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I published my first book last year in June 2015. I self published and it was an interesting experience. In the next few months, I'll be writing blogs about my experience as a writer and self publisher.

Today I want to write about giving yourself the opportunity to learn. Over the last year, I have been fortunate enough to be exposed to many new and wonderful happenings. This occurred because I found an awesome local bookstore - BookmarkIt (owner Kim Britt), in Winter Park and an international organization, Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). By attending conferences, events, and meeting authors, illustrators, agents, and publishers, I have put myself in a position to learn. I am now in a monthly writers group and I have been invited to attend events and sit at tables and on panels with other local authors. In all of these meetings and events, I am the newbie. Aand although it is a bit terrifying (okay, a lot terrifying), I learn. I learn so much.

As I talk and question and soak up the insights from various authors and events, I learn! A recent article in the September 2016 Reader's Digest succinctly list some of the points I've learned:

1. Trust your experiences. Be sensitive to how things make you think and feel. That's how we distinguish cliches from true insights.

2. Recognize that the stress you feel as you try to create isn't a sign that everything is falling apart. Rather, it's a condition that helps make you flexible enough to see old ideas in new ways.

3. Maintain some distance from what you create. Without self-criticism, one idea can quickly crowd out competitors. But you can regain that distance by forcing yourself to critique what you've already done, by making yourself look at it from a different perspective, or by changing the power dynamics in the room.

Here's my take away from the article and the 3 points. Basically, as writers, we need to (1) trust ourselves; (2) listen to our gut When it says something is wrong - fix it; and finally (3) be able to step back and be objective. This third point I think is the hardest. The "maintain some distance" comment is tough to follow. I get it. Writers love their characters, the worlds they live in, and what happens to them. It is very close and personal for us. But it is important to be able to look at the writing, and although you may love a word choice or sentence or idea, if it doesn't fit (there could be many reasons why), it has to go.

I'll be writing monthly about my experiences as I continue to step deeper into the rushing river that is the fast and often murky waters of becoming a writer. As always - thanks for reading!

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