Ask the Authors: Repurpose Your Skills

Ask the Authors, Tips, Writing

People often assume it takes an incredible stroke of luck or skill to become an author. But how many authors started out from the beginning desiring to write books? How many of them, instead, started out in a completely different field? We asked Rebecca A. Miles to share about her experience becoming an author, and we hope this can inspire you, too, if you’ve ever considered writing a book. 

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In the evening or on the weekends when you settle down with a good book, perhaps you wish that you too could write a novel, or become the author of a non-fiction book. I want to pose the question—so why don’t you?

Everyone is so used to functioning well in their careers that they forget they are possessed of a particular set of skills. People often will say, “What I do is nothing special.” But often that isn’t true; it is just that you are used to your job tasks, so you think anyone can do them.

Many careers demand both a high level of writing ability and involve a circumscribed body of knowledge. This is why so many attorney’s write either non-fiction books, or especially murder mysteries; Scott Turow and Meg Gariner come to mind. If you are a practicing or retired attorney, you already know how the law and the police interact in their interdependent functions. Add a crime and you’ve got the makings of a great novel.

Kathy Reichs is still creating intriguing mysteries about her character Temperance Brennan. Ms. Reichs didn’t start out to be an author, but her career as a forensic anthropologist and professor provide her with a body of knowledge that is directly related to solving crimes, current and past. Her day to day work tasks demand that she reason through the scientific lens and write cogently—both skills that already existed before she ever put fingers to keyboard.

Teachers, at the university or secondary levels, have access to a wide range of areas of knowledge that can be repurposed into a second  career as a writer. If you are a teacher, you know which children in the neighborhood are likely to create interesting circumstances. You are privy to the hotbed of politics involved in school board meetings or between university deans. Teachers see first hand the conflicts and alliances that exist between coaches and parents, another excellent topic for a novel—think of Pat Conroy, an educator turned author.

If you Google me, you will see that in my first career, I worked for a large research university, specializing in Behavioral Medicine in Oncology. I hold a doctorate in psychology, which meant that I had research, teaching, supervisory and clinical responsibilities.  My position at the university and in my private practice, required that I write about patients and their families everyday, especially their struggles to face a disease that often is lethal. That work gave me a certain point of view on human life, a perspective with which I imbue my characters, Chief Detective Jablonsky and amateur sleuth Kate Chambers.

Connecting the specialized body of knowledge you already possess to the level of your writing skills will generate a creative synergy.  If you have been longing to express a certain point of view in non-fiction or through fictional characters, go for it.  I, and many others, are proof that repurposing skills can lead to a second career as an author. Who knows? You may fulfill your dream if you sit down with a blank page and see where it takes you. I’ve loved my experience with Torchflame Books. They’re a good company to help you repurpose your skills.

REBECCA A. MILES was raised, educated, and established her career in the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. From her work as a psychologist specializing in Behavioral Medicine in Oncology, she became a recognized expert and presenter on grief, the grieving process, and the psychology of dealing with loss. Rebecca A. Miles holds a doctorate in psychology from Duquesne University. Connect with her at Follow her on Twitter @rmmysteries or on Amazon’s Author Page.

Learn more about Rebecca and her books here.


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