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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Review - You are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One) by Jeff Goins

In his new book You are a Writer (so start acting like one), Jeff Goins combines a pep rally with an autobiography with a marketing class. The resulting cocktail is both encouraging and motivating.

Early on, I kept hearing flashes of Seth Godin in the tightly-packed prose filled with delectable one-liners that seem to effortlessly parse the state of things. Some examples that stood out to me:

“Stop writing for accolades, and start writing for passion.”
“Everything is practice.”
“Multitasking is a myth. You can either create or react. But you can’t do both. Choose wisely.”
“There is no wrong thing. Just begin. Once you learn how to finish, you’ll be able to start again.”
“But the greatest failure is to never risk at all.”
“Serving people is the best way to earn influence.”
“If you want to be a writer, if you want this badly enough, you will work.”

Goins doesn’t soften the message that writing is hard, unforgiving, low-paying, grueling labor that can’t be done lightly. But the way he peppers the text with stories of both his failures and his successes makes the butt-kicking seem more like friendly encouragement and less like the crack of a whip.

At about the half-way point of the book there’s a transition from the ‘why’ of being a writer to the ‘how’ of being a writer. No, this isn’t a text on grammar or plot, instead Goins outlines the business of writing and explains how to do the work necessary to get your words in front of the eyes of your readers. In an industry that is beholden to the lightning-strike stories of Harry Potter and The Help, Goins contrasts them with the slow, steady, methodical work that most writers actually go through.

You can hold on to your dreams, hoping that one day someone will choose you and ask you to be a writer. Or, you can do as Goins suggests and “choose yourself.” It won’t be easy, but, “writing is mostly a mind game. It’s about tricking yourself into becoming who you are. If you do this long enough, you begin to believe it. And pretty soon, you start acting like it.”

As a writer who has struggled and stumbled to find out many of these truths, I wish I would have had this book to read two years ago as I was starting my journey. But even now, I have a lot to learn about believing I really am a writer and acting like it. No matter where you are in your career, this book will give you hope and insight into the craft and industry of writing. 

(Update: the book has launched, links are live: Book website Amazon)

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