Questions from a Young Writer

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by Ann H. Gabhart

Recently I was interviewed by a young high school girl with dreams of writing the same as I had many years ago at her age. Selena hoped I might reveal some magic path to being a successful writer. I don’t think there is any magic. Instead blood, sweat and tears accompany the writing journey, but joy can light on our shoulders when the story flows from us to our readers. Here are a few of Selena’s questions and my answers.

  1. What is the best part about being a writer?

That has to be sharing your story with readers. It’s exciting when characters come to life as you follow them along their story path and the words start to flow.

  1. What is the worst part about being a writer?

Occasionally the story can stall and make you wonder if it’s really a story readers will enjoy. Also, sometimes you write what you think is a wonderful story but publishers don’t agree. Getting rejections is definitely not a fun part of being a writer, but most writers do collect a number of rejections before they see that first book or story in print. The writer who continues to believe in herself and keeps writing while trying to improve her writing skills has the most chance to eventually succeed.

  1. Which personality traits do you believe are vital to every writer?

Every writer needs a certain amount of confidence in his or her ability while also being open to constructive criticism in order to improve skills. A healthy curiosity about the world and what makes people tick serves a writer well. You need a vivid imagination and the ability to work in solitude. Being goal oriented helps in finishing projects. For me, the ability to persevere when things aren’t going well with my writing has served me well. If one idea or story doesn’t work, I try something new and just keep writing. A stubborn streak can, at times, be priceless.

  1. If you could create a “writer’s starter pack,” which items would you include, and why?

A physical starter pack could include anything from a notebook and a pencil to a word processor. But if you’re talking about an emotional or mental starter pack, then I would say courage to write, an idea that excites you, knowledge of grammar, a gift for words, an abundance of hope and plenty of resilience.

  1. What is the hardest part about being a writer?

That surely varies for each writer. What’s difficult for me might be easy for another writer. I have the hardest time getting the first draft of the story down to tell the story I want to tell. But once I have that first draft, I don’t really mind editing–something other writers hate. Then again, getting rejections is always discouraging.

  1. What inspires you the most?

Reading. I always get new ideas when I’m researching. But then I’m inspired by nature too and enjoy thinking about my stories while I’m walking out here on my farm.

  1. What advice would you give to all the aspiring writers out there?

Read widely every chance you get. You learn by seeing how others use words. Also, write. Practice putting words together. Then persevere and don’t let rejections throw you off track. Keep writing. Keep improving. Believe in yourself and have fun with words.

What is the best writing advice you ever received?

Ann H. Gabhart, the bestselling author of over thirty novels, enjoys writing Kentucky stories in various genres from historical to mysteries. Her new historical, These Healing Hills, is set in the Kentucky Appalachian Mountains. Ann and her husband enjoy country life on their Kentucky farm. Find out more at



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