I was 10 when I starting “writing” in the recognizable sense. My father has assembled a bound, unruled paperback book of empty pages, and I began to write a mystery story. In pencil. I don’t remember how far I was able to get in the story, or what happened to the book. But I do remember is had something to do with a secret passage underground entered through a grandfather clock.
Writing stuck. But it only stuck in a professional sense in the summer before my sophomore year in college, when I decided to major in journalism. From then one, my life revolved around words – student newspaper, newspaper copy editor, editor of a company publication, speechwriter, issues manager, novels, non-fiction book, social media.
Words. Writing. Articles. Freelancing. Corporate communications. Speeches (lots of speeches). I’ve been on the freelance and contract sides, and I’ve been on the corporate side. I’ve struggled, as most writers do, with the dreaded marketing. There have been times when I’ve faced having to compromise my faith in the work I’ve done. I’ve said no, every time.
Writing can be a struggle, a punishing kind of business to be in.
Ed Cyzewski knows. He’s a writer. He’s written for himself and others, for companies and organizations, for web sites and for magazines. He’s been there, and done that. And he knows that writing can be a real struggle. It’s never not a struggle. He knows the realities of trying to making financial ends meet, and there’s no work at hand. Or how a flood of work can suddenly evaporate.
He’s distilled that knowledge, and while it applies to all writers, he’s focused that knowledge in what I can only call a gift: Write Without Crushing Your Soul: Sustainable Publishing and Freelancing.
Chapter titles are deceptively simple: “Writing Sustainably;” “Dealing with Adversity;” “Writing That Serves God and Money?;” “Saving Your Soul from Book Publishing;” “Healthy Publicity Practices for Authors;” “The Comparison Trap;” “Maintaining a Sustainable Writing Life;” and “Priorities for Sustainable Writing.” I say “deceptively” simple, because each chapter is packed with practical experience – and practical wisdom. And extremely helpful advice. I’ve been writing professionally for more than 40 years, and I found myself making notes as I read, seeing things I hadn’t considered before, and most of all enjoying the words of a writer who loves what he does – but knows there is always the danger of too much of a good thing.
The word “sustainable” shows up repeatedly, and for good reasons. Like the need to care for your family, and the need to keep from draining yourself, and the danger of becoming so consumed with “platform,” search engine optimization, and the number of newsletter subscribers that you forget why you’re doing this work in the first place.
Cyzewski has written several works in the area of faith, writing and publishing, including Pray, Write, Grow; First Draft Father; Hazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus; Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting God in Everyday Life; A Christian Survival Guide; The Good News of Revelation (co-author with Larry Helyer); Unfollowers: Unlikely Lessons on Faith from Those Who Doubted Jesus; Creating Space: The Case for Everyday Creativity; Divided We Unite; Why We Run from God’s Love; and A Path to Publishing: What I Learned from Publishing a Nonfiction Book. He blogs at Ed Cyzewski: Freelance Writer.
If you’re a writer, or considering writing as a career, or even do part-time writing work, read Write Without Crushing Your Soul. It speaks to who we are, from someone who is one of us. And he’s a good man to share this with us.
My review of First Draft Father.
My review of Pray, Write, Grow.
Top photograph by George Hodan via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.