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Six writing tips for global nomads

Every year I visit the international school here in the Netherlands attended by my own teenage TCKs to give a lecture on how to have a career as a writer. I love doing this. I don’t get paid in money but for me the payoff is having the opportunity to make 17 and 18-year-old global nomads recognize that they really could get into print and make money from it.

At the end of my lectures I offer to mentor any students who would like to get at least three pieces printed in various on and offline publications. This year I have had the privilege of working with three students, of which Sian Witherden has been a shining star. Key her name into Google and her work fills the first page.

Why am I so passionate about helping TCKs get published? That’s simple. TCKs are different from those who have not travelled. You think differently. You have had a wide range of experience, you know interesting people, you are broad-minded, flexible and most importantly, insightful.

If you have thoughts of being a writer and getting published, then here are some of my tips:

Six golden rules for global nomads who want to write

• Recognise the value of your experience. Your stories are interesting to other people, so find a way to make what happened to you relevant to the reader. For example, Sian has discovered that by learning to do Irish dancing in the Netherlands, she has met many Dutch teenagers, made friends, gained a hobby and integrated into local society. Her story inspires others who are new in town to maybe do the same.

• Whatever you write must have a purpose. It must either support, inform, inspire or entertain. If it does not fulfill at least one of those objectives, there will no reason for anyone to read it.

• Get feedback, get help, get a mentor. Pitching stories to editors of websites and magazines is a scary thing to do, particularly until you have gained some confidence in your abilities. Find someone who knows the ropes to work with you and guide you. Soon, you will be able to do it alone.

• Start now. Start a blog, write book reviews, theatre reviews, music reviews and start getting published on websites, blogs, in free papers and newsletters. The more practise you get the better, and more confident you will become.

• Read. Read other writing by people just like you. See what they are writing about, then put yourself in their shoes and see if you could do something similar for the same publication or similar for another, based on your own experiences.

• If it has happened to you, you can pen a few hundred words about it. You don’t need a degree in a subject to be able to write about it. You just need to have experienced it.


  1. Indira says

    This article is amazingly inspiring. I’m a… probably mostly Dutch TCK, having lived in the US, the Netherlands, Singapore, and Spain. I’ve now returned to the Netherlands, and I keep thinking I should write about my experiences.
    Still, you say people will be interested. So far, that has not seemed the case. I did a lot of my traveling without even my family, and even my family won’t listen to my stories. They talk about things that matter to them, everyday life. My everyday life is and was so different, it’s almost as if it’s too foreign for them, too “fancy”. Do you recognize this?


  2. Indira, not only do I recognise this, I think you will find it to be a universal truth. Those ‘left behind’ may not be interested, but those who are ‘still out there’ will love it. Where are you in the Netherlands? I am in the Hague.


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