Thursday, June 19, 2014

Eight Years as a Writer Abroad

Today marks Writer Abroad’s eighth anniversary of being an American writer in Switzerland. To celebrate, she’d like to list eight reasons it’s great to live abroad as a writer.

One: Living abroad improves creativity. Research from INSEAD proves this.

Two: You’ll differentiate yourself. Abroad, you’ll find you have unique skills in the marketplace—especially if you’re living in a country where English is not an official language.
Eight years after moving to Switzerland:
Writer Abroad's first book signing

Three: You’ll understand where you came from. If you never leave your country of birth, you’ll never see it clearly because you’ll never have anything to compare it with.

Four: You’ll learn to take initiative. With no English-language writing instruction in Zurich, for example, Writer Abroad had to offer it herself by founding the Zurich Writers Workshop or it wouldn’t exist. Bonus? Now she has event planning skills too.

Five: You’ll learn new skills. Besides event planning, Writer Abroad has learned to diversify her skills because living abroad gave her those opportunities. German to English advertising adaptations, proofreading, editing non-native English, travel writing, blogging…and the list continues.

Six: Isolation. Writer Abroad knows it helps her get more done. Writing can also be an escape from the pressures of living in a place where you’re not fluent in the local language too. It makes you prolific.

Seven: Inspiration. Stories come naturally when crazy things happen to you every day.

Eight: You’ll never have to think “what if?” Most writers have romantic notions of living abroad. While the reality can be much less romantic, living in another country is still a rite of passage for many writers. Why think about it when you can do it?

Why do you like being a writer abroad?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

What your favorite authors have in common

It took until last week to realize it, but here is something all of Writer Abroad’s favorite authors have in common: one-star reviews on amazon.

These are fantastic, funny, and talented writers. And they endure a seemingly endless wave of crappy reader reviews.

How did Writer Abroad come to this conclusion? Well, she got her first one-star review last week. And she’s not going to lie—seeing it for the first time was kind of like being punched in the gut.

But what helped ease the pain as quickly as it arrived was realizing that all of her favorite authors had one-star reviews too. All of them. Put your work out there and there is only one guarantee: it’s going to get everything from a one-star review to a five-star review.

Why? Because we all like to read different things and we all have different backgrounds and senses of humor. There’s a book for everyone but not everyone will like a book. It’s reality. One person loves David Sedaris. Another doesn’t get his humor at all.

And often people who give reviews haven’t even read the book they are reviewing, so they can’t be taken too seriously. One person who recently left a review for Writer Abroad gave her book five stars but said in the review that they hadn’t even read it yet. So there you have it. Good and bad on both ends of the non-reader reviewers of your book.

However, most writers, by the time they have actually published a book, are pros at rejection and humiliation. Writer Abroad has been through enough in the last ten years as a writer to know that if you want to be a writer, you must have two things: courage to put your writing out in the world and a thick skin to survive its existence in the public sphere.

Otherwise, you might as well apply for law school.


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