When I was at Blissdom a couple of months ago I had to choose between seeing Jeff Goins speak about falling back in love with writing and a session with Tyler Merrick about working with intention. I chose Merrick and it was a great session. But a couple of friends who attended the Goins talk told me it was the best session of the weekend. So I was really glad to hear he had a ebook coming out, and really delighted that he sent me a copy to read and review. And you know? It is one of the best books on writing I've read in a while. And I've been reading about writing a lot lately.
In You Are a Writer, Goins doesn't cover craft. He doesn't suggest what topics will sell best. He doesn't roll out his long writing career and long list of editor relationships as credentials. He writes about how his path as a writer has been hard at times, how he has had some success, but also been frustrated and burnt out. And then he describes how he found his way out from there and how. He writes about how the writing and publishing paradigm can - and should - be different, and how straightforward it is to shift it. At the root of it, he offers simple advice:
1. Write. A lot.
2. Write for yourself.
3. Fall (back) in love with writing.
4. Put your work out into the world consistently.
This book is a reminder to stop writing what we think others want us to say how we think they want us to say it. Instead, he recommends we find our individual voice, build a platform, and make connections with people who will help get our work in front of more people. When he did these things, he says, readers (and publishers) came to him. He believes his methods will work for others. And I have just enough experience at this game to believe he is right.
Of course I am over-simplifying because I want you to read the book for yourself. Goins' voice is warm and encouraging. He doesn't make promises of easy success. He doesn't pretend that the writing life is easy or that you will get rich living it. What he offers, instead, is a encouragement to come back to your passion for writing. A reminder that we writers write because we have something to say. We have voices and we want to leave a mark. And he suggests ways to keep our passion alive while also building a legacy. He encourages us to believe in ourselves. To know we are writers no matter how big our audience is. He encourages us to keep writing.
I've been struggling with the process of querying and submitting, trying to figure out what to write about and who to write for. This book's message lands in my lap at just the right time. I chose writing as a path because I love to write. I know I have things to say - stories to tell, experiences to share, things to teach. But in the effort of chasing a paycheck, I'm already starting to lose confidence in my voice.
Of course the pay is important. I don't have a full-time job, like he did, to support me while I build a platform. But I do have the cornerstone of a platform already in this blog. I believe I am a good writer and I am committed to improving. After reading this book it is clear to me that the puzzle piece I'm missing is the connections. This is where I need to focus my energy. But at the same time I need to keep writing. Keep showing up at the page and exercising my voice. I have been slipping at this habit and I miss writing for the sheer joy of words.
Thank you, Mr. Goins, for reminding me that I am a writer. I just need to write. And keep writing.
You can find the ebook on his You Are A Writer page (in Kindle, Nook or PDF formats, but sadly not for iBooks). He is also offering great packages that include worksheets and additional audio content and interviews along with the book.
*The links above are not affiliate links and I received no compensation for reviewing the book other than the opportunity to read it.