Search & Replace S02E23: Majken Selinder Nilsson

Creative pursuits can be great stress-busters. Majken Selinder Nilsson discovered writing as a release for the uncertainty in her world. When her husband was laid off after a major move to a new city, Majken began to write as a hobby and, to some extent, escapism from the stress. Find out how this self-described accidental author found her creative outlet on Search and Replace.

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[00:00:00] Announcer: Support for the following podcast is provided by the user experience specialist at Johns and Taylor. More information follows this episode. 

[00:00:10] Joe Taylor Jr.: What if the new hobby you picked up as a form of self-care leads you to a whole new career? I’m Joe Taylor, Jr. This is Search and Replace.

Like many of us, Majken Selinder Nilsson and her family made a big move based on a career decision. 

[00:00:34] Majken Selinder Nilsson: In 2013 my husband received a transfer with his company at the time from Nevada to Atlanta, Georgia. And so we packed up our house and moved our three dogs and four kids across the country and thought everything would be great. And a year to the day they eliminated his job company wide.

So here we were in a new place where we really knew no one, had no family, had really no support system in place at all. And it took a while for my husband to find anything comparable for work. So he was working, but he was either underemployed or unemployed. He drove Uber for a while trying to make ends meet.

Things were tight and tough, and self-care was limited, and the stress was definitely high. 

[00:01:17] Joe Taylor Jr.: In a situation like that, many of us would love to find an opportunity to escape, to pursue the kind of self-care that offers a chance to let off some steam. So you could say it was a little steam that led Majken to her own realization.

[00:01:33] Majken Selinder Nilsson: One day I just had this idea pop into my head when I was in the shower and I thought, I’m gonna run downstairs and write that out and see what happens. And I started making small goals. Like I’ll write five pages and see where it goes. 

At the time, even though I’d written essays and things like twenty, twenty-five pages, five pages of a fiction novel seemed really daunting. So I was like, oh, I’ll just see where this goes. 

So I wrote and I wrote, and three and a half months later, I had a 600 page book all done, and I was quite shocked about that and I felt a lot better. So I stumbled upon the fact that writing is apparently my form of self-care. 

[00:02:09] Joe Taylor Jr.: What Majken discovered was something that many fiction writers say is a big attraction to their craft.

[00:02:15] Majken Selinder Nilsson: It helped a lot because I had zero control in the world around me, what was happening. No matter how hard we tried, we kept hitting different walls and having to redirect and I could control world in this box that I created and I could make people do whatever I wanted to, and it was actually really freeing.

It was interesting to watch how my children responded as well. It sparked a lot of creativity in my own kids, too, which was really fun to watch – that hadn’t been there before. So it was actually really neat to have my kids see that you can try new things and sometimes be successful at them even though you had no forethought or planning about it. Just give things a try and see what happens. 

[00:02:53] Joe Taylor Jr.: Through it all, Majken wasn’t always escaping from the issues her family faced. In fact, some of them showed up on her manuscript pages. 

[00:03:01] Majken Selinder Nilsson: Something that I didn’t even realize about my books until somebody else pointed it out to me. My husband and I went through five years of infertility treatment. I did not realize how much I had incorporated fertility issues for women into my stories.

All of my books deal with childbearing or infertility or getting older and do you want more children or not, or miscarriage. Lots of different elements of what it is to be a person who gives birth and all of the package that comes along with that, whether it’s good or bad, a struggle or not. And I really hadn’t realized that that is not an issue that’s often addressed in a lot of women’s literature.

[00:03:42] Joe Taylor Jr.: Majken’s unconventional approach to her work let her down a similarly unusual path to publication. 

[00:03:47] Majken Selinder Nilsson: The fact that I became an accidental author meant that I had no experience in publishing at all, had no idea what route to take, who to talk to, where to even start.

So that took a lot of research and I just started sending query letters to literary agents and also to publishing houses directly. And within a month or so, I got a bite for my first publishing house called Solstice Publishing. And they’re a small indie publisher that does great work and they picked me up. So while I was in the process of editing that book, I was also starting my third book. 

It’s really, really humbling. I will say that there’s so much emotion in these books, pent up emotion in myself, in our situation when I wrote them and the characters became friends, the plot became part of my life. So to see people enjoy that and have them be well received is, is really humbling. 

[00:04:44] Joe Taylor Jr.: With everything she’s learned so far from her path as a self-described accidental author, Majken’s got advice if you’re thinking of drafting your own manuscript. 

[00:04:54] Majken Selinder Nilsson: I would just say do it. Sit down and see what’s in there. I mean, I didn’t think I had three, 500 plus page novels in my brain either. Just give it a shot. 

Everybody’s so worried about, well, what if I’m not any good? What if I spell things wrong? What if my grammar’s terrible? That’s what good editors are for, honestly. Just sit down and try it. You might surprise yourself and you’re not gonna lose anything by taking a shot. And if you find out it’s not for you, well then there’s probably something else you’re good at. But at least take the chance.

And all that you can be told is no. And it’s therapeutic and cathartic for people to give things a try anyway. So I would definitely say you could do yourself the best favor ever in just giving things a try, and if you’re not good at it, you’re not good at it, but at least you try. 

[00:05:37] Joe Taylor Jr.: That’s author Majken Selinder Nilsson. We’ve got links to her books in our show notes and on our website at

Also on our show notes some thoughts from author Renée Kapuku who, like Majken, advocates writing as a crucial form of self-care. She notes that if you are experiencing loss or destruction in your life, writing becomes an important chance for you to balance your world by creating something new. She even notes that the process of writing can help you build new habits that impact other areas of your life.

And if writing’s not your thing, Nicole Clancy’s got a few other ideas for creative pursuits that also act as stress busters. She says calming activities don’t have to take a lot of time, money, or even talent. In fact, if you’ve been experiencing stress in your career, a creative hobby with no professional stakes on the line can. A failure proof outlet for some nervous energy. Those stories and more in our show notes and on our website at 

Search and Replace was produced by Nicole Hubbard with support from Christine Benton, Connie Evans, Amelia Lohmann, April Smith, and executive producer Lori Taylor. Our theme music was composed by Alex ReFire. I’m Joe Taylor, Jr.

[00:07:05] Announcer: This has been a Podcast Taxi radio production. 

Support for Search and Replace is provided by Johns Taylor, user experience specialists serving media and technology companies that want their websites to work. Learn more about how top performing businesses eliminate barriers between customers and their goals at

Joe Taylor Jr. has produced stories about media, technology, entertainment, and personal finance for over 25 years. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, and ABC News. After launching one of public radio's first successful digital platforms, Joe helped dozens of client companies launch or migrate their online content libraries. Today, Joe serves as a user experience consultant for a variety of Fortune 500 and Inc. 5000 businesses. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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