Kate Conner, wife, mother, writer and blogger extraordinaire, is sharing advice for new writers in the second part of her Q&A interview for Everyday Authors. You can read her introductory post here, and part 1 of her Q&A interview here.
How do you prioritize writing in your life?
Oooh, this is a big one. I am a stay-at-home mom of 3 young children (ages 5, 1, and 2 weeks), so I wasn’t sleeping much BEFORE the books became a reality. As any SAHM knows, writing during “free” times means that nothing else gets done during free times – dishes, laundry, cooking, exercising, Bible study, time with my husband, etc.
Because the writing time had to come from somewhere, and because blogging and authoring is something I really wanted to do, I decided to “go back to work.” (I wrote a post about it here.) For me, because of the book advance, I had the opportunity to pay someone to come and help me watch the kids 2 days a week. We won’t be rolling in the dough because I’m an author; the advance will pay for me to be able to write the books.
This means that some of the things I enjoyed in a previous season of my life (like leading small groups, writing church newsletters, designing flyers and decorating rooms for youth ministry, thrift shopping, entertaining, and crafting) are not for this season. I attend a bible study now, but I don’t lead anything. I’ve been thrift shopping twice in the last 6 months. This season is for raising my babies and for writing. One day I will entertain lots of people in my home again, but not now.
When I’m not parenting, I’m writing and when I’m not writing, I’m parenting. If I tried to cram other things in, burnout would be inevitable. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to things (to A LOT of things, to most things?). Don’t be afraid to choose writing.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?
So much! Here are my top 5!
1. If you write, you’re a writer.
You don’t need a publisher or a blog or a platform to be a writer. You can have a secret Word document, a handwritten journal, or a manila folder full of post-its with scraps of poetry on them and be a writer. Write because you like creating, because you like the way it makes you think, because you like what you discover. Write as a gift to other people, write when you’re inspired. WRITE BECAUSE YOU WANT TO. If you write, you’re a writer.
The next 4 tips are for those who have an eye on publishing . . .
2. Start a blog.
There are a lot of reasons not to. I know this because I put off blogging for as long as I possibly could – “There are too many mommy-blogs,” “Who would read it?” “I don’t have time to post twice a week,” “I don’t want to annoy people by self-promoting my blog all the time.”
There are lots of reasons not to – but if you want to write, a blog is THE BEST starting point for 3 reasons:
- It will make you write more than you normally would. The more you write, the better you get. It helps you to hone your voice, to find practices and disciplines that work for you, to figure out your “brand,” what you want your blog/books to look and sound and feel like. Writing is NOT exempt from the principle that “practice makes perfect.” Start a blog, even if it’s a secret blog that nobody knows about at first. Let the pressure to post motivate you; to keep you writing.
- You will need a platform. Whether you want to self-publish or publish traditionally, you will need a platform. My book got turned down by two or three publishers SIMPLY because my platform was not big enough: not enough people knew me, liked me, and read/followed me for my book to be worth the investment. Get some people reading you, the feedback and the following is crucial.
- You might get discovered! There is no guarantee that an editor or an agent will stumble across your blog and love it, but it happens. It happened for me. I know quite a few bloggers turned author, and I only know one (personally) that has gone the other direction.
Start a blog, start a blog, start a blog.
3. Read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. Follow Jeff Goins’s blog. Follow Michael Hyatt’s blog. Founts of wisdom, common sense, experience, and inspiration.
4. Read who you want to write like.
If you want to write poetry, read lots of poetry. If you want to write novels, read novels. If you want to write humor, read humor. If you want to write faith, read faith. Find a handful of authors and bloggers that you adore – that you aspire to be like – and read them diligently. They will help to shape your voice, and you will learn from their content and their style. Let their writing mentor you and teach you.
5. Call yourself a writer
Call yourself a writer – not an “aspiring writer” or a “one day in the future, wannabe writer.” Call yourself A WRITER, then act like one. I got this gem from Jeff Goins’s blog (read the post here), and it is the truest, best advice I’ve read about “taking the plunge” into “real” writing.
Kate, you rock!
Thanks so much for carving time out of your schedule to share with us and invest in other writers. Blessings on you, your family and these new books! We can’t wait to read them!