Quickie Question: What's THE MOST important factor in a would-be writer's success?
Talent level? High-concept story ideas? Those matter, no doubt, but publication doesn't always go to the most talented or most commercial. Mastery of craft? Well, yes, but what enables us to stay the course long enough to even begin to achieve it? Having time to write? Nope, you're getting colder. :) If you're thinking along the lines of perseverance, you're getting warmer, but I'd like to state it this way: The single greatest aid to your success as a writer is creating a writing life that works for you. In her latest book, More Writer's First Aid, Kristi Holl, the author of almost 40 books and a writing instructor for over 25 years, helps you do just that.
If there's one thing Kristi knows, it's that dreams, broad goals, and well-laid plans are one matter; but working through the daily grind, interruptions, fears, procrastination, illnesses, vacations, disapproving family members, computer crashes, Facebook addictions, job demands, and too-frequent trips to the fridge are quite another. Too many days of the latter, and we won't accomplish the former. Too many days of the latter...and that becomes our life. The writing doesn't happen. But it doesn't have to be this way. For those bugaboos that are usually our first snares--no matter how long we've been writing--there is first aid.
In a conversational, writer-to-writer style and short-chapter format, Kristi discusses many aspects of enjoying the writing life, good work habits, a writer's emotions, and home and family concerns. For example: Did you know that procrastination is a cycle? I never thought of it that way, but the good news is that cycles can be broken! Kristi shows how. And though it may be no surprise that lots of time gets eaten up online, if we can control even one aspect, such as compulsive email checking, we'll gain not only time but sustained concentration. “If the average e-mail checker takes 64 seconds to recover her train of thought," Kristi writes, "I'm guessing that the average creative writer takes longer than that. For fiction especially, you have to take time to re-enter your pretend world. You have to re-immerse yourself in your characters, the setting, the problem, and the emotional place in the current scene.” Italics mine, as I couldn't agree more!
Do you need "permission" to write what you love, what you're passionate about, instead of what you think will sell and bring in an income to "justify" your writing? You'll receive that encouragement here. Do you need to make time to write with preschoolers underfoot--or college kids home on break? There's a whole chapter on writing during the various stages of parenthood. And, sometimes, we all need to weather things much tougher than mountains of laundry, phone calls bugging us to chair this or that committee, or friends who don't get why we don't just quit already. For those hard times, there are chapters titled "Writing Through the Storms of Life" and "Writing After Major Losses."
More Writer's First Aid: Getting the Writing Done, Book Two is available NOW in e-book format through Kristi's website (a more colorful .pdf version) and on Amazon Kindle (black and white version for Kindle, iPad, Blackberry, etc.). Having this book at hand is like having a good writer friend right in your own office.