Write as much as possible No matter how long or short, it is important to find time to write. If you're serious, you'll make it work. You only get better with practise and it helps you to find your writing style and voice. Although there will be days where it will be hard to get to it.
Save every draft You never know when you want to change something or go back to a previous idea.
Keep a notebook with you You never know when imagination will strike. A phrase or idea will come to you and can turn into a great writing gem.
Go to your local library Get to know the librarians at your local library. They have so much knowledge, can make fantastic recommendations, source books for you and are keen to meet someone else who shares their passion. Best of all the resources are free. Familiarise yourself with the children's sections and borrow heaps of books. Spend time observing children and families to find out what books they love to read. Read far and wide and everything you can in children's literature across picture books, middle grade and young adult. Borrow similar books to ones that you are writing or want to write.
Join groups on social media There are many great groups to join on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and many more. Find which ones appeal to you and start networking online. They can keep you up-to-date of many opportunities online.
Join a writing group Try to find a writing group in your local area you can meet up with regularly that is specifically interested in children's writing and even the specific area, such as picture books, middle grade and young adult. I have found my writing group, Write Links - Brisbane Children's Writers Group the most invaluable and encouraging group of children's literature supporters and writers. I found this group through a local writing society. We meet once a month at the State Library for professional development and critiquing. In between meetings we stay connected, share information, offer advice, celebrate and encourage each other through our closed online Facebook group.
There are also online critique groups to join on Facebook and Twitter.
Join writing societies and industry organisations There are many writing societies and industry organisations. Join those that are of interest of you. Look at my Recommended Groups and Resources page to find some of the ones I have found really helpful.
Take a writing course I completed the Create a Kids' Book online course. It has 10 modules and has given me so much advice and grounding in children's literature that I wouldn't have known if I hadn't have started with this. This course has saved me from making a lot of mistakes first time authors make.
Julie Hedlund's 12 x 12is another excellent one. I completed this in 2014.
Whatever course you choose, make sure it meets your needs and is a worthwhile investment for your money.
My advice is to choose one and focus on that. If you try to do too many you can become overwhelmed and spend a lot of money.
Attend writing conferences and workshops There are many excellent writing conferences.I have attended several conferences and they are an excellent opportunity to learn from other talented writers and industry professionals, network and meet other people who share your passion. You'll make friends with some of these people and they'll share your writing journey the whole way. They are expensive, but I have learned so much and I do not regret attending any.
You can also pay to have manuscript assessments done by publishers. You get direct access to key staff and receive amazing advice firsthand. When publishers see you attend conferences regularly they get to know your name and know you are serious about becoming a writer.
I have attended the annual one day CYA Conference in Brisbane, held every July. It is a great event with many industry professionals and writers.
The Ipswich StoryArts Festival is held every two years in September is fantastic and attracts some of the best Australian authors, illustrators and publishers. And it is all organised by the Ipswich Teacher Librarian Network.
SCBWI Australia and New Zealand hold a biennial conference in Sydney. This is a very large conference featuring many Australian authors, illustrators and publishers and international talent too.
Attend book launches and meet authors There is nothing more exciting than meeting some of your favourite authors, hearing them read, speak about their career and interests and answer questions.
I have met the incredible Jackie French and Mem Fox. It is so lovely to receive a personally signed copy of one of their books. They also have given me advice as a new writer. It inspires you to keep on writing.
You also may never know who you might meet at the events. There are often industry people and it is worthwhile making the effort. I have made some great contacts at some of these presentations.