Do you have a book in you? I bet your, husband, aunt, boss, grandchild, best friend, Prime delivery person or. . . has said your life is so interesting you should write a book. Go on, I double dare you! Studies reveal over 200 million Americans, or more than 80% of us, think we have a book in our future. But how many of us actually write it?
Penning a book, or even a 500-word article, is hard work. Much harder than those helpful, hopeful friends and relatives could know (unless they’ve taken up writing), and writing a book worth reading is harder yet. I’ve published two novels and am close to finishing a book length memoir. I can attest that the writing at times is more like mental slavery, full of doubt and frustration than the rapturous “writer’s trance” induced during flights of creativity. Most of the job is just plain hard work. Thomas Edison said “success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration” and this about sums up writing a good book. It’s a flush of creativity and a slog of editing, revision, rewrites, more editing, more revision. (But the good news is, the more you do it, the more fun it gets!)
I wonder how many “you have a book in you” authors actually give it a go? In America alone, up to a million books are published annually, between traditional publishing and independent publishing. Is yours the one in a million?
Now that you’ve read the warning label, why exactly would you take the writing plunge?
5 Reasons Why:
- Maybe because writing is a solitary pursuit, authors love to congregate and share knowledge. We’re a congenial community, with interesting vocabularies and great conversation. Joining with other authors is stimulating and informative, and you can’t beat the heady feeling of being in the limelight, all eyes and ears on you, as the talk turns to your book. But like all “clubs,” you must join to reap the benefits.
- While few books sell more than 250 copies in a year, not enough to subsidize the time you spend writing, your completed book is a great accomplishment akin to what a college degree used to be before 70% of Americans started attending universities. Think of the expanded knowledge you’ll get from the research you’ll need to do. Think of the boost to your self-esteem!
- Even if you don’t become famous (80% of famous authors are dead!), your book can help give you a leg-up to other opportunities. Want to give talks on a cruise ship? Want folks to learn about your expertise? Speak at book clubs, become a blogger, create podcasts? Speaking of podcasts, one of my students, an 86-year-young writer, now is the queen of podcasting with her own show: Kosher Style Stories. You might be “discovered” too!
- It’s been argued that writing helps us thrive into old age. According to cognitive scientist Steven Pinker, “[fiction] can help us prepare for problems we might face and allows us to develop strategies for dealing with those problems, thus giving us survival techniques.” Neuroscience suggests that intellectual activity is important to keeping a healthy brain as we age. We ‘ve all experienced difficulty in retrieving words and names, but time spent writing is all about words and retrieving them, using multiple parts of the brain. There’s an added benefit if you write by hand. The combination of motor-skills, memory, and slower pace that handwriting brings to the experience activates more parts of the brain. It’s just good science: writing keeps your brain in tip-top shape.
Writing is a way to leave a record of your life, a legacy for your family. The greatest gift you can give!
“Then how should I begin/ To spit out the butt-end of my days and ways?” (The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T.S. Elliot)
I have a suggestion, start by joining our writing workshops in Wine Country and see if you’re one in a million. You’ll make new friends, learn new things, broaden your horizons, keep the ole synapses firing and create a unique and enduring legacy—what an accomplishment!
#Wine Country Writing Workshops Fall 2019
New! Mondays in Sonoma
The Creative Writing Workshop
September 9-December 9
2:00-4:00 PM Fee
Vintage House Senior Center
264 First Street East, Sonoma 95476
Ongoing! Tuesdays in St. Helena
The Brunch Bunch Creative Writing Workshop
Upper Valley Campus Room 4 10:00-12:30
Fee. Class size limited to 12
September 3-October 15 (no class 9/24)
October 22-December 3 (no class 11/26)
Free! Autobiographical Writing
Memoir over Lunch 1:15-3:15 at Rianda House
Happy Hour Autobiographical Writing 4:00-6:00
at Upper Valley Campus Library
Annual Writers Showcase at Rianda House December 10th 1:00-3:15
Upper Valley Campus 1088 College Ave. St Helena 94574 707-967-2900
Rianda House 1475 Main St. St. Helena 94574 707-963-8555
JOIN ME IN CLASS
One response to “Are You One in a Million?”
Thanks for the encouragement and inspiration — sorely needed at this moment in my writing life, as I’m slogging doggedly through a rough draft that has grown horns and feathers and weeds and lint and refuses to come together. Kind of an anti-flow experience. Still I persist 🙂