This week’s book, written by Elizabeth Sims and published by Writer’s Digest Books, not only is filled with valuable information about the writing process, but it’s fun to read, too!
“You’ve Got a Book In You” (a stress-free guide to writing the book of your dreams) is written in a humorous, down-to-earth style. Sims has dedicated the book “to anyone who has ever looked at a shelf full of books and thought, ‘I wonder if I could do that.’”
Furthermore, Sims thinks that writing a book is “easy and fun.” She writes that the reader should chisel the following in a piece of stone: “If it’s not fun, don’t do it.” Or “If it’s not fun, make it fun.”
Sims suggests that want-to-be-book-writers give themselves permission to write poorly in order to write anything at all. Then later on, it can be made better. She even dares to knowingly make a grammatical error or two, explaining, “…sometimes it feels good to break a cumbersome grammatical rule.”
An important message to take from the book is to not take ourselves too seriously.
The book is divided into three parts: “How to be the Hero of Your Own Life: Guts, Grace, and Gumption,” “Three Touchstones for Writing Your Book,” and “Pour it Out.” There are 27 chapters in all that take the writer through all of the steps from the tools and workplace for writing through the first draft and then revision.
Take Chapter 4, “Find Your Garret: Your Space and Time,” for example. The dictionary definition of “garret” is an attic, and Sims suggests that an attic would be a perfect place to write. She reasons that most people “don’t like to climb ladders or go up tricky staircases to get to an attic” so the writer will be left alone.
But the attic isn’t the only garret. The writer might go to a library or a coffee shop or a park bench or even a car — but not to a basement, because it’s too depressing. A garret might even be a room in the writer’s house on an early morning when everyone else is asleep.
Then there’s the “garret mode.” This is freeing your mind from worry and other inner thoughts. The chapter also deals with the question of keeping your day job, finding a good time for writing (a list of suggestions is included), eating well and more. Sims suggests chiseling the following into stone: “When to write? Now.” And “Where to write? Here.”
Sims has included a list of actions, things for the writer to do, at the end of each chapter. For this one, on garrets, the writer is to spend time looking for possible garrets and to keep a diary to discover when there’s time in the daily schedule for writing.
Another chapter deals with “stormwriting.” She writes that this term is not the same as brainstorming because it involves the “heartbrain,” a person’s whole, deepest self. She suggests, “When you tap into your heartbrain, you’ll be writing up a storm.”
Writing dialogue can be tough. Two chapters of the book deal with dialogue. In yet another chapter, Sims explains a technique that she has named “Writing with the Masters.”
I have a lot of how-to-write books on my bookshelf, but this is one of my favorites. It’s upbeat. It’s positive. It’s one that I will pick up often for inspiration. The book is terrific!
Elizabeth Sims has written short stories and novels, including the Lillian Byrd crime series and the Rita Farmer mysteries. Besides that, she’s the Contributing Editor for “Writer’s Digest.” She has worked at a lot of different jobs throughout the years, including as a corporate executive, photographer, reporter, ranch hand, symphonic percussionist and others.
“You’ve Got a Book in You” is published by Writer’s Digest Books (2013). The cost of the softcover book is $19.99. I ordered my copy through Downtown Books in Craig.