Writing

Start Your Week Off Write: Book Review – You Are A Writer (So Start Acting Like One) by Jeff Goins


Pinkerton loves books!

I haven’t done any book reviews on my blog yet. Book reviews can be tricky things IMO, and so much about liking a book is the experience, both past and present, that a reader brings to it. But it’s important to be a prolific reader if you want to be a prolific writer (See Shelli Johnson’s great blog post To Be A Good Writer, You MUST Read) so I will periodically share books that have impacted my writing journey, both fiction and non-fiction. I won’t be giving stars, and if I totally hate something, I’m not going to trash it. I’ll just be sharing a few excerpts and how the book has impacted me as a writer.

My premiere book review is Jeff Goins new e-book You Are A Writer (So Start Acting Like One).

I’ve been following Jeff on his blog Goins,Writer since I started blogging myself. When I read his first e-book The Writer’s Manifesto, it was a breath of fresh air in this season of writer-you-must-sell promotion mania.

I was excited to read his latest e-book, You Are A Writer (So Start Acting Like One). The title alone lets me know Jeff has his finger on the pulse of a lot of writers today. If you are a writer, and you need some inspiration, tips, and maybe a little butt-kicking, you are going to enjoy this book.

Jeff Goins is a writer, speaker and communicator who, after toiling in the writing/blogging trenches for several years with not much to show for it, decided to become the writer he wanted to be. In eight months time he built a highly successful blog, speaking career and got a book deal. This book shares the steps he took to do it.

In his attempts to gain what he thought he wanted, Jeff went to the gurus. Godin, Pressfield, et al and discovered what his heart was already telling him: He was a writer.

“In an interview, I asked Steve, “When do you really become a writer? Is it when you get an agent? When you sign your first book contract? When you sell 100,000 copies?”

He said it was none of that. The truth was much simpler. When do you become a writer? “When you say you are,” he said.

I didn’t get it. I poked and prodded, trying to dig deeper. I wanted practical steps and formulas. Where were my charts and diagrams? But he insisted, ‘Screw what everyone else says. You are when you say you are.’ “

This is not a ‘Write A NYT Best Seller in 10 Days’ type of book. Although he does share concrete steps to make your writing journey successful, Jeff is more about getting writers to examine the whys of your writing before he gets into the hows:

“Whether you’re starting to tackle writing for the first time or a lifelong veteran, rest assured. There is better work you’ve yet to create. If you will make one important choice: Stop writing for accolades, and start writing for passion.”

This little book is full of encouraging nuggets. I like how Jeff gives examples from his own life, warts and all. There’s a comfort and honesty in that, and I can connect to it on my own journey.

Some of what Jeff has to say will fly in the face of today’s self-appointed experts. But what he says resonates:

“Online, there is this expectation (usually self-imposed) for writers and communicators. It’s a fallacy, but it doesn’t stop well-meaning people from saying it all the time. The myth goes like this: “You have to be everywhere.”

That’s ridiculous.

You know who says that? People who are always responding to the latest trend. I know this, because I was one of them.

When I started writing every day, I realized a painful truth: I can’t react and create at the same time. Neither can you.”

Jeff also discusses things like the tools writers need today, pitching, the elements of branding, platform and the relationships all writers need to succeed, lest you think this book is all feel-good ethereal writer-speak. I read it in a day, so it’s not going to weigh you down, but the ideas Jeff makes you confront might. It also just might set your heart free to do what it’s always wanted. As for me, it helps me reinforce the fact that I’m choosing myself. I’m continuing to make margin in my life to be the writer I want to be.

Take Jeff’s advice:  You are a writer, so start acting like one.

Check out Jeff Goins, Writer to find out about Jeff’s books, to sign up for his newsletter and stay up to date with his latest projects. Go to youareawriter.com to get this book as well as extra bonus material.

What was your ah-ha writer’s moment? The one that solidified in your heart your choice of the writing life?

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11 replies »

  1. Always interested in a positive motivational book on writing…especially when I myself often can stifle my own writing activities by sometimes thinking WHAT IN THE HELL AM I DOING THIS FOR? AM I REALLY A WRITER? Even with a small slew of published pieces under my belt, even with a published novel, I still up-end my own progress and pursuits regarding this great adventure in the written word. Thanks for the blog post Kristin! Keep up the good work!

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    • Thanks for stopping by, Peter. I go through bouts of self-doubt on a regular basis, that’s why I really liked this book. I think a lot of writers struggle with kind of an identity crisis. One persona wants more than anything to write, enjoys the creative process and does it whenever possible. The other persona is the one you described: who do I think I am calling myself a writer? I think we just have to work at making writer persona the dominant one. Good news is I think we are in good company as most writers struggle with this, just in different percentages. Thanks again for the comment and good luck in all your work. 🙂

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  2. The hard part, I would think, is figuring out which book to spotlight first, Kristin. Good choice. Another I learned a lot from was an early edition of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne & King. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Joanie

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    • That’s an area I’m really working on this year, Jackie. I am a reader, but I haven’t necessarily chosen books that would enhance my writing skills, i.e., well-written books. I’m starting to get more choosy, and more eclectic as far as genre. But I love to read. As a kid I used to read cereal boxes. 😉

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