Friday, October 5, 2012

World of Writing, interview

 -- World of Writing --

Today we have author, speaker and certified professional coach Rochelle Melander joining us for a World of Writing interview. She is the author of ten books, including the National Novel Writing Month guide—Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (and Live to Tell About It) Rochelle teaches professionals how to write good books fast, use writing to transform their lives, navigate the publishing world, and get published! For more tips and a complementary download of the first two chapters of Write-A-Thon, visit her online at

Q: Tell us something about yourself. 
I’m married (to a writer who is also sometimes my writing partner), and we have two children, ages 16 and 11. We also have two dogs. We live in a neighborhood in Milwaukee, WI (US) where we can walk to our favorite bookstore (Boswell Book Company), the local library, a few grocery stores, and Lake Michigan. My favorite part of working as a writer is teaching writing to tweens and teens at inner city libraries through my Dream Keeper Writing Program.

Q: Did you choose writing as a profession, or did it choose you
It chose me. I’ve been writing almost as long as I’ve been reading. I have boxes filled with my childhood stories and poems. But as a child I wanted a career in the theater. During junior high and high school, I acted with our local community college theater. I majored in theater in college and got experience in all areas of performance and production. After college, I went on to graduate school in theology and studied the liturgy, which sort of like theater. Throughout it all, I kept reading and writing. Despite careers in ministry, consulting, and coaching, writing kept calling me. After writing and submitting for several years, the writing became my career. Now I work both as a writer and a writing coach.

Q: What was your path to publication? 
Because I began writing professionally in graduate school, my first published articles were in academic journals. I then began to write for professional publications in my field. Slowly, that work grew into to a part time freelance writing career that included doing work for hire, editing a periodical and several books, writing freelance pieces, and writing nonfiction books in my field. After many years writing for small publishers, I got an agent and sold my book, Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It) to a major publisher.

Q: What are common mistakes writers make? 
I work with many writers as a teacher and writing coach. Many of my clients are beginning writers who want and expect immediate success. Here are some common mistakes writers make:
* They don’t read. The most successful authors read widely, especially in their own genre. That’s how they learn about writing and publishing. 
* They don’t get educated. Reading teaches us so much about writing. But we also need to get feedback from others. Go to conferences, take classes, learn how to be a better writer.
* They don’t revise. No book is ready to submit until it’s been through several revisions and at least one outside edit. Take your time . . . the book will be better in the end.
* They give up too soon. When some writers receive a few rejections, they give up. Don’t. Rejections are just information. A few good rejections can help writers revise and submit even better work. Don’t give up. Revise and try again.

Q: What are your greatest obstacles and motivators when it comes to writing?

Obstacles? I often claim that time is my main obstacle, but it isn’t really. When I make a commitment to write daily, I do it, no matter how much other work I need to complete. The real obstacle I must face, that all writers must face, is confidence in myself and my work. I tend to write the little stuff first, the work that pays the bills but that isn’t my passion. I save the important work for later, when I think I will have more time, more energy or more knowledge. But I am trying to do what I teach my clients to do: give their first and best hours of the day to their important projects no matter what. 

Great art moves and motivates me. Reading a wonderful book, visiting the art museum, or watching a play gives me the urge to create. I’m also inspired and motivated when I talk to other writers—that’s why working as a writing coach is so satisfying. It’s my job to connect with writers! Finally, exercise gives me a lot of energy and often motivates me to write. When I walk outside, I come up with amazing ideas for my work.

Q: What is your favorite memory in your career as a writer?
When I was pregnant with my first child, I met my favorite childhood writer, Madeleine L’Engle at a writing conference. My husband and I had just published our first book and were hard at work on our second. Spending several days hearing her talk about her writing path inspired me to keep moving forward.

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