Category: Writer Pep Talks

Sitting at her desk Cynthia struggled to come to a decision. The story was done. There was nothing more she could do to change it. It was what it was. The characters were completely fleshed out. The story had a beginning, a middle and an end. Nothing was missing. She knew that and yet she hesitated.

Should she change that one word here or there? Did her character’s name roll off the tongue easily enough? After all, it was a unique name. Maybe she should change it. Or maybe she was just second guessing herself.

Cynthia stared at the email she’d written. It was good. The agent would see her clearly. The words she’d chosen gave a complete picture of the woman who’d written them. Jammie Bendwick would read Cynthia’s words and know her to be a plucky woman with a sense of humor and a strong business ethic. A woman who you could count on to get the job done.

Everything was there. The email was complete. The story was typed in 12 Point Times New Roman font. The margins were at .5. There were no indents as requested in the agent’s specifications. She’d followed the rules. Her story followed the guidelines.

So why was she sitting in her small office terrified that she was making a mistake when she knew she wasn’t? Because she was a new writer and this was her first try at publication. What if she never heard back or if she got a rejection notice? Both would be dramatic. Both would be terrifying, even traumatic.

But what if she didn’t send it out? Would she be any less a failure? The reality was staring her in the face. If she didn’t send it out, she might be safe from being told, “No,” but she’d be saying, “No,” to herself. She wouldn’t be giving herself a chance.

Thinking of it that way, she didn’t like the outcome. She was being the judge and jury of herself and if she didn’t let the story go – she’d be pronouncing judgment on herself and become a failure. She didn’t want that. Even if the story came back, she’d given it a chance to live. She could always play with it later and make it better so that someday it would live again. That sounded hopeful.

Taking a few deep, calming, breaths and sending a prayer heavenward, Cynthia, reached out and clicked the SEND button. It was done. The story was sent on its way and Cynthia had just taken her biggest leap towards publication. She was a writer. And she’d sent her work out.

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a writer, look no further. Being a writer (an average writer, not a bestseller) means living a double life.

You’re a writer but that’s not your job, at least not the one accepted by the vast majority of your family and friends. To them you will always be the girl handy-woman. Every now and then you work up the courage and say, “I’ve finished another story. It’s almost ready to be sent out.” This exited statement is quickly reduced to a, “That’s nice dear. Did anything happen at work today?” so you see, oft times a writing muse is done for the day, writer is an ego of one. He or she must believe in themselves, without the help and encouragement of those they love most.

At times a writer will calmly, rationally decide maybe their wrong. Maybe they’ve been kidding themselves and they’re not a writer. But if that’s true how come rich intriguing ideas spring forward when you’re at a clients house, standing on a ladder, holding a board in one hand, an electric drill in the other and have a mouth full of drywall screws? It’s then that you know you’re a writer and you can’t wait until you’re on the ground again so you can jot down the new ending of your story. But that’s won’t happen for another thirty minutes, so you repeat the lines over and over again in your mind until they’re as permanently implanted on your brain as your own name.

Once those words are down on the page you think your writing muse is done for the day, she’s clocked out and you can resume your own life but your wrong. Pursuing a movie, she strikes again with a new twist. Almost gleefully you turn off the TV to whines of “Oh, Mom. It was just getting good!” you’re sorry but idea mania has no bounds.

With that done, you turn out the lights and go to bed. Sleep takes you far away and then you bolt upright in bed at three in the morning. Another idea has pounced and sprung you back into the habitual ritual of ink and paper scratching we know as writing.

Once again, our faith in our writing ability and ourselves has been reaffirmed but we sure wished our muse would keep to business hours!

Exiting News!!!!

My short story, “Weekend Wife,” contained in the online ebook anthology “A World of Joy,” was entered into which is the online card catalog of the worlds libraries. This was done by the Harvard Diggins Library in Harvard, Ill.

They also printed the book out and entered it into the library’s system. Due to copyright laws differing from ebook and paper bound, the printed copy is not available for checkout but is held in the area’s history section and is considered the same type of library matter as a reference book.

On the library website when you look the book up they have placed a link where the prospective reader can download the book for themselves. The library itself has downloaded a copy to each of their Barnes & Noble Nook’s (e-reader.)

Every place you go you meet wonderful people who work hard to make your day nice. These people are part of that bunch.


They say, “Write what you know,” but who are they? What do we know? Well, let’s see.

They, are the experts who decide if our writing lives live or die. They are the men and women who give us advice on how to succeed and how to keep our work from the slush piles of mediocrity and anonymity. The unknown They Peoples of the world are our worst enemies and our best friends all rolled into a human body. It is to them that we write, for without them our writing would not be the best it possibly can be, nor would the world get a chance to read it.

Write what you know? To some people this means writing about only things that we’ve lived and experienced ourselves. If we went by that, there would be a lot of boring books with no resounding reason to read them. They would all sound marginally the same. Reading as a pastime would drop off the existence world.

Truthfully, we can write about almost anything. We don’t have to live the life of a murderer to write a good murder story. We don’t need to have captained a ship to write about a captain’s life. What we need to do is learn how to research. Research, done properly, can open the world of imagination and make our stories sound just as real as if we’d lived them ourselves.

Few of us have ever been presidents, yet there are over a dozen movies that have been made and even a TV series about what goes on behind the private doors of the White House. Those writers didn’t have that job. They didn’t know someone who did. What they did know was how to research and read books written by people who’d had that life. Through reading these peoples thoughts, hardships and triumphs, those writers were able to accurately depict a life they’d never nor ever would have.

Not knowing the story does not mean that we can not become qualified to write about it. It just means that to write about it correctly, we need to delve into the life our character has lived. We need to read about similar people in real life. Then we can write about anything we want to because we will be, “Writing what we know.”

Let Your Audience Find You

I know I’ve said it before but some things remain true through the ages, writing is a solitary profession. All the books on writing can not produce a single story true or otherwise if the soul and mind embodiment of the writer are not attune. The writer must be inspired and then the words will flow. A dictionary is a wonderful tool but as the character of Owen Waterbury (played by Kirk Douglas) in the movie My Dear Secretary said – “The dictionary is filled with all the words you’ll need but unless the mind and the heart find those words for you, you better leave them in the dictionary.” That’s not to say we’re not to use a dictionary to make our sentences a little more interesting and varied, it just means that words should flow naturally. We shouldn’t spend all our time searching for them and forgetting the story we’re working on.

A writer is born a storyteller. This is not something that can be learned or trained. You must have talent within you. True, in the beginning it may be unpolished. There may be some dust that needs removal. You might be unsure of yourself and tread lightly but in time you will gain a certain understanding with yourself, a certain knowledge that you do know what you’re doing.

Taking some classes and reading some books on technique will help and speed you on your way. Feedback will put you on course. The emotions you invoke in your stories will breathe life into your characters. Readers will not see them the way you do in your head but if you do your job right, use words as they were meant to be used, your readers will bring meaning to characters and return for visits as if they were old friends.

A writer fundamentally is a word magician. He/ she takes lifeless words and creates flesh and blood, buildings with creaky floors, rusted nails and disembodied spirits. Worlds are created and lands evolved are the domains of the writer.

Each writer has their own technique, their own style and vocabulary that makes them unique. This voice is what your reader will notice. This is what will help your story sell over others. Don’t be afraid to be you. Your audience is out there. They will find you.

What does it take to write a nonfiction book you might well ask? The answer is simple. Hard work, tireless devotion and a willingness to be aggravated and aggravated often are just par for the course.

It’s no joke. When you decide to take on a project of any size and a full book is like taking on fifty short articles all at once, you need to be sure to categorize things correctly and logically.

You need to be willing to take on that nagging feeling that you’ve forgotten something. Perhaps a fact or two or several dozen don’t seem right to you and you find yourself needing to go back and double and triple check them. Why? Because the first fact your reader reads and knows to be wrong will put them off so bad they’ll go running in the opposite direction so fast you’d think they were taking off the ground with the speed of a 787. Worse yet, they’ll spread the word and you’ll find yourself with a book holding the record for least sold.

Nonfiction means real and by the time you finish writing the book and marketing it, people will think that you know your topic inside and out. You won’t but you’ll need to be ready for an answer that sounds good for any question asked. Even though everything is true you’ll still find yourself asked the age old question, “Where do you get your ideas/inspiration?” You’ll need to find a way to answer this even if it’s just what brought the subject to your attention in the first place.

Writing nonfiction means taking on a full time job of research. No stone can be left unturned because no one writes a complete picture of an event or person’s life. You have only to read the daily paper and follow one event for several days to understand this wrinkle in thought completely. One day the reporter will give you bare facts. The next day they rehash only part of it and give nothing new. The third day it’s forgotten and perhaps a week or two later they might give you the beginning with a new fact or two.

As a researcher we writers have to follow along and connect the dots. If they don’t tell us something vital and we are able to find out from a different source, we do it. For example, the paper told of men killed by Carbon Monoxide but they didn’t tell us what the gas could do to the body. As a smart and fledgling author who wants to teach as well as warn their readers, you must look up the gas and add that to what the paper tells you. Doing this all the time will add character to your book and help the reader to better understand the situation.

So again you ask, “What does it take to be a nonfiction writer?” It takes guts, hard work and nonstop thinking. It takes writing down the facts given and searching for what’s only implied. It means being an investigator, a psychologist, a journalist and a human being. In school we thought being a writer was easy. As Leave it to Beaver said, “All ya gotta do is make stuff up.” That’s not always the case. It can be fun but never forget that you owe something to your audience of readers. If you’re writing nonfiction, you owe them the truth!

The simple answer is yes. They are very important. Whether the deadline you’re working on is self-imposed or one set upon you by some faceless name is of little importance. What is important is what’s behind that deadline, the bottom line. Most of us strive for publication and if that is our goal then a deadline will ultimately be a part of our lives at some point in our chosen career.

Giving ourselves a deadline is oft times just as important as one given by an agent or a publisher. hey make us accountable to ourselves. We no longer can allow dilly-dally. We are working toward a goal and the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (I know too many cliches.)

Without the dreaded looming deadline we get very little done. We don’t see the number on the calendar march on, we don’t see the possibilities evaporate or the contest date expiring. What we see is plenty of time. What that normally means is time wasted. Nothing constructive gets done. Our stories remain unfinished. We can claim nothing. Eventually when someone asks, “Are you published yet?” and you answer, “Not yet,” you will become a non-writer in their eyes. They will call your, ‘I’m a writer,’ remark nothing more than, ‘calling wolf.’ You’ll find yourself a has-been and you haven’t even been anything.

So are deadlines important? You bet they are. Start this month with a goal of writing something with a date in mind for its completion. Don’t give yourself anything that is unrealistic. Play fair with yourself. Remember that word count has a lot to do with the time allotted and that there should be time for editing included.


Example: A 3,000 word story may take 2-3 weeks but a non-fiction article of the same length may take only a week. It all depends on the amount of variables.

All of us experience this familiar phenomenon, we have been writing the same story so long we’re bored with it. No new ideas spring forth, only old ones. After a time we seem to be recycling our characters and our plots. We may not have full-blown writer’s block but we still have a problematic issue. We’re writing gibberish and ruining all our hard work, not to mention wasting time.

So what can we do to fix the problem and recharge at the same time? There are several steps involved. First is the traditional route of put your story away for a week or two and then go back to it? But what to do during that time? How do we use that time wisely? We recharge. Instead of giving up writing for that time, we write. The trick is to pick something very different from what we were writing before. If your character was sweet and kind, write about one who is cruel and heartless or vise versa.

Sometimes it difficult to come up with what we don’t know. What we do know is what type of person we are. That would be easy to write about. So spice it up. Instead of writing about what you would do in a given situation, write about what your exact opposite would do. The real trick becomes making that type of person grow and change but that’s the fun of it.

Lastly decide on a word count that won’t take long to write and stick to it. Make a goal of 1,000 to 3,000 words. In this way you are redirecting your creative juices while at the same time writing a short story that you can possibly sell for some extra income. Writing should always be fun and by doing this you are always ahead of the crowd.

Publication is not for the faint of heart. There are many hurdles jumped through everyone of the takes time. It is a commodity that will not and cannot be a stingy one.

As with any business there are steps to being published writer first you must have something to say to know how to say it. Then there are two different paths to choose. Each is a busy throbbing partnering. One direction from the four belongs to the domain nonfiction all the other is reserved for flights of fancy, fallacy and fantasy. Like the writing, the direction you take is of the utmost importance.

If you go with nonfiction you can sell an idea but shall need to write a book proposal. If your heart throbs with fiction ideas you must first write to complete the book. No one will look at an idea in this arena.

Okay, you know what you’re writing and you’ve written what you have to. Either a book proposal or the completed manuscript is sitting on your desk. You have been accepted format in you get a few local people with good grammar spelling skills go over to, says the best can be. Good. Now it’s time to find agent.

All some of the smaller publishing houses will take “ unsolicited” manuscripts, the larger ones won’t. That means you need an agent who can talk to those people for you. If you have the right agent they will fight for you. They believe in you’re writing and their job is to sell it for you and get the best possible price. After all, they don’t get paid until you do, if the price is small than their pay is smaller yet.

So how do you get a good agent? Research, like anything else. Find out what they specialize in. What kinds of books have they recently sold? Will you are book look good in this line up?

Do not just look at the agent’s accomplishments. Look at them as a person. After all, if they agree to represent you you’re going to be working together. Is there something in their background that you can’t deal with? Do you have something in common? You have to walk away from your research with the idea that you found a good fit and possible friend.

All right. You found an agent. Now you need to write that all-important cover letter that will not only sell your book but you to the agent. Be personal. Don’t send a form letter! Let them know just by how you write that you did your homework. Just like there was a special format for writing either the proposal or book there is a format here to. It is important. If you don’t follow these qualifications you run the major risk that the agent won’t even read cover letter and if they don’t read that, they won’t read the other things you sent either.

Writing is a crap-shoot. If you don’t have the facts or don’t follow through on them, you lose. The winning streak begins when an agent picks up the letter and grins. They found a new jewel. You find out because you don’t get a form rejection letter, you get an acceptance letter. Now sit back and take a deep breath. You did it. You got an agent. You’re on the way to publication. Now write that nonfiction book or smile if you wrote fiction because you’re done.


As always the new year brings about a time of renewal. We put new plans ahead of us and view what we started on previous years. hopefully we learn from our musings what works and what doesn’t. We know ourselves best so only we can set realistic goes that have a chance of working. It is all up to us.

Writers set different goals. They need different things. We need readers, agents, publicists. Anyone who can help us to be published is an angel. We worship such people. Granted they don’t always do what we want. They sometimes know more than us, if we knew what they did, well… we wouldn’t need them would we?

New Years is a time of allowing our goals to grow. We shouldn’t stunt their growth. This year try to do your best and let others who are helping you have the room they require to do their end. If that happens, this might be the year you were looking for.

Let 2013 be your year. Do what you have to and you’ll soon be watching a lucky streak following your name. Just remember be realistic in your goals, stick to them and let it happen.

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