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Chapter After Chapter
Discover the Dedication and Focus You Need to Write the Book of Your Dreams
by Heather Sellers
Writer’s Digest Books, 2006
$19.99 hardcover, 256 pages
Read an Excerpt!
Don’t stifle your own creativity by holding onto your ideas and never putting them on the page. Learn how to set your creative dreams free in Chapter One: Rose to Ash. Plus, do the exercise at the end of the chapter to get your pen moving. (Bonus! You can also download a PDF of this book’s table of contents and opening chapter.)
About the Book
Writing a book requires a focus, a sense of knowing and trusting in yourself and your work. And it requires an unflinching commitment to staying the course. Chapter After Chapter shows you how to build on your good writing habits, accrue and recognize tiny successes, and turn your dedication to the craft into the book you always knew you could write if you could just stay with it.
Heather Sellers, author of Page After Page, draws on her firsthand experience as a novelist, poet, memoirist, and children’s book author to help you prepare for whatever roadblocks you might encounter while writing the book of your dreams. You’ll discover how to celebrate the momentum of slow and steady, stay in love with your book project through soggy middles and long revisions, and embrace the nakedness that is creative expression.
And you’ll realize you’ve got exactly what it takes write your book!
About the Author
Heather Sellers is a professor of English at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, where she teaches creative writing and writes every day. She has just completed a memoir, Face First, and a new textbook for the college classroom, The Practice of Creative Writing. Her fiction and poetry appear regularly in journals and anthologies. She enjoys public speaking, triathlons, cooking, kids, and growing Japanese vegetables. Her Web site is www.heathersellers.com.
Table of Contents
PART 1 Your Writing Wings: Surveying the Book-Writing Terrain
Chapter 1: Rose to Ash
Clinging to writing ideas squeezes the life out of them. Loosen your grip. Saving a book idea is deadly.
Chapter 2: Limits
Why not having unlimited time and unlimited funding helps your book get written right on schedule.
Chapter 3: Books Plural, and Under the Bed
A writing life is a long-term commitment. Think in terms of writing a series of books. Starting the first one will suddenly become possible.
Chapter 4: The Book 100
Adapted from the Pilates strength-training program used by professional football players and dancers, this exercise helps you to build a strong foundation for writing effective books.
Chapter 5: Slow Is Fearless
The international Slow Food Movement provides the inspiration for getting that book project moving nice and steady.
Chapter 6: Alone Together
You have to learn new social skills in order to sustain your daily writing to complete a book-length manuscript.
Chapter 7: Surround Sound
Saturate your life with your writing so that every hour you are reminded of your book.
Chapter 8: Positioning
Take a lesson from first graders. Lay out your things the night before.
Chapter 9: Mike’s Mistake
Many of us write essays, stories, articles, letters, beautifully, easily. Why is it that we choke when we are writing the book?
Chapter 10: The Burden of Being (Everything to Everyone)
It’s unlikely you will finish and publish your book while attending to the needs of a large group of other people.
How can you conserve energy kindly?
Chapter 11: Once Upon a Whine
Complaining about your writing life and the publishing business is common—even addictive. Why and when to go cold turkey.
Chapter 12: Layers of Should
When you get stuck on a book project, there is almost always more than one reason you aren’t making forward progress.
Examine your relationship to what you think you should do and clear the way for the book you want to write.
Chapter 13: Good Enough
How perfect does your book have to be? How do you know what still needs work? When is it Good Enough?
Chapter 14: Faith in Writing
Believing in your book—that it’s good, that it means something, that it even exists—takes a special kind of commitment. Call it faith.
Chapter 15: You’re Ready Now
In order to learn how to write a book, you must write a book. In fact, your book-in-progress turns out to be the
perfect writing teacher for you. You are absolutely ready.
PART 2 The Long Haul: Strength-Building for Book Writers
Chapter 16: Wise Guides
Writing a book is a bit like going off alone to a desert island. You get to take some books with you on your journey; will you pack wisely, with intention?
Chapter 17: Strategic Deceit
It’s okay to keep your writing life private. It’s preferable, actually. A little creative storytelling creates time for your book.
Chapter 18: Staying in Love With Your Book
Keeping the spark alive over the long haul requires your best energy and constant attention.
Chapter 19: Taking Baby Along: How to Travel With a Book-in-Progress
When your normal daily writing routine is broken because of a vacation or business trip, prepare yourself for the special travel needs of the book (or hire a book sitter).
Chapter 20: Sexy Next Book
A brand-new book idea intrudes, begging to be written. How to resist the Fresh Start Sirens.
Chapter 21: Braids
The braid technique provides a structure to see you through writing the middle of your book (where many writers go
Chapter 22: The Little Editor Who Can’t Stop
In your head, as you write a book, there’s often a little editor—a voice-over—telling you what to do, what not to do.
Essential tips for silencing this Voice of Destruction.
Chapter 23: Naked
Writing is exposure. You expose yourself, no matter what your topic, and you expose others. How to be naked and wise.
Chapter 24: Stuck/Unstuck
Writing a book is a process of getting stuck and unstuck. Techniques to free yourself from common writing quagmires.
PART 3 Your Written Words Take Shape: Declaring Your Book Finished
Chapter 25: Writing Is Revising
Revision isn’t a do-over. It’s re-seeing what you have written. Experienced writers use re-seeing as the mainstay of a
Chapter 26: Just Want to Be Done
There is pressure to finish too quickly and submit your book before it is ready. How to manage the fiercely proud “I’m
Chapter 27: Reality Agents
Searching for the right agent can be as consuming and difficult as writing a book. A closer look at agents and their role in the publishing process reminds you that you have many options and a lot of power as an author.
Chapter 28: Not Too Old, Not Too Late
Two popular yet very unconvincing excuses for not finishing your book: “I’m too old” and “It’s too late.” Also: “I’m too young” and “It’s too soon.” Dopey reasons for quitting/not starting exposed for what they really are.
Chapter 29: Dress Rehearsal: Attending a Writers Conference
Armed with questions and ready to learn, go to your conference prepared and come home writing.
Chapter 30: Angus and the Weight Lifted
A terrible, crushing trip to an agent’s office in New York results in a new and better (and ultimately published) book. The surprising truth about five “wasted” years of book writing.
Chapter 31: In Pursuit of Publication, Rejection
Fear of rejection keeps a lot of great books from ever being finished. What rejection really is and how to use it to get more writing done.
Chapter 32: No One Tells You
After your book comes out, your life will look more like it does now and less like the idealized writer-life you’re told about in newspapers and on television.
Chapter 33: Author! Author!
Completing a book manuscript is a dream shared by a lot of people and achieved by few. You can do it. In fact—whether
or not you publish it—you must write your book.
Appendix: Books for Book Writers
Check out Heather Seller’s other book Page After Page.