Though not a book written specifically for travel writers…
…Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Writers: 101 Motivational Stories for Writers – Budding or Bestselling – from Books to Blogs
is nonetheless one I’d recommend to any writer.
I thought I’d be able to skim through it and still write a credible review, however, I found the stories so compelling that I truly couldn’t bring myself to skim – I read every word (and re-read quite a bit of it), finding my own inspiration in the process.
Each chapter is written by a professional writer, who shares the tale of their personal path to success as they define it, which is some cases is surprisingly different than what you’d imagine.
101 stories in all, each is short (easily digestible when you have limited pockets of spare time for reading) and offers an unvarnished nugget of advice culled from a lesson learned, often the hard way. Sprinkled throughout you’ll find age-old wisdom polished up and gifted to us through that wonderful lens called hindsight……these are the words we’d do well to remember.
One of my favorite examples comes from Chapter 22, “A Few Short Minutes”, by author and freelance writer Diane Stark……in her story she writes:
…Occasionally, fabulously, my stories get done in one long burst of inspiration. As a writer, there’s nothing better than those precious hours when my muse visits and I have nothing more to do than enjoy the creative process. But since my family insists on eating and wearing clean clothes every day, those times are few and far between.
My life circumstances don’t provide me with many big chunks of time to write. So I needed to use the small chunks productively.
I’m betting that most of us can relate to that statement….and her story illustrating the events surrounding her “ah-ha” moment should feel familiar. Reading these stories should make you more aware of events in your own life, so you can fast-forward to your own “ah-ha” moments.
Amazingly well-written (because, duh, these are professional writers after all) and unabashedly honest, some of the stories made me want to give the author a hug, others made me want to go punch someone (else) in the face. Most of them found me comparing and contrasting the stories with my own experiences as both a writer and editor, many had me reflecting on the ways I’ve balanced my personal and professional lives. Without exception, I found all of them entertaining, thought-provoking, and yes, inspirational.
Kudos to the Editors, who chose to group the book’s chapters into sections with headers such as: “Facing My Fears”, “Wrestling with Writer’s Block”, “Mentors Who Mattered”, and “Reflections on Rejection” (among others)….allowing the reader to focus on stories that may help them deal with whatever issue they’re faced with themselves. I also really liked the quotes that lead into each chapter – short, tidy bites from a well-known person (in most cases an author or writer), each offers a nugget of wisdom apropos to the story within……think of the quote and you’ll remember the lesson.
However, what I like best about Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Writers is that it’s not a collection of “do this, do that” one-size-fits-all directives for finding success – every writer will face his/her own challenges, and these stories are simply the shared experiences of those who overcame such challenges, intended to help you think creatively about how to overcome your own.
What Could Be Better:
Honestly, just as with my review of Marco Polo Didn’t Go There, I really tried to find some criticism of this book…..but I can’t. I didn’t find any hokey stories, nor any over-used platitudes. Just real people and real-life from which we can all learn something.
The stories and interesting and enlightening. The book is well-organized and easy to absorb. All in all it’s a great collection of honest, experiential advice generously shared from one writer to another. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!
What books have inspired you? Share your favorites!