it was kid's tails. I'd been doing some research about goats and how their tails were actually a fifth leg, a very long time ago. Or did I just dream that? In any case, I was bitterly disappointed at first to find not tails, but tales. However, while I was at the site I had a wander around, and soon discovered that it was even better than a goat's site - no kidding! This is a brilliant haven for writers, new and not so new; a place to showcase their work and to learn from others.' Well done, Georgie. You've done a fantastic job. -

    Bill Condon
  • 'Creative Kids Tales is great. You can pick the brains of people who make stuff without having to stalk them or do anything illegal.' -

    Aaron Blabey
  • 'The long-distance marathon of writing, illustrating and publishing usually begins along a very foggy road, in the dark, shoeless. But wait! What's that light on the horizon? A glowing little cafe, full of a bunch other runners plotting out mud-maps on napkins and exchanging anecdotes, warning about ditches and praising short-cuts. Stop for a while, have a cup of tea, maybe even a shoe-fitting, then get yourself back on the road for the long slog to sunrise.' -

    Shaun Tan
  • 'Wow! Creative Kids Tales is a fantastic resource for writers, no matter what stage of their writing journey they are at. Congratulations, Georgie, on your attractive, easy-to-navigate website, your generosity to your fellow writers and your constantly evolving ideas. Thanks on behalf of all of us.' -

    Wendy Blaxland