Monday, August 14, 2017

Kenneth Timm On Choosing the Writer's Life

I met Kenneth Timm this past spring during my third year serving on the Advisory Board for the University of Wisconsin - Superior School of Writing. He was one of several students whose work impressed me at a Senior Capstone Portfolio Presentation this past May. I asked if he might be open to being in the spotlight here sometime, and we finally got to it here. You can find a link to some of his writing at the end of this interview.

EN: How did you come to take an interesting in writing?

Kenneth Timm: I began writing when I was a young boy. At the age of seven or eight, I started jotting thoughts down and organizing them into writings of one kind or another. It was the structure of writing that interested me then, and still does today in much the same way. Like a piece of music or poetry, well written prose must flow. Creating that flow regardless of content is the challenge I enjoy. For what it’s worth, even though I started writing when I was really young, doing it for a living never really seemed like a possibility until the recent past.

EN: What kinds of writing do you specialize in?

KT: I have done and can do a variety of types of writing. Creative nonfiction is by far my favorite genre to write in, but I’ve experimented with and enjoy nature writing, and have also found creative fiction to be an interesting challenge. On the business side of things, I have experience with promotional, informational and technical writing.

EN: What do you enjoy most and what are you currently working on?

KT: As mentioned above, creative nonfiction is my favorite thing to write. There always seems to be something more impactful about true-to-life stories. Perhaps they are more relatable? I enjoy writing short pieces (1,000 words or less) that are perspectives of simple happenings around me that can oftentimes be overlooked. For the moment, though, I’ve taken a short break from that type of writing in an effort to regenerate after an intensive month of writing a blog to capture the daily events of a 600 mile walk. It was most challenging finding the time required to update a blog on a daily basis, and it became something of a thorn in my side. After a few weeks of separation from the end of the walk, I am just now beginning to write again. It was a good lesson in personal limits…

EN: How important is college for writer? That is, why not just write? In what ways did your classes at UWS broaden you or help you move forward in your career?

KT: Where my personal writing is concerned, I cannot possibly overstate the importance of having gotten a college education. There are several reasons for this. First—and most importantly—I was forced to get comfortable with other writers reading and critiquing my work. Workshopping written pieces can be a nerve-racking and humbling experience, but one a writer must get comfortable with. It is also a means of vastly improving on a piece that may or may not exist without the college environment. Secondly, writing classes in college forced me to write, and with each piece I wrote, my skills improved. At the very least, taking college writing classes exposed me to a wide variety of genres, and gave me the confidence required to attempt projects completely outside of my comfort zone.

EN: Can you share three or four tips for people seeking to pursue a writing career?

KT: (1) Write, write, write! Do it as often as possible; make a commitment to doing it daily. Also, experiment with different types of writing. Before college, I had no idea that I could write poetry!

(2) Surround yourself with other writers. The perspectives of others are highly valuable. Oftentimes we are just too close to our own work to see its flaws, shortcomings or potential. Along that same line of thinking, get used to and appreciate the criticism of others, but know when you feel strongly enough about something you’ve written to “just say no” to a suggested change.

(3) Take college writing classes! Especially if it feels uncomfortable to do so. Enough said…

(4) Treat writing like the job it is. Being a professional writer is difficult and time consuming work. Identify one or more physical locations where you write best. Also, find the time(s) of day when you write most effectively. Then combine those things and STICK TO THEM.

EN: Do you have a website or way for people seeking a writer to find you?

KT: I have a writer’s profile page. Here is the link:

I also created a blog for the 600-mile walk earlier this summer. While I’ not updating it at this point, I will be getting back into it in the near future.

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Thank you, Ken. Keep it going.

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