By Ron Sandison
On August 21st my second book Thought, Choice, Action was published. I spent over 1,200 hours researching and writing this book. I now have two traditionally published books and speak at over 70 events a year on autism including 20 plus educational conferences. In the process of writing my books I learned seven valuable lessons for individual with autism who desire to be authors.
1. Good writers spend time writing.
There’s an old saying, “How do you eat an elephant?”—answer—“One bite at a time.” This is also true of good writers—“How do you become a good writer?”—“Writing one word at a time.” If you want to be a good author and get published articles and books you have to set aside time to write. I write five to eight hours each Monday and Thursday on my days off from the hospital. Journalist Jessie Hewitson said, “Writing isn’t usually something you are born good at. It’s just about practice. I think the best journalists are people who listen, gain people’s trust, who are open to different sides of an argument or issue, and who are self-aware.”
2. Write about your passions and special interests.
I am passionate about autism and theology so I enjoy writing on these two topics. Dr. Tony Attwood observed, “People with autism can quickly become experts on anything that interests them.” In the postmodern generation an expert is someone who knows more and more about less and less. Great writers are avid readers. While writing my book A Parent’s Guide to Autism, I read over 120 books on autism and also interviewed over 40 top experts from the autism field. For my second book Thought, Choice, Action, I read over 300 books on theology including all St. Augustine’s writings.
3. Build a strong platform and social media following to market your writing.
Two ways you can build your platform are writing blogs and speaking engagements. If you write on autism and hope to publish a book begin publishing articles on The Art of Autism, The Mighty, or other blog sites. Ask your friends on Facebook to share your articles with their social network of friends. When you add a contact on LinkedIn send your new contact a message with an article sharing your story or one of your favorite blogs you have written. You can also add to your social network by interviewing other authors.
I interview about twenty authors a year and publish articles. I also write 5 Star Amazon Reviews for them. These same authors help promote my books by writing 5 Star Amazon Reviews and letting their followers known about my writing.
My first book A Parent’s Guide to Autism I sold over a thousand copies at my speaking events. I am currently doing a speaking tour for my second book Thought, Choice, Action speaking at conferences, colleges, autism centers, and churches.
4. Personal fan team, cheering you in your writing.
Writing can be lonely and discoursing and having friends and other authors as a cheer team can offer you the encouragement to finish your book. I am currently writing my third book The Good Theologian: An autistic’s adventure of faith & hope this book will be 55,000 words. When I feel a lack of motivation I can contact my cheer team and be energized with new ideas and fresh topics for my writing.
5. Pray for God to bring inspiring people along your path.
God is not in the theology business but helping people. I pray for God to bring inspiring people with autism into my life so I can share their stories and learn from them. After praying this prayer, I met Peter Lantz, a computer designer with Asperger’s at the barber shop and interviewed him and wrote an article for The Art of Autism. In September after praying this prayer, I received a LinkedIn request from Armani Williams, the first NASCAR driver diagnosed with autism and interviewed him—the article went viral.
6. Good writers are observant of life.
Don’t become so focused on your writing routine that you miss out on life. The best articles and books are written by authors who are transparent and share their life experiences. Disruptions to writing may provide you with a new story to share.
7. Skin as thick as a honey badger.
Thomas à Kempis said, “The heart of great peace pays no attention to praise or blame.” As an author with autism this lesson has been the hardest for me to learn, since I tend to take everything personally and put so much time and effort into my writing. I receive daily emails from people who love my books and articles and also those who disagree or hate my writings—some have even attacked my character based on topics I have written. If I took every email criticism personally—my self-esteem tank would be empty and I feel worthless about myself.
Matt Hearnden, a blogger, wrote, “Here’s a truth: we can’t have it both ways. We can’t expect to have adoration without criticism. Nobody can. Look at all the most famous people in the world — they get a lot of love, and they get a lot of hate. It’s just reality. Pleasant? Maybe not. Unfair? Maybe. But reality doesn’t care about adjectives. It cares about nothing. It just is.”
I’ll leave you with this final thought, “Don’t be scared to fail.” Published authors fear missed opportunities rather than failure. My first manuscript was rejected by over 20 traditional publishers but instead of giving up I keep writing. Now I have two traditionally published books.
As Charles Spurgeon said, “By perseverance the snail reached the ark.”
Amazon link to my newest book Thought, Choice, Action:
Amazon link to my first book A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Practical Advice. Biblical Wisdom:
Ron Sandison works full time in the medical field and is a professor of theology at Destiny School of Ministry. He is an advisory board member of Autism Society Faith Initiative of Autism Society of American. Sandison has a Master of Divinity from Oral Roberts University and is the author of A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Practical Advice and Thoughts, Choice, Action. Biblical Wisdom published by Charisma House. He has memorized over 10,000 Scriptures including 22 complete books of the New Testament and over 5,000 quotes.
He frequently guest speaks at colleges, conferences, autism centers, and churches. Ron and his wife, Kristen, reside in Rochester Hills, MI, with a baby daughter, Makayla Marie born on March 20, 2016. You can contact Ron at his website www.spectruminclusion.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org