12 Years of Building a Writing Career Distilled into 12 Days of Emails

The first time an idea for a book hit me was in 2006. I was teaching high school English in Miami, four years into my career and coaching my younger sister through her own first year as a teacher. Neither of us responded well to the generalized advice or Chicken-Soup-for-the-Soul type stories offered to new teachers.
“On a bad day, new teachers need something stronger than chicken soup,” I said during one discussion. “They need something more like ‘Hard Liquor for the Soul.'” Bam.

Before long, this initial idea became a few pages of frantic notes that seemed like they could, maybe, one day, be turned into a book: Stories and solutions from experienced teachers around the country. Practical advice. Humor. Perhaps some oversharing.

What I didn’t have was any idea of what it took to get a book out into the world. So it felt like a lucky sign when I heard a radio ad that asked, “Do you have an idea for a book?”

The ad was from the Miami Writers Institute, an annual creative writing conference produced by the Miami Book Fair. For four days each May, well-known authors and publishing people fly down to Miami, where they teach courses on a range of topics, from suspense to sentence structure to the submission process.

I signed up immediately.

Since that first class, I’ve written a nonfiction book, a children’s book, and a novel, as well as smaller pieces like articles and columns. I’ve also never missed a year of the Miami Writers’ Institute. And I’ve got many notebooks full of writing tips to prove it.

Recently, not long after signing up for one of this year’s courses, I distilled the lessons from the last twelve years into a twelve-day email series. The result is part creative writing crash course, part mobile-friendly memoir of what it takes to build a writing career.

If you’d like to get the emails, you can enter your email address here or in the form below. No matter what step you’re on in your own writing life, I hope you find them helpful.

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