It was March, less than twelve hours before the deadline for applications. I’d had a heart to heart with my mum over the phone that evening about a new writing program I’d heard about. It offered practical training to help you become an author, covering the writing craft and business skills needed to establish a lasting career as a writer — something I’d wanted for a long time without really knowing it. And yet I found myself going backwards and forwards about it as I talked to her. The conversation had ended in her summarising her position not just on the program, but on my whole attitude towards writing as a career:
I don’t know what your problem is.
She didn’t understand why I wasn’t diving in head first and her confidence in my potential felt unfounded. Wanting to be a writer for as long as I can remember surely wasn’t enough. What about being grown up? What about responsibility? What about putting away childish things?
I picked at a corner of the wallpaper. I didn’t know what my problem was either. Except I sort of did. Grown-ups were supposed to have grown-up careers…right?
I spent the next two hours stripping back the walls of my room (surprisingly stress-relieving) while I worked through the questions and doubts in my mind.
When I made it to the bare wall, I had found my way to the root of the problem.
What if this is too good to be true?
And my mum’s final question tipped the balance:
What have you got to lose?
Mere hours before the deadline, I threw together a writing sample and submitted my application.
Today, my bedroom is in a far better state. So is my writing life and you need to hear about the program that made it all happen: The Author Conservatory.
Inside the Conservatory
Joining the Author Conservatory was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It offers practical training and feedback from industry professionals to help you learn the craft and business of building a sustainable career as an author. For years I had been fumbling about trying to find my way, and it wasn’t until I came across the Author Conservatory that I realised this was what I had been looking for all that time. After a shocking number of youtube hours and miles and miles of writing advice blog posts, this was the very thing I had been searching for without realising it.
The Conservatory exceeded its promises for me. Over the first year, we were taught the fundamentals of storytelling and put through our paces by the instructors. Prior to joining, it had taken me four years to complete a novel, and a year to make it halfway through the next one. I’d had no idea what I was doing or how these story things worked, despite being an avid reader. Now, I’m a couple of months into my second year and have completed two solid, coherent novels (Sons of Clay and The Lovely Virtue) and I’m halfway through writing a novella (The Girl Who Spoke Silence). Those projects are stronger than anything I’ve ever written before because of the professional training and feedback we’re given as part of the Conservatory.
Not only do I find myself writing better and deeper stories, but this training is helping me to understand where I was going wrong before and to learn from my previous mistakes. Although the training is rigorous, and it is sometimes hard to take critique on stories that are close to your heart, it is worth every moment of the hard work it takes.
On top of that, the student community is the most supportive community I’ve ever belonged to. I love to brainstorm our stories together on calls or over messages, share snippets of our writing with one another, and celebrate our various achievements (big or small) together. We also study books together and sometimes arrange fun calls just to hang out or watch movies.
Before, I had always seen writing as something of a solitary occupation, but that’s just not true — in fact, thinking that way can hinder rather than help you. A supportive community and constructive feedback right from the start of the process completely changes the game.
It turns out, it can take a village to write a book, and that’s not a bad thing.
Having a community that helps you brainstorm, sprints with you, holds you accountable, and even just believes in your story when you’re struggling to is such an important thing as a writer, and I couldn’t be more thankful that the Author Conservatory has been that to me.
Business is More Important (and Less Daunting) Than You Think
But there’s more to being an author than just writing books, and the business track of the Conservatory has been my steepest learning curve. The instructors have taught me so much about the biblical way to understand money, and how it is good stewardship not to undervalue our own work or the work of others. Although I was unable to continue my first business idea due to scrappy health, the instructors were very supportive and helped me to come up with another idea that would better fit my circumstances. This loving care is shown by all our instructors, across the board. It’s a joy to be a part of a program where our instructors care about us as individuals, and the skills I’ve learned and confidence I’ve gained through their support have flowed over into other areas of my life too.
Being one of the older students, balancing work, chronic illness, and all of my other commitments with the work required for the Author Conservatory has been challenging at times. I’m grateful for the support I’ve received from the instructors and students and I couldn’t have managed without them. I’ve learned a lot about how to set priorities well and how to use my limited time and energy in the most productive ways while still valuing rest as the gift it is.
The Big Questions
To sum up, here are a few of the questions I had before joining the Author Program, questions you may have too:
Is being an author just a childish dream, or is it really possible (like really)?
Childish? No. Dream? Yes. But all great things begin somewhere, and usually that’s with a dream. It is possible to have a sustainable career as an author, and it’s as respectable a career as a doctor, lawyer, gardener, or taxi-driver. One of the great things about the Conservatory is that our instructors are people who have already taken that path and succeeded and want to help us do the same.
Is it really college level?
Having studied at university, I can tell you that it is — in fact the standard of the Author Conservatory is much higher than some college-level courses I know of. And much like university, you will get out of this program what you put into it. It’s for people who are serious about being a writer and willing to put in the work to make it happen.
What if I’m not good enough to be a real author?
You may not be. Now. But with the training you receive at the Author Conservatory, you’ll not only get there, but you’ll come on in leaps and bounds, much faster than if you try to go it alone, like I did for years. I’ve grown more in my writing in this last year of the Conservatory than I have in the five years before it (and probably longer even than that).
It sounds too good to be true.
Doesn’t it?? I thought the same thing and I was wrong. As time goes by and the program grows and develops, it has only gotten better and better. And just look at our instructors and experts in residence — what a line-up!
Is the Author Conservatory what I need right now?
I don’t know, because I don’t know you. But one way to find out is to apply or even just talk to our admissions officer or to the instructors and students. If you’re really serious about being an author and making it your career, what have you got to lose in having a conversation? I tentatively emailed Brett way back last March and here we are, a world away from where I began all that time ago.
If you’re an aspiring author and are looking for a program that helps you develop the kind of good character, excellent craft, and sustainable career that is needed to make it as an author today, I highly recommend exploring the Author Conservatory as a practical, comprehensive, and downright enjoyable way to learn. I don’t know of any other author training program like it.
I will never regret taking the chance and joining the Author Conservatory. The incredible growth I’ve seen in my own writing and business skills as well as those of other students (I’m so proud of you guys!!) and the wonderfully loving and supportive community make it worth every penny and all of the hard work (yes, sometimes there are tears too and occasionally someone fictional loses a limb). I’m dreading the day I have to graduate.
Are you interested in joining the Conservatory, or at least exploring the option? You can always send me an email and ask any questions you may have. I’ll take any chance you give me to encourage other young writers in their craft (and tell them all about this great program). You can also contact our admissions officer (she’s a gem, you should talk to her just because she’s such a wonderful person).
But don’t take my word for it. My fellow student (and incredible writer), Hope, will be sharing all about her experiences with the Author Conservatory tomorrow on her own blog. You can read her review here.
Don’t forget, the Conservatory is also running a giveaway, including several products from students’ businesses — details of which you can find HERE at the first stop on this tour.