If you don’t know who Colleen Story is yet, and you are a writer, well, shame on you. Here books, Writer Get Noticed and Overwhelmed Writer Rescue are must have’s for your shelf. Because let’s face it, we all need an author platform and dread the work of creating one, even if we do know where to start. And we all feel overwhelmed from time to time, sometimes because of that Writer Get Noticed problem.
However, Colleen has a new book out, and one that addresses what I find to be an even more important question, and one that came at a very timely juncture for me. It’s titled Your Writing Matters, and spoiler alert: it does. Or it should.
And I want this to be more than just a book review, although you should go buy this book right now. Here’s a link. Come back when you’re done, before or after you read it. Got it? Good.
Now for my review, and some quick thoughts:
No Matter How Experienced You Are, You Need this Book
Confession time: I almost get sick to death of people looking at me, or other experienced writers, as if we have arrived at some golden point when we have no struggles. It’s not true. In fact, the more you write for a living, the more doubt that creeps in about why you are doing what you do.
You see, when you need money, then you often write as if that is the only thing that matters. I can name a couple of my novellas written for that reason alone: obligation. Fans were waiting for the next in the series, and it had to be done, and besides, there were the things like food and shelter that those novellas provide for me.
When I experienced a reset in that series, my work got better. As a reader, you might never know the difference reading those books, but I know. I feel the difference. This raises the question: besides the money, do those books matter? Does my writing matter? What am I contributing to the world around me, to my readers, and to my craft?
From time to time, every author needs to reset and remember the intrinsic reasons we write, the inspiration and drive that matters, as well as the extrinsic reasons. This is one of the reasons I often tell people NOT to try to write for a living. You can quite easily lose that inspiration. And when you do, it sucks.
But you can get it back. This book can help. More on that in a moment, but first…
No Matter How New You Are, You Need this Book
The flip side to the above is that when you are not making money and you don’t really have a reader base, what are you writing for? Clearly it isn’t to make a living. Clearly it’s not for others, at least not yet. Is this just a selfish hobby that doesn’t benefit anyone but you? Does it even do any good for you?
“Of course it does!” you might say. But then you look, really look, at your writing habits and what you are doing, and you see—maybe it doesn’t matter to me. Or maybe I feel like I am spinning my wheels, and I feel guilty for taking time to write. I mean, what about my kids, my pets, my spouse, the laundry, the yardwork, the garden, the dishes, and that series I have not finished binging yet on Netflix? Don’t those all come first? Should they?
The truth is, no they don’t. And they shouldn’t. The writing life is all about balance, but balance that includes, not excludes your writing and your writing time. And that leads to the topic of this whole little blog post: this book, Your Writing Matters.
Learn and Apply
So I could, less eloquently, just tell you what the book says in a series of bullet points. But it wouldn’t do you a damn bit of good. First, you would miss the depth of each of those points, and second? You would miss the very practical exercises in this book.
If you are unfamiliar with Colleen Story’s work, let me help you a little, which hopefully will encourage you to go purchase her other books as well. At the end of each chapter, there is not only a list of takeaways, but an assignment or exercise if you will, one that helps you take this from general information and advice to what applies to you.
Let me give you an example from Writer Get Noticed, because it is one of my favorite stories (and photos). My wife and I went to a Writer CEO seminar put on by Colleen Story and Donna McCain, two of my favorite people on the planet. During one of the exercises, we took a little toy chick provided as part of the workshop and talked about finding our strengths. The photo is my wife, either scolding me or telling me my strengths, I am not sure which one.
That yellow chick still sits on my desk.
That exercise stuck with me. So do the ones from Your Writing Matters. You’ll be challenged to answer questions about you and your writing. About why you write, and if you would do it even if there was never another reward, ever.
For me, the answer was a resounding, “Yes.” I have chosen to do this for a living and would never think of doing anything else. But something else struck me: “Does what I am writing right now satisfy both intrinsic and extrinsic goals?” I had to stop, think, and reevaluate what I am doing.
Does my writing matter? Yep. Why does what I am writing right now matter? Yep. Why?
That my friend, is the million dollar question. And for a fraction of that, you can journey with Colleen Story and the rest of us, her readers, to find out. So if you didn’t heed my admonition earlier, you should do it now.
Go. Buy this book. Read it. Don’t skip the exercises, no matter how tempting that is. Your Writing Matters. This book will help you find new hope and focus when it comes to why.