Writing about your life in the Netherlands

Writing about your life in the Netherlands

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Many people dream of writing a book someday. Very few people actually do so. Some fear their lives are simply not interesting enough and others think they do not have the time, or that it will cost too much money.

This article will dispel the myths and provide you with ideas, inspiration and encouragement to start writing today about your life in the Netherlands!

You are abroad - that is interesting

I believe that most of the things that happen to us overseas are, by default, interesting. The people you meet, who come from all over the world, the mistakes we make with language, the problems of dealing with cultural shock, exploring a new country, new experiences and so on.

Our lives are, in comparison to those of people who have not moved at all, rich, varied and fascinating to others. Look for differences and comparisons and write about them.

But what shall I write?

Maybe writing a book, first off, may be too large a goal, but there is nothing to stop you writing colourful emails, a regular journal, a blog or a column for a local magazine or website.

Your experiences and observations could interest others, particularly if you keep in mind that a piece of writing needs to do one or more of the following:

Ensure you include some of this in your piece and you are on the right lines.

Have you learned anything while overseas that others may like to know? Like, how to bring up a bilingual child, ride a tandem, windsurf, motivate a multicultural team, cook an East West fusion version of "stampot" and much more.

If you know how to do something then you can write an informative book, article or blog, sharing what you know!

Where will I find the time?

In her book, Becoming a Writer, Dorothea Brande claims that all you need to do is to motivate yourself to write for ten minutes a day and that will hard wire your brain to make you believe you are really writing. You are a writer. 

In her book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron suggests you use these ten minutes to write whatever comes into your head, in a stream of consciousness manner, and that this will loosen up your writing muscles and help you to be more creative, more aware and to identify the story potential of your experiences.

You do not have to write for hours at a time in order to produce something worthy. The ideal length of a blog entry is 400 words. That is just over one page. I can write two pages in ten minutes. What about you?

It is expensive

It costs nothing to start a blog. Writing a book can now be inexpensive too as you no longer need to buy a few thousand copies and store them in your garage while they sell.

Today, with Print On Demand technology and online bookstores, like Amazon, you can upload a pdf of your book to a website, like CreateSpace or Lulu and have all your books printed and posted for you, as they sell.

You do not even need to go to the Post Kantoor to mail them to purchasers. Sure, you need to have a book properly edited and to get a nice design for the inside and the cover, but, with research, you can get these done quite cheaply.

Who is doing it in the Netherlands?

› Janet Inglis

Expat Janet Inglis a teacher at Webster University, realised she knew a lot about how foreigners could find work in the Netherlands and wrote The Holland Handbook.

 Shirley Agudo 

Expat Shirley Agudo works as a writer for many Dutch-based magazines and recently published Bicycle Mania, packed with her own photographs and fascinating facts about bikes. In Dutch and English, it has a huge market.

 Ronald van der Krol

Ronald van der Krol wrote English for Nederlanders, because he realised the Dutch, while proficient in speaking English, could benefit from tips to help them become word perfect.

 Monique Rubin

American Monique Rubin writes about travel and lifestyle issues in Holland for Examiner and also writes a blog.

 Amanda van Mulligen

British Amanda van Mulligen writes a super blog called "Letter from the Netherlands", in which she writes about the things she learns and the people she meets. You can find her here.

 Carolyn van Es-Vines 

American, Carolyn van Es-Vines writes a blog about life here at her website and last year she won Best International Blog for her efforts. She is also writing her memoir, entitled Black and Abroad and will publish it herself.

These are just six examples of expats here who are writing about what they know; blogs, columns, articles, non-fiction books and memoir.

Jo Parfitt


Jo Parfitt

Author of 27 non-fiction books, journalist, writer, teacher, publisher and writers' mentor. My motto is sharing what I know to help others to grow and I specialise in writing and...

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