Things my mother taught me – Colleen Faulkner

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By Colleen Faulkner

I sold my first magazine article when I was 16 years old. I lived on a farm ten miles from town in the days when kids didn’t have their own cars. I wanted to get a real job and borrow my mom’s car, but she wouldn’t go for it. ♥

Mom, a writer who sold to magazines like Good Housekeeping and True Story, suggested I write something and try to sell it . . . and so it began. I didn’t set out to be a writer, though, not even after selling several pieces while still in high school. Who wants to be their mother? Looking back, I know that it was already in my blood. It’s always been in my blood. I grew up listening to my great grandfather tell amazing stories about witches and ghosts and civil wars. I grew up listening, cozy in my bed at night, to the sound of my mother’s typewriter downstairs in our 17th century farmhouse. I sold my first novel, a historical romance, when I was 23, one year after my mom sold her first novel. I’m convinced I sold that first book, the first I ever wrote, because of the advice my mother gave me. Mom is still a writer, we talk every day, and she still gives me advice.

Things my mother taught me about being a writer:

Write what you know. There’s lots of info available on the internet now. It’s so easy to do research, but there must be some truth to the story you tell. A truth that comes from inside you.

Set goals. Have a daily, a weekly, a monthly and a yearly goal. Stick to them. Writers write. When you don’t make them, cut yourself a break, make a new goal, and stick to it this time.

So much about being a writer is about showing up for work. About sitting in the chair. About writing. Not talking about writing, doing it. Stop talking about being a writer and write.

Be careful where you invest your time/creativity. Blogs and such are great, but where are you giving the best part of yourself? Social media or your book?

Don’t talk about the book you’re writing to your friends and the FedEx guy. Writers are storytellers. If you tell your story too many times, it’s not as much fun to tell. Write it down — don’t talk about it. (I see a theme, Mom.)

Know your strengths and weaknesses and use your strengths to your advantage. If you’re great at plotting, write books where the plotting is highlighted. If your strength is your characters, make your book about the characters.

No matter how many books you’ve written, or how successful you’ve become, it’s important to continue to challenge yourself. If you’re not saying to yourself “I hope this is going to work” you’re just not trying hard enough. And sometimes it’s not going to work. That’s not a bad thing.

I didn’t set out to be my mother. Now, as I get older, I only hope I can be.

Colleen Faulkner, daughter of Judith E. French, has written more than 130 novels under various pseudonyms, in many genres, and has even tried her hand at ghostwriting. Her new love is writing women’s fiction. Julia’s Daughter was released in October 2015 and she’s currently working on What Makes a Family, set on an island on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Colleen lives in Delaware where the Faulkners settled 350 years ago. She’s married to her high school sweetheart and they have four children and four grandchildren.

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