By Shawneda Crout | STC Member
“Whatever you do, Shawneda, make sure it involves writing.” My foster dad locked eyes with me. “Everyone can’t write, it’s a gift. Use it.”
Books, fiction and nonfiction, were my first love as a child. I’d researched enough of my favorite authors to know that writing books for a living didn’t provide enough to live on for most authors. According to my AP program’s personality test, I’d be well suited to being a judge or organizational psychologist. The test pointed out my logical and analytical capabilities as strengths to use to secure my professional future.
I couldn’t forget my foster father’s words over the years. My AP Literature teacher agreed with him. She submitted my information to the Princeton English Department in my junior year as a prospect for a scholarship program. Pointing out how much writing lawyers and psychologists do, my Dad inferred the personality test reinforced what he said.
Years later, on my wedding day, my Dad’s toast sounded very familiar. “Congratulations, Shawneda, I’m very proud of you. No matter where your life takes you, don’t forget to write. Use your gift.” Tears came to my eyes as I smiled at my Dad. His commitment to me living up to my full potential by finishing college and using my gift with words inspired me even after he passed away.
When I finished writing my first novel and first poetry book in 2005, he preordered the first copies of each. I proudly signed and shipped his copies the day the first box of books arrived on my porch. Learning to self-publish led to learning about marketing, business, and with the timing of my novels coinciding with the release of the Kindle, I made a livable wage from writing fiction for a few years.
When a nurse told me one day while volunteering at the local daycare my blood pressure was stroke level, I knew something had to change. Instead of blaming my sedentary writing lifestyle as the problem, I looked to writing as part of my solution. How could I continue to write and be healthier? Blogging about healthy living led to becoming Aerobatics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) certified as a group fitness instructor to have access to professional resources from proven health and fitness leaders.
My love for technology grew alongside my love for writing. The same creativity used to create entire worlds, depict juicy drama, and bring readers to tears came to be very useful in creating marketing campaigns and ghostwriting for others when the self-publishing landscape changed again. Designing book covers, building websites, and book promotion campaigns gave me as much satisfaction as working on my stories and nonfiction books.
Blogging about healthy living has changed as much as self-publishing. Chronicling my journey toward living a healthy lifestyle as a professional writer evolved into wanting to help other writers find their best healthy writing life as well. Recognizing I preferred the foundational principles of communications and wanting to help people, I shifted from marketing to technical communication.
Imagine my surprise while attending my graduate courses to earn my masters in Technical Communication at Minnesota State University, Mankato when professors referenced fiction writing techniques that helped with technical writing. I also learned how to replace marketing with ethical persuasive writing. Being a novelist and a healthy writing blogger led to discovering the field of technical communication. I imagine being a technical communicator and author would make my Dad proud. Everything I do incorporates my gift of writing.
SHAWNEDA CROUT (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a technical communicator and author. Her work is fueled by hot tea and good music. She’d love to connect with you on LinkedIn. To find out more about her go to www.shawneda.com.