When you're doing something over the long haul—and I mean the LONG long haul, like sticking with amazing writing resolutions during 2016, or something impressive like that—it helps to have someone really solid in your corner.
Preferably someone who has had a ton of experience doing the same thing, who doesn't waste your time with a lot of blather, but instead gets right to the point with exactly what you need:
Smart encouragement, a discussion of strategy, or a for-your-own-good butt-kicking.
I love this book. And it's always exactly the thing I need!
I'm a sucker for a good, extended metaphor. James Scott Bell draws on over 20 years of writing experience, and blends that with the classic by Sun Tzu: The Art of War.
(Sun Tzu's guide is not a writing book, by the way. It's about fighting. Just so we're clear.)
Why reference an ancient Chinese military expert, when we're trying to figure out a writing life?
Because every writer is in for a fight: against her own resistance, against the odds in this industry, against doubts and naysayers and dozens of other obstacles
So even though military strategy isn't a natural comparison for me, it makes for a solid and helpful framework.
The Art of War for Writers is divided into three sections: Reconnaissance (which is about "the mental game of writing"); Tactics (which is about improving your fiction craft); and Strategy (which is all about your publishing career over the long term).
(...If you have a nerdy streak like me, it might give you an extra thrill to think of your writing in terms like reconnaissance, tactics, and strategy. We're doing dangerous work at our desks!)
The entries are short. Most are two to four pages. Just long enough for Bell to explain his point, and for its pithiness to strike a chord in your writerly heart.
It also happens to be the perfect length to read before diving into your day's writing, or maybe it's exactly the thoughtful note to end on, after your session.
Orrrrr, maybe you'll just binge-read the whole thing on a weekend and feel like you've been to an incredible mini writer's conference. I'm not gonna stop you.
In the words of James Scott Bell:
You have it inside you to fight this fight.
Write, think about what you write,
then write some more.
Day by day. Year by year.
Do that, and you will jump ahead of 90 percent
of the folks out there who want to get published.
Right? I mean—right??
That's the kind of call to action you want, if you're going to see your writing resolutions through, if you're going to charge into the rest of 2016, and do it writing.
Grab this book for the best kind of coach, strategist, and cheerleader, all in one.
And if you want a bit of that writing advice right this second: I really enjoyed these two interviews from Joanna Penn, talking with James Scott Bell on Writing, Self-Publishing, and the Business of Being a Pro Writer, and also on Writing Discipline and Mindset for Authors. Really great tips and wisdom in these!
(And I always love Joanna Penn. Add her podcast to your list, if you haven't already. She keeps me cheerful about the future of my writing career!)