Friday, January 10, 2014

Wherein I Review a Motivational Book

My wife and I set the price bar pretty low this year for Christmas (I know it's January—don't worry, this isn't a recycled post!).

We didn't want to spend too much, now that a baby is on the way. 
And yet even with a limited budget my wife managed to buy me three new books! And books are always a safe bet with me. (For my b-day she got me a subscription to F&SF fiction magazine, which I'm still excited about.)

Anywho, one of the books she got me was Quitter: Closing the Gap Between your Day Job and your Dream Job, by Jon Acuff. I recently finished it, and found it to be packed to the brim with helpful advice, all contained in a cup of snarky humor and interesting real life experiences (do you see what I did there with the cup metaphor? Pretty awesome, I know). 

The book starts off with Jon suggesting you not up and quit your day job, despite the book's title. By keeping your day job, he argues, you keep power. Your not crunched to accept less than desirable gigs simply because you have no income. And being disciplined enough to fight for your dream while working a day job will only help you to grow a strong work ethic that will help no matter what your future job might be. 

Most of his advice applies to anyone, whatever their dream might be. But his advice is especially helpful to writers, since he got his feet off the ground writing the blog, Stuff Christians Like. Also, the book is slightly, slightly biographical—which makes reading it all the more interesting.

One point that Jon raises in the book, and I agree with 100%, is the unfortunate truth that quantity trumps quality when you're trying to become a master of your craft. I always hear people saying, "It's the quality that matters, not the quantity!" and I want to reply, "No, it's the quantity that gets the story out of your head and onto the paper. Quality comes from editing! No quantity, no story." And if someone replies to my imaginary conversation by saying, "Why not just take the time to start off with quality?" I would reply, "Why not just pick the lottery numbers right the first time?"

Now, I'm not recommending you just jot off some mindless pratter, you should try to write solid stories in the first draft, but if you trying to be perfect right off the bat, your not going to get anything done. As Jon puts it, "90% perfect and shared with the world always changes more lives than 100% perfect and stuck in your head."  (This also had to do with another point, which is sharing your work—something I'm trying to be better at in 2014.)

If you're looking for a fairly fast, motivational read, I suggest you give it a gander. 

Happy reading. And writing.