Moms Who Write
Do you offer writing classes for moms?
We have. We’ve done them every couple of years in the summer. But it’s possible to work on your writing on your own. One great opportunity is in November: NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). If you’ve got that romance novel burning in your imagination, or you have the tale of a suspicious murder to unfold, November could be your month to finally tackle it, without intimidation and with the support of a nationwide network. Check it out.
What can you suggest for moms who want to grow as writers?
Write. It seems so redundant to say it, but believe it or not, I need to hear it every day myself. In fact, one of the disadvantages of running a writing business is that I spend more time writing about writing than actually doing it for the sheer joy, satisfaction and creativity of the thing!
- Step One:
Make time to write. Read about writing, read good writing, and then go write.
- Step Two:
The second step is more difficult. You must find an audience for your writing and you must risk doing it pretty early in your writing development. Why? Because you’ve got to develop this thick, scaly skin that masterfully deflects the darts of critique, all while accepting them into your writing psyche. One of the hardest things to do with your precious writing is to risk sharing it with a dispassionate audience who has the cajones to tell you when your writing is banal, trite, flowery or boring. Seriously, those are the hardest critiques for me.
There’s this habit we fall into that is not good for us: we fall in love with our own words. They float off the page toward us with rainbows and powdered sugar and we can’t believe we, mere humans, thought to write those words – those insightful, magical, melodious words. Then someone points out that there are no powerful verbs, the analogy is flawed and the piece stands up better without your favorite sentence. Suddenly you know you’re a fraud, and will never write well, and what were you thinking when you tried to write?
Yeah, that’s just how it feels for everyone.
So write anyway, take the fiery darts of honest feedback like the tough woman who survived labor and lived to tell about it, and get better at it.
Does it work the same way with non-fiction and article writing?
Yes it does. You gather insights and ideas, put them into lists and then craft those lists into articles to share with others. Start by reading in the exact article-writing genre that interests you. Take notes of insights and novel approaches to familiar topics (mine the areas of your personal expertise: homeschooling, gardening, spirituality, organizing a desk, sharing about the birds and bees with pre-teens, recovering from a c-section). Then begin to flesh out those topics through freewriting alternating with research. You want both your natural voice to come through as well as some sophistication (data to substantiate your intuitive hunches).
To market your work, check out Writer’s Market from the library and page through the magazines that relate to that field. Most likely you won’t sell your first article (or if you do, you will get paid peanuts). But that’s how we all start! So if you want to write, do it and cajole your way into any publication that will have you. Over time, you will develop your resume of published items and that will help you find better paying and bigger magazines for your audience.
What do you think about blogs for homeschoolers? Do you think that is a good way to practice writing or is it something we should avoid – because once it is on the Internet it has gone public and we cannot publish the material? I hope I am making sense.
Oh I’m all for blogs! And you can certainly publish anything you post to a blog. you own the material and can do whatever you like with it! Blogs are great writing practice and do offer you an audience (if you cultivate one).
Thanks, Julie. You and your blog have been such an inspiration to me! I really appreciate all that you do for us homeschoolers and the writing community. I have enjoyed reading all of your thoughts and tips. Blessings to you and your family.
Thanks, Julie. This is a much needed reminder to try to fit more writing into my life, to try to find time to be a writer.
One question: in your reply about blogs, you mention cultivating an audience. Any tips on how?
To cultivate an audience for your blog, you need to get involved with other blogs (reading and responding to them). That usually leads to other people reading your blog! It also helps to promote your blog through twitter (if you use that platform). Each time you update, you can post a link.
If someone is looking for a class for writing moms and Julie isn’t offering one, try thewritermama.com. I took a course one of the courses last fall (Christina Katz is the “writer mama”). Her introductory class is Writing and Publishing the Short Stuff. The idea is to start small– writing tips, list articles, etc. She follows just about every piece of advice that Julie has listed in this blog entry. Just about everything I wrote for that class has gotten published– a tip (in Parents magazine); a list article in our local parents mag; and my essay in a Christian women’s magazine.
I understood that once something was posted on an open forum such as a blog, it was harder to sell to a publisher because, after all, people have already read it for free (and it’s out there to be copied and borrowed without permission). Maybe that’s more true of fiction/books than of articles?
Either way, it’s still a good way to practice and get an audience… you just want to be careful if you’ve got plans for that particular piece of writing.
I totally second NaNoWriMo! It’s great! And the one mom’s class I did from Julie was a lot of fun too.
They offer good writing workshops (and critique) at Forward Motion, http://fmwriters.com, all free.
Thanks, Kristen. That is exactly what I was referring to. If it is published on the Internet, why would anyone be interested in buying it? It would seem that you would need to be careful what you put out there.
Gail Carson Levine wrote about this in her book, Writing Magic, a book geared toward helping people, esp. children, write fiction.