storytime

PITT SENIOR WONDERING HOW TO STAY MOTIVATED PAST GRADUATION

By MAX LEISTEN

Sometimes our artificial intelligence technology makes matches between alumni and students that border on magic (in fact that’s how customers often describe it). The below is a great example of this. 

I am not going to cheat and retrace what the AI did, the data it analyzed, how many alumni engaged and responded. There are times when I don’t want to know how the sausage is made but simply enjoy the meal (that’s why I started Protopia to begin with). 

An aspiring female student writer with fears of giving up on her writing career before it has even started connects with a female seasoned, published author of young adult novels. 

Happy Friday.

Max

The "ask"

My name is STUDENT, and I’m a writing major on the fiction track! I’m interested in writing books for kids (specifically middle grade and/or YA).

I’m wondering if you have any advice on ways to stay motivated to keep writing after graduation when you are no longer in classes where others are reading your work and professors are making you stick to a deadline. I really want to keep writing, but I’m worried that it may fall to the side as life takes over post-graduation.

Thank you so much for any thoughts, advice, or suggestions!

The "give"

Hello STUDENT,

I love it when someone asks me something I actually know. So here goes. There are a ton of “how to write” books out there –I own most of them–but after writing fiction for 40 years, I’ve learned what works best for me. Your mileage may differ.

I began writing when my children were babies. First tried picture books (I was terrible), but found YA fiction more to my taste. Here are a few things that helped me keep going until my first novel was published.

–I joined a writers organization. (SCBWI in Michigan–very active chapter near Detroit); found a few writers to meet with occasionally.

–went to writers’ conferences. Met other writers in the area–very helpful.

–After the MBA I worked 5 years, then stayed home till my last child was 16, then returned to work. When they were little I hired a neighbor to watch them so I’d have time to write. As I was paying for the privilege, you better believe I concentrated.

–sent out TONS of manuscripts to editors, collected lots of rejections. Rinse, repeat. But I learned.

–finished my YA novel & paid a book reviewer to critique it (that was hugely helpful) before landing an agent. The agent sent it out and Simon & Schuster bought it. Yay!! In Michigan I had writing friends; lost that support when we moved to Pgh, alas.

But always, even after I returned to work full-time, I wrote. I made sure my schedule included daily writing time (I prefer mornings). People who don’t schedule their time don’t usually become writers, IMO. Work ethic precedes publication. (Who knew?)

I retired in October and am finishing a novel now. If you’d like to have coffee sometime, or talk on phone, I’d be happy to. (alum@email.com) Meanwhile, best of luck to you!

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