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Gaining Wisdom

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I started writing seriously about twelve years ago. I made the decision to become a writer after my first daughter was born in 1989. I'm not quite sure why having a baby made me think about becoming a writer. Maybe it was a way of recreating myself. I vaguely remember saying that maybe I'd be published by the time both kids went to college. That worked! No one is in college yet. Maybe it was because in the back of my mind I really wanted to write and having my first child at the age of 35 made me think I was running out of time and I'd better decide what I want to be when I grow up. I'm not really sure why I chose that time to make my decision. I'd been a social worker for ten years by then and love that aspect of my life, but I wanted more. I wanted to write.

I faced many blank pages and didn't really know where to start. I joined RWA, eventually joined ACFW, attended many writer's conferences from one side of the country to the other and studied the craft until I thought I had some idea of what I was doing. Of course most of us who write know the best way to learn is to do it, just do it. I wrote a lot of words that didn't make great stories for awhile, but I did eventually learn. James Scott Bell is a firm believer that writers aren't necessarily born we can all learn how to do it. I think the main ingredient must be a mountain load of passion and a mustard seed of talent. Hey, if I can do it I know you can do it. Really!

I have more craft books than you can imagine but two of my favorites are 1) Stein On Writing: A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies by Sol Stein                                            
You need to invest in your future writing career just like you would in any other career; this is how we gain wisdom. I spent years in college getting a Master's Degree in Social Work. I went to class, paid for those classes, completed internships, did a lot of writing. I can honestly say I spent more time learning the craft and business of writing, which never really ends, as I did getting my social work degree. Of course even with all that work there is never a guarantee of publication. But in today's economy unfortunately even with a college education there is no guarantee of getting the job you studied for in college, at least not right away. Hopefully, that will improve soon.

What have you done to gain wisdom? How have you invested in yourself? What's the number one investment strategy you would recommend? What has worked best for you in whatever career you have chosen to follow?


  1. I agree, Jill. Perseverance and passion are key elements. Like you, I add studying craft and attending conferences, along with writing, rewriting, and revising aplenty.

  2. Hi Keli,
    You bet! That rewriting and revising is key isn't it? I enjoy the revision process, but it's a little more mind-boggling when there is a deadline attached to it. :)

  3. "They" say you have to write a few books before you have a chance at getting published. Does that included re-writing the same book over a few times?

  4. Great post, Jill. I definitely need to get my hands on those books! I'm using Story Engineering by Larry Brooks right now, and boy, I'm learning a lot about my characters.

  5. Hi there, Susanne!
    I haven't heard of Story Engineering by Brooks. I'll have to check that out. So nice to see you here!