Showing posts with label becoming an author. Show all posts
Showing posts with label becoming an author. Show all posts

You Know You're a Writer When . . .

Bloom where you're planted  Photo by Linda Wilson
You have a desire to express yourself. It won't go away. Pieces come out in your everyday life. At work. At home. With the people you know and love. With acquaintances and strangers, too. You might trek to the farthest reaches of the earth and sea. Start your own business, a new hobby; begin an exercise program, pick up a musical instrument. Go into politics or find volunteer opportunities. Yet you still want to do more. So, you sit down and write. You become a writer.

As busy as you are with your life, have you ever wondered where this desire to write comes from? You may be a physician/writer, a teacher/writer or a writer/writer. But deep down you know: Writing is your heart and you never want to stop.

The reasons one becomes a writer are as varied as life itself. Some of them are collected here, for you to ponder and perhaps to remind you of your own beginning, when you first noticed that pulse that beat so strong inside that it spilled onto the page and hasn't stopped. It's only grown. And you've grown, too.

You know you're a writer when you . . .

. . . Enjoy looking up words in the dictionary and thesaurus.
  • Speaking from personal experience, I like nothing better than to look up words. I am now in the market for an electronic dictionary/thesaurus. Any recommendations left as a comment would be appreciated.
. . . Are willing to forgo a social life, belonging to clubs, playing bridge, etc.
  • Years ago, I read an article where best-selling author Barbara Taylor Bradford (A Woman of Substance, and twenty-nine other books), was quoted as saying that you must choose between having a busy social life or becoming a serious author. In a recent article where Bradford offered writing tips she wrote: "First and foremost, you need to be serious about your desire to become a published author. It takes an extraordinary amount of time, effort and dedication to hone your skills and produce a work worthy of publication. But like anything else, if you possess the talent and the determination, you will likely succeed."
. . . Love the process without concerning yourself with the end result. Your mind is always working on an idea or problem for an article or story.
  • Newbery medalist and well-loved children's author Betsy Byars described one of the best things about our craft in the reference book, Something About the Author,  " . . . creativity. I can't define it, but I have found from experience that the more you use it, the better it works."
. . . Are willing to keep learning your craft and grow.
  • In the article, "Timeless Advice on Writing from Famous Authors," June 18, 2012 published  by Brainpickers, Chilean novelist Isabel Allende is quoted as saying, "Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too."
. . . Keep working and don't give up despite any odds against you, such as rejections, self-doubt and lack of time.
  • Through the years, I've heard successful writers and editors say that it's sad. Many talented writers give up too soon. They've become discouraged because of the demands that come with being a published author. If they had hung on a little longer, their work would have been ready.
. . . Want to share what you've learned.
  • A Catholic nun was the first person who encouraged me to write. I had made puppets and a puppet stage and written and adapted puppet plays for the children in our church when my daughters were very young. She told me how my project could help others if I would take the time to share what I had done. The article I wrote and photographs I included became my first published piece. Thanks to her encouragement I learned right from the start the satisfaction that comes from sharing our work.
. . . Have become a good listener, a good observer, a good student of life.
  • "A writer, early and late, does a lot of listening at doors . . ." Richard Peck, Newbery-medalist
I hope you will take the time to leave a comment about how you got started on your creative path.

Next month: You Know You're a Writer When . . . Part II


Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, recently completed Joyce Sweeney's online fiction course. Linda has published over 40 articles for children and adults, six short stories for children, and is in the final editing stages of her first book, a mystery story for 7-10 year olds. Follow her on Facebook. 

Jumping Head First into Publishing

Guest Post by Bonnie  Rokke Tinnes

Several times during my life, especially after I graduated from Bemidji State University in Minnesota as an English and Russian teacher, I wanted to be a writer, but something always got in the way of the time and energy I needed to actually sit down and produce something of worth. I taught school for a while.  Then my husband and I were married and I worked on our farm.  We had children who took a lot of my time.  After my husband became ill, I returned to school, attaining a nursing degree from the University of North Dakota just in time to take over as breadwinner and caregiver.

We were lucky when I was given a job as a registered nurse in a Minnesota state hospital for mentally ill adults in the middle of lake country, which was the one thing that made moving and taking the job inviting.  The demanding job stressed and stretched my nerves and energy to their max so when I was home, I’d sit down at the computer and try to change my thoughts and mood by writing something of worth, something that was beautiful.  Writing had become a survival technique taking me away from the harsh realities of what seemed a cruel and heartless world.

Lucky me, I bought my first computer a couple of years after I moved here in 1995.  After I learned how to use it, I found it the best tool a writer could ever have.  It was easy to write, delete, cut, copy, and paste, quite different from sitting at the typewriter ruining paper with typos and other mistakes.

It was after retirement that I became more serious about writing.  Having a lot of time on my hands, I began organizing all those pages of thoughts I had worked on for years, many about my childhood and growing up in the middle fifties on a farm in northern Minnesota.

Book signing
Franklin Arts Center,
 Brainerd, Minnesota
I hired someone to edit my work and began writing Growing Up Margaret, a story about three sixth grade girls growing up in rural Minnesota in the mid- fifties who become best friends.  Following that, I wrote Margaret Inc, a story about the girls’ seventh grade year, which is my second book in a trilogy I plan about Margaret. These books appeal to anyone from middle school to those who grew up in the mid- fifties because they portray the culture, setting, and time in history realistically.

 During my lifetime, I had also written numerous poems and organized some of my nature poems into a book called Snow Presents and Poems.  I also plan to organize more of my poetry for future publication.

Not getting any younger and having all my poems and stories in my computer or on copy paper, I began to dream of having them published.  I knew that if I didn’t do something, all my work would be in vain if something happened to me, and I wanted to leave these stories to my grandsons.  If I wanted my dream, I needed to jump in myself and try something because I was finding it almost impossible to get my foot in the door of a publisher, and I didn’t have time to waste.

 During July, 2010, I attended a Highlights Foundation writers’ workshop at Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, New York. It was an educational and rewarding week, and I learned what I needed to improve my writing for publication. The manuscript I submitted at Chautauqua to my mentor, published children’s author Helen Hemphill from Tennessee, was Margaret Inc.  I was pleased and encouraged when she said that my writing was almost there and would just take some tweaking.  She also said that I had strong characters and plot.  What I needed was to use more dialogue and to show more and tell less what was taking place in the story.  Hemphill’s works include The Adventurous Deeds of Deadwood Jones, Runaround, and Long Gone Daddy

I probably rushed the submission to a publisher when I returned home.  It came back to me with a note that said that my writing was probably too Midwestern to sell nationally.  The editor suggested I publish it locally.

With the help of my editor, I continued to perfect my writing.  Since he was older, I also enlisted a younger reader for a second opinion.  Between the two of them, I was able to tweak and polish my writing, making it acceptable for publishing.

I studied published books and learned how to set up the title page, dedication page, and all the other introductory pages.  I learned how to set up page breaks so a new chapter began at the top of its own page. I even went to the internet for an ISBN number and also uploaded my manuscript to the Copyright Office, paying for the whole thing electronically.   I was learning and doing things I’d never done before and even enjoying it.

When I felt everything was ready, I uploaded my book to for Kindle, and it worked.  Once it was uploaded, I could see how it looked and make adjustments before I saved it for publishing.  It took a few times, but it was finally uploaded as I wanted it.  Next, I uploaded to Barnes and Noble for Nook.  And just like that, I was published.

It didn’t end there.  Some people wanted a hard copy, a book they could hold in their hands.  I am not an illustrator so I found a website,, and there I found photographs that I could pay very little for the right to use on a book cover.  I hunted through them until I found the perfect one for each book.  I searched the internet until I found a reasonably priced, good printer, DiggyPOD, in Michigan who would print as many books as I wanted at a time.

Before I ordered any printed books, I went to Facebook and to my email and asked my friends if they’d buy a book if I printed some.  I received enough monies to pay for the first printing.  They kept their word, and they also loved the books.

Tuesday, September 4, I had my first books signing right here in Brainerd, Minnesota, at the Franklin Arts Center.  It was thrilling to watch as people bought my book.  I also was featured in the Brainerd Dispatch’s magazine, HerVoice, 2012 fall issue

  A good friend once told me, “Everyone wants to be a writer, but no one wants to do the work.”  He should know because he teaches college writing.  I can tell you from experience that those words are true.  None of it was easy, but it was worthwhile.  It took jumping in head first and a lot of guts, but I am happy where I am today as a writer. I just told my husband that I am beginning to feel like an author.  

Please visit my website  There you will learn more about my writing and me and also how to get in touch with me.  I would love that.

--Bonnie Rokke Tinnes

If You Are a Writer, Do You Set Boundaries?

Setting boundaries is one of the most difficult tasks for me personally and I am betting it can be difficult for others striving to become published writers too. At this time I continue to work 60 hours every two weeks as a critical care nurse while trying to balance and build my writing career. I know other writers who must also supplement what they really want to do with what really pays the bills.

I know that I have to set boundaries with family, friends, and my employer, but I also need to set boundaries for myself so I avoid distractions like television, social media, and other activities that do not move my writing forward.

What about when you finally get a really good paying writing gig but it isn't exactly what you want to write about and there isn't time in your schedule to fit it in and do a good job? That is happening to me right now. It is good that I have clients contacting me but boy sometimes I don't feel ready.

This is what I am learning from this newest writing saga.
  • Think about the time it will take to do the job and be realistic and honest about your ability to finish it.
  • Be willing to miss activities, family time, and tolerate a less than spotless home. If you cannot do these things the assignment might not be right for your present situation.
  • Be honest with the employer and be flexible if they are willing to do the same. If you know in your heart that you cannot do the employer a great service, it may be better to decline with  grace and leave your contact information for a later project.
The pay rate and timing for reimbursement for services is slow in coming, for most of the clients I work with it seems to be 30 to 45 days or longer allowing for revisions and final acceptances. This can be a long time for those who still need money on a more regular basis. It can be a writing goal to put money aside for these long times between paydays but in the mean time many of us keep our day jobs.

Writing is something we must to do as authors.... so to make life less stressful we can learn to set and abide by boundaries, be disciplined in using the time we have to be productive, and to also take time to relax and refresh. If we can manage all of these ideas it may just mean that we are writers.

Setting Writing Goals for 2012...How are Your Goals Working for You?

Writing takes planning and implementing, reviewing and revising. In nursing we learn to assess, plan, implement, and evaluate for a patient problem. That process can apply to many things outside of delivering nursing care. It can also apply to your writing goals for 2012.

Assess: Sit down and make a list of what you have accomplished in  2011 against what you wanted to accomplish. This activity is the time for assessing what has worked for you this year and what has not related to your writing goals. Assuming we want to be published and to sell our work means the honest assessment of how much we published and how much we sold. This is crucial to setting goals for 2012. After you have assessed where you are and where you want to be as an author, list 3 or 4 major writing/publishing goals for the New Year.

Plan: Now to make a workable plan, your smaller action steps must be actions that work towards one of your major goals. The actions you took in the past year that led to more submissions and acceptances needs to be placed in the plan again. The marketing actions that you took that produced successful sales needs to be added and tweaked for the coming year. The things you assessed that did not work or that hindered your writing need to be deleted. Sometimes that means deleting an activity unrelated to writing but that takes time away from your writing. Keep in mind if the actions you want to take don't move you towards your goals, they are not part of this plan.

Implement: January 1st will be here before you know it so try to have your assessment and your plan figured out before the first of the year, or at least the first week of the New Year. Then decide what day your plan will start and begin implementing the actions you have decided on. If I want to monetize my blog for instance, I may put something in my plan that lists the actions I will take to do this. Here is a sample for January if one of my major goals would be to monetize the blog-
  • Week 1- research products to incorporate on the blog/affiliate products
  • Week 2- add links to my blog with 2-4 affiliate links with posts about each product
  • Week 3- post at least once about the products, send out newsletter to remind readers about products
  • Week 4- post at least once about how one of the products has helped me with my writing career
 This is just an example, but you get the idea.

Evaluate: Set up time in your writing schedule to evaluate your goals and your actions steps at least 3 or 4 times a year. Many writers evaluate weekly and set up a new plan for the next week. Awesome if you can do that, but realistically many of us are lucky to jot a few notes every week. In some ways we evaluate every day about what we did and what we need to do. A serious evaluation every 3-4 months includes looking at what you have circulating out with publishers, what you need to resubmit, what needs revisions, and what are the next target markets on your list. However you decide to evaluate your goals, make sure the new changes will be action steps that will make your writing soar.

Keep in mind that the rule for goals is this:

Goals should be specific.
Goals should be realistic.
Goals should be attainable.
Goals should be measurable.

Remeber that you also may need to hone your skills as one of your major goals in order to make your writing and publishing goals attainable and realistic.

Now, looking at your goals for last year, be honest in deciding what is working for you. Can you expand your career this next year? Do you need more education? Do you need to focus on submissions? Do you want to attend a conference? Do you want to become active in a critique group to help hone your skills? Do you want to publish a novel? Be specific in what you want and go for it. There is no time like the present to take actions steps towards making your writing and marketing career soar for 2012. My writing mentor, Suzanne Lieurance always tells us to write like the wind, and I will add soar like an eagle. Make this next year your best.

Becoming an Author: What I Have Learned with Clayton Paul Thomas

I could probably write another book on what I have learned about being a self-published author. Instead, I’m going to knock it down to three things.

There are three things a self-published author has to really focus on. Those things are writing, editing, and marketing. An author who wants to earn any money really has to write well and target their book effectively to their audience. You may have a great book, but people are not going to (generally) buy it unless they obviously know about it and other people are talking about it.

I have learned that there are not enough hours in the day to promote my book while being a stay at home father. Time management is critical. I am a big sports fan. Regardless, I had to give up watching a lot of football and basketball games in order to complete the book. Even now, I don’t watch a lot of TV unless it’s a kids show or if I am spending some time with my wife. In order to write a book and market it, an author really has to prioritize their time.

It is important to be as visible as possible in order to sell your book. Facebook (claytonpaulthomas), Twitter (claylauren2001), and LinkedIn (clayandlauren) are three of the forums I use. You should also have a polished website for people to browse as well.

In saying this, the internet alone will not sell your book. It is important for any aspiring author to leave their home and get involved in their community. Not only will you be a benefit to those around you, natural marketing opportunities are sure to spring up.

Writing a book isn’t easy and there will be many pitfalls along the way. It is important though to stay focused.

I invite you to buy my parenting book in order to take the next step with your kids in terms of discipline, education, and self reliance. Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures can be purchased at I also invite you to take a look at my website in order to see some parenting blogs I've written and to see a design which may give you some ideas on what you’d like to do with your book promoting website.


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