So you want to be a writer


I often get emails from aspiring authors who ask me for advice about their dream of becoming a writer. First of all I want to go on record as stating that I am THRILLED to help and support aspiring writers, and I fully encourage anyone who has the dream of writing a book to do so, but…

I know there is always a but.

In order to be a writer you have to be willing to write.

Here is an example of a typical email chain:

Dear Ms. Daley,
I am an aspiring writer who hopes to publish my first cozy within the next year. Any tips you might have would be welcome.
Signed, Aspiring Author

My response:
Dear Aspiring Author,
The best advice I can give you as to how to become a published author is just to write. Set a goal as to when you would like to publish, divide the number of words you’d like the book to be by the number of days to your goal, and then commit to write an average of that number of words a day.
Best of luck, Kathi


Dear Ms. Daley,
I find that I can only write on the days I feel really inspired and most days I just don’t feel inspired. How do you do it?
Signed, Uninspired.

Dear Uninspired,
Trust me there are days my brain simply won’t function but if my goal is 5,000 words for the day I write 5,000 words for the day. Yes there are times I get up the next morning and delete everything I wrote the previous day because it is total crap, but write anyway. There are times that magic arises from the crap so write your words!!!
Pulling for you, Kathi


Dear Ms. Daley,
How do you handle writers block. What if you just aren’t sure where a story is going?
Signed, Blocked and Impotent

Dear Blocked,
As I have stated before JUST WRITE. This is an actual passage (text in red) from Hopscotch Homicide. I had no idea who the killer was or where to go next. I was stumped so I started out typing blah blah blah. Yes those actual words. Then I deleted them. I then began to ask myself some questions to try to work it out.

In the following passage I was really stuck so I just inserted Zoe and we worked it out together.

Who killed Mrs. Brown?

I looked at the question for several minutes without anything coming to mind.

Why was Mrs. Brown at the school the day she was murdered?

I tapped my pen on the pad at least a hundred times. Then I drew a happy face, as well as a few random squiggles.


Why was Mrs. Brown making a huge pot of hamburger gravy?

This last one should be solvable. There were most likely only limited answers. The correct answer might lead to the killer. Unless some random person happened along and killed Mrs. Brown on impulse, the killer had to have known she would be at the school that day. It seemed likely the person or persons she was making the gravy for would know she planned to use the school kitchen to make the large batch, ergo, the person the gravy was intended for was the killer.

Long shot? Maybe. But at this point it was all I had to go on.

The school wasn’t open yet, so the gravy couldn’t have been for the students. The freezer at the school was being replaced, so she didn’t intend to freeze it. I’d already checked with the church and the senior center. Neither were having a potluck. Who else, I asked myself, would need the quantity of gray slop Mrs. Brown had been preparing on the day she died?

Maybe a better question, given Mrs. Brown’s reputation, was who would ask her to contribute to a potluck in the first place?

I clicked my pen open and closed. I drew a series of random shapes on my tablet. I was really, really stuck.

I looked at Charlie. He glared at me. It was obvious he thought it was time for us to be in bed. And he was right. I was getting nowhere.

“Are you ready to go back up?” I asked Charlie.

He lifted his head and wagged his tail.

“I’m really losing my edge,” I complained. “Maybe I do have too much going on and there really isn’t room left in my brain for sleuthing.”

My actions became Zoe’s actions and between us we figured it out.
Pulling for you, Kathi


Dear Ms. Daley,
Where should I start?
Signed Confused.

Dear Confused,
Anywhere. Just start. You can always change it. I usually change it. Really, you just need to WRITE! Words. Everyday. If you write every day eventually you will have a novel.
Hugs, Kathi


Dear Ms. Daley,
I finished my novel. Now what?
Signed, Nervous

Dear Nervous,
First off CELEBRATE! You set a goal and you accomplished it. Whatever happens from this point forward no one can take that away from you. Published or not, you my friend are a writer. Once you have celebrated: submit, pray, love.
Signed, So proud of you.


I always try to respond to every comment but I am actually going to be out of town for three days beginning today so I probably won’t. I will read them all and there is a giveaway so please comment anyway. 🙂

Giveaway – Comment below to be entered to win a Halloween in Paradise Book and Mug.

IMG_1580  Halloween In Paradise Paperback


56 thoughts on “So you want to be a writer

  1. Elaine N Robinson says:

    I like your advice of setting a goal like 5,000 words. I find when I have writer’s block, it is time to find inspiration. I give myself a group of words and try to write a poem including those words. For stories, other writers have suggested the “what if” ,method. What if this happened or that happened. There are many exercises to help get the muse active.

  2. My favorite line this week “There are times that magic arises from the crap”
    The best writing advice I ever received, and you were clear about it also, is WRITE. If you do not write there is nothing to rewrite and no finished project is ever acomplished without rewrites.
    I like how you inserted your own brain works into Zoe’s thought process.

  3. Pingback: So you want to be a writer | kimberlygayheart

  4. Michelle Fidler says:

    I guess I missed the giveaway. I used to write when I was younger, in my teens and maybe early 20’s. Now I’m too high strung to do that. I had lots of ideas and even came up with pages of book or chapter titles (I like it when books have the chapters titled). I also had pages of names, getting some ideas from the telephone book, but of course not using the real names, just mixing them up. I had lots of snippets, both ideas and actual writing. I always wrote in long hand and would still have to, as I don’t have a computer at home. I think I did type up some things on a typewriter. I never completed a story, except for one I wrote for composition in college and I already had the idea and maybe part of the story. That was about the kidnapping of a potato chip king, D. J. Pringle, I think I called him. Yeah, I used the actual potato chip name.

    At least I can say I’m good at writing a snippet! If I ever wrote something it would be for fan fiction, maybe a teen/kids story with vampires and witches, but solving mysteries like in Scooby Doo. On fan fiction sites you can publish it for all to see, even if you never make a penny from it.

    I kept all my writing ideas as a mark of accomplishment and also kept all my diaries.

    • Elaine N Robinson says:

      That is great that you keep writing. Nothing wrong with snippets, they are fun to write and sometimes our ideas come forth that way. is a great site for writers of fanfic, I have quite a few Planet of the Apes stories there.

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