Why (and How) I Wrote a Writing Book

I remember the exact moment when a student called out from the back of the room and said, “Dr. H., I just want to learn how to write!  I’m tired of all these grammar rules and fancy rhetorical terms!”

He wanted to write.  And the expensive grammar books weren’t helping him.  I stood at the chalkboard, and I told him that every writer needs just five lessons.  I talked about the power of strong verbs and the need for sentence variation through punctuation marks like the semicolon and parentheses.  I talked about how to create rhythm by changing up the length of our sentences.  Then I talked about how to be clever using wordplay like repetition and puns.  Finally, I talked about how to build rapport with your readers.

That was it.  Class over.  I walked to my car and thought, “Somebody should really write a book about how to write in 5 easy lessons.”

Remember my problem with saying, “Somebody should really. . . “? (I was that somebody.) 

So I did it.  Over my winter break, I wrote out the lessons.  I took my little writing handbook to a print shop, and I assigned it the next semester.  Students emailed me to tell me that their fraternity brothers or their parents or their cousins wanted copies.  Others would report that my book “changed everything” and now they had confidence in writing.  I found notes in my mailbox from students claiming that my verb lessons have made them amazing writers in all their other classes.

Maybe my life calling has something to do with verbs.  I’m OK with how nerdy that sounds.

With so many positive evaluations, I decided to publish How to Write with Flair and sell it as a real book.  I didn’t know how, but I knew I was supposed to.

Within a few weeks, some strange things started happening.  A neighbor told me about createspace.com, and I learned how to put a manuscript together.  Then, I discovered that the neighbor to my right was an editor the same week I learned my neighbor to my left was a professional typesetter.  They wanted to help me publish my book!  But I needed a cover design and an author photo.  No problem.  I found a photographer mom at gymnastics class (of all places!), and I remembered a dear friend who had a knack for graphic design. My whole community was helping me and encouraging me!

Yesterday, I started to sell my first book.  Who knows what will happen?  All I know is that living with flair means you move forward with crazy ideas because you think they might help someone.

PS:  You can find How to Write with Flair here:  https://www.createspace.com/3471782  

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Journal:  Do you have an idea that you need to move on?

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