February 19, 2013
Dreaming of being a writer? Here's how to get started
Are you sitting at work thinking about your childhood dream of becoming a writer? Learn how to transition from working 9 to 5 to becoming a published author with these tips from award-winning author Pam Binder.
Pam is a Seattleite who became a New York Times best-selling author. She's also an instructor for the Popular Fiction writing course at the University of Washington Extension and president of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association (PNWA).
Q: In most situations, those who want to try a serious hand at writing can't quit their day job because they depend on the income from their current employer. What advice do you have for getting started as a writer?
Pam: All you need is 15 minutes a day. Ignore those people who say you have to spend three, four or five hours a day to become a serious writer. If you can write even 15 minutes a day, you can write a novel. I know this is true, because I did it.
Married with three small children, I wrote my first book on my lunch hour because that was the only spare time I had. In addition to my responsibilities as a wife and mother, I also worked full time as an office manager for a middle school, played and coached soccer and was the president of our children's PTA.
Q: How did you begin your writing efforts?
Pam: I started by taking writing classes at the University of Washington and attending writing conferences. Then I dedicated my lunch hours to writing my first novel, a historical time-travel romance set in 1566 in the Scottish Highlands. Three years later, I felt my novel was ready for review.
I volunteered at the 1999 PNWA Summer Conference and was introduced to an agent who was interested in my work. In January 2000, The Inscription was published by Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. After that, I quit my day job and never looked back.
Q: It can be difficult to transition from one career to another, and many people often become discouraged while trying to become a writer. What advice can you offer in these situations?
Pam: If writing is your passion, join a writers' organization or critique group, or take classes on writing. The positive feedback and encouragement you gain can help you over any rough patch. Joining a writers' association is a great way to get started.
Beyond that, follow your dream by continuing to write each day, learn all you can about the craft as well as the business side, and never give up. The art of storytelling is a gift that anyone can attain.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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