I am a book reviewer for NetGalley, which means I received this book for free in exchange for a review. Click here for more information.
Author: Cheryl St.John is an award-winning romance writer, having penned over 50 books.
Genre/category: Non-fiction/advice for writers
Where can I buy it? Here
Release date: 23rd February 2018
I was so excited to be approved to review this book. Over the years I’ve devoured writing books, starting with Stephen King’s On Writing, which is totally worth reading to find out how his career took off.
Writing is a craft – just like anything, you have to practice, hone your skills, find your weak areas and seek to improve them. There is so much to learn – how to write convincing dialogue, how to plot properly, how to get a sense of time passing in a story, how to create convincing characters, how to write romance, how to build tension, how to insert foreshadowing, how to find your ‘voice’ … never mind the technicalities of the publishing industry (which I have absolutely no experience of).
So it’s not surprising, then, that there are hundreds of guides out there for writers.
Write Smart, Write Happy doesn’t really tackle any of the above topics. Instead, she takes on something important, which I hadn’t considered before – the mindset and emotions of a writer.
I am not an organised writer. At all. I’ve often got multiple projects going at once, with lots of different notebooks/documents/text files on my phone. Sometimes, I feel so overwhelmed with everything that I want to read, and write, and study, that I don’t think I’ll ever actually achieve anything.
Which is why I needed to read this book. St.John teaches you how to get organised, how to get into a routine, and be smarter when it comes to writing. Have you ever wondered how to organize your research? How to overcome doubt and fear? How to push past the middle section of your story? How to become accountable to other writers? How to share your work, even in it’s unfinished, raw stages, with other people? How to stop procrastinating and get things done? How to keep writing even though life keeps throwing challenges your way? St.John will tell you. She picks apart the habits of productive people, and lays it all down in a way that is immensely useful and practical.
The book is split into sections:
Goals – this covers the importance of setting goals, and the need to keep evaluating your strengths and weaknesses, and to keep improving your writing. It explains how to make a big goal – like ‘write a novel and get it published’ – feel much more manageable by breaking it down into tiny steps.
Sharpening Your Saw – this section covers motivation. What inspires you as a writer? How do you stop your creative well from running dry? St.John explores the techniques you can try to ensure you never run out of ideas.
Winning the Struggle Within covers the issue of self-doubt and not feeling like a ‘real writer’. St.John helps you to explore your own feelings about your abilities and how to overcome those emotions, take responsibility for yourself, and change your thought patterns for the better.
Emulate success while being yourself explores jealousy and envy, and how to be happy for others’ successes without negatively comparing yourself to them. She explores ways to connect with and form bonds with other writers, the importance of accountability, and how to interact with fans of your work.
Conquering Fear covers perfectionism and how to write through the paralyzing fear of doing something wrong, and practical steps for pushing past the daunting feeling of a blank page. She also covers embarrassment, rejection, fear of failure and fear of success, and the author-editor relationship.
Time management helps you to evaluate how you spend your time, and how successful, disciplined people stick to their schedules. She covers prioritizing, multi-tasking and list making, finding direction, dealing with stress, how to use tools like Pinterest to organize your research, dealing with distractions, and how to deal with your most difficult tasks first.
Finally, celebrating success covers resiliency, how to take a break from and then return to writing, and how to be professional, gracious and prepared.
Sit down with this book, a notepad, and a pen, and be prepared to make some impactful changes to your writing habits, and even your day to day life.