Using Writing and Creativity to Heal from Abuse

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The emotions that victims of abuse experience are complicated, painful, and take many people years to heal from. Part of what makes them so difficult to process is that abuse isolates people. Even when victims consciously recognize that the abuse wasn't their fault, the trauma of the assault can make them feel ashamed and powerless. Many victims don't want to talk to other people about what they went through, at least not right away, because telling another person can be like reliving the experience, and can make them feel even more vulnerable. Through writing, victims can create a safe space for themselves that is free from judgment. It can help them find clarity in their trauma, release their emotions, and process ways to move forward. Writing, along with other creative activities, are ways to exert agency and control. They give life meaning when life seems meaningless and cruel. 

Sexual assault is defined as any type of unwanted sexual contact through words or actions of a sexual nature against a person’s will without their consent. It occurs in every community, regardless of sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, or age.

1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the United States have experienced rape or attempted rape sometime in their life.

1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men experience sexual violence victimization other than rape at some point in their lifetimes.

74% of adolescents who have been sexually assaulted were victimized by someone they knew well (one fifth of these assaults were committed by a family member).

Beginning in the 1990s, Sexual Assault Awareness Month has given organizations such as the National Sexual Violence Resource Center the opportunity to create resources on sexual assault prevention. Their 2016 campaign focused on the “building blocks of prevention by communicating how individuals, communities, and the private sectors can take action to promote safety, respect, and equality.” Their website is full of resources for survivors, advocates, and educators. 

While the alertness and promotion of prevention of sexual abuse is a concern that seems to have always been around, recently, campaigns such as It’s On Us and performances by stars like Lady Gaga, have brought sexual assault awareness into the spotlight.

http://itsonus.org/#videos

Wise Ink has turned to two of our authors who have used their writing and creativity to help them heal from sexual abuse.

Rae Luskin

“Child sexual abuse is a hidden topic surrounded by shame and secrecy. This silent epidemic happens in the poorest communities and the most affluent neighborhoods. It is time we brought it into the light. It is not a victim’s problem, or a family problem, it is our problem. It is my intention to create awareness through sharing my story, my personal artwork, and the creative tools that moved me from survivor to thriver. I want victims to know they are not alone. There is hope.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXA8kx-GRkw

Rae is a leader in using creative expression to nurture self-worth, resilience, healing and social change. After suffering from the long term consequences of child sexual abuse, she has spent the last fifteen years teaching children and families how to use creativity to improve their health, relationships, and self esteem. Her book, The Creative Activist is an inspirational tool containing 36 stories from people who have embraced their personal power and creative gifts to create a change in the world around them.

Her book can be purchased on amazon

Naomi Ardea

“Writing reawakened and strengthened my connection to my inner voice, which is so vital for guiding me in healing from trauma. I write and release the secrecy, shame, and self-blame of sexual abuse. It’s a way to listen to myself with compassion, validating that my experiences and ongoing pain deserve time and space to be heard. And often, the emotional turmoil then eases. In our society, the impacts of sexual trauma and the details of survivors’ healing journeys still largely remain invisible. One of my goals as a writer is to bring these details out into the open, to educate the public and give hope to survivors.”

https://www.facebook.com/survivorselfcare/

Naomi Ardea is an artist, massage therapist, and early childhood teacher. Her book The Art of Healing from Sexual Trauma: Tending Body and Soul Through Creativity, Nature, and Intuition won the 2017 IPPY Award and also was a Midwest Book Award Finalist. It is available through amazon. 

Learn more at: www.naomiardea.com


 

If you or anyone you know are a victim of sexual assault, seek assistance at your local sexual assault center or call 1-800-656-4673 or visit www.nsvrc.org.

 

The Pros and Cons of Crowdfunding Your Book

Kickstarter and other crowdfunding services have started to gain in popularity in the last few years. As authors the question you are faced with is should you crowdfund your project? If the answer is yes, then that brings with it even more questions.

There are many pros to using crowd funding to help make a writing dream a reality, but there are also some con to consider as well. Listed here are just a few things to get you thinking about crowd funding and if it is the right thing for you and your project.

PROS

* Can help you gain a wider audience than you might reach otherwise.

* Gives you a financial boost so the project doesn’t take as much out of your own pocket

* You can add “extras” to your marketing campaign for people who donate

* You are able to sell directly to those that donate so more profit for you with book sales

CONS

* It is hard to stay relevant on sites where hundreds of projects get posted everyday

* Each platform will take a percentage of what you make as a fee

* The extras you might make to give to donors cost money and cut into our budget

* It is a serious time commitment to promote the project and maintain people’s attention

Each platform is a little different just like each author, so finding the right one can make all the difference in your success if using a crowdfunding service. We hope that this advice is helpful and gives you a place to start when thinking about the different funding options for your project.

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6 Questions to Ask Before Recording an Audiobook

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Audiobooks are starting to grow in popularity and authors are faced with the decision of making their books available as audiobooks. There are several things that need to be thought about and decided on before giving the go ahead for an audiobook. The first thing that is most important to most authors is the cost of making an audiobook. The most popular way of making an audiobook is using Amazon’s Audiobook Creation Exchange. The cost of each hour of recording is $200 so a finished book can be upwards of $2,000, depending on how long the book is. Aside from the cost of the audiobook here are a few other things to think of when contemplating the audiobook decision.

* Do your readers and target audience listen to audiobooks on a regular basis?

Ask around on social media get a feeling from their responses on how well received an audio version of your book will be.

* What is the genre of your book?

Personal stories such as memoirs and biographies tend to go over better as audio books than fantasy or fiction.

* Is there a performance element to your book?

If your book has special characterizations that can develop a character better in an audio version, it may be something to consider.

* Can you add an extra feature to the audiobook version to make it more of a draw?

Extras could be an Interview with you the author, a soundtrack of songs that inspired your writing or fit the books theme, or other additional audios bits.

* Do you listen to audiobooks yourself?

If the answer is no, then it is probably best to skip an audio version of your book.

* Are you willing to do extra promotion for the audiobook?

Think of what time you have available and is you can fit in more promotional time without feeling overburdened.

There are many more things that may come up as you are working through the process of deciding on making an audiobook but hopefully these questions will help make the decision a little easier for you when it does come up.

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Why Writers Need to Leave the Desk

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Plenty of tips abound throughout the glorious internet on how to write the best of the best. The articles helping you get rid of commas, adverbs, and wordiness. Most of these tips, and rightfully so, are meant to be used as you type away on your laptop—at your desk.

No one denies the necessity of just sitting down, giving time to your writing, and embracing the struggle of actually putting words on paper. But what happens when you get yourself in the chair . . . and your writing remains dry as stale bread? Is this writer’s block?

In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott’s exceptional book on writing, she redefines writer’s block. Instead of writer’s block stopping up something that’s already there, she calls it a sign that you are empty of inspiration. You might (read: definitely) need to fill yourself up with new experiences. You need to constantly explore life to bring real breath to your novel, poem, memoir, or anything else containing your words.

Contrary to popular belief, most writers are not lonely hermits whose only friends are a bottle of Bourbon and a clunking typewriter. Many favorites, including Ernest Hemingway, Flannery O'Connor, and Barbara Kingsolver quite literally got their hands dirty by getting out and living a little.

It makes sense. No matter what you write, all good works have a breath of life, containing people and places that should feel real and tangible to readers. If you don’t know how your characters laugh, shake hands, dance, or cross the street, how can you convince your readers to believe they exist? When writing about a gardener, you should put your own hands in the dirt.

To put it simply, you should live away from your writing desk as much as possible.

All writers need breaks from staring at white pages, and you might be tempted to spend that much-needed away time with that book you’ve been meaning to read.

Stop.

Don’t even pick it up.

You must read well to write well, but Steinbeck and Dickens cannot get you there all on their own. Writers have to know how real people talk, how real people react, and what goes on in the world beyond their desk.

To speak any language well, learners must actually speak it. When learning French, you might start out at your kitchen table, surrounded by verbs and scribblings of phonetic pronunciations. But no matter how much you practice ordering a crêpe in the mirror, you still need to do it for real. You could speak French without ever encountering another French-speaker, but something would be missing, and your words would be a little more broken.

But what about the things you want to write about but cannot experience? Did C.S. Lewis converse with lions before writing Narnia? Did George R. R. Martin witness a Dragon Queen strutting down the main street of his hometown? While we never want to deny the existence of magic, it’s pretty safe to say that these ideas came straight from the imagination.

Balance is key. Your imagination is a great place to draw from, to be sure, but Martin needed to see wings flap to describe his dragons, and Lewis needed to see the lamppost before creating Narnia.

So what are you waiting for? Never let yourself feel chained to that desk. Get out, live a little, but once you’ve been filled with a whole boatload of life experience, always remember to come back and bring it to the page.

5 Things I Learned While Writing a Memoir That You Can Apply to Your Daily Life

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Wise Ink author Jake Widmann's memoir, Up, is coming out this Fall, and we cannot wait to share this incredible memoir with all of you! We asked him to tell us five things he learned while writing his memoir that people could apply to their daily lives, and the result is this lovely post offering inspiration to any of you who are struggling with writing your story. For more information about Jake Widmann and his book, visit Sologood.co.

COMMITMENT IS KING

I wish that I would have kept track of all of the things I have started over the years. Notice how I conveniently left out words like, completed, finished, finalized, and concluded. I was the Idea-master, the King of beginning, the Sultan of starting, the Emperor of initiation . . . you get the point. However, I was also the epitome of the consequences of S.O.S. – Shiny Object Syndrome.

Whether it was internet businesses on eBay, or craigslist, the front yard lemonade stand, wood projects in my dad and step-dads shop, a painting I became bored with, a blog I wanted to start, or perhaps, a book I wanted to write I started everything, and finished nothing.

UP began as a conversation with my wife while lying in bed late one night. I have a deep need to leave a positive impact and influence, and to feel like my life is significant in the eyes of others. This is part of the reason I stopped and started so many other things—my eyes were also looking for other opportunities in which I could create something that would have a larger impact. The problem with that is that impact isn’t found in starting, it’s found in committing and building something people want or need.

From that conversation came the idea of writing a book, tossed out by my wife. I gave excuse after excuse why I didn’t, couldn’t, and shouldn’t write a book. To give credit to my superiority as a starter, I did begin writing that next morning. I woke up at five a.m., made some coffee and scribbled down seven pages into my newly designated, “book” notebook. I woke up and did the same thing the next morning, and the morning after that, and the morning after that, and the morning after that until I had a rough draft consisting of 276 pages of absolute trash, honestly—more on that in the next section.

Seriously, it was awful, but nothing else mattered because I had the pure joy of having committed to something for so many days consistently without stopping to whine and say, “Wahhhh, no one is noticing my hard work yet. No one is being impacted by me sitting here writing this book.” Every morning I put the darn pen to the paper and scribbled away until my hand was about to fall off, and the pages were covered in a smear of ink from my left-handedness. Then, I the cramping from my hand and wrote a few more pages until had to close the notebook and head to work, or bed.

How this can benefit you: Find something that mildly excites you, something that you’ve been putting off for a while or once started but put down, something that will require hard work and time, and/or something that you think could be scaled and be turned into a sustainable model for a business, non-profit, organization, club, or otherwise and start working on it in your free time. Explore your brain a little bit and find where the part is that is attracted to new and exciting ideas, you know, the part that is responsible for every other half-finished, barely started, just begun, and almost done project. Then smash that region of your brain to pieces and get to work.

EVERYTHING IS TRASH . . . IN THE BEGINNING

Do you remember a few paragraphs back when I said that after finishing writing my initial draft I had “276 pages of absolute trash.”? That’s exactly what it was. No one, not even me, would have wanted to read it. It was a boring chronological ordering of my life from the first memory I could recall until that present moment when I finished writing it. It was told as a matter of fact basis, like the local radio guy who reads the price animal feed and livestock are currently fetching in the market. It was awful, but I was okay with it, because as I mentioned, the pride and joy that I overflowed with for just having written 276 pages of trash was enough for me—in that moment.

Wherein lies the beauty is in your commitment to take that original thing and turn it into something that expresses the fullness of your capabilities as they currently are. I say, “as they currently are,” because if you’re living life the way that I and many others do—by always progressing, then this thing that you’re creating would never be finished, because you’d always be growing, thus, expanding the capabilities for this thing to improve infinitely, and sorry to break it to you, life isn’t infinite.

Start by accepting the fact that what you’re creating will undoubtedly suck more than you want it to. The fact that you can detect and sense this subpar quality is clear proof that you have the potential within you to make it better. You can envision it being better than it currently is, but you don’t have the skills to take it there yet. Ira Glass has a quote that sums this up PERFECTLY. It’s too long to share here, so I’ll let you click the link if you want to read it, which I highly recommend.

How this can benefit you: The thing that often holds people back from starting is that they don’t yet have the skills they need to do what they want. Well, if you refuse to start the thing that is going to slowly afford you the skills you need to actually be good, than you’ll never become good at it. Talk about a catch twenty-two. Start the thing with the skills, knowledge and abilities you have. You’ll learn everything you need along the way, if only you’ll be patient enough to get there.

SURROUND YOURSELF WITH AN ARMY OF SUPPORTERS

This advice isn’t just for someone writing a book, building a brand, starting a coffee shop, or really . . . creating anything. This is advice for everyone.

“You get supporters, and you get supporters, everyone gets supporters!” No? Okay.

I don’t know when friendship devolved into being a person who only ever makes you feel good, instead of occasionally helping you face your hard truths, but those are not the kind of friends I want. If I’m being a jerk, I want my friends to tell me. If I am traveling down a path different from the one they know I want to be on, I want them to stop me. If I am dealing with some serious adversity, I want them to be there for me in whatever way they can be. I don’t need friends in my circle who are going to blindly follow what I say and do. I don’t need people in my circle who will gladly take me out to the bars when I SO OBVIOUSLY have a severe problem and am in a lot of pain.

This is not to say that anyone who does these “feel good” things are bad people. Rather, I am pointing out the fact that we, society as a whole, need to demand more from our friendships, but first, we need to demand more of ourselves—both as people and as a friends.

Jim Rohn says, “You’re the average of the people you spend the most time with.” If you’re happy right where you are and you are not looking to grow anymore in life this is not for you. However, if you know there is more out there for your life, and you generally know what that unique more you’re looking for is, then you need to begin finding and surrounding yourself with the people who’re going to help you obtain it. Enough with these subpar, fair weather friends. The more that you want from your life is undoubtedly worth the sacrifices you’ll have to make to get there.

How this can benefit you: Join social media groups that you’re interested in. There is essentially something out there for any possible interest a human could ever come up with. The people in those groups are inherently into the same thing you are, and as such, will make befriending them all the more easier. Get over your introvertedness and make some new friends—ones who will help you, guide you and give you all of the support you need to get where you want to be.

YOUR STORY CAN CHANGE THE WORLD

Why we don’t stress enough the importance of sharing our individual stories is up to me. Fortunately, I think, dare I say it, the millennials have done a good job on this matter with their perceived oversharing of information online. Storytelling is an as old of an art as literally anything. Cave paintings, storytelling. The bible, storytelling. Ancient cultures thrived on storytelling to pass down important information about weather, dangerous animals, enemies, and unexplained phenomena.

Think about the shows and social media personalities you follow today. Every single one of them is in some way telling a story. One of my favorite shows, America’s Got Talent, is one of the best outlets to see the true power of not only storytelling, but that of a person’s (or group of people) own story. You want goosebumps, tears, emotions of joy, happiness, sadness, empathy and countless more, watch one episode of America’s Got Talent and you’ll experience what I do every Tuesday at 7PM CST/8PM EST.

Yet, somehow when we encounter difficult times, have a hardship, or just need someone to talk to we think that our problems and challenges are so unique that no one will be able to help us. I’d like to add, whether or not they can help us doesn’t so much matter. What does matter is their ability to listen, to empathize, and possibly, to be able to say to you one of the most powerful phrases known to humans, “You are not alone.” There is infinite power in knowing that you’re not alone. And at a time when suicides are a hot topic in current events, I think we could all use the added encouragement that accompanies the feeling of no longer feeling alone.

I get that it’s not easy. I believe you when you tell me that you’ve had a difficult life. I understand the challenges of opening up and being vulnerable. However, I also understand the profound freedom that comes with sharing your story with a person, with a group of people, on social media for the entirety of the world to potentially see. None of this is easy, or I would assert, meant to feel good initially. Growth doesn’t happen in the comforts of your own made up world in your head. Growth happens when you do something new, when you challenge yourself, and when you allow others to look at you as you truly are, instead of as this pristine, unflawed, being, of which none of us are.

How can this benefit you: Start by opening up to one person whom you know to be someone you can trust. If you’ve already done that, or you want the added challenge, take to social media and share an element of your story in a way that highlights something you’ve learned from a challenge in your past. Continue sharing personal stories like these and you’ll be surprised how many people relate to the very things that you thought made you unique. Enjoy how good it feels to release these burdens, and better yet, to help others in the process.

LIFE IS LONG BUT IT GOES FAST

While writing those 276 pages I recounted roughly sixteen or seventeen years of my life. It’s a weird dichotomy to think about; that of each individual year, and the experiences that contained within them, and that of the timespan I covered in my writing, and the entirety of the lessons I’ve learned, the hardship I’ve endured, the memories I have, the growth I’ve experienced, and more. On one hand, there are these memories I was writing down from my childhood and they seemed as fresh as the one’s I had formed the day prior. On the other hand, some of those memories I would’ve thought were lost forever, but when you continue peeling back layer after layer of your life, the individual experiences that make it up are more often more formative than they appear, meaning, they affect us a lot more than we often think.

It’s in all of those individual memories that we’re able to revisit periods of time in which we were such a different version of our current selves. Important to realize is that every event which happened between the memories we’re recounting and present moment is what made us who we currently are. Every event, good and bad, makes up a small fraction of us as we exist currently. It’s in the times when we allow ourselves to just be and reflect that time slows down to a crawl, and we’re able to determine the path we’ve walked to get to where we are, and further, the path we’ll likely need to walk to get to where we want to be.

The journey of getting to where you want to be can be a painfully long and slow one, but even more painful and slower is to get to the end of your life and have to live with the unbearable regret of not having done the things you knew you should’ve done all along. When you do get to that period of your life, I hope that you’ll have eighty, ninety, a hundred years or more of life to revisit, and ultimately, that you’ll proudly be able to proclaim in the longest held, loudest Frank Sinatra-like voice to have ever said it, “I DID IT MY WAY!”

How can this benefit you: I don’t think this one needs a lot of explanation. Live your life in the way that only you were meant to. Embrace your individuality. Be proud of your uniqueness. Go do what makes you happy in the face of those who are too afraid, or not good enough, and let them know the truth.

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Eight Underrated Skills That'll Make You a Rockstar in the Book Industry

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So you’re thinking: writing a book, getting published, being a successful author—all easy so long as you’re a good writer and have the right hook ups, correct?

No, not necessarily. It’s easy to say “Just do it already!” It’s much harder to actually sit down and write. It’s much harder to put yourself out there and have your work picked up. It’s much harder to flourish as a published author. Being a killer author takes a few more qualities than innate good writing and luck—and if you can nail these eight qualities down, you are much more likely to succeed.

1.) Time Management Skills: If you’re an author or author-to-be, you know the battle well: sit down to write, have absolutely nothing to write about, dig deep into your soul for inspiration, give up and spend four hours on Buzzfeed and Netflix, return to work and write three crap sentences, call it a day. It’s rough. That’s why developing an author routine is so important. If you don’t plan out time to write, to respond to fans, to post on social media, etc., you just won’t do it. Time management is a pain, but it’s a necessary pain, and even simple things like downloading apps to keep you on track or buying a planner can help immensely.

2.) Listening Skills: You’re going to have people critiquing your work nonstop, from friends and family members to editors to readers of the final work. This can be extremely frustrating, but it can also be extremely helpful—especially the feedback that comes from fans of your work once it does get published. Don’t be too proud to listen to what your readers want. These small insights via email or letter or social media could be the key to your next character or plot. And the best way you can create meaningful connections with people is to listen to them and to respond. If people feel like you care, they’ll stay loyal to you and to your books.

3.) Fearlessness: Also known as your ability to take the plunge. How many potential authors could be knocking it out of the park right now if they could only build up the courage to send their work out? Too many. That’s the answer. Sending out something so personal can be terrifying, but it’s the only way to show it to the world.

4.) Ability to Take Criticism: As stated above, you will constantly get feedback about your work. This can be difficult, because this work is your life: you’ve put hours of love and hard work into each and every page. Your editor and publisher know this. They aren’t trying to tear you down by making suggestions about your characters and plot and title—they’re trying to make your wonderful book even better. This could have to do with best-selling trends or gaps in the story; it could have to do with marketing or cohesiveness. Either way, trust that the experts to whom you’ve entrusted your book will take care of your book. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t veto a decision you really don’t agree with; but make sure you have the conversation about why it was brought up before you do so. There’s a reason they’re in the business.

5.) Perseverance: Here’s the hard thing: you’re going to get rejected. Most likely enough times to seriously reconsider your choice of profession before you get a positive word back. This happens to everyone (if you don’t believe me, take a peek at the rough time these authors had). What sets best-selling authors apart isn’t a great story idea—it’s the determination to get that story out there. We know it’s much easier to give up than to continually put yourself out there even after you’ve been batted down countless times; but if you’ve got a story, you owe it to yourself to see that story through.

6.) Gratitude: This is huge, especially in an industry as tight-knit as the publishing industry. It can be easy to get caught up in the frenzy of getting everything done on time and the isolation of actually writing and the excitement of making progress. But in the midst of all the craziness, it’s important to remember to thank those who have helped you along, and we’re not just talking about giving a shout-out to your mom (although you should definitely do that too). A handwritten card or a thoughtful email to your editor or the guy who connected you to your eventual publisher or even an agent who took the time to give you feedback on your cover letter in your rejection email can go an awfully long way. Think about paying it forward to other authors to help them out just like someone helped you out. The industry can be thankless; be the bright spot, and you will be remembered.

7.) Passion: Also known as love for what you do. This is not a happy-go-lucky industry; if this was a throwaway idea, a “why not?” decision, you probably aren’t going to make it. Just like any other meaningful relationship, there will be hard times. There will be fights and second-guessing and disappointment. You will be forced to ask yourself: “Do I love this enough to keep going?” And your answer, no matter the pitfalls and obstacles, should always be a resounding “yes!”

8.) Belief in Yourself: This is easily the most important. As we’ve said, you will get shot down. You will run into obstacles. You will be critiqued and criticized and it will hurt. Don’t let these things get you down for too long. You have a story in you; you care enough to make that story into a beautiful, tangible thing. Believe in yourself! Believe that you can make it through, can see this thing to the end. If that’s hard for you, then believe us: we know you have it in you. If you didn’t, you never would have started.

Guest Post: How to Survive Quitting Your Day Job to Become a Writer

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By Michael Voss and Jennifer Rock

Nearly three years ago, we left our perfectly comfortable jobs in one of Minneapolis’s largest companies to take the ultimate leap: finishing our debut novel.

We’ll pause here and give you a chance to roll your eyes and question our sanity. That’s a fairly typical response. Unless you also happen to have an unfinished manuscript and a lifelong dream to be an author. That’s when you might ask, “How did you do it?”

The answer is that we didn’t actually ditch corporate America. Not the parts that helped us, anyway. Rather, we clung to some solid business principles and applied them to our writing careers.

If you’re thinking of making a similar leap from office spreadsheets to literary masterpiece, here are a few things we learned about how to stick the landing:

  • Mind your bottom line.

The twice-per-month paychecks stop coming. For real. Maybe you don’t do much around the office to begin with (hey, we’re not judging), but when you officially stop working, your employer will stop paying you. And probably ask you to leave. Few authors get rich off their books, so be sure you have plans to spackle the income gap between your old job and your future book royalties. After all, you’re going to need a kickin’ new outfit for your launch event.

  • Keep a schedule.

Yes, it’s one of greatest appeals of throwing off the corporate shackles: leaving the tyranny of overbooked daily schedules. But your newfound freedom also comes with a Pandora’s Box of potential distractions, and it can be so easy to waste away hours that should be spent at the keyboard. So it’s critical to retain the self-discipline you developed during your corporate captivity, and attack the completion of your book with all the zeal of a first-year intern trying to impress the new boss.

  • Be your own, best project manager.

OK, we’re on point three and you’re probably wondering when we get to all the fun and freedom associated with being an author. But we’re here to tell you not to ditch those spreadsheets, charts and obsessive notes just yet. Writing a book and managing your career as an author requires strategy and organization. You’re essentially running a business—sans the daylong budget meetings and restrictive dress code.  So, create those to-do lists and track those expenses as if it’s still a job requirement. (Wearing pants, however, is optional.)

  • Bolster your network.

The sheer relief of no longer having a boss peering over your shoulder has been known to cause bouts of dizzying euphoria. You’ll be so happy chasing your dream full-time—writing what you want, when you want, how you want—you may be tempted to hole up in your writing room until you feel every word is perfect. But your manuscript will require multiple rounds of input and revisions before it ever meets a printing press or electronic bookstore, so it’s good to get input from trusted experts—early and often. Smart people surround themselves with other smart people.

  • Stay strong.

People will surprise you. Close family members and dear friends will support your writing career, or course. But don’t be shocked when some decades-long colleagues no longer return your calls, emails or texts. Yet there are positive surprises, too. That shy guy you greeted in the tower elevator every morning? He might be the first one to pre-order your book. And that long-forgotten classmate, the one now running her own restaurant business? She just bought a copy for each member of her staff. Finding unexpected people in your corner can feel like a mini-miracle—and restore your faith in humanity.

Jennifer Rock and Michael Voss spent the better part of two decades careening through corporate America—and barely lived to write about it. As company journalists, speechwriters, and communication directors, they survived more than their share of boardroom brawls. Both live near Minneapolis where they work as speakers and consultants. They share their best stories during happy hour.

 B.S., Incorporated their first book, a humorous office fiction, is available here, and their second book, Operation Clusterpuck is coming out this fall.