From Wanting-to-Write to Published Author.

By David Joel Miller.

The journey from wanting to write to published author almost didn’t happen.

Man writing.

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

While having lunch the other day with a couple of colleagues they had a lot of questions for me about how I got from where I started to where I am today. Our conversation got me to thinking about all the experiences I’ve had learning, first to blog, then to write some books, and finally to see two of those books published. It’s been a long journey and one that almost didn’t happen.

I can’t say I have all the answers at this point, but I have learned a lot along my journey. One thing I discovered is that one of the best ways to consolidate knowledge, so you don’t forget it, is to try to teach it to someone else. Starting with this post I wanted to share with whoever might be interested in some of the things that I have learned along this journey that almost never happened.

Doing something I didn’t think was possible.

For a good part of my life, I didn’t think that writing something worth reading was a possibility for me. As an elementary school child, I wrote a poem that ended up in the school newspaper, and for many years afterward I thought about writing, but given all my struggles in English class, I didn’t think it was a possibility, not for me anyway.

The consensus back then was that to be a successful writer you need to have great handwriting, be skilled at typing, and especially you need to be a fabulous speller. Writing something that others would read necessitated you to be perfect with your grammar, and able to insert punctuation with perfect precision. While I was passable at public speaking when it came to written language, I had none of those required skills.

Being left-handed I learned to write less than legibly. Several people suggested that I should have become a doctor. While I couldn’t spell standard English or any other language for that matter, I was highly creative. Within a single paragraph, I could find at least 3 to 4 different ways to spell the same word.

For the record being creative with your spelling is not something I invented. If you read some of the books written in colonial times, you will find that back then, spelling was far from fixed. King James is reported to have said: “I never trust anyone who only knows one way to spell a word.” While I can’t be sure that quote is accurate, up until about 1999 I followed the practice of writing as little as possible and then with total disregard for spelling and punctuation.

And then the world started changing.

I’ll spare you the detailed stories of walking to and from school, uphill, both ways, in the snow, though before 1960 I lived in the Midwest and I did walk to school in the snow. The world in this millennium is for me, like moving to a foreign country and having to learn a new culture. To give you some perspective, as a child I visited my grandparents. There was no running water. There was an outhouse out by the back fence, and the kitchen sink was built over the well. Each time you use the pump you had to save a glass of water to prime the pump for the next use. The whole town had one phone line and if too many people picked up when the phone rang, you couldn’t here anymore.

Then came the second millennium.

For most of America’s history, almost everyone worked in agriculture. Back then something like 5 percent of the US population lived in big cities. By the 1900’s people had started working in factories and retail stores. Only one of my four grandparents graduated from high school. Back then you didn’t need a diploma to get a job.

In the year 2000, more than half the country lived in big cities and to get even a low-paid job was likely to require more than a high school diploma. The pace of change began accelerating. By the year 2020, it’s probable that almost all jobs will require at least 2-year college degree.

The other massive change that occurred since 2000 is the rapid acceleration in technology. Like an immigrant to the new digital technology world who was learning a new language, I had to learn how to log on to the computer. Today I spend the bulk of my day online navigating programs, and I take journeys everywhere across the world-wide-web.

Some 21st-century writing and technology experiences.

About 2000 I learned to use the computer at work. Shortly after that, we got our first home computer connected to the Internet by a dial-up modem. Remember those days? In the 20 years since I’ve had to replace computers and programs multiple times as programs and operating systems became outmoded. Today I have a desktop computer which I use for most of my writing and a laptop computer which can connect via Wi-Fi when I’m away from my home office.

I was shocked when some of my coworkers began to openly talk about using a “cell phone.” My understanding used to be that the only time people use a cell phone was when they made a call from the drunk tank using the pay phone on the cell wall.

In 2005 I attended a conference (The Evolution of Psychotherapy) and encountered a shocking face-to-face encounter with the new technological universe. One of the speakers told us that if you wanted to work in some parts of the counseling field you needed to have a portable “cell phone.” I quickly purchased a flip phone.

I encounter a phone that is smarter than I am.

When my old flip phone gave up the ghost, I make the upgrade to a smartphone. Unfortunately, way too many people who know me “have my number.” They started sending me startling messages using a thing called “text messaging.” I am especially thankful to one of my interns who taught me how to open a text message and how to reply to it.

So, there you have some of the story about how I began the journey from being someone with a learning disability of written expression, unable to write a sentence containing correctly spelled words which were correctly punctuated, to someone who writes a reasonably well-read blog and has written and published two books.

It’s a glorious new age for writing and publishing.

In the past, if you wanted to be a writer you struggled for possibly decades. Most writers had day jobs and filled the evenings and weekends was struggling to learn their craft. In the early days, if you wanted something published, you had to come up with the cash to get it printed and then try to sell it yourself. There are still a few companies who will print your book for you if your sole goal is to be able to hold your book in your hand. But don’t expect much in the way of book sales.

The other approach to getting something you wrote published was to send it off to the “gatekeepers.” The used to be a lot of magazines that would pay small amounts for short stories. Then the publishing of books became concentrated in New York and a few other major cities. Authors had to work for years writing and submitting and hoping someone would like what they’ve done well enough to agree to publish their book.

Technology keeps moving forward.

The invention of the automobile resulted in the demise of the whole horse and buggy industry. Today’s technology, computers, word processing programs, spelling and grammar checkers along with e-books and on-demand printing has entirely altered the way the written word is produced and distributed.

For centuries, people who would learn to read and write have said they wanted to write a book. I know of several of my friends and relatives who always wanted to write a book. Most of them never did. A great many people had a manuscript tucked away in a drawer somewhere that was discarded when they died.

Today technology makes it possible for almost anyone to write something. Whether you can spell or punctuate you can still create an understandable sentence, paragraph, chapter, and book. Even if you can’t type, you can dictate. Personally, because of carpal tunnel syndrome, I’ve had to switch from typing to dictating. For better or worse the new technologies have made writing and publishing accessible to anyone willing to put in the effort, even if you’re not a digital native but an old dinosaur like me.

Possible, however, does not mean easy. In upcoming posts, I want to share some of the experiences I’ve had to reach this point in my writing experiences and some of the lessons I have learned along the way. Hope you’ll join me again for other blog posts on the topics of writing and publishing.

You’ll find more posts on this topic under – Writing.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time. The newsletter started out to talk about mental health issues. I recently added some other categories. In addition to mental health, you can also sign up for newsletter updates about writing and my novels. You can sign up for any one of these lists or all 3.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Don’t miss the Writing Wednesdays posts.

By David Joel Miller.

Writing Wednesdays.

Man writing.

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Wanted to alert you to a new feature on counselorssoapbox.com. I was delighted to see how many people read yesterday’s post about my writing journey. Thank you, folks, for all the reads, likes, and follows.

For the next 8 to 10 weeks, there will be a post every Wednesday on some aspect of writing, blogging and other things creative. After that, who knows? If you readers find those post helpful I will see if I can keep the series going.

If this topic interests, you I encourage you to revisit the blog next Wednesday or better yet subscribe so you won’t miss an episode. Thanks again to everyone who reads the counselorssoapbox.com blog.

You’ll find more posts on this topic under – Writing.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time. The newsletter started out to talk about mental health issues. I recently added some other categories. In addition to mental health, you can also sign up for newsletter updates about writing and my novels. You can sign up for any one of these lists or all 3.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Have you always wanted to write?

By David Joel Miller.

What is holding you back from writing?

Man writing.

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

If you are one of those people, who has always wanted to write but has never written anything you are not alone. For years, decades, I wanted to write, thought about writing, read what others wrote, but never actually put any words down on paper. Maybe you are like that. I had a family member who always wanted to write a book. He passed away with that book still unwritten. I decided that wouldn’t happen to me. I hope if you’re one of those people who has always wanted to write you won’t be one of those people who wanted to write but never did. In this and some future blog posts, I’d like to share with you my writing journey and some suggestions if you decide to embark on a writing journey of your own. Forgive me for being a bit philosophical, to begin with.

What it means to write has changed in this millennium.

What it means to write has changed dramatically over time, so has who was allowed to write. Writing has evolved from a purely utilitarian purpose to something much more expressive. Writing was once used largely by people in business, keeping track of money and goods. Today we call this accounting. Writings other use was for recording religious and philosophical texts. When education was limited to the few, the rich and powerful and those that served them, there were relatively few written materials and equally few who could read them.

Universal education is a relatively recent idea. There are still people in the United States who are illiterate, can’t read and write. Many of these people are in prisons, but that’s a topic for a different blog post. Over the last 100 years or so literacy has become widespread. The result of this increase in literacy has been the transformation of literature from a mystical activity understood only by relative few, into an activity done by many simply for the pleasure of it.

Rules about writing keep changing.

If you read the writings from the 1600’s and 1700’s you will find a great deal of variation in the way they spelled words and punctuated sentence. Over the next 200 years, the rules of spelling and grammar became more fixed. Definitions of words became codified in the books we now call dictionaries. Rather than being the final authorities on words, dictionaries reflect the way words are being used, and the dictionaries keep changing.

With more rules about how one should write, writing, at least writing for others to read, became more rule-bound. Writers had to submit their books to publishers who decided what was worthy of being called literature. The process of writing and publishing a book excluded a lot of people who may have had good ideas or interesting stories to tell but were unable to get their writing approved by someone else.

If you struggled in school with spelling and grammar, writing something for another person to read may have been a traumatic experience. Having someone read what you wrote who completely ignored the ideas you expressed and picked out only the misspelled words and the missing commas, may have deterred you from ever expressing yourself against.

Technology has changed what it means to write.

Since the advent of computers, it has become much easier to put your words into a form that is easily understood. Computers can check your spelling, find grammatical errors and even help you improve your writing. The process of seeing your errors highlighted in various colors can be extremely helpful in improving skills.

Speech to text programs has obliterated the line between the disciplines of public speaking and writing. A major portion of what used to be communicated by writing is now communicated through video. Expressing your ideas is more possible now than ever.

Technology has spawned many new ways of communicating ideas.

E-books allowed many more people to write and publish books. Books that would not have been accepted by a publisher can be self-published and reach a worldwide audience. Blogs have replaced people traveling the world delivering speeches by allowing ideas to be published once and then read by people all over planet Earth in various places at various times. Blog posts I wrote five years or more ago continue to be read today.

If you’ve ever wanted to write now is the time.

In upcoming posts, I’d like to share with you my journey of learning to write, creating the counselorssoapbox.com blog, writing and publishing two books, with more to come. I won’t pretend I have all the answers, but I’d like to share what I have learned. If you would like to take a similar journey, I will try to be your tour guide. If you have questions, please send them along. Thanks for reading.

You’ll find more posts on this topic under – Writing.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time. The newsletter started out to talk about mental health issues. I recently added some other categories. In addition to mental health, you can also sign up for newsletter updates about writing and my novels. You can sign up for any one of these lists or all 3.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.