Kelly's Pick: The Constant Art of Being a Writer

Discover the mindset and skills you need to grow as an artist and confidently approach each aspect of writing and publishing. by Kelly Nickell
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Way back in 2002 when I was working as an assistant editor for Writer’s Digest magazine, I got an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of a book called In the Company of Angels. As soon as I started skimming the opening pages of this slender first novel from author N.M. Kelby, I was immediately hooked. Her use of language was wonderful—moving and lyrical. And the plot was original and layered—so captivating.

It was definitely one of those rare reading experiences where you find yourself longing to be able to talk with the author—to learn her techniques firsthand, to hear her thoughts on things like language and magic realism and character development, to find out how she got her book deal and navigated the industry so successfully.

Seven years later … and I finally got that opportunity. And I can’t tell you how over the moon I was when she agreed to do a book for Writer’s Digest so that you could share in that conversation, as well.

The Constant Art of Being a Writer is that unique type of writing book that takes you all the way through the process of writing and publishing. From setting up your writing life to coming up with strong story ideas (and putting each idea through a Litmus test) to crafting a believable protagonist and supporting cast to submitting your manuscript to handling a book tour to planning your literary estate—this book covers everything.

N.M. Kelby, who is now an award-winning novelist and short writer, doesn’t shy away from any topic. And she’s quick to acknowledge that those who commit themselves to the writing life must be prepared for some ups and downs. But it’s a life filled with many great rewards. In Chapter 1: Embracing the Profession, she writes:

A writer’s life is focused in a way that others can’t really understand. Most people go to work every day, take a paycheck home at the end of the week, and have time to see a movie or take in a ball game. Their lives are divided into the time that they work and the time they relax.

Writers are different: They’re always working. Even when they’re having fun, their minds are still working, recording the world around them. It’s an occupational hazard. From the moment you wake up in the morning until you sleep at night, there’s something about the particular sound of jaded laughter, the scent of a vanilla orchid, or the sight of an older woman carefully, painfully, walking across the street with a slight tremble in her gait that you can’t turn away from. You take it all in, and it becomes a part of how you see the world, how you write.

Writing is not a profession—it’s a way of being.

Indeed, it is!

You can learn more about the author by visiting her personal website and reading her blog. There’s a good chance you might even be able to hear her speak in person—she has a ton of tour dates already scheduled.

If you'd like to purchase The Art of Being a Writer: The Life, Art & Business of Fiction, click here.

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