I was at my bank one day a few months ago, working with a new representative. (My old one was moving to a new job.) We chatted a bit, and she learned that I’m a published author.
“What’s your book about?” she asked enthusiastically.
“It’s a writing guide about how you can use your journal to practice writing better fiction.”
Her eyebrows wavered. “Oh!” she tried to say cheerfully. But the unasked question hovered in the air: How can you write a guide book for writers before you’ve published any books?
Well, that’s where the “oopsie” part comes in.
Nativity of a How-To Book
Journaling to Become a Better Writer originated as a series of blog posts which I published at Indie Plot Twist, a blog I run with my friend Carrie Lynn Lewis where we share what we learn as we pursue careers in indie publishing. The journaling posts were so popular, it was just obvious I should roll them into a book.
In the beginning, my strategy was pretty simple: Stick the original posts into a short booklet, maybe add another chapter or two, and pepper them with a few excerpts from my journal for illustration. Maybe I’d throw it up as a freebie at Indie Plot Twist.
Haha. I shoulda known better. Once I got started, I realized I had far more material on hand than I’d anticipated. What started as a 5,000-word project I thought I could turn around in a few weeks expanded into a 46,000-word book that occupied me for several months.
The Irony of Starting My Career Here
Despite the popularity of those blog posts, there’s no getting away from the fact that no author in her right mind kicks off her publishing career with a book on how to write. Does this damage my credibility? You bet. Is it affecting my sales? Probably. Do I care? Not much.
If it’s credentials you want, here they are:
- I learned how to read and write at age 4
- I’ve been keeping a journal since age 5
- I knew by the time I was 7 that I wanted to be an author
- I had finished about 25 short stories and two novellas by age 14
- Seven of my plays were produced between the ages of 14 and 18
- I’ve had my work critiqued by professional authors and editors
- I’ve been published in periodicals
- I dropped out of an English major in college because I found out I already knew everything I needed to start a writing career
I’ve taken my career as an author seriously since I was about 7 years old. Before that, I was just writing for the fun of it. No, I have not yet published a novel. For just one reason.
Why I Started Here
I shifted uncomfortably in my chair in front of my bank representative’s desk. How to explain in as few words as possible? “I would have started publishing my novels a long time ago, but the people I was with at the time weren’t very supportive.”
“Ohhh,” she said, relieved that I wasn’t simply crazy. She took my business card, parked it in front of her computer screen, and said she couldn’t wait to look up my book. Her graciousness was a relief. The long look down some people’s noses has gotten pretty old.
All those accomplishments over the course of my life were achieved more or less despite the criticism I received from my family in response to my writing passion. A trickle of small but negative feedback over the span of years had me questioning myself. But it eventually dawned on me that just two people who read my work habitually cast doubt on my ability … and everyone else was pretty much converted into an instant fan.
To anyone who would lift their nose at me, I playfully retort, “What business does anyone have publishing a novel until they’re so good at their craft, they can write a book about it?”
And if that answer won’t do, I say, “Just read it and tell me what you think.”
I never intended my first published book to be a guide to writing craft. But it happened. My “oopsie baby.” And I’m proud of it.
If you’re interested in a free copy of the ebook, just leave me a comment on this post before 11:59 p.m., CDT, on Monday, May 25th, 2015.
About the Book
What do your novel-in-progress and your journal have in common? Maybe more than you think. Your life, after all, is a story. The tools you need to take your craft to the next level may be hiding right under your nose.
Danielle Hanna has been penning fiction since she was only four and keeping a journal since age five. In Journaling to Become a Better Writer, she bares pages from her own journal to illustrate the emotional depth and storytelling skill that can be achieved simply by writing the events of your life.
Side-by-side with her examples, she delves deep into seven techniques you can discover and perfect in your journal:
- Recognizing a Story Worth Telling
- Using Basic Story Structure
- Getting in Touch with Your Emotions
- Honing Your Observation Skills
- Describing Your World
- Capturing Characters
- Finding Your Purpose
Where You Can Get Your Copy
Or … leave me a comment below and I’ll give you a FREE copy! Between now and 11:59 p.m., CDT, Monday, May 25th, 2015.