Writers Worth: Your Pen of Expertise

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Cathy Miller is a vital part of my daily life. If I don’t talkwith her in email at least once a day, it’s not a very good day. She has that calm demeanor that masks a wicked sense of humor and a business savvy that’s enviable. She’s a catnip person — you just want to be around her.
Becauase of her incredible business sense, Cathy’s posts are often heartfelt and spot-on perfect. This one is no exception. Here. Cathy tells us why we should expect more of ourselves.

Thank you, friend.

Writer’s Worth: Your Pen of Expertise

by Cathy Miller

Writers are information hogs. We wallow in books, blogs, forums, and groups – in search of learning something new. Our hunger for knowledge is what makes us good at what we do. It can also deliver a shot to our own writer’s worth. How? By allowing someone else to determine our worth.

Pen of Expertise

Each of us is unique. Your business and life experience is different from mine. Mine does not match yours. And that is something to celebrate. Imagine the world full of people with cookie-cutter lives. Pretty boring. What would we talk about? What would we write?

The words you write come from your personal pen of expertise. No one can duplicate that and that makes you unique. When you wander outside the pen to learn something new, carry the knowledge you are already special. What you learn does not change your writer’s worth. It complements it. Otherwise, it is not worth considering.

I love the generosity of other writers. Lori’s Free Advice Friday is a perfect example. Supplementing that generosity with the books and training of writing colleagues is a great way to expand our personal worth as a writer. Peter Bowerman’s Well-Fed Writer was one of my early favorites.

Professionals like Lori and Peter would be the first to tell you that you are the keeper of your pen. The advice they offer comes from their unique experience. The difference is in the sharing, not telling.

Acorns of Truth

If you follow my blogs, you see frequent references to my dad’s southernisms. One I heard often while growing up was:

Even a blind hog picks up an acorn every now and then.

When we start our freelance career, we relate to the blind hog. We pig out on advice and information, hoping to root out an acorn of truth that puts us on the path to a successful career. Lord knows, there are plenty of experts with platefuls of opinions. You may allow them in your pen but remember – it’s still your pen.

Experts may say your pen stinks or it isn’t big enough. You need to earn more, charge more, dump more. You decide if there is an acorn of truth in the advice, based on your pen. Your pen of expertise is your solid ground to build on.

And there are all kinds of pens in the world. There are those who love city life and others who go the rural route. Writers are like that. The diversity makes for a good read. Discover what you’re passionate about and find a way to bring the passion to your pen. You may need to sort through a few acorns to find the one that works, but when you do, you’ll be in hog heaven.

Hog Heaven

Continuous learning empowers your dream. So, there is nothing wrong with listening to the opinions of others. Gather up the information and maybe even try it on for size. If it doesn’t fit, move on. Be confident that your pen of expertise will guide you.

Some may think a hog’s world is a strange vehicle for a discussion on writer’s worth. I never said I wasn’t strange. My dad’s southernisms have spun many a literary web. It works for me. The expression of your writer’s worth is found in who you are.

Some of us need bigger pens to play in. Others are content with our own corner of the world. Dare to define your own hog heaven. Embrace your pen of expertise and seek out the acorns of truth for your writing world.


Cathy Miller has a business writing blog at Simply stated business. Her blog, Why 60 Miles, is in the early stages and inspired by her passion for walking 60 miles in 3 days to support research for finding a cure for cancer.

About the author




  • Cathy Miller May 9, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    The feeling is entirely mutual, Lori. You have the challenging job of helping me stay sane. 🙂

    I am appreciative of the opportunity to take part in Writers Worth month. But even more appreciative of our friendship. Thank you.

  • Anne Wayman May 9, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    continuous learning for sure… that's me… thank the goddess for libraries.

  • Lori Widmer May 9, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    I appreciate your contribution, Cathy. I love it.

    Anne, exactly. If we stop learning, we stagnate. Eventually, it shows.

  • Sharon Hurley Hall May 9, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    Great post, Cathy, and love the hog/pen metaphor. 🙂

  • Cathy Miller May 9, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Thank you, ladies. You both put me in hog heaven. 🙂

  • Cathy Miller May 9, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Make that all three of you! Anne, I love libraries, too – maybe it's that silence thing we chatted about earlier. 😉

  • Paula May 9, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Not sure if it's the writer in me or the city girl, but I kept visualizing an ink pen, not a livestock pen. The funny thing? They both work.

    I've always believed if you give 10 writers the same assignment, you'll come up with 10 very different stories. Cathy's blog post explains why that's true.

  • Eileen May 9, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    In my opinion, every writer's business budget should include funds for continuing education. Whether that's conferences, webinars, coaching, or books, you need to continually invest in yourself. I've invested in all the above, but I would say the greatest ROI by far was hiring a coach at two separate points in my career. If we don't value ourselves enough to invest in our careers, why should we expect clients to value us?

  • Cathy Miller May 9, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    Be careful, Paula. You're beginning to understand me. 🙂 The individual pen interpretation was intentional. You city girl, you. 😉

    Eileen – I totally agree. My budget always has an education piece to it. Thanks for sharing that.

  • Lori Widmer May 9, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    Eileen, you've said it perfectly. WE have to value ourselves enough to invest in our own education. AMEN!

  • Ashley May 12, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    Passion is oh so important to our jobs. If we hate what we do, what's the point of doing it? That's why I left the 9-to-5. I just don't like doing 9-to-5! (Well, there's one other little reason too, but she's not so little anymore!) I like to work when I'm at my best, not on someone else's schedule. That's my favorite pen to work in 🙂