Fully entitled The Busy Woman’s Guide to Writing and Finishing a Novel: Stop Procrastinating and Get it Done by Anita Evensen, this book is a quick read that offers a lot of great “getting started” type information. While it’s clearly not aimed at the more established or professional writer, the topics covered provide a good foundation from which to work, especially for beginning/aspiring authors. If you are a new writer, a more experienced one returning from a long hiatus, or are simply full on stuck and need a firm nudge in the right direction, then this book is for you!
What I did find to be an unfamiliar, but welcome inclusion is her focus on practical matters (kids, work, spouse, sunlight, balance, etc) and her detailed solutions to common problems that might keep an otherwise prolific writer from ever sitting down to the task. Good stuff.
The Nitty Gritty
The Busy Woman’s Guide walks the reader through the first steps of starting a novel, from establishing a writing space and routine to choosing a writing program and picking a genre. Evensen’s advice, while not necessarily ground-breaking, is sound counsel. As I read through the first few chapters, I was struck by how many of my questions (as a beginning writer) were answered clearly and concisely. I had read most of the information before, but had found it spread all over the place, and only after digging through dozens of writing blogs and even more writing guides. Evensen’s Busy Woman’s Guide would have saved me a lot of agony early on by doing all that time-consuming legwork for me.
And unlike some guides I’ve read, Evensen leaves room for writer preference. For instance, in her section on outlining (I’m generally into outlining, but my methods have definitely changed over the years), she gives both sides of the issue and encourages writers to find what works for them. That’s very good advice across the board, I think. Learn what successful writers do, absolutely, but only copy them if it ALSO works for you.
I’m a single gal with no kids, but I appreciated Evensen’s acknowledgement of and solutions for the different kinds of “busy” that modern women face. Including working long hours (plus overtime) or being home with one or more kiddos that clamor for time and attention. I also FULLY endorse her suggestion of outsourcing certain household tasks. If laundry is the thing that’s stopping you from writing, throw money or favors or baked goods at someone until they do it for you. Easy peasy.
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