Ten Thousand Coffees is a website that connects recent graduates with experts in different fields. You invite an expert for coffee, answer a few questions, and hope that they will agree to meet with you so that you can pick their brain. I frequently browse their newest experts in Publishing and Writing in case I come across someone I’d love to meet or ask for advice.
Recently I sent an invitation to Kathy Buckworth. I first heard her name while interning at Random House of Canada. Her book I’m Am So The Boss Of You had just been published and there was quite the buzz going on in the office about it. I’ve read her articles on The Huffington Post, and love her straightforward approach to writing and her warm voice. Kathy is a public speaker, television personality, and award-winning author. From our correspondence so far (mainly Twitter, email, and Ten Thousand Coffees) I can tell that she is kind, approachable, and really wants to help out.
Guess what, Kathy agreed to have coffee with me! Since her schedule is pretty packed, we decided to start off with a few questions via email and then meet up for coffee sometime in November — awesome, right? I am so curious about the writing world and have a feeling that once I sit down with her, I’m going to have tonnes of questions to ask. Below you’ll find a little chunk of our email-interview. Enjoy!
What are you reading right now?
Actually just finishing Andrea Martin’s biography “Lady Parts”, right on the heels of finishing Lena Dunham’s book. Both very smart, very funny ladies, at opposite ends of their careers. Great to read one after the other. I read loads of fiction also and have a Lindwood Barclay waiting for me as well as the latest Rosie Project book.
Which books had the biggest impact on your life?
As a kid I read everything Stephen King wrote. My favourite was “The Stand”. But the book of his I love the most, as an adult is “On Writing”, which every writer should read. Also Anne Lamott’s “Bird By Bird”. I still read loads of top ten fiction books – John Grisham, Jonathan Kellerman, Gillian Flynn, anything I can get my hands on. I also read a lot of business books – mostly written by successful women. I loved “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg.
Where do you find your inspiration to write?
Mostly from my family, but almost as often from current news stories. I’m always looking (in my case) for family/parenting/women oriented issues and read at least one daily newspaper (either in print or online). I read the magazines I write for and my Twitter stream is full of news feeds. I also listen to what people are interested in on social media. I watch morning television to see ‘what’s hot’ and constantly listen to 680News radio. I also search surveys and research studies online (associated with parenting) to see if a stat/finding can give me inspiration. I also just listen to what people are saying at Starbucks (I should have a warning sign around my neck, really). Get out and observe people and listen to what they’re saying.
Do you think maintaining a blog is a good way to get your name “out there”?
I do. A blog post doesn’t have to be long (as I’m sure you know) but a blog does have to be relevant and up to date. I don’t have a blog, but I do have a website and I do occasionally blog for other people. But as a starting writer it does a few things – gets your work in public domain, helps with your SEO, and also helps you to practice writing, especially if you set deadlines for yourself (ie blogging once a week etc). I know some ‘social media experts’ will say that you should only blog when you have something to say, but if you are trying to go beyond the blog, blogging on a regular basis is a great discipline.
What do you think is the key to becoming a successful writer?
Sounds ridiculous, but just keep writing. Pitch local papers and websites who might not pay, but will give you credentials and allow you to pitch bigger places. ALWAYS submit before your deadline, NEVER go over on word count, and be EASY to work with.
“Write every day, and read more than you write. Don’t be afraid to share your articles and to ask friends/family to share them too. Pitch everyone you think would like to run/print what you have to say.”