Teresa Funke‘s interest in writing began in fifth grade when she worked on a poem assignment past bedtime: “I had to get it just right.”
The teacher wasn’t convinced she wrote the poem. “This is too good for a fifth grader.”
After the initial shock, Funke thought, “Wow, I must be a really good writer.”
Her keynote speech at the Nov. 12 Loveland Authors Showcase, held at the Loveland Public Library, contained many anecdotes about her writing journey and the challenges she overcame.
From those experiences, Funke came up with the Three Ps of Writing.
- “I never stopped practicing my writing. Nothing ever comes out right the first time, ever.”
- Funke spent seven years finding her voice and honing her writing skills with essays and stories before completing her first novel. Publishing it took three more years.
- She revises her 350-word blog posts up to five times.
- “You have to be incredibly patient to be a writer. With yourself as you’re learning, and with the stories, the characters. You wouldn’t sign up for golf lessons and a tournament on the same day.”
- She recalled working on her first novel, Remember Wake, about a young woman whose boyfriend becomes a prisoner of war after Pearl Harbor is attacked. She had trouble writing the protagonist, whom she had named Sam Kincaid, and finally figured out he didn’t like his name. She renamed him Colin Finley. A month later, the best-selling novel The Bridges of Madison County was published. The main character’s name? Robert Kincaid.
- Landing an agent and publisher can take years. When you finish a project, always start working on your next one.
- Goals are important. Write monthly and secondary goals on your calendar.
- “Rejection is a big part of our lives. Writers who make it are the ones who don’t give up.”
- “Learn to read like a writer. I read dozens of novels about World War II.”
- “If you hate a book you’re reading, finish it and ask why.”
- “Accept feedback. My writers group taught me to write.” Funke said it’s normal to experience a every emotion when hearing others’ opinions about your writing: anger, frustration to the point of crying, etc.
- To help in staying persistent, Funke summarizes the Top 10 Things All Successful Writers Do in her webinar “The Ultimate Shortcut to Writing Success”
Funke advised examining your interests and focusing on what you’re passionate about. “If you work at a job you hate eight hours a day,” she said, “you’re draining your soul.”
Only 5 percent of writers make a living writing books alone. The exceptions are authors like Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and John Grisham, who didn’t quit his attorney job until he published his fourth novel.
Funke has three revenue streams: book sales, speaking, and coaching. “It can be more than just a hobby for you,” she said. If you want to be a published author, call yourself a writer and do the work required.
“It takes energy and passion to write,” she said.
Funke concluded her speech with one important homework assignment.
“Ask yourself, ‘What matters to me?’ ” she said. “Love matters. Love fills your spirit and feeds your soul. Commit to writing today.”
Katherine Valdez is passionate about learning from successful authors and sharing that knowledge with other writers. Read humorous posts at Secrets of Best-Selling Authors: www.KatValdezWriter.wordpress.com/blog and say howdy to Katherine on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Amazon, and Medium.
*Full disclosure: Teresa Funke is my writing coach. (And a really good one!) I did not receive anything in return for writing this article.