The Work of Writing

I led my third Publishing 101 Boot Camp on Saturday, the second time it’s been offered during Lewiston Adult Education’s Super Saturday format. This six-hour time slot (which also included lunch for attendees) is the right amount of time to walk prospective publishers through the nuts and bolts of independent publishing. This followed closely on the heels of my fall writing class, Let’s Write That Book: 8 Weeks to Writing and Publishing Your First Book. Five of my writing students sat though Saturday’s workshop.

Not only were my 11 students interested in publishing; they were also all writers, with most of them somewhere in the process of completing a book manuscript. I think many of them were surprised, and a few of them a bit discouraged to learn that publishing, like what a small press similar to RiverVision Press does, isn’t for the faint of heart. However, there are tremendous rewards and skills to be gained by taking on the process of publishing a book.

Writing some cover copy during Publishing 101

Writing cover copy during Saturday’s Publishing 101 Boot Camp.

Actually, for the past few years, I’ve been encouraging a number of professionals I rub shoulders with to consider publishing a book of their own. Everyone has a business card; very few people, especially high-level professionals, have a book. In fact, a book can be a great tool for people that provide services, like business consulting, social media support, marketing, not to mention other services, to demonstrate what they know, as well as differentiating themselves from their competitors.

This has been a rewarding fall for me as an instructor of writing. Taking what I’ve learned from my own experience and translating it to instruction and encouragement is something I couldn’t imagine a decade ago. But here I am.

My 8-week fall class was the strongest group of writers yet. They came to class every week ready to work and take their projects to the next level.

Teaching writing again (this is now my fourth fall of teaching adult learners) has me thinking about writing and the craft side of the process. Where does writing come from? Can anyone write and is it possible to “teach” writing skills to those who don’t appear to have them?

Starting down the road to writing more than 10 years ago, I have been committed to my craft. Being a better writer is something I want to be. Being able to consistently fill writing classes is also a bit humbling, but also beneficial. I’ve really appreciated what my students bring out in me and how they push me to break writing down into its elemental components. They also bring an energy and enthusiasm that’s contagious and makes me realize how far I’ve come as a writer, especially getting to a place where I’ve written three books, with a fourth one on the way.

Writing isn’t easy, even for writers who write regularly and consistently. I think you get better at it, however, over time, particularly crafting certain kinds of writing, including shorter pieces, like blog posts. Blogging is something I encourage writing students to embrace. It’s really great when they take your advice to heart and launch their own blogs.

Writing requires thought, pre-planning, and an attention to rhythm and narrative structure. At some point, however, it requires commitment to doing it, not thinking, or talking about it.

 Transitioning from thought to doing is sometimes the hardest part. It’s what separates those writers playing around with the notion and possibly the romanticism of being a writer, from those who actually do it, continuing to work at their craft over years and eventually, decades.

Back to the question, “can anyone write?” I”m not sure. I think someone who doesn’t read, with little awareness of words and how to piece them together in a narrative framework is going to find the return on their investment disappointing. It’s unlikely they’ll stick with it long enough to enhance the skills that will find them writing regularly and enough to become capable at their craft.

Writing requires having something to say and a commitment to communicating it, either in print, via a blog, or some other platform. Seth Godin refers to it as “shipping.” Writers ship.

I’ve been in the shipping business since 2002. That’s when I launched my first blog, while working my plan to shed my corporate shackles and escape from Moscow Mutual.

2 thoughts on “The Work of Writing

  1. Jim I took your Boot Camp class last year; you motivated me like I have never been before. I tried to get into your writing class this year but they couldn’t fit me in. But I have not used that as an excuse not to write. I have come to realize the biggest reason I don’t continue my writing to the finished product is FEAR. All these years and now I know; I’d rather not finish a project and always say some day my dream is to be a writer. Then to write my best, put in 100% and fail and realize I’ll never be able to and have my biggest most desired dream, gone. But you have given me the courage. I’m going to find out (after all even bad books get published). Of course I’m hoping not to have one of those. lol! But it is time. I have the stories. I have the passion. My oldest daughter has the editing ability. So after all this mumble jumble, the point i,s I wanted you to know how important you are especially for people like me who need that push. Thank you and I’m sure I’ll be in touch with some questions in the future.
    My dream will be happening, thanks to you. Doris

    • Doris,

      So nice to hear from you; you made my day!! 🙂

      I’m glad you’ve been writing, regularly. It is hard to push through and “ship,” as Seth Godin says. However, like anything, once you develop the habit, then it gets easier, although it’s never easy.

      I’ve had a book on the back burner for two years. My fall class was fantastic and their energy and passion for writing and their own projects gave me a jump start and I’m real close to publishing book #4.

      I’ll be offering a course this spring on writing, using personal stories as our jumping off point. That will probably launch at the end of February.

Comments are closed.