Have you been struggling to find time for writing in your busy life? Are you sitting on a good idea, but can’t focus to get it done? Today on Financial Fluency, I’m pleased to have Gabriela Pereira with me. Gabriela is the author of DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build Your Community and founder of DIY MFA, the do-it-yourself alternative to a Master's degree in writing. She created DIY MFA to help writers around the world get the "knowledge without the college." Gabriela’s mission is to empower creative individuals to take an entrepreneurial approach to writing.
On the show, Gabriela mentions she’s had many prior lives, and jokingly considers herself to be part feline because of that. She worked as a psychology researcher for a while then went on to design toys before founding DIY MFA. Gabriela admits it was an accident; she didn’t found DIY MFA, it “found” her. On this episode, you’ll hear how that accident came to fruition and where she is today.
Gabriela starts off by sharing where the idea for DIY MFA began. Gabriela admits she went to school to get her MFA for all the wrong reasons. She didn’t know how to get published, but she knew she was good at writing. It wasn’t until she was sitting in her commencement ceremony expecting to feel like a writer, and she didn’t feel it, that the DIY idea came to her. She talked to a lot of people, and she realized a fair amount of them could not go on to obtain their MFA as she did. Gabriela thought about how she could share what she learned in the MFA structure and how to help people construct their DIY MFA themselves. Gabriela did what everyone did with a blog in 2010—she wrote about it, and her question was simple: "If there was a DIY MFA would you do it?”
Fast-forward to 2012, Gabriela is nine months pregnant and attending the Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City. At the conference, she finds herself talking to a guy who asked to hear her “pitch slam.” (It’s kind of like speed dating for writers - you pitch your book idea to an agent.) To Gabriela’s surprise, this man ended up being a Writer’s Digest agent. After hearing her pitch, he gave her his card and said to send him the book proposal. Gabriela notes before jumping the gun she contacted an old colleague, Jeff Kleinman. After talking to him, she ended up signing him as her agent. The first thing he told her was that her site and social numbers needed to improve, so Gabriela spent two and a half years building her platform. She grew her business, spoke at conferences, made connections, and got her name out there. At the end of December of 2014, she signed the book writing contract, and DIY MFA took off.
Gabriela believes people should write their book; it’s an accomplishment that gives the author three extra tools for their writing toolbox.
- Publishing a book is a credibility builder for your career.
- Writing your book gives you visibility as an author.
- The journey of writing the book makes you clarify your ideas.
Gabriela’s Writing Techniques
Writing advice from Gabriela to help you power through writing a book.
- Pick one. Zero in and make a choice on what you want to do, what you want to write about, and figure out where your heart is. Stick with it until the end. Remember, if you say “no” to something, you’re saying yes to the thing you want.
- Revise. Take your revisions as far as you can. Start editing the important part of your book: voice, characters, plot. After you’ve reviewed those elements to make sense of your story, you can move to the scene-by-scene. Look at the dialogue and description. You don’t want to go through a manuscript line-by-line with a red pen if you’re going to end up deleting portions of the book.
- Keep writing. Avoid the “Shiny Object” syndrome, and focus on writing the one thing your heart tells you to do. Keep pushing through. Writing in the middle of the book is the most daunting task for a lot of writers. Keep thinking about the story and how to keep your readers along for the journey.
The great benefit of Gabriela’s advice is you can use this approach for any written project in your business.
To keep up with Gabriela and DIY MFA, visit the website here. Also, if you're a newbie to the writing industry, blogger, or established author, Gabriela has a writing podcast for you: DIYMFA.com/iTunes (iTunes), DIYMFA.com/StitcherRadio (Stitcher Radio), DIYMFA.com/GooglePlay (Google Play).
You can also follow her on social media:
Gabriela Pereira is a writer, speaker, and self-proclaimed word nerd who wants to challenge the status quo of higher education. As the founder and instigator of DIYMFA.com, her mission is to empower writers to take an entrepreneurial approach to their professional growth. Gabriela earned her MFA in creative writing from The New School and teaches at national conferences, regional workshops, and online.
She is also the host of DIY MFA Radio, a popular podcast where she interviews bestselling authors. Her book DIY MFA: WRITE WITH FOCUS, READ WITH PURPOSE, BUILD YOUR COMMUNITY is out now from Writer’s Digest Books.