When my best friend calls me to tell me about the latest craziness in her life, we joke that the next chapter of her book is ready to be written. Military spouses, children and service members experience a lot in this life, including a lot of things that make great stories.
Some of my favorite things to read are written by military spouses and veterans. Whether it's fiction or nonfiction, a blog post, an article or a short story, I feel a connection with the writer and a devotion to sharing their work.
But frequently, aspiring writers see a giant chasm between the experience and the opportunity to tell their story. There are many ways to be a writer, and many publications eager to help you share your stories. Here are resources for you to take your story from life to the written word.
1. Start a Blog
Starting a blog is a decent-sized undertaking. And while it's not necessary in the progression of writing a book, it can certainly help to build your writing skills and show others you can, indeed, write well. To start a blog, you'll need to build a website -- which you can outsource -- and write.
Your blog can be about anything but, if your end goal is to write a book, blogging about the topic your book will be about is a good way to build an audience of interested people.
Your next step: Check out Blog Your Genius, a military spouse-owned membership platform full of information on how to start, monetize and grow a blog.
2. Self-Publish a Book
On June 1, Amazon is hosting a free, interactive webinar on self-publishing. Hosted by Tricia Gallagher, the education program manager of Kindle direct publishing, the event will start at 10 a.m. PT and focus on teaching authors how to self-publish on Kindle for free. Registration and attendance are free, but do require answering a few quick questions.
Your next step: Register here.
3. Write for Others
Another great way to gain experience is to write for other publications. This can be paid or unpaid. You can guest post on someone else's blog or pitch an article to The New York Times -- or anything in between. When building experience and your portfolio, you may consider writing for a publication that has a larger reach than you do. There are many opportunities for freelance writing in the military community.
Your next step: Buy Amy Bushatz's book "So You Want to Get Published" and get pitching.
4. Go to a Writer's Conference
This year, some of the big conferences have gone virtual, which is a plus for military spouses and service members. With easier to access speaking sessions and a lower cost, it may give you the opportunity to attend a conference for the first time. For Christian writers, the Speak Up Conference is a great way to craft your pitch, learn from experts in this particular genre and get the tools for your future.
5. Join a Writer's Association
You may have seen writers' associations and groups on social media like the Military Writers Guild, the Authors Guild or the American Society of Journalists and Authors and wondered what they were, exactly. In short, they are groups that offer professional mentorship, brainstorming, professional development and a community with which to grow. They have membership requirements, which may include a personal recommendation from a member in good standing.
Your next step: Follow people who are in the field you want to write about. And decide which of those organizations you want to join.
There's no reason you can't do all of these things, especially if your passion is, indeed, sharing stories. Some of us have made a career of it, while it is a hobby for others. Whatever you do with your writing, share it with the community and let us support you.
Editor's Note: Amy Bushatz is executive editor of Military.com.
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