Thursday, May 23, 2013

Boundaries for Writers, by Kristi Holl

  • Wow, if Kristi Holl's new book, Boundaries for Writers, doesn't address the #1 writing problem I hear about from students, and even experienced writers, I don't know what does.
"My time just gets away on me. Not sure where it goes."
"I'm running VBS again this year, trying to get the garden in, then we're going to the cottage for two weeks..."
"My husband doesn't support me, because there's no money in it."
"My kids get in trouble while I'm trying to write."
"My BFF's life is one drama after another and she calls me every day."
"Promotion is brutal, doesn't suit my personality, and I'm scared to death my book won't sell. My love of writing is down the drain."
"I'm a Christian but not writing for the CBA, so my church friends are asking, 'Why aren't you writing for Jesus?'"

Kristi talks about four kinds of boundaries: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Physical boundaries may include such things as a desk of your own or a closed door. Mental boundaries allow you to own your own thoughts. Not that you have a closed mind, but you aren't a mental chameleon, constantly adopting the thoughts of whoever spoke to you last. Emotional boundaries prevent you from being a dumping ground for everybody else's woes. Spiritual boundaries keep you from caving in to others' opinions of how you should serve God, so that you fit their expectations or "look spiritual enough."

Not only are there four kinds of boundaries, but any of them can be in any one of four conditions: healthy, damaged, collapsed, or walled. Whew! No wonder we feel so tied in knots at times. Kristi provides a quiz so that you can assess the state of your boundary issues. (Disclosure: I did pretty well here, but there were a couple of points in the Emotional and Spiritual categories that made me cringe.) She also talks about how to separate and balance the business and creative aspects of writing.  Not shrinking from the tougher stuff, she covers setting boundaries with truly toxic family members, and, for those who have concerns about whether setting boundaries is even scriptural, she includes a chapter with many relevant scriptures and other helps.

If you're struggling with your writing in any way, there's a huge chance that boundaries are an issue, and that there's something in this book that can start you on your way to a solution. :)

20 comments:

Dawn Malone said...

Thanks for that review, Marcia. It's amazing the excuses I can come up with not to write. Everything else seems to take precedence at times, very frustrating! Once we understand the reasons why writing takes the backseat, will we be able to prioritize better. This book sounds like a good place to start.

Barbara Watson said...

That's such a different kind of writing book. It's about craft but focuses on the writer as a person rather than simply what the writer is doing in his writing. Interesting!

Mirka Breen said...

What a good and helpful concept, and from a writer who really knows the score.
I only wish it were available in a traditional print form. (Still stuck in my ways= my boundary....)

Marcia said...

Dawn -- For me, it's often "I need to get everything else settled first." Amazing how we can stick to the belief that this ever happens. Fiction, indeed. :)

Barbara -- You might enjoy Kristi's blog. Her focus is the writer's own well being.

Mirka -- Maybe she'll take it to paperback if it does well????

Angela Ackerman said...

I find it easy to let other things take me off track. One thing I found that helped me was to create a business plan for my writing with goals listed out. Now everything I do, I check my plan to see if it aligns with what I need it to. :)

Marcia said...

Angela -- A business plan is a great idea. If it doesn't fit the plan, we really need to ask if it should be in the plan, or if it needs to go.

Andrea Mack said...

This book sounds like a good way to get focused on making the best use of the time available. I set aside specific time most days for writing, but it's easy to get distracted. I always find it surprising how much time seemingly small tasks can eat up.

Emily R. King said...

What a wonderful concept for a book. Thanks for the rec!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Usually if I have trouble writing it means I need to go for a run.

This is definitely like no other writing book I've read.

Kim Van Sickler said...

I'm weighing in from the Backspace Writers Conference. I've met so many more amazing writers here, some of which have become even more frustrated during the course of this conference at the amount of work needed to get their masterpieces out to the public. Yes, if you want a significant amount of people to read your masterpieces, you must persevere, set boundaries, and crank out the prose.

Lisa Gail Green said...

Wow. I never thought of it like that. I guess my baby is my "boundary" LOL! But she's worth it. And I still manage to get the writing in somehow!

Vijaya said...

This is a book not just for the beginner, but for the working writer. I found it very useful.

Marcia said...

Andrea -- I always find I underestimate the time needed for little stuff you have to do sometime, like get the mail in, water the plants, change the cat water. Yes, Kristi talks a lot about time management, in her books and on her blog.

Emily -- You're welcome!

Stina -- It's great to know what the problem usually is, isn't it? I too think this is *different.*

Kim -- Yes, we need our boundaries in place all the more when we face how steep and long the climb is.

Lisa -- I wrote with babies and little kids, too, as did Kristi Holl. To make it happen, I had to set boundaries such as "Nothing else happens from 9pm to midnight except writing." :)

Vijaya -- So true. This book has something for all writers, and so many of us labor for YEARS under poor boundaries.

Ruth Schiffmann said...

Wow, this sounds like an amazing book. Thanks so much for letting us know about it.

Nora MacFarlane said...

More than struggling - I'm completely shut down now for almost a year. It's a serious writer's funk, and "Boundaries for Writers" sounds like something I might need to read. Thank you for the recommendation!

Marcia said...

Ruth -- I found even one particular tip to make SUCH a difference, and not just in my writing life!

Nora -- Great to see you again! Hope the book is just what you need.

Christina Farley said...

What a great way at looking at the difficulties we face as writers. Nice.

Janet said...

Sounds like we all have boundaries, we just have to recognize them and overcome them.

Jaye Robin Brown said...

This sounds like a fascinating kind of book. I'll have to seek it out.

Suzanne Warr said...

This sounds like a great book--thanks for tipping me to it!