If Only - A Tip Tuesday post from Laurie Edwards

Happy Tuesday all. I have a deadline that is completely insane...okay, seriously, INSANE! But, as a CP told me last night, I can do hard things...so that is what I am setting out to do. Hopefully I will be able to report some progress on Friday, because really...I NEED to report progress. Badly!

But back to today. Here is a fabulous Tip Tuesday feature from Laurie Edwards that I am just THRILLED to share.  

After careers as a teacher and children’s librarian, Laurie Edwards moved into editing and writing, where she freelanced for a variety of publishing houses. She writes for both children and adults under several pseudonyms. In addition to more than 1900 magazine and educational articles, some of her most recent publications include Rihanna (People in the News) (Lucent 2009), Summer Lovin’ (Wild Rose Press 2009), Pirates through the Ages (Cengage 2011), and the 5-vol. Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes (Gale 2012). “Angels in the Mist,” a YA story A Community of Writers (Sunbury Press), was released in April. Laurie is also ghostwriting a YA historical fiction series. Visit her at her blog; she also blogs at Downtown YA (downtownya.blogspot.com/) on the 14th and 28th of every month.

Today, Laurie shares an inspirational piece. Take it away, Laurie: 

Many people are closet writers. Some could be published authors—if only. If only I had more time. If only I knew the right people. If only I didn’t have to keep my day job. If only I had no kids underfoot. If only I didn’t have to care for my ill parents. If only…

If you have a dream (it doesn’t have to be writing), write an If Only list. Now look closely at each item on that list. I guarantee that for every item on the list, you can find an example of someone with more If Onlys who succeeded at your dream. Paraplegics have climbed mountains and run marathons. A single mother with twelve children wrote a bestseller. A man who worked two jobs and wrote only during his lunch break completed seven novels. If they did it, so can you.

So what’s really stopping you? Most of the time, it’s not your circumstances, it’s fear. Fear of rejection, fear of success, fear of change, fear of what others might say… Spend some time identifying the fear (or fears) holding you back. Those are your REAL If Only’s. Put them on your list.

You can find ways to reach your dreams. But you have to be willing to face your REAL If Only’s first.

For me, keeping my dreams alive while raising five children and holding down a full and a part time job seemed impossible, but I did what I could. I wrote magazine articles after the kids were in bed at night. I’ve now have almost 2000 magazine and educational articles published. It took me close to twenty years to get my first book published, but I held onto that dream and kept working. A few years ago, my first two books from two different publishers debuted on the same day! One was fiction; the other, nonfiction. Since then, I have at least one book come out every year. This week one of my YA stories came out in an anthology for charity, and I have a June nonfiction release. I’m hard at work on several other novels, and recently sent off partials to three editors who requested them. Hope to have some good news to announce soon.

I often wonder what might have happened if I’d given up on my dream. What if I’d let all the If onlys hold me back? I’m so glad I didn’t. If I’d known how long this journey would take, I might have given up. But I held on and weathered rejections and struggled to learn the craft (an ongoing pursuit, no matter how far along you get in your career). So I made it to the first step, but then what?

Those of us who have been published quickly discover that holding a book in our hand is only the start. Suddenly we’re plunged into the world of marketing. For shy authors, that means chattering teeth, knocking knees, and all the rest of the clich├ęs that symbolize terror. It means getting over the fear of public speaking, wading into social media, and learning to answer interview questions on the fly. It means spending tons of money for little return. And it means going without sleep as you drag yourself from city to city, booksigning to booksigning, trying to look happy and friendly and non-terrified and authorlike.

It means establishing your author brand, creating and maintaining a website, doing blog tours, and connecting with as many people as you can—readers, fans, other authors, editors, agents, booksellers, librarians—and getting them interested in your books. But it also means you need to do all this while you’re hard at work writing your next book.

So if you’re struggling to find the time to write your first book, it may help to know that all the skills you learn—whether it’s writing for 10 minutes during your break at work or getting up an hour earlier than the rest of the family or stealing a few hours on the weekends to slip away to write or holing up in hotel room/cabin/closet for hours or days at a time—every one of those strategies is building your published-author muscles. By the time your book comes out, you’ll be ready to run that publishing marathon.

So what If Onlys are holding you back? Where are you overextended? What can you drop to make more room in your life for the things that are important to you? Setting priorities shows what you value. If you say getting published is your dream, what are you doing to get there? If you’re already published, what’s your goal? Winning an award? Being on the New York Times Bestseller List? Put it on your list, then study what other authors did to reach their dreams. Take the first step toward that goal. Then the next. It won’t be long before you arrive at your destination.

Now If Only I could figure out how to add more hours to every day…


  1. The fears we face are scariest when we go it alone. I've found great support in the writing world and among my family and friends-once I started taking myself seriously. Okay...at first, I faked it but eventually even I believed I could be a writer. And then, amazing things happened: people asked questions, I talked more about my writing, I felt like a writer. Now I am writing more often than not. I don't feel bad saying "I'm working" when I'm writing. I prioritize my life around words. I'm still scared; maybe more now than ever. My 'what ifs' have changed. But at least I know I'm not alone. Thanks Laurie and Christine!

  2. Fantastic advice! It's all about building up those writing muscles and good habits. Well said.

    And you can do it Christine, I have faith in you! :)

  3. Laurie,you are so on target. If only = fear. One of the saddest things is to reach an age where you think "if only I had taken a shot at my dream when I was young." Why not take it at whatever age? You're never too old to create. So there's another "if only" to dump. Thanks for the kick in the patootie.

  4. In my life, "If only" is expressed as "I wish . . ." I wish I had more time, I wish my day job weren't so demanding, I wish I were one of those people who thrives on less than 8 hours of sleep. But those are the realities of my life and the only way to get past them is to change "I wish" to "I will" . . . and then to do it!

  5. Great post!! Totally inspiring!!


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