Lisa Ricard Claro – Author

Romance is good for your heart!

Steps to Becoming a Writer: Learn to Swim

Posted on Oct 26, 2016 by Lisa Ricard Claro   20 Comments | Posted in The Naked Truth

bitmoji1509861549Someone recently asked how I became a writer. “What steps did you take?” was the actual question. I’ve answered that or similar inquiries more than once over the last few years and not always exactly the same way—not because I’m making it up as I go along, but because the truth is layered.

Back in the day, I was a singer. Yep, that’s right. A soprano, no less. I took formal voice lessons from grades 7-10 and made All-State my junior and senior years in high school, the only two years I tried out. I loved to sing, loved harmonizing with others. A close second for joy was playing the piano and the guitar. And yes, I did write my own music. Quite a lot of it, actually. My dream was to be a Broadway star, dahling. I would have settled for being a pop star.

I got married and had kids instead.

See, as much as I dreamed of Broadway, beyond the voice lessons I didn’t do anything to prepare myself. Not only did I break out in hives and a cold sweat whenever I was on stage, but I never took dance or acting lessons. Never auditioned for regional theater. Never did anything, in fact, but sing and play music for my own enjoyment. After my kids were born they became my audience. That’s one of the best things about a newborn, you know—they can’t run away when you annoy them. 🙂

The thing is, though I dreamed of being a singer, underneath it all, I was a writer. It didn’t occur to me that I was a writer because writing was second nature. It was part the whole, not a separate skill or talent. Like a Siamese twin, it was always there, lending a hand with my other pursuits—school papers, songwriting, the stories I made up for fun when I couldn’t fall asleep at night. Buried in a box in my attic is a poem I penned at 18 while sitting in my car outside the UNLV student union, my excitement and trepidation poured out in rhyming scribbles on the back of a drugstore receipt. I had arrived early for registration and had to wait for the doors to open. I didn’t turn on the radio. I didn’t hum show tunes. I wrote. It never occurred to me to do anything else.

Over the course of several decades, I wrote countless short stories and multiple full-length novels.  The Unreadables, as I call them now, will never see the light of day (you’re welcome). Poems? Innumerable. Terrible and innumerable. Trust me that none of this stuff is ready for prime time. But I was doing something all that time that I didn’t realize. I was preparing. And when I was finally ready to let my twin take the lead, the rest was like pouring water onto a sponge. I soaked it up. I joined writers’ groups and took online workshops. I began attending conferences, blogging, and reaching out to other writers. I did what I had never done with my singing and music—I prepared.

And here’s the big non-secret: I’m still preparing. I won’t ever stop preparing. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned about this writing gig, it’s that it shifts with the tides. The market is slippery as a greased water slide. Learn all about it today, take the weekend off, and—bam!—come Monday some high concept novel has hit the fan and exploded its juicy different-ness everywhere, shaking things up, splattering whole genres with different colors (Harry Potter, Twilight, Fifty Shades of Gray). It’s a changeling, this writing business. Don’t try to grasp it in your hands. It cannot be caught. Instead, jump in and learn to swim.

bitmoji-2087316518So, to the question that started all this, “What steps did you take?” The final answer is all of them, and there are still more. No matter what we do, there is always another step to be taken.

How about you? What thing has been part of you forever? What steps have you taken?

See you next week for more of the Naked Truth.

🙂 Lisa

Romance is good for your heart! To purchase your copy of Love Built to Last, Love to Believe, or Love to Win in eBook or print, go to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Black Opal Books, Kobo, or AllRomance.

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20 Responses to "Steps to Becoming a Writer: Learn to Swim"

  1. Comment by Cathy C. Hall
    October 26, 2016 at 6:04 pm  

    As you know, I wanted to be Julie Andrews when I grew up. Apparently, one needs a pretty good singing voice for that. 🙂 Music is my first love and I feel like one day, I’ll write that musical.

    Or the lyrics, at least. 🙂

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      October 29, 2016 at 7:16 am  

      Combine your talents and write a musical for kids! That would be so cool, Cath. Kids in schools would be performing your work, Broadway will pick it up because that would be way cool, and you’ll be famous for writing AND singing. Do it, do it, do it!

  2. Comment by Claufia
    October 26, 2016 at 8:14 pm  

    Great job!!! I knew you had to be multitalented. Always dabbled in writing but bring mother then come first. I should have worked harder on making it happen but then maybe I did okay in the end.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      October 29, 2016 at 7:13 am  

      You most certainly are a wonderful mother, I’m sure. I was mostly a dabbler myself for a long time, for the same reason you’ve stated—kids! Wouldn’t change a thing, though, and I’m betting you feel the same way.

  3. Comment by Lynn M. Obermoeller
    October 26, 2016 at 9:43 pm  

    Wow, you can sing. I’d love to hear you. Umm, most folks in my family run when I try and sing. Ha.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      October 29, 2016 at 7:11 am  

      Used to sing, m’dear. Used to. I can’t carry a tune anymore, except alone in my car. 🙂

  4. Comment by ButtonsMom2003
    October 26, 2016 at 10:25 pm  

    In high school I wanted to be a journalist and was editor of the school paper my senior year. I never followed through with anything because I decided to get married.

    The only thing that’s truly been a part of me forever is reading for pleasure – and I took a hiatus from that for many years while I was working and reading technical magazines. Now I’m trying to make up for lost time. 🙂

    I’m glad that you never gave up on writing. <3

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      October 29, 2016 at 7:10 am  

      ButtonsMom, the intrepid journalist. I like that. 🙂 And you are writing, still, but you’re doing reviews now, which dovetails beautifully with your love of reading. So you found your happy spot!

  5. Comment by Pat
    October 27, 2016 at 8:27 am  

    Broadway? Oh yes, indeed. I owned every Broadway musical recording out there and spent my evenings singing along with the cast of Oklahoma, South Pacific, West Side Story, Camelot…you name it. Of course I sang at home in the evening because I don’t sound like Julie Andrews.

    I’m more the Ma Kettle type.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      October 29, 2016 at 7:09 am  

      You’re being modest, I’m sure. I didn’t sound like Julie either, though I wished I did! So (seemingly) effortless, her angel voice. One of my favorites was Godspell, which was brand new in ’71 (“Day by Day” hit the airwaves in ’72, I think) and so different from the Rodgers & Hammerstein/Lerner & Loewe musicals that it sucked me right in. I wore out that album, and “By My Side” became a go-to when singing with my cousin and playing our guitars (we were asked to sing it at a wedding once, and did). But Broadway wasn’t for me. I loved the singing…but couldn’t act my way out of a paper bag, and dancing, well…*hangs head* I was once compared to a kangaroo. lol

  6. Comment by Stephanie Trietsch
    October 27, 2016 at 9:04 am  

    I played drums so I could sing as loud as I wanted to because I could always play louder than my voice ;-} Also, I wear 1 hearing aid and have noticed that what little voice I had before is less in “tune” than ever!

    I think writing has always been inside me just waiting for my mouth to close long enough for me to hear the stories in my head!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      October 29, 2016 at 7:00 am  

      Lucky…I wanted to learn the drums and my dad steered me to the way-less-cool clarinet instead. lol I’m glad you started listening to the voices—you’re a terrific writer!

  7. Comment by Tomi
    October 27, 2016 at 10:04 am  

    I enjoyed your post very much! I’ve always written in a journal. I started as a child. I just feel the need to write. I blog and I’m working on my first book. It is creative nonfiction.
    You are so right. We have to keep learning and growing. How fun!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      October 29, 2016 at 6:58 am  

      Thanks, Tomi. 🙂 I envy you the journaling. I’ve tried to keep a diary or journal in the past but just don’t stick with it. I’m good for a couple of weeks and then that’s it. Maybe I’ll try again. We’ve got some major changes coming up in our household that might be worth chronicling.

  8. Comment by Rob
    October 27, 2016 at 2:31 pm  

    I’ve always been a reader. When I decided to write, I had to teach myself how. I bought about 150 books on writing, and I read each one 3-4 times. I didn’t just read them, I studied them. After 3 years of this study, I began to submit essays to magazines. Finally it payed off.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      October 29, 2016 at 6:54 am  

      It certainly did. You’re one of my favorite writers. 🙂 And you have editors reaching out to you! I love that you are a purposeful writer, opting in as a firm decision—though I’d argue that it was always inside of you.

  9. Comment by Karen Lange
    October 27, 2016 at 8:47 pm  

    Fun to learn more about you! Still taking all the steps here too. It never stops, does it? I’m glad of that; it means more fun ahead. 🙂

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      October 29, 2016 at 6:51 am  

      Haha…I always knew you were an optimist, Karen. Fun indeed! 🙂

  10. Comment by Sioux
    November 2, 2016 at 6:47 am  

    Lisa–I still can’t get over the idea of you being a famous singer. I mean, I think if you had continued to pursue that passion, it might have happened. It’s weird how all our interests and talents combine, creating a new career/path.

    (And now I have voice-envy, because no one would hang around if I sang. In fact, they’d say, “Is there a cat caught in the car engine?” once I hit the first note.)

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      November 2, 2016 at 9:06 am  

      Haha…my father-in-law had a similar singing voice. He had a dog that used to howl when he sang. 🙂 I really can’t sing anymore. It’s something I let slide, partially because I didn’t think I was all that, and partially because life brought other passions to me. It’s a ‘what if’ I suppose. What is your ‘what if’?


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