The Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway 2009, Day One

The Beginning Writer's Answer Book by Jane FriedmanWelcome to day one of the third Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway!

We’re starting with a must-have resource for every beginning writer; The Beginning Writer’s Answer Book edited by Jane Friedman.

The Beginning Writer’s Answer Book features 1,000 answers to the most commonly asked writing questions. This indispensable resource offers basic information that beginning writers of all genres need to know to further their craft and careers. Revised and updated for the new millennium, this book answers questions about the book and magazine marketplace and provides in-depth answers to such questions as “How do I submit my work to an agent?” and “Can I submit my work to more than one publisher at a time?”

Edited by Jane, The Beginning Writer’s Answer Book offers the basic tools you need to write and publish — from books and articles to poems, scripts, greeting cards, and songs. Handily organized into twenty-nine specific subject areas, with cross references throughout, you can find what you need — fast.

Jane FriedmanAbout the Author
Jane Friedman is the publisher and editorial director the Writer’s Digest brand community at F+W Media in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she oversees Writer’s Digest magazine, Writer’s Digest Books, and the Writer’s Market series. Jane maintains a blog about the writing industry at There Are No Rules.

Here comes the question you must answer to be entered in today’s giveaway.

If you are new to the giveaway, please read “Da Rules.” Seriously, there’s a few picky things (like we will only ship to U.S. addresses) and if you break a rule I have to disqualify your comment (and I hate when that happens because it ruins all my fun).

Today’s question is…

When you were a beginning writer, or if you are a beginning writer, what was/is your most nagging, worrisome question about launching a writing career? Feel free to speak openly and honestly. We’re all friends here. 🙂

Before you go! We have a cause to raise money for this year. Please consider making a small contribution at some point during the giveaway. Read the whole story about the Applin family here.

And don’t forget to read the rules! Several posts had to be deleted…ack!


71 Responses to “The Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway 2009, Day One”

  1. 1 Meryl Evans September 1, 2009 at 5:04 am

    I never thought I’d have my own business (freelancing included) in anything because I thought the accounting and administrative part would be more than I could handle. It turned out not to be so bad. It becomes a habit as you figure out everything including taxes and invoicing.

    Invoicing has gotten easier since I first started writing with all the online apps, which are easier to use the Quickbooks. I’m not afraid to tackle new software, but Quickbooks was winning for a long time. Not anymore!

  2. 2 Michele September 1, 2009 at 5:14 am

    I’m a newbie freelance writer and my nagging worry is “can I *really* make a strong living at this?” For years, I’ve been convinced that writing is a career that only fools pursue and they usually die broke (Thanks Dad! – said with love because now he’s totally behind my decision to pursue writing. Only took him more than 20 years to see how much I love it.).

  3. 3 Pam Maynard September 1, 2009 at 6:04 am

    My most nagging problem as a beginning writer is finding and/or making time to write. As a “writer mama,” full time MRI Tech, wife, pet resort owner and novice photographer, making time for me is hard. I try to wake up earlier in the morning or I try to stay up later at night to write. Neither approach works for me. I have to tell my husband and son that I have to finish this story or article by such a time and I go off with my laptop to a semi-private location. Sometimes I have to resort to the bathroom:)
    My second most naggin problem is finishing what I start. I have many stories started, not so many of them get finished. Sometimes I try writing prompts to get the creative juices flowing. Sometimes I resort to cleaning the bathroom.
    Anyone else have these problems?
    Thanks Christina for this Back-to-school giveaway! You rock!

  4. 4 Kelli September 1, 2009 at 6:46 am

    As a beginning writer, I am a little intimidated by what I’ve heard referred to as “the art of the query letter.” Knowing that the letter is the first thing the editor reads, how can I catch her/his attention so that she/he will actually want to read my manuscript? Is it beneficial to put lines from my story directly into the letter? Should the letter’s tone be formal and business like or more representative of my personality? Should I include a detailed paragraph about my educational and professional background that isn’t necessarily related to writing or is it better to only mention my writing credits (even if there are only a couple)?

  5. 5 Erica September 1, 2009 at 7:05 am

    My biggest fear is can I really do this? Do i have time to do this? It has always been a dream of mine to write a book but I haven’t made the time to make it happen. I am hoping to change that soon! The most nagging question for me is can I really write something that more than one person will want to read?

  6. 6 Renee Roberson September 1, 2009 at 7:09 am

    To go along with what Kelli said, I am paralyzed with fear every time I send a query letter to a national magazine. Local publications, no problem. But with the nationals, I have such a bad habit of reading over my query numerous times, hitting send and then spotting a grammatical error or typo right after the fact. The more I send queries to the nationals, the easier it gets, but for the time being my husband is proofing all those queries before they leave my inbox!

  7. 7 Kristine Goad September 1, 2009 at 7:17 am

    The big thing for me is consistency. I will go gangbusters for several weeks, then something will happen in my life/schedule and I ignore writing–all kinds, including the journaling and blogging I do “just for me”–for weeks or months and have to start all over again. Soemtimes I will find beginnings of stories or article ideas I don’t remember even conceiving. I’m learning to think of this process less of “starting and stopping” and more along the lines of “ebbing and flowing” because I think that’s healthier and less stressful. It’s still a challenge, though, and I am striving to engage in writing at least on a weekly basis when I can’t manage a daily one.

  8. 8 Jaymie September 1, 2009 at 7:23 am

    I agree with the folks talking about querying. I wonder things like “Should I even try to contact the ‘big’ publishers?” and “When do I send just the query and when do I send materials?” and “How do I know when my piece is ready to send out?” But my biggest issue is less of a question and more just plain fear.

  9. 9 Larissa September 1, 2009 at 7:26 am

    The biggest worry for me was/is definitely, “Am I good enough?” And then, if I’m not, do I have enough skill to improve to where I’m good enough? It’s really hard to get a good answer to that question, too. After that, with all the other concerns mentioned above piling on top, the world of writing is a very intimidating place.

  10. 10 Valerie Willman September 1, 2009 at 7:34 am

    My most nagging worry right now (as a beginning writer) is the pull between writing the REQUESTED book proposal as fast as I can so I can send it in in a timely manner, or take six months and make it super shiny.

  11. 11 Cathy September 1, 2009 at 7:44 am

    Ooooh, I love the Writer Mama Giveaway! And just for the record, I’ve (sorta) read all the books I’ve won.:-)

    When I first started writing, I worried that I would come off as an amateur, because, honestly, I knew how to write, but I didn’t know the business of writing. I had to learn about pitches, query letters, word counts, formatting, and all the other aspects that go into putting your writing out there. It wasn’t long before those worries fell to the wayside, to be eclipsed by one major worry: Am I good enough?

    That worry pretty much motivates me every day. Which is why I’m always looking to improve. So, thanks, Christina for the Giveaway. I always learn a lot in September (but I promise not to comment on books I’ve already won!)

  12. 12 Allena September 1, 2009 at 7:45 am

    Oh, that’s an easy question. It was always about the money: could I really pay bills? See, when I started, don’t get me wrong, I loved writing. But I also love having a roof over my head and food to eat. I left a full time admin/editorial job to freelance/copywrite full time and it was scary. In the end, though, the answer was yes, it has worked out. It wasn’t easy, but I’m so glad I followed the career I WANTED.

  13. 13 Sarah Pagliasotti September 1, 2009 at 7:52 am

    I still worry about whether my ideas are good enough. Or, more specifically, I know I have good ideas, but I’m not always sure I can pitch them with the best hook. So my fear is that I have a bunch of ideas that I’ll never publish because I fear I don’t have good selling skills. I also worry that I’m not strategic enough to plan a career – that I’ll forever be doing the work that just “comes my way.” Those are my truest fears about freelancing.

  14. 14 Emily September 1, 2009 at 7:58 am

    My biggest nagging question when I started out continues to be among my biggest nagging questions: Should I specialize or generalize? I tend to generalize because I find it a great way to learn about new topics and it feels like a good way to maximize my potential clients/outlets, but there’s a voice in my head that likes to tell me I can earn more per job if I become a specialist. I did try to leverage my background in HR to entice clients when I first started out, and I still do some HR writing/editing on occasion, but I hesitate to pursue this as a specialty because it’s honestly not as interesting as all the “generalist” topics I’ve covered. (I’ve also started toying with children’s writing recently, so there’s another direction that fits my “I’ll write anything” generalist mentality.)

  15. 15 Pat September 1, 2009 at 8:04 am

    I know this is an echo of the thoughts of others, but undoubtedly my first question was, “Am I good enough?”, followed closely by “And can I really do this?”

    I put my toe in the water by submitting to contests. No one could have been more astounded than I the first time one of my entries placed. It provided the perfect encouragement to keep me going.

    And though many submissions may not be chosen, just when you wonder why you keep trying, that magic moment happens.

    “Hey! They picked MY story!”

    It doesn’t get much cooler than that.

  16. 16 Kristen R Murphy September 1, 2009 at 8:11 am

    As a beginning writer, my most worrisome question to start a writing career comes down to the skills and talent of a writer. So I ask myself, do I have any skills or talent to be a published writer? I know in my heart that I am a writer, I have journals to prove it, but those are my only credentials.

    I worry about being compared to other writers who have an English degree or those who have several clips under their belt from other experiences. I know we all have to start somewhere, so I’m starting with passion for writing and learn along the way.

    Thanks, Christina!

  17. 17 Cara Holman September 1, 2009 at 8:13 am

    Well, first, I’d have to say that I’m probably an advanced beginner or possibly even an intermediate writer, since in the last year I have had the pleasure of seeing over two dozen of my personal essays, creative non-fiction pieces and poetry appear in print or online. But the most nagging and worrisome question remains the same, namely: Is it possible to continue to publish quality work without becoming formulaic or repetitive, and how do you continue to find consistent markets without spending all of your time vetting them?

  18. 18 nathalie September 1, 2009 at 8:19 am

    One of my most nagging worries is addressing a query letter or initial contact. Everything I’ve ever learned discourages use of the general “Dear Editor” but writers’s guidelines often omit a specific contact person. THEN when I do get the correct name by calling the publication or most current masthead, I totally stress about the salutation. Dear Ms. Editors-last-name sometimes seems too formal for the type of publication but Dear First-name seems too familiar …

  19. 19 Cheryl M September 1, 2009 at 8:29 am

    My biggest question is about how much time I should devote to writing. I have three young kids and lots of other things I could be doing. If I’m going to be serious about writing, what else do I have to sacrifice? It is hard to take that step from writing as a hobby and fitting it in where I can to a job-like commitment.

  20. 20 Beth Cato September 1, 2009 at 9:03 am

    First of all, thanks for continuing the September giveaway! I’ve been here since the beginning in 2007 (was that really that long ago?!).

    I don’t think I’ve crossed that threshold from beginner yet even though I’ve accumulated various small market credits. I’m constantly plagued by that question, “Am I good enough?” I know I’m improving, and yet… I feel I should be better than I am.

  21. 21 Penelope September 1, 2009 at 9:51 am

    I am an old beginner. Meaning I put my writing on hold for many, MANY years.

    Back at square one and starting over, I want to know…

    Can I do this?

    Will I do this?

    Will I persevere?

    Will I push through the self-doubt, the confusion about markets etc., my lack of polished writing skill, the (quite frankly) fear and laziness and put seat to seat, day in-day out and really, really do this…seriously and professionally?

    I want to. But, do I want to enough?

  22. 22 Holly Rutchik September 1, 2009 at 9:58 am

    My biggest writing question has a lot to do with formatting! Evertime I write something I want to submitt, I print out the guidelines and study them like they’re the SATs or something! I have this huge fear I will send something off with a red flag on it screaming “this person is a complete moron and doesn’t know what they are doing!!” Then said publisher/edit/powers that be will sit around laughing at the fools who try to break into the industry.
    So, I know professionals don’t have time to make fun of me. I’m a writer, I know that, but I am not good at the mechanics of the business!

  23. 23 writerinspired September 1, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Initially, my biggest concern as a beginning writer was sounding like a beginning writer or appearing amaeturish to editors when submitting my work. Now, that I have afew clips and taching expereince under my belt, my biggest concern is balance. Balancing the admin, promotion, social networking, blogging and the most important element: WRITING. I’ve created a spreadsheet to help me determine how I’m spending my time in comparison to dollars I’m taking in. Quite the eye-opener!
    Thnx, Christina!

    P.S. love that you’re including a cause this year
    : ) Mary Jo

  24. 24 Lorettajo Kapinos September 1, 2009 at 10:58 am

    I am constantly battling the voice in my head that asks, “Who wants to read what you write anyway?” As an amateur, I have learned to make this work for me. I can allow myself more freedom of expression, because no one really reads what I write,so who cares? It’s then that I write from deep withing in me, and create the blog that receives the most comments.

    When I am down, that question has a negative tone to it.But that’s when I turn to my writer friends. They continue to support and encourage me, no matter what. And then, when I least expect it, I hear news about my work that reminds me why I write. And I’m back in the game.

  25. 25 Susan September 1, 2009 at 11:01 am

    My most nagging question is, “Can I really do this?” I get that feeling of who do I think I am when I write something and think of submitting it. I’m working on this, though. One day, I hope to just close my eyes and drop a query into the mailbox.

  26. 26 Erika Washington September 1, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Spending all this time and money while being both mentally and emotionaly away from my 3 daughters in order to persue this dream nags at me every day. Am I setting a good example by putting my need to write so high on the life list? Spending money on writing books that I don’t always read, taking away from the time I could be spending with them but instead I’m off to Starbucks to write–Not getting a real job so they can have new/brand name outfits like some of their friends! Will they be proud of me and respect me when they are older–even if I never publish a book? Will they end up in therapy because their Mother was so selfish in her persuit to be a great published author and most importantly: Will it have all been worth it?

    **And that’s just my morning guilt**

  27. 27 Carrie Ure September 1, 2009 at 11:21 am

    My most worrisome question as a new writer: can I really be paid for doing something I love, something as natural to me as breathing?

    My writing has always been my own private refuge; a way to sort out my thoughts and feelings; a de-stressor at the end of the day and a favorite way to wake up my brain and my spirit in the morning. Does my personal point of view really matter? Do I have what it takes to research topics that are meaningful to me and present them to others in a relevant way without killing what I love?

    After a year of putting myself out there and getting lots of positive feedback, I still find myself wondering if I’m kidding myself about my future as a paid writer. I guess it all comes down to this: Do I really deserve to have the career of my dreams?

  28. 28 Jane Bretl September 1, 2009 at 11:44 am

    As a newbie, I still worry about “doing things right”, and following the rules of the industry. (I know, I know, *there are no rules*…) To build my confidence, I carefully research each publication’s submission guidelines and continually read about the industry, in books and writer blogs. Christina’s resources in particular have been very helpful for me. Blogging myself also provides instant feedback on ideas and style that I can use to improve my writing for other projects.

  29. 29 Bet September 1, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Since I’ve taken Christina’s course, Writing and Publishing the Short Stuff, my biggest fear has been that I am targeting the wrong magazine with a particular article. I know that I can write an article that is worthy to be published. But can I write an article that fits the style and ethos of Brain Child, or Skirt, or Weavings? I find myself a bit paralyzed by this conundrum. It seems I need to spend as much time researching as I do writing.

  30. 30 Amie September 1, 2009 at 11:51 am

    On bad days, when I’m doing more nail biting than writing, I’m not quite sure what to call this “career”. I wonder how to make the shift from personal to professional. At the beginning, when I first had my son and refound this writing thing that I loved – I had “time” and a new perspective and seemingly nothing to lose. I dove in with abandon.

    Now – with new responsibilities and routines it’s difficult to find that same freedom I once felt. I am trying to take the longer view of things. With a measure of discipline that doesn’t always come naturally. Writing as a way of life. Little by little. Word by word. It’s easy to think that it doesn’t add up to much. When I am most discouraged – I usually find that it’s when I am actually writing the least. And sometimes the best antidote to all the nagging questions is just to pick up a pen – and write.

  31. 31 Pattie September 1, 2009 at 11:52 am

    I have been writing for a long time, but have not been able to motivate myself to focus enough on pursuing a career in writing. I guess that makes me a dabbler, huh? So my biggest challenge to a writing career is myself. I fear that my lack of focus on that One Thing I Am An Expert On, will hurt me in the long run. What if I chose the wrong thing? What if I should focus on Subject X when Subject Y is what is most needed in the market? So I remain a Jane-of-Many-Subjects-But-Expert-On-None.

  32. 32 Fawn September 1, 2009 at 11:54 am

    As a “Writer Mama” to a 1.5 and 3 year old, my biggest fears are:

    1) Becoming overwhelmed with writing obligations in addition to everything else that I am already doing. As a mom, I feel this way about different activities/projects on a regular basis, but entering into freelance writing has really been my first real brush with commitment issues.

    2) Finding out that I am not really good enough to publish anything, and having wasted valuable time I could (should?) have been dedicating to my kids/husband/household duties. I often feel that I want to be too many things “when I grow up”.

  33. 33 Annie September 1, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    As a beginning freelancer my biggest fear is being thought of as a fraud by others! I can write and I have confidence that I can do this (helped in no small part by my Writer Mama book!), but I am not a journalist and my degree is not remotely related to professional writing!

  34. 34 Joanna September 1, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    As a beginner, my biggest worry was would/could I be a good enough writer. These days, now that I’m published, I know I have the chops to write and I think more about how to take my writing to the next level. My current worry is that this writing gig won’t ever pay the bills to the degree that I want/need them to be paid. I want to contribute equally to our household — or at least somewhat equally — without getting a regular job (I am not a 9-5 person, I am learning). I want writing to be my full time career, but I worry the money won’t follow.

  35. 35 Sarah Joyce Bryant September 1, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    My most worrisome question is: How do we, as new writer’s, overcome the negativity that surrounds aspiring to launch a writing career? I read a lot and there is so much advice for writers that have a negative connotation to them. For example: write because you love it not because you want to make a career/living out of it because chances are you won’t. I have found my own confidence wavering as I continue trying to move forward with my writing.

    Is it better to tell writers upfront that there is a slim chance they will ever be published and successful with a writing career or better to encourage them with positive reinforcements and let them find out for themselves? I wonder how many writers are discouraged or give up because of the negativity in the advice that is out there for new writers. Another question that I have yet to find an answer for: What is the best way to find a not-too-busy mentor?

  36. 36 Kathryn Lang September 1, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    There are so many different things that I can worry about as a freelance writer. I can worry if anyone will pay me for my writing and pay me enough to pay my bills. I worry that I will struggle to be consistent with my time, my filing and my record keeping. But my biggest concern is that those people that are already paying me will wake up and realize that they could do what I do – because there are days when I feel like anyone could do this if they would just put their mind to it.

    The good news is that despite the worries that try to creep in to my freelance writing, I continue to push through to the success I know is waiting. Just one more article, one more post or one more edit. Persistence will see me through – and that is what gets me past the worries.

  37. 37 Melissa Lindberg September 1, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    My biggest fear is that I won’t make enough money to stay home and write. With the kids in private school, I have to go back part-time this year and if I don’t start making cash on the writing, I go back full time next year. I have such a short time to make my dreams come true. I am afraid it will all be lost.

  38. 38 Shelli September 1, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    I can’t help but wonder if all the time I invest in writing is really worth it. Will I ever make more than $20 a month from this? Is it worth the late nights, the early mornings, letting my two little kids watch way too much TV, serving hamburger helper for dinner two nights in a row and not dusting my house for a week?

  39. 39 Eve September 1, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    My difficult point right now as a writer is what I had to give up to write my first book, and if it’s really worth it. I look back on it all, and I have no regrets. My book was more than just a book, it became a friendship with a coworker who was also an author, it became the end of my marriage (not the only reason, but the straw that broke the camel’s back), and it became the start of a new, wonderful relationship. Not bad for a 275 page novel aimed at young adults. I’ve fortunately not had to give up too much time with my son to write, but I have lost personal time. But my hardest obstacle right now is getting past everything that happened with the first book, so I can get the second one down.

  40. 40 Dana September 1, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    My most nagging question as a beginning writer is can I make enough money to survive? I was concerned about putting myself out there, looking for work and being continuously rejected. I’m happy to say that six years later, I am a successful full-time freelance writer…and my fears didn’t stop me.

  41. 41 Diane J. September 1, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    My most pressing question was after getting my first article published (the magazine folded right after it’s premiere issue). The editor had impressed upon me that it must be third person or it couldn’t be used. I worked hard (third person is not easy for me) on the piece. When the piece published, it was all third person until the last paragraph, where the editor inserted some information in second person. To this day I wonder: What will an editor think? Will they know that it was an editor comment or perceive it as me not being a very good writer? Should I use the piece as a clip?

  42. 42 Dawn Herring September 1, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    My main concern when I first began to write more seriously was the question: Is this God’s will for me? Did He want me to spend so much time on writing? I went through a period of several months pondering this issue and even cut out the extra writing I was doing outside of journaling every day. I found rather quickly I was miserable when I wasn’t writing. I had too many things running around in my head not to write about them. I also had a seed to a novel I had started and felt it was something I needed to pursue.
    I was relieved after I made the decision to make my writing a priority in addition to managing our electrical contracting office. The process gave me such a sense of purpose;I was motivated to continue on in my writing pursuits.

  43. 43 Writing Nag September 1, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    My biggest fears when I started writing were pretty common ones…am I good enough? do I have what it takes to deal with rejections? Can I do this long term? I still ask myself the same questions many years into a writing life, but now I have a little more confidence. I know it’s all about keeping the passion and being persistent.

  44. 44 katie (dundee writer) September 1, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Hi, I am a newbie. A major newbie. Really, just a wanna-be at this point.

    My biggest nagging worry is related to the “taking the leap” step of writing: finding sources willing to publish never-before-published writers; dealing with rejection (especially after so much hard work!); wondering if I have a unique enough voice; and, the biggie–with two other part-time jobs and a family to raise, am I going to ever devote the time to writing that I’d like to in order to make progress towards my goals?

    Thanks, Christina, for the chance for discussion and the opportunity to vent my fears!

  45. 45 Janel September 1, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Getting the confidence to actually send a query has been my biggest obstacle. Am I good enough? Will editors really like my work? Am I writing the query correctly?

    Now that I am comfortable with my non-fiction work I want to try my hand at fiction. Writing fiction has been my dream since I was in fifth grade, but sending my work out is causing all of the familiar butterflies and insecurities to resurface. I just need to worry less and write more!

  46. 46 Maribeth September 1, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    As a beginning writer, I worried about credentials. My most nagging burning question was How do I build a resume of published material when I am new to the game. After two courses and many critiques, I just finished my first middle-grade novel. I have built up my resume but now I find I have a new question-Should I try and break in without an agent or find one? I have heard that children’s authors don’t necessarily need an agent. Each new day brings a new question.

  47. 47 L'Tanya September 1, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    My question is when it comes to submitting to a list of regional publications, how often is too often? I have a list of email addresses to regional parenting publications. If I get into the rhythm of writing an article a week, should I submit with the same frequency?

  48. 48 Beth September 1, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    My most nagging, worrisome question about becoming a writer? When do I find time to actually write! That’s my biggest problem by far!! Take one full-time job, three full-time kids, one full-time husband, a mother-in-law living under the same roof, and add in a small business, too: when would you write?? It makes me tired just writing it all down!

    Can’t wait for this month of giveaways – fun!!

  49. 49 writethejourney September 1, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    I’m seeing a pattern here. My nagging worry as a new writer is this: Am I good enough? Do I have the vocabulary? the fresh, publishable ideas? the ability to tell a story compellingly? That’s the big one. And a splinter worry: if I CAN do it, does that necessarily mean that I’ll have the fortitude to continue, year after year?

    Looking forward to this year’s giveaway, Christina!

  50. 50 Brianne September 1, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    I am a beginning writer, and the question that nags me the most is: Do I really have what it takes to make a career out of writing? There are so many people that dream of having a career as a writer, and I sometimes worry that I’m on the bottom of the pile. It’s especially worrisome in these tough economic times, since there is more competition to find work.

  51. 51 anna September 1, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    As I begin to enter the published world and try to launch my own writing career, my biggest question is how to know if I’m a publish-worthy writer [i.e. if I am worthwhile enough as a writer to put stuff out there]. Should I just write for myself, as I can’t help but do so, or should I put it out for others to see? . . .

  52. 52 Christina September 1, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Certainly, time to write, juggling children, financial considerations, and audience are near the top of my list.

    But for me, deep down, the most nagging thing about being a newer writer is my purpose. What is my purpose as a writer? Is it to share my creative non-fiction pieces of relationships to help another woman out there in her own? Is it to put another beautiful children’s book on the shelf at the library for generations to come? Or is it to further explore myself, to express my artistic side?

    For me, finding my deeper purpose in writing is what nags me most. But, I admit, I enjoy this tug of emotions, because the constant conversation provides me with energy, material and the desire to tighten my craft.


  53. 53 Liz September 1, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    I agree with the 50 people who submitted comments before me…my concerns are about making money, about having great ideas and about also having the gumption to keep going. But, my biggest worry is that if I don’t put words on the page and submit them, I’ll forever regret it. So, onward I go!

  54. 54 Laura September 1, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    I have been writing for years, more off than on, but the burning desire has been there since childhood. My biggest fear, the quavering thought that keeps me from getting my backside into that chair in my ‘writing corner’ is this: Is what I am writing good enough for others to read, or is it just mindless drivel that only I find interesting? I have one single published article, (framed above my desk), and yet I still doubt. This is also the reason that I have trouble finishing anything longer than an article. I have no less than four book beginnings sitting in a file on my desk. Despite all this, I cannot give this up, I cannot stop. The desire, the need to write is too insistant.

  55. 55 Janet September 1, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    My most nagging question as a beginning writer is how to find the right publisher to send my stories to. They all list their specific guidelines and rules and types of books they publish,but it is still hard to find that publisher that will like your story. Then when you think you’ve found the right one, you read where they don’t accept unagented material!

  56. 56 Sarah @ Baby Steps September 1, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    As a mom of a 2 year old and a 1 year old, it can be difficult (but not impossible) to set aside time to write every day. This definitely makes it a difficult to have a writing career. However, finding writing time is not my biggest worry. I think what holds me back the most is the fear that I am not a good enough writer – the ever-nagging question, “Am I good enough?” pops up far too often, and threatens me with the thought that I might not be good enough to actually make a sustainable living as a writer. However, I must say that I have been working hard and am now starting to reap the benefits. And with each step forward that I take, the question becomes a little further away.

    Thanks for the giveaway, Christina! Two things that I love about the giveaway is how much I can learn from the daily questions and how many wonderful people I get to know through their answers.

  57. 57 Julie S September 1, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Am I good enough?

    That one question covers it all. Is my writing good enough, is my research good enough, is my grammar good enough, am I good enough? ACK!

    I finally realized that I just need to write. Write, write, write and let my successes and failures teach me how to become a better writer. I view each article and each interview as another stair on the steps to being better at my craft.

    One thing is for sure, if I don’t write and submit, I will never be good enough!

  58. 58 Rene Eyerly September 1, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    As a writer who is now attempting to share my work with others, rather than practice the craft privately, the concern that looms largest for me is whether I have anything to say that others want to read. Or, probably more accurately, can I communicate it, and market it, in a way in which others make a connection and are interested? Some days I feel really confident about it, and on other ones Doubt wins the argument. Then I resort to compromise with myself, and consider concentrating on topics that are ‘hot’ right now, and that I happen to know a thing or two about, but don’t get me to the keyboard. So I dissipate a lot of good, creative energy in a silly, non-productive way until I regain my compass. My work for myself right now is to focus on my topic, stay confident, and put the distractions in the parking lot where they belong.

  59. 59 Jody September 1, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    For me, it is all about baby steps. I have not written a single thing for publication, but inside my head are a million (okay, slight exaggeration) ideas. As my daughter gets older (she is 5, but already finishing my sentences and correcting my use of plurals,) I want to pour myself into writing and making at least a little money. Many times, others have said that I should write a book, and I love the expression of the sould that writing can bring. I would love to have my daughter grow up around great writings, books of love and language. My worry is similar to others, and the first step, although I consider it a baby step, is actually a giant leap of faith that I won’t absolutely bomb at it. That and the fact that I may actually enjoy writing so much that I forget that I have a husband, too!

  60. 60 Cathy Welch September 1, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    I don’t know if I have as much a question as a conundrum. I could be moving along so much faster if I didn’t have to work my full-time job and keep volunteering and all of life’s other responsibilities. If I could just quit my job and not worry about paying those college bills or buying food, I could be so much further along in the process.

    I guess if I had a question, it would be “What is my goal? When will I know it’s time to quit my salaried job? When I sell my first $500+ article? When I am making regular income?” I’m beginning to make progress with making connections and getting work out there. Momentum is happening.

    Oh,and Christina, I love Writer Mama! I bought “Building Your Platform….” first and couldn’t figure out why I would benefit from reading “Writer Mama” as was suggested by a fellow forum-ite on Writers Digest Forum. It took me a few months, but I finally did buy it and am on Chapter 11. It is the most pertinent, really-holding-your-hand manual I have ever read on the business of writing. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Take Care, Cathy

  61. 61 Execumama September 1, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    Great question, by the way!
    My most nagging question to myself as a writer is when is my writing productive vs. rambling on. I’m not a new writer, BUT I am new in the sense of being paid in money (as opposed to accolades — LOL) for my work. I’m working on my second book, and I sometimes feel like scrapping the last 10 or so pages for fear that they, well…suck! *Sigh*

  62. 62 Karrie September 1, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    All the pesky details were the biggest worry for me as I began and still are as I am beginning one year later. Query letters (a query? a question?), writers’ market books, marketing, and now all the social networking make my head spin.

    But then much of that comes down to what others have also said in these multiple posts. Am I good enough?

    Facing that question comes back to learning and growing one day at a time. I know I’m good enough for that. I just need to show up for the writing like I show up for my day job. Because it is my day job and then some.

  63. 63 Jennifer September 1, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    My nagging question as a beginning writer is and has always been: where do I start? With every new challenge, there is always that gripping sense of overwhelm, and then, after an agonizing wait, the lightbulb goes off. Suddenly I can see what I have to do and I get to work. I still go through this every single day (or night, after everyone’s asleep, I should say) as I sit down to write. “Where do I start?” Ugh. Agonizing, I tell you. And then, on the lucky days, I get back into my grove and the words come. Phew.

  64. 64 Kristin Berger September 1, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    A nagging worry I had when I first started out, more than 20 years ago, was will I ever have enough time to get it all down, and then, will anyone ever want to read it besides my mother and my lover…. well, I’ve never solved that first one. There just ain’t enough time. But by putting my writing out there, time and time again, I have found that it finds its home, a tribe of readers. Money or no. So I keep on.

  65. 65 karen k September 1, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    There is a voice in my head that still wonders if my writing can cut the mustard; I am still working on quieting that little nag. Things always seem to work out, but I am always curious what the opinion is of my most local audience–is it good enough? What will they think?

  66. 66 Kristy Lund September 1, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    When writing personal essays, I often wonder if I’m “exploiting” my family for my writing career. But I try to think about other authors who touched me with their honesty, and that keeps me going. I don’t write anything I think my kids would disown me over once they can read though. 🙂

  67. 67 chloe September 2, 2009 at 12:00 am

    The most difficult part of being a writer for me, who is an unpublished writer, is the surrendering. The giving up of this world for the one that exist in my head my being. Giving up the outside world, walking to the chair, sitting, the first few words, maybe even on a bad day the first hundred words.

  68. 69 Mar Junge, c3PR September 2, 2009 at 2:29 am

    It took me three years to join my first fiction writing class. I knew some of the writers and was worried that i was not good enough. I had been writing marketing content for a decade. But fiction? And entirely different animal. What I learned is that everyone has some level of talent. And no matter how long you’ve been writing, there’s always room for improvement. I also learned that in this field, it doesn’t matter how many years you’ve invested. You can write forever and never be famous. Or you can write your first novel and have it be a blockbuster. But if you don’t try, you’ll never know.

  1. 1 Day One: And the Winner is… « The Writer Mama Riffs Trackback on September 2, 2009 at 4:58 am
  2. 2 The 2009 Giveaway List: The Writer Mama Back-To-School Giveaway Starts Tuesday, September 1st! « The Writer Mama Riffs Trackback on September 7, 2009 at 8:49 am
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