Advice to ‘wanna-be’ authors

It took me a long time to realize that I was a writer, not a ‘wanna-be’ writer. I had been working in communications/public relations for over ten years and I said to a designer I’d been working with that I wanted to a writer some day.

She laughed at me. Then she pointed out all I’d written. Articles, newsletters, press materials, websites. She said “you are already a writer.” That was an eye opening moment. She was right. I was a writer. I wanted to be an AUTHOR.

That day started me on a journey, because part of my ‘fears’ evaporated that day. I was already a writer, how do I make the leap to becoming an author. Now with book number six about to be released today, I want to share some of what I’ve learned along the way… I have no doubt you have heard this before. But I had written a lot before understanding that I was a writer, so I think some things need great repetition before it sinks in.

  1. Watch people. Not your phone. Not your TV. It’s the people where you will learn about mannerisms, and habits and quirks that bring your characters to life.
  2. Write something. And you don’t have to necessarily start with fiction – not even a short story. Volunteer at a community non-profit or church and write their newsletter. This is where you practice your craft. Or as some may say – this is where you learn the rules before you break them.
  3. Read. A lot. Find out what authors you like. What about their story telling appeals to you? Are they very descriptive? Are they the rockstars of dialogue? Use their works – what you like, what you hate – as your mentors. And to find out what genre interests you.
  4. Sit down and write. Or stand up if you are one of those people who prefer a stand up desk. (I can’t stand and write – I can stand and dictate though). Put the words on the page and leave them there. Even if it’s rough. Especially if it’s rough. It’s your blueprint to getting better. You can’t edit something if there is nothing there.
  5. Finish it. Whether it’s a poem, or a short story or an epic novel. Get the first draft done. You are now an AUTHOR.
  6. Enjoy the moment. Go pour yourself a glass of wine, or take yourself out to dinner, because now is where the real work begins.

You may never publish your work. Or you may go on to be a bestseller. The point is once the draft is done, you’ve already made it further than most people. You may have always been a writer, or in your heart knew you could be. But now you’re there, and the next steps are up to you.

In my spare time…

You would not naturally look at me and think ‘ATHLETE’ or ‘FITNESS BUFF’. Neither of those things would be true. What is true is that I like trying new things, even if I’m not very good at it.

Right now that means indoor rock climbing. I’m still working on the beginner circuits up the wall, or on harnessed routes (though I worry the harness will not hold my weight and instead of repelling down  – the fun part – I climb back down.)

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Each time I go, I spend about 45 minutes laying my right shoulder and elbow on ice packs. when I get home. I did my elbow a mischief about 6 years ago when I was working with a trainer to lose weight. And my shoulder I injured falling on a patch of ice nearly fifteen years ago. But rock climbing is not about upper body strength (you just use your hands to hang on for dear life), it’s about your quads. You push up with your legs. The strength of your quads propel you and my quads are awesome shape.

This sudden interest in rock climbing came about for a couple of reasons – my favourite yoga studio (to which I’ve been going for the last four years) is takinga summer hiatus while they move to a new location. And our city’s first rock climbing gym just opened up. So here I was with a hole in my schedule and nothing to fill it… Voila! Zoe is rock climbing two – three times a week for the summer.

Yoga is one of the few exercises that have held my attention. I have done it off and on for most of my life, and I am always learning something about it or myself when I practice. Happily I connected really well with the owner (we are both Northern Ontario girls now translated to the east coast.) She has supported and encouraged me both on the mat and off. Her encouragement led me to submitting my first book “Winning Cait” for publication and trying my first (and to date only) triathlon. (I came in second last, just ahead of the woman who was recovering from a stroke.)

And now she is prodding me along to pursue one other fitness passion – Barre.

I may not look like an athlete now but in my youth I did gymnastics and competitive dance – jazz, modern and musical theatre. My mother actually taught ballroom dance at one point and mus660691eda70414d666af2b087c0d72d5.jpgic and dance was part of our home. I only quit when my math grades suffered from my training schedule and my mother threw a fit. She thought I was going to be (read: she wanted me to be) an accountant – yeah right! My calculus teacher actually called her to convince her to put me out of my math-misery because “everyone knew” I was going to be a writer.

To make a long story, short – I am doing my online certifications to become a Barre Instructor, and I will be teaching in the fall at my favourite yoga studio. So while you may not think ‘athlete’ when you look at me, I hope people see one thing… someone who isn’t afraid to try new things. To follow their dreams. And to laugh at herself and life.

I keep thinking, there are so many things I want to do, and want to try, it’s a shame we only have one life in which to do it.