Katherine Ramsland has met the bogyman. Among her dark adventures, she has interviewed vampires and serial killers, stayed in haunted houses, and accompanied death investigators. She has published more than 1,000 articles and 48 books, including The Forensic Psychology of Criminal Minds, The Human Predator, Inside the Minds of Serial Killers, and The Mind of a Murderer. She writes a regular blog for Psychology Today, and has consulted for Bones and CSI. She has also appeared as an expert on numerous documentaries. Holding graduate degrees in forensic and clinical psychology, criminal justice, and philosophy, she teaches these subjects at DeSales University in Pennsylvania.
Katherine will be leading a workshop called “The I’s of the Muse: Planning and Writing Non-Fiction” that will discuss the steps towards building a compelling non-fiction piece, including where to find inspiration and research, how to develop your proposal, and finding your story’s personal hook.
We asked Katherine to tell us some of her story about what drives her, here is what she shared.
PWC How has your personal writing community influenced and assisted you?
KR The most valuable aspect of a writing community for me is to compare notes on how the publishing arena is changing. Whenever one finds an article, blog, or method for doing something, he or she shares it to benefit the others. Thus, I learn things I might not have known about on my own.
PWC Where do you draw your inspiration?
KR I get inspiration from the off-beat, whether it’s a crime, a character, or a subject area. I look for odd things that grab attention and make me want to know more.
PWC How important are conferences and conventions to a writer?
KR This depends on the writer’s stage of development. It’s important for new writers to get exposure to various aspects of the craft and the professional world, as well as for established writers who are attempting something entirely new in their careers. Networking is great for anyone, but too many conferences can interrupt the writing process. I tend to go to conferences in specific subject areas about which I want to write, such as forensics, rather than to conferences that focus on writing. There’s only so much time!
PWC What are some hints for getting your butt in the seat and your hands on the keyboard (or notepad)?
KR Ha! I just wrote a blog about this very thing, based on what other writers have said:
Basically, you keep firing up inspiration by setting goals about which you care, and then develop habits. Within 3 weeks, your brain figures out your routine and provides the sense of comfort needed to keep you in your seat. The Internet has actually harmed our ability to focus, but we can be disciplined about our use of it. Keep your priorities in view, invest in them according to what most motivates you, and the habits will develop. Be sure it’s what you want, because once the brain starts building neural pathways to support your habits, they’re hard to break!
PWC How do you balance your writing time with the rest of your life’s responsibilities?
KR I doubt that anyone would think of my life as “balanced.” In fact, balance ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Or maybe it’s that I’m too cracked up to know what balance is. The key for me is keeping lists. I get things done because I know what must be done and by when. Then I just do it.
PWC When did you first realize you were a writer?
KR I wrote a 1,000+ page novel when I was 15, in about three months, by hand, which was sworn to deep secrecy on pain of death. But still, I didn’t really know until my second book was under contract when I was in my late-30s and I experienced the thrill of deep immersion in writing. I’d never experienced anything before like stumbling circuitously into my “bliss” and it was a great revelation.
PWC What are you most looking forward to at the 2014 Philadelphia Writers’ Conference
KR Inspiring writers at all stages and in any genre to learn how to seize their aha! moments and launch into their projects with fresh vigor, new ideas, and greater excitement.
Want to meet Katherine and learn her techniques for writing? Register for the 2014 Philadelphia Writers’ Conference here!