“Writing career growth takes root and flourishes when you give it ample time and plenty of practice. When you rush it or push it beyond its capacity, you get diminished results.” – From The Writer’s Workout by Christina Katz
As a scribe in the writing game, have you ever wished for a coach to help strategize your next move, an enthusiastic cheerleader to encourage flagging resolve and a waterboy to replenish depleted reserves? What about a warm yet honest friend that, after a tough game, gently points out why you may have fumbled or missed a pass, yet is also quick to praise brilliant tackles, yards gained and sportsmanlike conduct?
Football metaphors aside, writing coach Christina Katz pretty much does all this and more in her latest book The Writer’s Workout. Divided into 4 seasons (and 366 chapters) that can represent actual chronological seasons or the symbolic cycles of a writing life, readers can use The Writer’s Workout whenever sage advice and helpful tips are wanted and needed.
From organizational skills to restocking the creative well, establishing visibility to avoiding people pleasing, Christina also addresses the periphery of the writing life that, while not actual butt-in-seat labor, nevertheless impacts an author’s career and wellbeing.
But make no mistake, the author dispenses loads of great writing advice (peppered with humor), too. For example, periods and commas should always stay inside quotation marks lest they look like white bras worn on top of a black turtleneck or whitey-tighties on the outside of denim jeans. (Ha! That’s a grammar mistake I never make, either, but I am an unabashed overuser of the em dash…Trailing ellipses, too, as you can see.)
The two-page introduction to The Writer’s Workout alone contains some of the best writing advice I’ve come across (and know first-hand that works), e.g. “creativity should not be rushed and writing careers take time to mature”, “you are exactly where you are supposed to be”, “slow and steady wins the race” (whatever winning means to you), etc.
Here are just a few examples of the fantastic topics offered by the author:
Spring: Get Going
•Trust Your Instincts •Keep Writing Central •Guard Your Time •Declutter Your Thinking •Finish Everything •Unblock Yourself
Summer: Find Your Stride
•Pay No Attention to Fame •Query Well •Cultivate Confidence •Temper Your Disappointment •Accumulate Credibility •Allow for Surprises
Fall: Become Recognizable
•Understand Platform •Set Your Identity Free •Don’t Mimic •Partner Conscientiously •Just Say No •Develop Calluses
Winter: Coach Yourself
•Test-Market an Idea •Become Memorable •Be in the Tribe But Not of It •Abandon “Overnight Success” •Write Yourself Wealthy •Stay Prolific
And the icing on the cake? 366 well-chosen quotes heading each chapter. I’m a huge fan of quotes, and more than one insightful passage has gotten me through tough times as a published author and reviewer. Right now, I’m relishing the quote Christina chose to head Chapter 84 (Don’t People Please), penned by Rachel Naomi Remen: “Approval cannot be trusted. It can be withdrawn at any time no matter what our track record has been. It is as nourishing of real growth as cotton candy. Yet many of us spend our lives pursuing it.”
At 374-pages, The Writer’s Workout (published by Writer’s Digest Books) is one of the best writing books on the market in my opinion (I own well over 120 of them), addressing actual concerns and issues facing all writers—from beginners to published-for-decades veterans. I’ve had this book for several years and am currently immersing myself in the author’s timely words yet again so I can discover new strategies, remind myself of reliable tactics, embrace balanced approaches, continue growing as a writer and remember I’m not alone.
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