So You Wanna Be a Writer?

Pencil writing Once Upon a time

What were your goals when you started writing?

. . . To prevent my brain from turning into mush . . .

I chose to stay home with my baby before going back to teaching. When conversing with my husband each evening, I discovered our discussions consisted of how many diapers I had changed; I knew I needed creative stimulation.

What are your goals now?

I write what inspires me; what I must. When an idea/character/subject takes over my thinking, wondering, and even appears in my nightly dreams, I know I must release this in writing. My only goal is to reach that special zone within writing, where you feel as though you are partly in this world while immersed in another.

• What pays the bills now?

A combination of my writing, speaking at schools, and my husband’s income.

Assuming writing doesn’t pay the bills, what motivates you to keep writing?

Writing feeds my soul. It keeps me sane. I can’t not write. A famous question in writers’ circles asks this: Would you write if you knew you’d never publish again? My answer is yes. I have to write. It’s part of my spirituality.

What advice would you give young authors hoping to make a career out of writing?

If you can’t make enough money to exist with only writing, know that you can combine incomes through speaking, teaching and royalty checks to give you a good side income. Although many writers I know haven’t given up their day jobs, they treasure their writing life, no matter if it’s done in the wee hours of the morning or their weekends off.

Look as writing as a supreme gift. Be thankful every day. May you rejoice in the pleasures of your writing journeys!

Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff is the author of nine books, including a Writer’s Digest Selection for The ABCs of Writing for Children.  Her tenth, an adult memoir, The Missing Kennedy, (Bancroft Press) will be out next year.  A former Byline Magazine “Writing for Children” columnist, Liz wrote frequent humor pieces for the San Francisco Examiner as well as hundreds of articles and essays in newspapers and magazines such as Parents Magazine, Writer’s Digest, and Parenting. Visit her writing-themed blog at, lizbooks.com.

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2 Responses to “So You Wanna Be a Writer?”

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