Monday, March 27, 2017

One Columnist's Story

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

          I want to share Cheryl Butler’s story.

          I met Cheryl though a letter she sent me asking to become a contributing writer for one of the magazines I was editing. She discussed her minimal writing experience and also mentioned she was the mother of eight children and hadn’t left the house in a decade except to go to her OB/GYN.

          That comment made me laugh so I called her. We had a delightful conversation so I assigned her an article. She had a strong voice, good perspective, and met both the word count and deadline.

That was well over a decade ago. Since then she has written hundreds of terrific pieces for the magazines.

A few years into her career with the magazines, I asked her if she was interested in writing a column about family life. With eight kids, who could know more about it? With her sense of humor, her column quickly became one of the most popular with readers.

Due to her vast experience as a mother, her family column, and a friend’s recommendation, Cheryl interviewed for and then was named Macmillan Publishing’s Mighty Mommy. She started by writing weekly blog posts then added podcasts. Occasionally traveling to New York City to meet with her editor, she’s living a writer’s dream life.

Over four years ago, Cheryl asked me about writing a blog together to inspire others to write. Her life changed just by taking a chance and contacting me. One brave step and look where she is now. She wanted other writers to take chances, too.

I said yes. Cheryl set up the blog then we each wrote a post a week for years. Cheryl is now working on her second and third books so she stopped writing for this blog, but her Mighty Mommy work and family life columns continue.

I’m so glad Cheryl took a chance contacting me and that I took a chance on her. I don’t know how she found the time to write while raising eight children under eleven when she first started; however, she persisted and succeeded not only as a writer, but as a mom. She has one college graduate, three more in college, and four still at home—and she still finds time to volunteer in the community.

Cheryl’s story proves that dedicated writers can succeed.

* * * *     
If you’re interested in becoming a columnist, start a blog. What is your niche or expertise? You’ll need twelve to fifty-two topics every year so make a list. If you can’t, pick another niche. Put in the time. You need a strong voice, knowledge, and perspective to keep readers interested.

Then take a chance and contact a local publication you enjoy. If your blog is engaging, you might become a columnist. If not, take any assignments—you have to start somewhere. Be professional—NEVER miss a deadline or word count. Who knows where it might lead?

You, too, can succeed. Believe it and keep writing.

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