Former international rugby player turned columnist Peter FitzSimons lectured Macleay students today on becoming the best writers possible – within the law.
Mr FitzSimons is a columnist published by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald and a non-fiction author who has written numerous biographies, notably on explorer Douglas Mawson and politician Kim Beazley.
He encouraged students at Macleay College to read widely and travel, helping them to better create content they’re passionate about.
“The more experiences you have in different fields, the better you will be (as a writer). Get out there, get amongst it, the good and the bad – ideally mostly legal,” he said.
Journalists need to ask the difficult questions and publish what needs to be said, within limits, Mr FitzSimons said.
“Evolve the way in which you write, nobody prospers unless they’re constantly evolving their craft, actually wanting to get better.” Almost 30 years on from his first article – which took him 30 hours to perfect – he said he’s still learning a “hell of a lot” about writing.
The MacleayTV team was on hand to record Mr FitzSimons sharing his writing tips.
“I used to have long fights with subeditors but if you have a good sub editor they will save you,” he said. “If you write it and then read it back, it makes perfect sense. But if you can read the same thing with cold eyes the next morning and work out how to express it better, what works, what doesn’t, that’s a real skill.”
He urged students to write in a way that is both engaging and informative for the reader.
Published first in 1986 in The Sydney Morning Herald, FitzSimons has been writing a regular column on topics including rugby, politics and travel. His latest column reflects on almost 30 years at the newspaper. – Matthew Male
Photo by Andrew Brain.