1. Tell us about your latest book.
My latest book (as compared to the first two I wrote which are still, blessedly, in my desk, never to see the light of day), is a business plan book for right-brained creative people who want to make money and have a prosperous business doing the work they love; but are afraid of the “business side” of business.
2. How did you get started as a writer?
I have been writing on and off since I was twelve. I finally caught fire when I joined the Phoenix chapter of Romance Writers of America ten years ago (I was an avid romance reader at the time). Surrounded by people who actually finished and published books (whatever you think about romances and their writers, you can’t argue with the fact that they are prolific); I learned that the key to a completed book is the formula Ass+Chair (attributed to the film director Oliver Stone).
I wrote two novels (see the answer to number one above about where they ended up); then realized I wanted to write non-fiction. Specifically I wanted to share my experiences in my own businesses, and help other people succeed. I took what I learned about perseverance from my romance writer buddies and finished the business plan book, and am halfway through the next one: The “I Hate to Market” Book.
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
Writing isn’t my only day job. I am also a business coach and workshop leader. The ideas for my books come from clients, so even though I love writing, I don’t think I’ll ever stop coaching and teaching to write full time.
4. Describe your desk/workspace.
I wage a weekly war with paper on my desk. Sometimes I win, sometimes not. I signal to myself when it is time to write by perching a painted wooden crab at the top of my laptop screen. This helps me ignore the paper if it won this week’s battle, and reminds me that I am now in writing time.
5. Favorite books (especially for writers)
I love Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott; Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg, and The Artist Way by Julia Cameron.
The Artist Way created the foundation for my writing; it taught me to think of myself as creative. Natalie Goldberg’s book is full of low-risk, no-judgment exercises that got me started writing regularly. Annie Lamott’s book helps me remember that all I have to write next is what’s in front of me; I don’t have to knock out War and Peace by 5pm today. I strongly recommend these books to anyone who wants to write (and to writers who might occasionally get stuck).
6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you
I got (because I asked for) a ukulele for Christmas in 2008, and am teaching myself to play it. I used to own a computer company, and I have big, lovely feet.
7. Favorite quote
Besides the “Ass plus chair” quote attributed to Oliver Stone, I also like this one from Anne Lamott:
“For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”
8. Best and worst part of being a writer
The best thing is about writing is the creating of something (a story, a how-to book like mine, a memoir, a poem or any other piece of writing) that didn’t exist before the writer wrote it. Writing is just like painting or dance or singing or even building construction; writers create something that didn’t exist before they put it on paper.
The worst part about writing is that the creation process is a bit mysterious and somewhat uncontrollable. My wooden crab and I show up to write regularly (that’s the part I can control), but there’s no guarantee that we’ll actually create anything worth reading. I show up to serve what needs to be written through me, and try not to get too freaked out if occasionally I can’t write anything, or I don’t like what I’m writing.
9. Advice for other writers
I have two pieces of advice. First; treat your writing as sacred. Give it regular time; don’t relegate it to the bottom of your to do list so that you only do it when absolutely everything else is done. It’s like exercise. If you only get out and walk or do your run once every other week, it never gets easier. Exercising and writing are most enjoyable when you make time for them almost every day.
The second piece of advice: give your unconscious mind time to work. My books explain (sometimes complex) concepts to my readers; many times when I start the first draft, I can’t figure out how to explain clearly what I want to say. So I go for a walk, read something that pertains to the work I’m doing, call someone, or work on something else for a few minutes. My unconscious almost always works out the problem on its own while I’m letting it alone to think.
I try to treat my writing gently. It’s a paradox: I have to be ruthless in setting aside time to write, and I have to be kind to myself as I’m doing it.
10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.
I really (really really) want my book to change the lives of people who are struggling to create prosperous businesses doing the work they love.
Right before the book was actually printed, I realized that I was terrified about it being published. What if it didn’t help people? What if they didn’t do the work in the book? What if it was a big failure? Part of me wanted to change my mind and not go through with publishing it.
At the same time I was struggling through my writerly angst, the printer was sending my publisher the proof of the book, and we absolutely couldn’t get a clean copy. It took six rounds of proofs to finally get one free of errors (free of at least the errors we knew about).
Two of my author friends, Sam Beasley and Suzanne Lorenz, who wrote a brilliant book called Wealth and Well-Being, talked me off the ledge. Theirs is also a workbook, and they’d already come to the realization that they couldn’t force people to do the work in their book either. They told me that I’d done my job; I’d written the book. I couldn’t control what happened to it after that.
My publisher got the clean proof the day after my friends helped me let go of worrying about the outcome of the book. It was as if my fear was participating with the printer in continuing to produce proofs with errors. Once I stopped worrying, we got the clean proof and published the book.
Where can people buy your book?
My book is for sale on Amazon. If you type “Passion Plan Profit” into the search box on the Amazon site, my book comes right up.
Christy Strauch is the author of Passion, Plan, Profit: 12 Simple Steps to Convert Your Passion into a Solid Business. In addition she is president of Clarity To Business and has worked with over 300 small business owners, from artists to real estate agents, helping them do what they are passionate about – and make a profit. Her book is available at Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/Passion-Plan-Profit-Simple-Business/dp/0984055703