Fostering the Next Generation of Writers

Fostering the Next Generation of Writers

La Trobe University’s history with Mildura’s Writers Festival dates all the way back to when it first commenced in 1994. From Stefano de Pieri’s cellar restaurant, the event has grown into one of the finest literary festivals in the country.

It’s an old cliché you hear time and time again: to be great you must learn from the greats.

Leo Tolstoy and Charles Dickens didn’t just pick up a pen and paper and write masterpieces. J.K. Rowling didn’t just write the Harry Potter epic. She read hundreds of fantasy novels, learned from the authors and then put pen to paper.

As a writer, you should always learn from the past and present literary world, with an eye on the future. It’s a process to hone your craft, find out what works and develop your own style.

For any aspiring writer, the chance to meet literary figures should be a must. The ideas you could learn can spark a deeper passion and understanding of the art.

At La Trobe, we’re doing our part to foster the next generation of writers. We’re taking students enrolled in our Writers in Action course and sending them to the Mildura Writers Festival to learn from authors and network with players in the field.

This year, 36 students took part in the course and attended the festival for a memorable experience.

Opening event – a conversation with Robyn Davidson about her life and adventures, writing and memoir.

The beginning of a beautiful partnership

The partnership between La Trobe and the Writers Festival started with an idea over two decades ago.

Stefano di Pieri and Donatta Carazza co-founded the festival. They had one simple vision: bring literary talent from around Australia to discuss the world of writing in an intimate and engaging setting.

To the delight of Pieri and Carazza, their vision came to life. Each year, high-calibre literary talent flocked to Pieri’s cellar restaurant, with festival attendance rising as word spread.

Fast forward 24 years, and the festival is now one of the finest literary events in the country. It’s quite an achievement.

The event enables students to connect with the industry in a more intimate environment. And it’s now part of the creative arts curriculum.  It creates a framework of learning beyond the lecture-and-listen platform and helps pave the way for students in the Writers in Action course.

Writers in Action

For years, the traditional way of learning was  a lecturer would walk into the room, talk for two hours and you would leave class. Students often criticised the process as being uninspired.

Teaching in the tertiary education sector is evolving, with inspiration at the heart of the evolution. At La Trobe, we’ve implemented award-winning place-based subjects like Writers in Action to put the students at the centre of the learning experience.

In its fourth iteration at the Mildura Writer’s Festival, Writers in Action sees the students now taking an integral part, acting as journalists, critics, bloggers and writers.

As the festival unfolds, students take to the floor and are given the chance to have open, free discussions with the authors in attendance. The free flow of information and networking helps cultivate the students’ creative potential. Here’s what our Writers in Action students had to say about their experience at the recent festival.

In my first year I heard about the Writers in Action subject and decided it was high time to try it out.

My expectations led me to believe the authors would sit at the front and orate to the guests, but quickly found that the festival offered something more down-to-earth. — Riley Upton is studying a Bachelor of Arts at the Bendigo Campus

“I was surprised by how much these authors inspired me to write for pleasure again. I want to take this experience into my teaching. Hopefully this will inspire my future students to write.” — Elise Cole is studying a Bachelor of Education at La Trobe’s Mildura Campus.

In the coming years, we’ll continue to work and cultivate the next generation of writers. The festival will be at the heart of our work, giving creative students the platform to find their inner writer and learn from industry players.

Passionate about creativity, art, performance and storytelling? Get inspired and nurture your talent with a creative arts degree.