In the last 18 months, three-time Writer’s Digest book author Christina Katzhas helped twelve writers self-publish thirteen e-books. In only six years, this talented writing coach has enabled many other wordsmiths to write their way to a traditional book deal. Fortunately, for us, Christina, who recently published The Writer’s Workout, remains committed to helping others on their writing path.
“Bringing new voices to the masses is not something I am likely to tire of any time soon. I see my job as inspiring and empowering mom writers and that’s exactly what I do on a daily basis,” says Christina, who graciously agreed to share her unique brand of inspiration today on The Writing Well.
If you’re looking for ways to discover or rediscover the joy of writing, be sure to take part in her “21 Moments Writing Challenge,” which begins Friday.
Q. What got you into writing, and what made you decide to use your experiences to help others succeed as writers?
I’ve written since I was young as a way to process my feelings and express myself. I have not always had an easy time expressing myself and it is still something I have to work hard at to do well. Maybe this is why I became a writer, so I could get rewards for expressing myself clearly. For me, there is nothing more satisfying than getting exposure and money for striving to say something so clearly that it reaches and impacts others.
Q. What’s the biggest hurdle writers face, based on your own experience as a writing coach?
The biggest hurdle writers face is the desire to have written rather than simply wanting to write. In other words wanting all the glory without doing any of the really hard growth work will get your career nowhere. I think this is human nature to a certain extent, but at the end of the day, the reality trumps the fantasy. So I recommend letting go of myths and fantasies about success and getting to work.
Q. Tell us more about The Writer’s Workout — who did you target, and how does it differ from other writing how-to books out there?
The Writer’s Workoutoffers 366 practical tips, tasks and techniques for writers who are eager to succeed but can’t always find a clear path stretching out ahead of them. Once a writer realizes that she is creating the path as she goes, the journey becomes a lot more fun, and a lot more of a professional adventure. When it comes to doing the real work that creates writing career success, The Writer’s Workout lays it all out for the reader without apologizing. I don’t think you can read The Writer’s Workout without feeling inspired to get on with it, already.
Q. Given that you have written three books for Writer’s Digest Books in the past five years on how to have a more satisfying and successful writing career, what are three fun exercises that can get writers who may be struggling back into a can-do frame of mind?
1. Stop making your goals so big and set out to accomplish one small goal that you can achieve this week. If you lower the jumps, you will succeed, and one success will buoy you up to try something a little harder next time. Real results repeated and built up over time create lasting success and genuine self-regard.
2. If you are stumped for something to write about consider a how-to. The quickest way to find out what you might write about it to fill in this blank ten times:
I know how to __________________________________.
Be specific rather than general in your response. Sometimes it’s not just what you know, it’s your signature way of doing it that makes the how-to appealing and fresh for editors and readers.
3. Keep a list of the next twenty-five steps you need to take in your writing career, so that when you have an idle moment you can tackle one. I have been offering this tip to writer’s conference attendees for years, because it’s so common to walk out of conference completely mentally overloaded. And this method of breaking things down into just one proactive step at a time really works for writers. So pace it out. I offer a grid-method of keeping this list in The Writer’s Workout (on page 179).
Q. What was your inspiration for your 21 Moments Writing Challenge? What do participants get out of this experience?
If a writer can’t write well short, she can’t write well long. If she can’t enjoy writing short, she can’t enjoy writing long. If she can’t learn to let the writing lead and get out of the way, then everything she writes will be unappealing to readers. My inspiration for the 21 Moments Monthly Writing Challenge was to get the whole world writing for the sheer pleasure of it.
Everyone has to start somewhere. I’m teaching anyone who wants to write how to enjoy writing and how to do it every day because that’s what successful authors do. The 21 Moments Monthly Writing Challenge gives a writer of any level somewhere to start today, excellent writing to learn from, and a simple goal: to enjoy writing today. Your readers can learn more about it here.
Q. Who inspires you?
My students inspire me the most. When a writer is ready to make the leap from hired pen to publisher, the shift can be challenging and thrilling at the same time. The future of publishing is that everyone is a publisher. I am very proud to be a leader in the micro-publishing movement. It doesn’t make publishing easy, like some claim, but micro-publishing helps publishing evolve by lowering the jumps and allowing more room for worthy writers at the table.