By Thonie Hevron

I know I said I’d be back on September 6th but I couldn’t help myself. Sundays are Hal Collier’s days and now that I’m back from a relaxing vacation, I have things to share.

My hubby, Mr. H and I traveled to Oregon, Washington, and Canada over a span of ten days. Most of the driving was done by my cousin’s husband, John. Mr. H sat in front in the man’s shotgun position while my cousin and life-long friend, Sandie, sat in back with me.

Cousin Sandie has raised her kids and is now at a point where she must either write or not. I was in the same position several years ago and remember considering the dark abyss of authorship, so I felt qualified to help when she asked for my guidance.

We sat in the car as Oregon clear-cut, re-grown forests whizzed by. Every now and then, between thoughts, I’d sneak a look at the gorgeous landscape. But my focus was on the beginnings of writing.

Where to start? After listening to Sandie’s ideas for five books, we talked of priorities, which project would be her first. She settled on a non-fiction mentoring story centering on women. Hm. Non-fiction. I have limited experience with it. But I scoured my brain and recalled the first steps for non-fiction work. She’s a plotter so she agreed she should start with an outline. Good, I said. An agent or publisher will want an outline anyway.

Then a manuscript. Write the book. Not so easy as it sounds but Sandie has been writing for Redding, California’s ENJOY magazine for years. She’s used to word counts and deadlines. She’s mulled over this book for years and is comfortable with the content and formatting.

The third thing I suggested was to educate herself. How?

Join a writer’s club, a critique group, take a creative writing class. Read blogs about writing, learn about platform (she has a head start with her magazine articles) but more of that will come later. We talked about blog articles, websites, agents and publishers.

Cousins
Cousins at Discovery Bay, Port Townsend, Wa

As excited as I was about this conversation, I had to rein in my enthusiasm. I didn’t want to overwhelm this burgeoning author. In answering her questions, I offered her my solutions to the same problems or told her we’d talk about that when it was time.

But for now, she has a plan. It starts with “little bites.” Little bites are easier to chew and digest. Somehow it became less scary.

Yesterday, she began with one of my suggestions: Announce your plan to write “project X”. Your friends and family will hold you accountable without trying. “How’s the book coming?” “Where can I buy your book?” “What’s the name of the book?” All these little conversational questions boost a writer’s inspiration to get the job done.

She’s starting with little bites of accountability.