Thursday, January 13, 2011

Write What You Know … and Other Writing Advice I’ve Twisted to My Benefit by Linda Faulkner, Guest Blogger

My guest today is author, blogger, businesswoman Linda Faulkner. If I remember correctly, I first met Linda when I followed a link to her Author Exchange Blog, a site where she promoted other authors, posting announcements and interviews. This year, she is switching from the interviews to featuring guest posts. Submission guidelines are available at the blog.

Linda's new release is non-fiction: Taking the Mystery Out of Business. A mystery, Second Time Around, was released in 2009.


Write What You Know … and Other Writing Advice I’ve Twisted to My Benefit by Linda Faulkner, Guest Blogger

We writers have heard all kinds of advice. I’m here to tell you that some writing advice is good and some is poop. Then there’s the kind of advice you need to heed … after twisting it into shape as if it were your own personal Gumby action figure.

The biggest piece of writing advice I followed and then twisted to my benefit is write what you know. It led me to earn significant income from my writing and it can help you do the same thing.


Life, in the guise of a divorce and facing single-motherhood with three teenagers, put a serious crimp in the amount of time I was able to devote to my fiction writing—which I’d been doing since childhood. Which meant I wrote essentially zero fiction between 1994 and about 2003.


Of course, being a writer means writing. Although I didn’t have the time to write fiction during those years, I found myself writing other stuff—all in the insurance industry, which is where I worked. In addition to owning an insurance agency, I was an insurance trainer and instructor. So, I began writing insurance texts and courses. I was asked to write magazine articles in insurance trade journals. Then, a fellow I knew who published a monthly entertainment magazine in Orlando, Florida asked me to write a monthly business column for his periodical—even though I lived in Massachusetts.

These pursuits propelled me to my first “professional” publication of material in 2002. I sold one business in Massachusetts in 2003, moved to Montana three months later, and founded two different insurance businesses here. One of them is an insurance education and training business and, you guessed it, I wrote the entire curriculum.

I found the time to write a couple more fiction novels and one sold in 2008. However, the really interesting and ironic thing about the release of Second Time Around in January 2009 is that it thrust me into a completely different realm of publishing and writing: freelancing and non-fiction.

When I shouted to the world that I was a published writer—for some odd reason, many people didn’t take the magazine, newspaper, and trade publications seriously, even though I was paid to write them—I began receiving contract offers to write all kinds of stuff for businesses, insurance education organizations, a national speaker, etc.—and I snatched them up!

Which, in turn, prompted my husband to say, Why don’t you write some business books? They’re bound to sell better than that mystery. (He, the one who loves gory blood and guts science fiction movies and TV series, thinks reading mysteries and romance is going to rot my brain!) Despite our personal differences about the boob tube and romance novels, I followed his advice. Taking the Mystery Out of Business: 9 Fundamentals for Professional Success, the first in a series of business books, was released this month.


I wrote what I knew.

Yes, YOU probably find insurance boring. I don’t--I love it. I’ve been working in the field for 36 years. I know it. I know it really well. And there’s a market for well-written insurance education material.

With my business book, I wrote what I knew. Not only have I been working in the business world for 36 years, I founded four different businesses—including my professional writing pursuits.

What do YOU know really well? What can you write about with absolute conviction, certainty, and expertise? In what subjects are you considered an expert?

Let me tell you, there aren’t too many “experts” out there who are really good writers. If there’s a market for a writer in your field, not only can you hone your writing skills, you can also earn darned good money doing it.

If you’re not on Linked In, you’re missing the boat. If you are on it and you’re not advertising and promoting ALL your professional endeavors, you’re still missing the boat. I formed a solid relationship with a client who regularly contracts me for freelance writing as the result of a search on Linked In.

Tell the world you write: then write any darned thing you can.


Linda, thanks so much for being my guest today. It's always a pleasure working with you.

To learn more about Linda and her books, visit her website as well as her blogs, Taking the Mystery Out of Business, Linda Faulkner, and Author Exchange Blog.

She can be found on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.


Coach Boots said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Patricia Stoltey said...

Sorry for the comment delete, but that was spam unrelated to today's post.

irishoma said...

What a wonderful attitude about writing--and life.

In my writing, I have modified the "write what you know" mantra to "write what you love!" It works!

Donna Volkenannt

Anonymous said...

I needed this post this morning. Write what you know. But for me, it's irishoma's mantra: write what you love--or what you like to write, or read.

Thanks, Pat, for hosting Laura. Now I have put Author Exchange Blog on my blog's link list.

Margot Kinberg said...

Patricia - Thanks for hosting Laura.

Laura - Thanks for sharing the way you wove what you know into your writing. One thing up bring up that I think it's crucial to remember. If the author is fascinated by something, then that enthusiasm will come through in the writing.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Donna -- I guess that's why I've been experimenting with writing in so many genres...I read everything.

Hi Ann -- Laura's Author Exchange Blog is a great place to visit.

Margot -- You're most welcome. Thanks for stopping by this morning.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I love reading stories of a writer's journey to success and hearing how it doesn't happen all once. Great advice.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

A wonderful post on the aspects of writing, as a poetry writer I write about events that has happened and about family, at times I get the inspiration to write about the world in general.


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I think you're so right that writing what you're comfortable with or expert on makes life a lot easier...and the writing smoother. I *could* set a book in NY, but boy--I'd be creating a lot of extra work for myself!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Susan -- I have a whole series of guest posts from authors about their paths to publications. Check out the 2010 guest bloggers page.

Yvonne -- I love your blog because your poetry touches all of us and our love for family and home.

Elizabeth, you're so right. My two best efforts have been set in Illinois where I grew up. There's a lesson there. As far as what to write (genre, non-fiction, essays, short stories, etc), I don't think I've found my niche yet.


Irishoma: Our perspectives are just different versions of the same theory. After all, how often do you really love something you don't know? Thanks for your comments. (I'll be visiting your blog!)

Ann: I'm glad you found my post to be helpful--we writers need to stick together. Thanks for following Author Exchange Blog.

Margot: You're exactly right. Authenticity is an essential part of any writer's success.

Susan: Thanks for your kind comments.

Yvonne: I haven't written a lot of poetry but, now that you mention it, most of it is about how I feel and whave I've experienced. I just love it when othe people agree with me. Thanks!

Elizabeth: Many writers say they do lots of research on some of the places they write about, instead of visiting them. As a writer, I'd always feel a little insecure doing so. Then again, isn't venturing into the unknown what makes us grow? I'll have to think about that. (P.S. I was born in NYC. I can probably help you a little, but I haven't been there in years!)

Pat: Thanks so much for hosting me today. I'm having a ball!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Linda -- it's great to have you here. I apologize for calling you Laura in an earlier comment. I swear sometimes my fingers have no idea what my brain is telling them. The older I get, the more often it happens. I guess that speaks to proofread, proofread, proofread.

I'm heading out now to escort Katie Kitten to her first vet appointment. I hope you all make yourselves at home and have another cup of coffee or tea.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Now that's a smart move!
And gory blood and guts science fiction movies and TV series haven't rotten my brain yet...

Holly Ruggiero said...

Really cool. Great advice.


Pat: Good luck with Miss Kitty. And no problem aboout the name thing. At least you started it with the letter "L!"

Alex: Aha. So there's hope for my husband, then?

Holly: Thanks for visiting ... and appreciating the advice.

Patricia Stoltey said...

We all made it back safe and sound. Hi Alex and Holly, glad you stopped by.

Clarissa Draper said...

That's really cool. I don't know if I could write nonfiction yet because I don't have the urge but someday, I'm going to take on that task.

Helen Ginger said...

Excellent advice. I sort of did the opposite. I've written three nonfiction books about subjects I knew nothing about. But when it comes to fiction, I'm sticking to areas that I do know about.

Elspeth Antonelli said...

This is so logical that it sparkles. Thanks.


Pat: Glad Miss Kitty is doing well.

Clarissa: I bet you'll like it!

Helen: Goes to show that if you're a good writer, you can write all kinds of stuff.

Elspeth: You're very kind!

P.I. Barrington said...

Thank you Linda! Encourages me to actually incorporate my speciality, entertainment!
P.I. Barrington


Way to to, P.I.!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Linda, since I need to be away from my computer for another block of time, I want to thank you now for being my guest today and responding to comments. It's always a pleasure working with you. If you ever find you'll be driving south on I-25 through Northern Colorado, let me know. I'm always ready to "do lunch" (or breakfast or coffee or dinner...).


Thanks, Pat. I've enjoyed my visit and will certain keep you in mind if I travel to Colorado.

Mari G said...

Hi Linda.
This was such an inspirational post. Since reading it, I've been trawling my past life for possible subject matter.
Well done.


Mari, Glad to be of help. Good luck with your trawling!