Book Review: Every Writer’s Dream by Jeff Goins
This post is part of the rockThink Book Review Series where I review books that help make you better at what you do. This book was about writing.
[Update] This book has been rolled up into Jeff’s new book, You Are a Writer. He’s expanded on the ideas in Every Writer’s Dreams and gone more in depth. I’ll be reviewing that soon.
Who is book this for? New writer’s wondering where to start.
What is the dream when you start writing? To spend most of your time finding people to read your writing? To have to promote yourself all the time and feel like a used car salesman? Ugh, I hope not. I like writing because of the writing part, not all the other crap that comes along with making money from your writing.
So the dream is just to write. Wouldn’t that be nice. All you’d have to do is write. Exactly what you’d want to do. A pipe dream right?
Not so, says Jeff. We can do better than that. There’s a different process to attaining that dream than how most people go about it though. Don’t grovel, beg and hope someone does something with your writing. Follow his steps and you’ll find yourself spending your time where you want to, writing more.
Stop Being Scared
The first point Jeff makes and one that is all throughout is writing gets to the core of doing anything meaningful and actually finishing it. You can’t do anything if you’re scared. You can’t do anything if you’re always doubting yourself and holding yourself back from doing what you need to do. Stop being scared and start being curious. Do what you need to do.
I get stuck with this one all the time. I feel like I’m not an authority like I should be to talk about what I learned on rcThink or how to do something outdoors on PureOutside. In reality, if I just did something then I know how to do it. It may not be the absolute best way but it worked. What’s wrong with telling people about what you did that worked? Rather than second guess everything I’m doing assuming it’s not good enough, I need to get curious and do whatever I have to do to achieve my goals. That’s the only way to the finish.
Once you’ve stop being scared and started being curious we’re into the next stage of building your home in the world. Jeff stresses the importance of having a home (probably online) where people can find you. How do people interested in your writing find you if you don’t have a home? Where should they go? There needs to be an easy place to find you. If it’s too hard, they’ll give up and you may not ever see them. Jeff calls this a platform. There are some other key points about a platform that he covers in Every Writer’s Dream.
Your brand. Your voice. You. It’s what you say and how you say it. It’s why people like you and why they’ll read what you write.
The problem is that people will give you a brand if you don’t create one for yourself. You can accept the haphazard brand that people give you or you can create one yourself. In pretty much every case a brand that you’ve carefully put together and designed to be you in the best way is going to be a million times (scientifically measured) better the slop the internet will give you.
Jeff stresses one important fact with your brand: Don’t lie. It might be exciting to try and live a lie at first but you’ll get bored of it. And you’ll be stuck with it. When it’s you, it’s you. There’s no lying to your fans when what you give them is pure you.
Is content king? It’s pretty important. What about relationships? Jeff says relationships are even more important than content. You can have the best content in the world but if you have no relationships with readers, editors, and publishers, it’s not going anywhere. Relationships smooth the way for important things to happen. If you have them, everything is easier.
Every time I need help with something, I think, “Who do I know?” If I know someone who can help, my life is just made easier. If I get stuck and I don’t know anyone who can help then I’ve got more work to do. Things go faster and farther when you’ve got a relationship in place.
In Every Writer’s Dream, Jeff points out three important relationships that you’ll need to find along your writing journey. Each has it’s place and will make your life much easier. You’ll have to read the book to find out about those.
One issue I had with Every Writer’s Dream was it felt a little vague, not so detail oriented. But that’s probably how Jeff wanted it. You could write for decades on the exact details of getting things published in the easiest way possible but what good is that. If you’re writing for decades and not shipping, no one is seeing your work. There’s certainly enough information there to get started and that’s what it’s for, to get you started on the path towards every writer’s dream. Everyone’s path is going to be different so I suppose this is a good framework and not an exact detailed tutorial.
Blunt is Good
Jeff doesn’t hide it. Writing is hard work. It can take a long time to get where you want to go. He tells you straight up that it’s not going to be easy. I call this expectation management and he does a good job of it. He’s making sure that his readers are aware that writing a book is going to be a long process but if you know that ahead of time, you’ll be much better off when the going gets rough. Better to find out now than years in.
Jeff’s Advice for Continual Improvement
At the end of the book I was wondering what Jeff would say if I asked him how he continues to improve his writing and how he knows he’s improving. I asked him and here’s what he had to say.