Updated: Mar 25, 2020
I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion last week about writing, in particular encouraging stroke survivors to share their stories. I agree with that vision wholeheartedly for a number of reasons. There is more than one way to write and share a story, so, for those of you who are thinking about it, don't be intimidated or feel overwhelmed. There are plenty of people willing to help you depending on how comfortable you feel sharing your experiences. Following are some suggestions of ways you may want to ease into writing:
Help Advance Stroke Research - There are scientists and researchers at universities, medical facilities, and private institutions that are interested in collecting stroke survivor stories. Theses collections may help develop better therapies for the future.
Keep a Journal - After months of grueling work, the recovery process can seem set on idle which makes it difficult to find motivation. Keeping a journal to highlight day-to-day victories and frustrations while recovering may help you as a stroke survivor and the care team track personal progress. Celebrate the small victories . . . they lead to greater ones.
Reflect on Gratitude - Write a #GratiTuesday Facebook post reflective of the good things in life. The person who started the Grati-Tuesday revolution is #1 NY Times bestselling author (40 times over) Richard_Paul_Evans. Check his website for examples and inspiration.
"You should write a book!' - And they're right. We all have interesting stories to tell, stories that inspire and teach, bring a smile or a tear, or scare the crap out of the reader because they know what you've written is real and could happen to them. That's the power of the stroke survivor's story. Stroke Survivors, myself included (hemorrhagic right-side impaired, 1997) can share healing and comfort with others and help able-bodied people understand the complexities of the aftermath we endure. As important as this story may be to write, I believe the golden manuscript is the family memoir. Your family will thank you for producing both.
Writing as a living - It's rewarding. It's hard work. It takes a long time to learn the craft if you believe quality is important to the end product. In this digital age of publishing, it's tempting to place a DIY book on Amazon. All I ask is that you do it to the best of your ability. Make yourself and all indie authors proud. As a stroke survivor, a forty-year-plus freelance writer, and author of two published books, I ask you to consider the following questions before you mix it up with the pros:
How Stable is My Health?
Even as an independent author, there are guidelines and deadlines that must be followed and met if you want to succeed. If this will cause you stress, rethink your reasons for wanting to publish professionally before jumping in.
How Deep are Your Pockets?
If you want to rise above the millions of hopefuls that flood Amazon daily with new manuscripts, you'll have to commit money to develop the best product possible and that means hiring the best in their fields: editors, marketing gurus and publicists, CPA/accountants, and graphic companies are all necessary to sell a book. Developing a brand that identifies your book as something worth the read should be one of the reasons you wrote the book in the first place.
How Secure is Your Ego?
It's estimated that New York agents, and there is a boatload of them, receive eighty-six new manuscripts every day. Each one represents a writer who poured their life, their dreams (and more of their money than they should have) into that document. Most of them will receive more than one rejection letter, just as famous authors Stephen King and J.K. Rowling did, so, I would say you'd be in good company if you do decide to try.
If you believe what you've written will attract a large audience, if you can prove the subject has merit and longevity, if you're willing to work as though your hair is on fire and you can look calm drenched in smoke, then I say . . . GO FOR IT!
I've met some amazing people along the way. I've enjoyed sharing my knowledge with those curious about a writer's life. I've struggled with plots, waited for characters to form, stressed over the right adjective, and sweated the final edits. However, there is something so rewarding when those moments of brilliance shine through and beta readers give you accolades that make you dance around the office chair. It makes you silently promise to do it all, again.
Jo Ann Glim is an award-winning author, forty-year freelance writer, and passionate photographer. She lives in Bradenton, Florida with her husband, Bill and rescued Scottish Terrier, Lucy. She's published two books, "Begotten With Love" a 2014 Florida Writers Association Royal Palm Literary Award first-place winner for biography, and the newly published non-fiction life story "Trapped_Within."