The Accidental Writer

I want to be a writer. Don’t you? Perhaps you already are one, and don’t even realize it. I’ve decided that I’m a writer. I LOVE to write. I write constantly. I actually LOVE the act of writing. I love holding a pen, creating words with ink on paper, typing letters on a screen that become a message to a friend across the oceans. I love that I can take what is in my head and record it forever, or change and mold it a thousand times.

I just returned from the FIGT conference in Texas where probably a third of the 200 participants were writers or wanted to be. Those who were published writers weren’t necessarily famous outside their field. But it didn’t matter. What I discovered was this strange human fascination with writing; with telling a story.  One of the more prolific authors named Jo Parfitt gave a presentation entitled “Writing a Book”. It was packed. She has published 26 books. I’d never even heard of her before changing careers, and somehow that reassured me, to know that there are just that many authors out there, practicing their craft and making a living doing it.  She made me realize that even I could become a published author, a dream I’ve had for as long as I can remember.

Jo told us that we can all become writers. Why? Because we all have a story to tell.  But we have to know why we want to tell it. Jo outlined why we become writers. Either for money, fame, to fulfill a dream, or to leave a legacy. She had a couple more, but those are ultimately the real motivations for writing a book. The rest is fluff. Before you start though, you have to know which one of these is your driver. Which is your ultimate goal? Granted, you may not become rich or famous, but you might get close. You’ll probably raise your profile, get more clients and/or receive passive income IF you get published.

Becoming a published writer is easier said than done. I can say that since I have spent the last decade seriously contemplating how to become one. My biggest barrier to becoming a writer was the fear that it would be rejected. Isn’t that what most fear is? Fear of failure.  Jo listed ten magic ingredients for writing a book. One of them was self-belief. She said you must have it. This rang loud and true for me. She’s right. I needed to get over the fear.

Lucky for me, writing has somehow become a necessity during these last ten years. Think about it. Email. Websites. Blogs. Twitter. Gone are the days when you could dictate what your secretary should write for you. It’s up to you. My writing used to comprise schoolwork, random thoughts I filed away in a secret place, and thousands of letters to friend scattered around the globe. Now suddenly I am writing to the public. There is no hiding anymore. With a new business, I have no excuse. I have website content, a blog and marketing materials. I found I have become an accidental writer.

Now, what about becoming a purposeful writer? I did it through practice and small steps. From writing only for myself, I have submitted two articles to writing contests; one which won a competition. I realized that I am completely okay with not winning. Just the fact that I wrote an article and submitted it to my first ever magazine is a HUGE accomplishment for me. Jo also gives us some of her tips on her website and I have read many similar lists from other authors when they’re asked to list the steps to becoming a good writer. I’ve condensed these into six tips.

1)   Read. Discover and study your favorite authors’ styles and ways to express ideas.

2)   Write. Practice. Every day, as much and as often as you can.

3)   Find your own voice. Use a style that is natural and works for your personality. Be authentic. Be yourself. (Tell some of your own stories.)

4)   Reach the largest audience. Keep your writing short and simple.

5)   Know your subject. Write about what you know.

6)   Get critiqued. Have others read your work and give you feedback. Whether for an article, a book or a blog. If it’s a blog. Add a comments field.

At the FIGT conference I was asked by Margie Ulsh to contribute to a magazine called “Among Worlds”, aimed at Third Culture Kids. I am now writing my first article for the June issue. It took ten years, but suddenly everything is happening in the blink of an eye. Yes, it takes time and effort. But it’s possible. So if you have any dreams of becoming a writer. I encourage you to follow them. And get in touch with Jo. She may be just the inspiration you need.

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8 Responses to “The Accidental Writer”

  1. 12 April 2010 at 9:46 AM

    Anastasia says:

    Hi Anna Maria. I’m an 11-year expat and lifelong writer. I’d agree the two naturally go together. In February during expat+HAREM’s Dialogue2010 discussion (http://www.expatharem.com/dialogue2010/) on mapping a hybrid life the 10 cross-cultural, global citizens on the conference call discovered we were all creatives, artists, and writers. The debate is still ongoing whether we have pursued these lives because of our creativity, or whether our creativity springs from the lifestyle.

    Jo’s workshop at FIGT sounds great. I was lucky to get a guest post from Jo on writing to save your life back in November in which she shared her own journey to writing….and what it delivered in her life. (http://bit.ly/bOs6Th)

    I understand the fear to write — and think life writing is not just about where we’ve been, but where we’re willing to go.

    Good luck to you Anna Maria!

  2. 11 May 2010 at 3:24 AM

    Anna Maria Moore says:

    Hi Anastasia,

    Thanks for your stopping by to say hi and share your thoughts! I’m just figuring this blog thing out and it took a while to get my bearings. I also wanted to check out your website Expat+Harem. I read all the guest blogs. They’re great! I love the idea of creative women sharing their expat experiences and since I have no experience in the Middle East, I learned a lot through their eyes. You were indeed lucky to get Jo Parfitt to share her story. I am considering mentoring with her on a couple book projects. It’s hard to say whether it’s the chicken or the egg when it comes to this creativity. I never considered myself creative – somehow writing didn’t count, can you imagine?! Since I started writing already when I was 7, I might go with the “creativity came first” but then again, I’d already lived in three countries and moved six times by then… Thanks for your words of encouragement. I’ll be visiting Expat Harem regularly from now on!

  3. 11 May 2010 at 5:02 AM

    Culture&Moore » Blog Archive » Exploring the Expat Harem says:

    [...] « The Accidental Writer Telling them apart – cultural differences in Asia [...]

  4. 11 May 2010 at 6:28 AM

    Anastasia says:

    (I can understand the new-to-blogging situation. One year of blogging and I have *much* to learn.)

    Glad you took a look around “expat+HAREM, the global niche” Anna Maria! I can imagine you will find some kindred spirits there….especially the Third Culture Kids.

    The book is 6 years old, but the online community — which expands greatly on the whole concept of an Expat Harem, and also includes men — is only 6 months old.

    I finally posted yesterday my definition of what a global niche is, and why global citizens need to find one. You can find it here: http://www.expatharem.com/whats-a-global-niche-anyway/

    See you soon!

  5. 2 June 2010 at 5:25 AM

    Anna Maria Moore says:

    Hello! Great to hear that my site and blog were of interest and use for you. That is the main reason to keep writing! You may also be interested in checking out http://www.kulturtolk.com‘s blog. That is my other business and where I post most of my blogs on culture! Happy reading!

  6. 2 June 2010 at 5:28 AM

    Anna Maria Moore says:

    Thanks for your encouragement! I will certainly keep writing if I know you’re reading! I actually write more blogs on my other site (main business) http://www.kulturtolk.com. You may want to check those out, under the “news” section. Enjoy!

  7. 2 June 2010 at 5:29 AM

    Anna Maria Moore says:

    Thanks, Matt! I appreciate your words of encouragement! There are moments when starting a business that it seems overwhelming… so when they come, I will remember your post!

  8. 3 June 2010 at 4:29 PM

    Anna Maria Moore says:

    Thanks very much! Checked out your blog too. I think I should follow it – I could use some of your tips!