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Words of Others: Jeff Goins
Today’s Words of Others features a brief encounter of mine with You Are A Writer (so start acting like one) by one of my latest writing coaches, Jeff Goins. So we’re clear, Jeff doesn’t know me outside of receiving my ping-backs and page visits via Google Analytics. Nevertheless, I’ve decided to have him coach me. One day, I hope to write on my experience of getting to chat with him in person!
I often find myself looking for inspiration. I am a writer, sure, but inspiration comes in waves. Many times, I just need to sit and start scribbling, letting words and ideas flow as they do until something begins to surface. Other times I will have done everything right to prepare for my morning session (coffee piping, journal in front of me, window open to let in the sounds of the city), but after scribbling, nothing really comes to fruition.
Two weeks ago I was seated at a bar in a coffee shop in Manhattan Beach. Outside, the sky was open, cloudless. The streets were slow with weekend drivers enjoying cliffside views. Patrons casually walked in and out of the open cafe threshold. Inside, under a waft of freshly baked bread and hours of brewed coffee, were subtle sounds of espresso being pulled, orders being placed, and men in women in t-shirts and shorts chatting with their friends.
I soaked it in. I sipped my coffee and re-read old journal entries until I felt ready to dive into a short writing session. Though, when I was ready, pen in hand, caffeine pulsing my bloodstream and pooling up energy, I balked. I had every intention of writing, but nothing big came. Nothing came to mind. Nothing surfaced.
So, I did what any procrastinator would do: I browsed social media and read my email instead. After deleting a few I came to one from a feed I subscribe to called Story Cartel.This site mostly offers book titles from authors looking for fair reviews in exchange for a free e-copy of their book. On this particular day came Jeff Goins’ You Are A Writer.
I sat back and stared at the title. I thought how oddly applicable it was to my current situation.
A few moments later my Mac was downloading. When it finished, I read it cover to cover (or however that’s referred to in e-book lingo).
Below is part of the review I wrote for Jeff’s book on Story Cartel. Whatever your craft, I hope my review inspires you to get up and do it. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, read Jeff’s book (you can download it like I did here). You might even insert your craft in wherever Jeff says “writer” or “writing.” I guarantee you’ll find something applicable!
I have been a person “of writing” for the past five or six years, and I’ve even been paid to write for the last year and a half. But, a “writer”? As in one who cannot help but write before the sun rises, and on my lunch breaks, and until wee hours of the morning, as Goins describes in his book? Fat chance.
But, I want to be a writer.
Reading his book confirmed much. Goins is realistic, affirming the calling “writers” innately know in their bones, and also instructive with how to develop the craft into more than just a pipe-dream. In short, he is relational, and then, he is practical.
The first few chapters (or rather, sections) deal particularly with what we writers all know to be true of ourselves but still seem to lack belief in. It is, namely, that we have something to say, and that we know we need to say it or our lives will feel meaningless, or at least lacking. He says, “In the late hours or early mornings, we wonder what we’ll be remembered for, what our legacy will be. While some people are trying to make it through another week, others find themselves succeeding in the wrong things — and despairing as a result.” In this, nothing new is offered (for we’ve all found great solace in the musings on “the writing life” by our other favorites) but in stating the obvious, the intuitive, we (or at least I) are brought into the fold. We are welcomed into the circle to learn then the secret of the pro(s).
The remainder of the book is, admittedly, more cut and dry. This is not to say it is boring. Quite the contrary. It was for me invigorating, like the first portion though in a different way. This second part is Goins sharing his wisdom. We read of establishing our platforms, brands, and connection channels, and learn that more than anything else, the writing business is about relationship with whom we’re writing to and for. Though, Goins always returns to the idea that we are writers for ourselves, and that we cannot be the sacrifice, but must make it. Goins speaks on methods and tactics on getting published (mostly in magazines), offering invaluable examples of his email/letter prompts to editors, and tips on how not to go about pursuing getting published.
Overall, I’d read it again. And again. And again and again, for its insight, being chock full of facts for young writers looking for ways to get into the business, is invaluable. Also, it is affirming to read that it can be done. That it can, has, and will continue to be done by those of us who take the craft and business seriously.
Read it, and then read it again, as I will. Then go write.