I have three emails waiting for me, all asking the same question.
It’s one of my favorite questions.
“Annie, I want to be a writer. Will you tell me how to do it?”
Yes, yes I will.
Actually, I can’t.
I mean, I can tell you some tips and ideas, but here’s the truth- every journey is different. Every writer friend I have had ended up here, wherever “here” is, through a unique set of ups and downs and brave moments and tears and long hours at a computer.
There are lots of blogs you can be reading about how to be a writer and how to improve your skillz, your audience, your influence, all of it. And those are good things to do- read about this career.
Let me suggest a few:
Also, check out my list of favorite books on writing.
But if you just want to talk about how to be a writer, here are a few basic tips that I think will help you get started:
1. Read a lot. And read a wide variety of things. When I am writing non-fiction, I am reading fiction. When I’m traveling, I’m reading non-fiction. Our writer’s group is reading poetry. I love magazines. The best writers are the ones who fill their brain with words.
2. Keep a notebook with you. Because some of the words you read will jump off the page and you’ll need a place to record them. Sometimes really stellar sentences for your current project will come to mind and if you don’t write them down, you will smack your forehead multiple times later in the day trying to remember it.
3. Start writing. You don’t have to wait for a publisher or a person to tell you to work on a project. If that’s what you are waiting on, here it is: WRITE. If there is a story or a lesson or a book hidden in you, find it and let it out. I have two books completely written that have never seen the light of day- but the dream was in me, so I wrote them. Will something happen with them? Hopefully. But for now, they live on my hard drive and in my heart. I write every day whether I’m on a deadline or not. Because I’m a writer.
4. Go to writer’s conferences. My first conference was a one-day event in Atlanta from ACW. [They are a great resource, by the way.] There are tons of conferences available for people who want to be writers, speakers, bloggers, whatever. Go to them. I met my first agent and many of my dearest writing friends at writer’s conferences. Also, there is no better motivation to do your work than sitting in a room full of people DOING what you are DREAMING about.
5. Pitch to magazines. Every magazine has an online presence and many of them take submissions. Start getting your name and your work out there. On websites that have articles, look for “submission guidelines” to figure out if you can write for them. I started by sending submissions to Relevant Magazine‘s former sister magazine Radiant, created by Cara Davis. [It was good, I’m sad it is gone.] One of the editors, Corene Israel, believed in me and published my stuff before anyone else did. I will thank her in every book I ever publish.
6. Join/start a writer’s group. You can look on MeetUp.com to see if there is a writer’s group in your area. I think there is no better way to see if your work is on track than to have others who are doing the same type of work read it. I meet with three other women- two prose writers and a songwriter- about once every other month or so. We read books together about writing and share whatever we are currently working on.
7. Pray. Every day. Pray for your writing and your words. Pray that God would open all the right doors and close all the wrong ones. And then believe it when that happens.[Notice I didn’t talk about building your platform or networking or connecting with your favorite author for an endorsement of your book. All that is well and good, but the truth is that if you want to be a writer, you’ve got to write first. All that will come in time. Think first about honing your skillz and hearing God when you write, then think about the biz side later.]
Want an example of someone to watch? Amanda Williams. Amanda started a blog because she wanted to write about her family, and then as she continued to write and get involved in the blog community, people took notice. She was a community leader at the Influence Conference and is now a contributing writer for She Reads Truth and Deeper Story. She’s invested some money into her career- building a beautiful website, attending conferences, etc. The right doors keep opening and someday, I bet we’ll be reading her book.
So those are my basic thoughts on where to start if you want to be a writer. As I said from the beginning, there are a lot of steps and everyone’s story is unique. Just trust God. Be brave. Be open to new experiences and people.
. . . . .
Do you have thoughts on being a writer? Other blogs that people should read? Books your recommend? Conferences? Share on, friends. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
I truly hope you read through the comments of last Friday’s TOP 5 Friday post about most loved songs. People have some GREAT comments. And yes- I did purchase a few of these. It’s just true. I love music.
Also. I love books.
So today our TOP 5 Friday list is FAVORITE BOOKS![caveat: this does not include my favorite childhood books. These are my favorite adult books. But not like, ADULT books. I mean books that I have read as an adult. Okay… I think I have fully overexplained this now.] [caveat part 2: When you and I talked one time, I may have said, “This is my FAVORITE book!” and then that book is not listed here. Please feel free to call me out in the comments. I studied my bookshelf as best I could.]
Oh y’all. This is absolutely my favorite book. But I told you that back in 2008. I have read it over 40 times. [I know, I’m a book nerd. Sue me.] This book sealed in my heart my desire to teach school, which I did for five years. It also put a deep love in my heart for Appalachian people. But I told you that back in 2009.
I’ll be honest. I’ve loved this storyline for many-a-year, thanks to a mother who exposed us to BBC productions at a young age. But it has only been within the last year or so that I actually read the novel. And gracious I loved it. It is too far to say “I needed it”? [I mean, for me to be overdramatic is nothing new around these parts, so let’s go with it.] Fantastic. I would love to read this out loud to my daughters one day.[I bet Lanier’s mom did- didn’t she, Lanier?]
This book single-handedly changed how I do business. How I do blogging. How I do my life as an author. If you run your own career, or if you run someone else’s career, or if you have any kind of group that listens to anything you say, read it.
This was hard for me- I love A LOT of Francine Rivers’ books. So it took me some time standing in front of my bookshelves to decide which one I REALLY love. Here’s the truth- if you close your eyes and pull a Francine Rivers’ book of a shelf at the library or your bookstore, you won’t be sorry. But this was one of the first ones I read, so it holds a special place in my heart.[But seriously. I could do a whole TOP 5 Friday on Francine Rivers’ books. And I just may do that.]
Dave Barnes told me to read this book and I said, “Uh, Dave? I don’t like animals. So no thanks.” And he said, “I’m the boss of you. Now do as I say.”
So I did.
And it blew me away. I absolutely loved it. In fact, I was reading it while on a quick trip to Chicago to visit Lyndsay and crew and I seriously carried it with me EVERYWHERE. To the point that my friends began to feel unloved and unsure of my coolness. [To which I quickly reminded them that I am SIGNIFICANTLY less cool that I lead people to believe, so that part was true.]
I highly recommend it.
. . . . . . . . . .
Let me take this quick moment to remind you about YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY! You are welcome to buy these books as a five-pack and live it up, but also remember that your library probably has them as well. I love the library. I love to go there, sit there, read, peruse, and I actually use the online system to order books I want, so I don’t even have to search for them. Fantastic thing, technology is. 🙂
Now. Your turn! In the comments, tell me your TOP 5 FAVORITE BOOKS![I’m so nervous about this because I KNOW I’m going to want to read each of them. Ugh. I’m pre-annoyed with myself for not having enough time to read them all.]
It’s been a few weeks [maybe even months?] since we talked about the fact that I wrote a book and you can read that book.
This blog is not about my book. But the blog and that book have the same author and there could be a chance that you are new here and don’t know that I wrote a book.
Hi. I’m Annie. I wrote From Head To Foot.
How are things going? Well, as you know, I self-published with Westbow Press. And it was a super good decision. I have really enjoyed working with them from the beginning. The only problem has been getting statistics and sales numbers now that the book is out.
And if I had a dollar for every time someone asked, “How many books have you sold?” I would be able to wallpaper my house with miniature portraits of George Washington.
Meaning, I still don’t know an EXACT number, but I know that there are some traditional publishers who have shown some interest in possibly picking up the book. [tiny squeal]
That is only a tiny squeal because the truth of the matter is
It’s more of a tiny squeal knowing that people have connected with the book enough that it has garnered some attention from companies who pay writers to connect with people. That’s more of the reason for the squeal. So tiny squeal all you want because it is exciting that God is using this book in some small ways. It’s fun.
Anyways, here are few things you may want to know about the book:
–> You can buy From Head to Foot here on Amazon.
–> If you have bought it and read it, would you mind writing a short and sweet [or not sweet, your prerogative] review on Amazon? It makes a HUGE difference.
–> If you are leading a small group of girls this semester, over the summer, or in the fall, there is a Leader’s Guide available for free. [Scroll down and you’ll see where to put in your email address so we can email it to you.]
–> You might not know this, but I’ve been making a video for each chapter of the book for small groups. So you can see those on the FHTF YouTube page.
–> I have a AnnieBlogs facebook page. Will you like me?
Here’s another great question people keep asking me- “What is your next book?” And when people ask me that I kinda giggle and then I cry and then I start to sweat and then I pass out on the floor.
Meaning, I have some ideas but haven’t really started writing anything significant. So if you have any ideas of a book you’d like me to write, throw your idea in the hat.
And by “hat” I mean “comment box” because I actually don’t wear a lot of hats.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a very exciting week here on the blog, including some awesome news from Mocha Club and my dear pal Matt Wertz and some Scotland talk and some pictures and some chats about ice cream because I love it.
Phew. That is more than enough for your Monday. See you tomorrow.
1. Thank you for all your prayers on Saturday. It was a good day. It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t my best showing. It was a good reminder that God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness. [It feels stupid to say that; I know it is true, but it feels like a cop-out way of saying “I failed.”] It just could have gone better- my part, that is.
To say it politely- I’m not perfect. And I got a four star reminder of that.
BUT. It was great to see my friends and it was a wonderful event. I was super glad to be there.[Big sigh. Moving on.]
2. I drove back to Nashville on Sunday night and for once, I decided that I would make myself listen to FULL albums, no skipping, no This American Life, just albums start to finish. And I made myself sing every song. [I love singing. So this was the easier of the two requirements.]
Here’s what I listened to:
I don’t know that this list matters to you at all. But here it is. It felt like a real accomplishment to listen to five straight albums. Very un-Annie. [I’m a shuffler. A major shuffler.]
3. My (in)courage friend, Heather, is raising money for her daughter. Some of our (in)courage sisters got together and donated a few items. The (in)courage email said “if you have a craft or a book you’d like to donate…” and I was looking to my right and to my left and then suddenly I was like, “Oh, you mean ME? Oh yeah! I have a book.” It my pleasure to donate a few books to help– so check out Heather’s Etsy site and buy some stuff, yo.
4. Speaking of books, my friend Seth Godin has a new book called Poke the Box releasing this week and the KINDLE VERSION OF POKE THE BOX COSTS ONLY ONE AMERICAN DOLLAR [until the end of TODAY]! $1.00. Seriously. So buy that puppy- it will change how you do business. I promise. [You may know the girl he talks about on page 1. I’m just saying. I died- in the good way.]
5. Also- this happened on the drive yesterday. Hair mustaches are all the rage in 2011.
[Do you love my serious face or what? I know. I’m a class act. Fully deserving of being in Seth Godin’s book. Or. Possibly. This picture may cause him to rewrite the first two pages of the book, because I’m a nut job.]
6. Speaking of people who shouldn’t associate with yahoos like me, my (in)courage friend Ann Voskamp hit the NYT Best Sellers list last week with her AH-MAZE-ING book One Thousand Gifts. You need to read this book.
7. I miss Scotland.
Don’t be mad when I tell you that at time of writing, it is still Thursday night.
I have just gotten back to the hotel and I’m sitting on my bed, in the quiet, tears streaming down my face. It has been that type of day.
I have lots of pictures, but they are on my phone and sorry to tell you, I’m a writer. And I want to write about today.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned this, but I’m officially here as Anne Jackson’s assistant. You know, the coffee-getting, purse-carrying, protect-her-from-creepos kind of assistant. It’s been a joy. It has not been work at all but instead, it has allowed me to serve my friend. To watch over her and care for her and I am so grateful for the opportunity.
Anne was officially hosting Seth Godin, which means she walks him from Point A to Point B and Point B to stage to lunch, you get it. So the three of us, and Seth’s assistant Ishita, palled around all day. Seth is a strong voice in my life, a mentor for sure. So to hug his neck, talk of my plans (that have failed and succeeded) and catch up was a real gift.
Scott Harrison spoke again today, from the main stage. Be still my beating NPO heart. It was awesome and moving and he commanded that room of 13,000. My biggest takeaway from his talk was that our world is in need and I have too much stuff.
Next was Daniel Pink. I had not heard of him. He is a business dude, and I thought he was cool and probably significantly smarter than me. My biggest takeaway from his talk is that I need to start doing my own monthly performance reviews at Mocha Club and in my writing career. And ask myself, “Was I better today than yesterday?”
Seth Godin was next. He was great. As usual. Really reminding us in the work force that we don’t have to look like everyone else, that failures are a part of success, and that being generous is always a good choice. Be willing to experiment and fail. Pretty much, he’s awesome.
Then I got to hear my girl Beth Moore. I just adore her and contribute so much of my writing career path to her inspiration. [Someday I’ll tell you that story.] She said this and I hope it sticks with me forever: “Don’t surrender to an area of work or ministry, just surrender to God. Hold tightly to Him and nothing else.” That’s a good word, Beth. A good word.
Then. Then. Francis Chan. I don’t even know what to say. He totally messed up my life. He spoke on how the Bible tells us to treat the poor. This one is hard to recap because my heart is still gently bubbling and boiling and I think Jesus and I have some things to work out before I can really talk about what he said. My takeaway? I just want to be like Jesus. That’s it. I want to know Him and brag about knowing Him. I want to live in a way that people see Jesus. I want to be free to follow the Holy Spirit’s lead and I want my life to be marked by courage and kindness.
So. That’s that.
I have deeply loved this experience. I’ve learned a ton and made some great connections. I’ve gotten to see so many friends, hug so many necks, laugh with my normal Nashville peeps [like Katy, Jeremy, Lindsey, Spence], and reconnect with some friends from other parts of my life. I even got to see one person who used to be a very close friend but things are broken. It was good and hard and needed and I hope someday we’ll be okay.
Sadly, I don’t get to go to Catalyst tomorrow. But on the upside- Seth is having a day long seminar in Atlanta, complete with free books, sushi, networking, and vegan desserts. So I’ll be there, hob-knobbing with other linchpins, and soaking.it.all.up.
Sorry these posts have been wordy. Forgive my long-windedness. [Try talking to me in real life sometime. It’s just as bad. Maybe worse.]
Happy Friday. 🙂
I think I may have forgotten to mention this.
I’m at Catalyst in Atlanta.
What is Catalyst, you ask?
Well, according to the Catalyst website, “Catalyst was created to meet the felt need that existed within the church leader space for a leadership event that was focused on a new generation of church leaders.”
Is yours truly, AnnieBlogs, a church leader? Why no. No she is not.
But. I am a Christian with a few leadership roles, and a bunch of my friends were coming here, so I jumped in the car and sped down to Atlanta [which a trip to the hometown is never a bad idea]. I’m shacking up with Bianca, Lindsey, and Trish. Bianca is a newlywed and threatened more than once to cuddle with me. I said, “you’re the best, but no thanks.”
We ate lunch with a bunch of friends, I met tons of people and the conversations started like this: “Hi, I’m Annie. I recognize you from Twitter.” And it has been true every time. It seems that on Wednesday, the Labs day, most people are fairly familiar with each other. Thursday promises 13,000 people and I PROMISE I won’t know most of them.
There were two main highlights from Wednesday […besides the friends. You know me, the people are always the highlight.]
Highlight #1: I had a three hour dinner with two of my very favorite dudes- Jeremy and Kyle. We all work together pretty regularly, but don’t see each other much. It was fun and thought-provoking. It was silly and deep. It was business and good times. I describe Kyle and Jeremy like this- they are the brothers that I have always never wanted. They pick on me and annoy me and I love them both to pieces.
Kyle took a picture at dinner of Jeremy and I in deep thought. Or….
We’re having a staring contest. In which case, I won. I always do.
Now, you know me. You know I don’t get star struck. But when it comes to the world of non-profit workers [like me at Mocha Club], Scott Harrison is pretty much the bees’ knees. There are tons of things that Charity:Water does REALLY right and he’s the head of that ship. So. I pretty much sat as close to the front as possible, hung on his every word, and avoided eye contact.
Because I’m mature.
He’s just the coolest. In my mind, he’s the quarterback of the football team at Non-Profit High School. So it was pretty much delightful to be in the same room listening to him.[By the way, Jamie is cool too. We have lots of mutual friends and talked for a bit. I just have a major NPO crush on Charity:Water.]
So that was a very long discussion on my first day ever at a Catalyst event.
Cause you know, that’s how I do. I’m a crier.
See y’all tomorrow.
I don’t know if this is a new series I’m starting or if I’m just completely weird, but ever since I wrote about my writing table a few weeks ago, I’ve wanted to show you my desk at Mocha Club as well.
1. The desk itself- a folding table. Impressivo, eh? But listen, in the economy we live in, I’m just thrilled to have a job that I absolutely love. So if they said, “hey, sit here under the sink and work” I’d probably say okay. Or, I’d say, “that’s kinda weird- can I just sit on the floor of the conference room?”
2. Me old laptoppy. I have a goal to purchase a new one in 2011. Since, you know, I’ve had this one for over 3 years and it has my paw prints all over it and about as much memory as a nursing home bingo player.
3. Paper cup. I left my water bottle at home today and barf. I’m having to drink out of one of those cups that gets soggy and squishy and waxy.
4. A super cool painting that my sister Sally did. It’s Africa. [Since I work at Mocha Club and all, I found it to be apropos.] I stole it from her bedroom at home. Sorry bout it.
5. A cool book from my friend Ishita who runs the Fear.Less online magazine. I read a bit of this book everyday.
6. Sticky notes. Because they are cute and funny. [I just wrote that and then realized that I have no idea what makes sticky notes funny, but I wrote it. So. Maybe it’s true.]
7. A picture with some of my very bestest friends when we were in Chicago last August. It was one of the greatest trips I’ve taken- full of laughs and relaxation and all around awesome.
8. A little motivation from my friend Seth Godin. I promise it doesn’t mean what you think it does. It’s symbolic and it means a whole lot more.
9. My accountability group. They are always watching. So I better behave.
10. Piles. Because, as you know, I am a big fan of piles.
Hey- if you get the hankering to photograph a table/desk/counter top and label it and tell us about it on your blog, link to it in the comments. I think seeing your world would be pretty fascinating.
I think I want to reinstate Smile, Wednesday. I tend to take so many pics on Anita the iPhone and then they just sit there. I think that is lame. So welcome to the return of Smile, Wednesday.
I have a question here. Isn’t “drowned” the correct past tense of “drown”? I googled it and it seems right, but it feels wrong. Help?
When I was in New York, I walked. A lot.
And I absolutely slaughtered the battery on my iPhone, whom you know goes by the name Anita. [She’s cute. I like her a lot.]
I really enjoyed the soundtrack idea. Like, as I walked, the songs that played felt like my daily soundtrack. [I always wanted my life to be a television show. Sue me.] And because I’m a few shades of crazy, I have weird personal rules about how much music I keep on my phone [not a lot] and a few albums dominated my trip.
And Ben Rector was on high high rotation.
I remember standing in Grand Central Station on Friday morning. I was sad the NanoMBA was over, scared of what was next, sorry to end my time as a public transportation commuter. People buzzed around me and I just stopped. I wanted to breathe the moment- take a snapshot in my mind. And Ben sang in my ears,
“This isn’t easy.
This isn’t clear.
And you don’t need Jesus til you’re here.“
And I’ve thought about those lines a lot in the last few weeks. As I’ve come back from New York and embarked on some new things at Mocha Club, had some good days and some worst ever days, I’ve worried and I’ve celebrated. It’s been a wonderful and horrible month.
I walked around my neighborhood and through Hillsboro Village last week, mainly just to get in touch with Commuter Annie. I like her a lot and I wanted to know that she still lived in me- the girl who walks around, music playing, with purpose but not with worry. She was focused in New York, I feel scattered in Nashville. She was quietly confident in New York, I feel tired in Nashville. She was someone I want to be and I feel like someone I don’t like.
Ben came into my ears and I was grateful for the reminder. For that moment, on the corner of Hillsboro and Fairfax, to remember that moment at Track 36 when it didn’t feel easy or clear.
Because here, in Nashville, it still isn’t easy and it still isn’t clear.
I thought I really needed Jesus there in Grand Central.
But the truth is I need Him more today.