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Hey everyone. Stay tuned to the end of the interview where I’ll give you some actionable insights that I learned from my guest. These insights are also in the show notes. As always, thanks for listening.
Now on to my guest for today, Alyssa Colton, a freelance writer, editor, and book coach. Alyssa also writes the show notes for this podcast, and for our 200th episode, I wanted to have her on to talk about what she's learned from working on the show.
Alyssa always knew she wanted to be a writer. Her first love is for writing fiction; she's completed two contemporary novels and a novel based on the life of Queen Anne. Her challenge has been how to make a living at it. She studied English as an undergraduate, worked in publishing for a few years, then went to graduate school, eventually earning a PhD. She realized as she was finishing up her degree that full-time academic jobs were hard to come by. At the time, she was also married with a baby. Her husband was an entrepreneur and owned his own store, and she helped him by taking on bookkeeping and paperwork tasks. After working in various part-time and temporary roles teaching writing and literature, Alyssa moved to writing and editing work in governmental communications and at a nonprofit association. All along the way, she's been writing and taking on freelance work in both writing and editing, learning about marketing and growing as an entrepreneur.
As might be expected, Alyssa has especially liked listening to the shows that feature writers, citing Joanna Penn as being one of her favorites. That early interview with Joanna was the first time she'd heard the term "authorpreneur" and it has made her rethink the longstanding tradition of having to have your work vetted by an agent and publisher. She's also been fascinated by the stories of entrepreneurs who have found interesting problems and are trying to solve them.
In this show Alyssa and I talked about the challenges and parallels of entrepreneurs and authors, and how some of the same skills and attitudes can be invaluable for both.
Now, let’s get better together.
Some of Alyssa's recommendations about writing include:
- Don't feel you have to know exactly what you want to say before you write. Many people figure out what they are trying to say through the writing. The organization of your ideas can come later.
- Similarly, don't feel like you have to start at the beginning when you start. Just start by brainstorming and writing down ideas as they come to you. Most writers rewrite their beginnings, because it is so crucial to getting the reader interested.
- Good writing is about connecting with your reader. One key tool for making a connection is being specific and using sensory details when describing events. Another tool writers use is to get input from readers and/or editors to help them see where their blind spots are.