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Non-fiction, Techniques

Note 77 – Non-fiction writing: How to succeed

For the background to my writing challenge, please read my first blog by clicking the following link – If you would prefer to dive straight into note 77, then please read on…

Non-fiction: How to succeed

I was flicking through some old writing magazines tonight trying to come up with something inspiring for today’s blog, when I stumbled across an article by Gordon Wells called ‘Not just talent’ (Writing Magazine, May 2008).   He explains that although you do need to know what you are talking about when writing non-fiction, kind of like being a “mini-expert”, you also require drive and determination in order to fully succeed. 

I’ve taken the following quote from his article:

Talent is a measure of what you have to say…and particularly your unique way of saying it.  Drive is a measure of how strongly you feel about saying it.  You really need to tell people something.  Determination is what keeps you going”  (Gordon Wells, Writing Magazine, May 2008).

I’m going to think of this as ‘Talent + Drive + Dermination = Success’

Going back to the “mini-expert” phrase that he mentions in his article – it sort of struck a chord with me.  I don’t know about you, but I would feel that I was failing my readers if I didn’t know my subject fully.  I think it’s important to know more than your readers (or most of them anyway) but as Gordon Wells says, you don’t necessarily need to be “the world’s leading expert” which is interesting.  The book that I have almost finished writing ‘A Gift for Stressed and Busy Parents’ has taken me a few years to perfect.  It not only includes my take on the subject (how I have dealt with the ups and downs) but also what I see going on around me.  Does that make me a ‘mini-expert’?

Having said all that, I am filled with drive and determination to succeed in my writing, hence being on day 77 out of 366 of this writing challenge, which is to become a better writer.  With my dream firmly fixed in my mind, my book will be published one day (a publisher has recently taken some interest in it).  As Gordon Wells says:

  • You have to really want to succeed as a non-fiction writer
  • When you submit your work, provide what your readers want
  • Do your market research and pitch at the right level
  • Study the rejections that you get – these are all learning points
  • Keep going; never stop writing if you know that it is your passion

Just one more thing….good luck with your writing.

Until tomorrow…


This blog:

My other blog:

My website: (includes the first chapter of my book)

Twitter: @madeirasandra and @tipsandluxuries

Reference list

Gordon Wells, Writing Magazine, May 2008 (UK) – non-fiction article ‘Not just talent’


About Sandra Madeira

I am a full-time working mum with a passion for writing and inspiring others. Subjects I tend to blog about are life skills, parenting, decluttering, worklife balance, etc. At the moment I am on a decluttering mission creating space in my house, garden and mind. I have challenged myself to do at least ten minutes a day and write about it. Have a good day! Sandra Freelance Writer


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