19/02/2017

Writing with Cold Feet (by Kathrin Lake)

I don’t remember where I saw this book recommended. I hadn’t heard of Kathrin Lake, who is an American writer, and am pretty sure I would never have come across it, but for a recommendation online. I added it to my wishlist a couple of years ago, and was given it for Christmas 2015, but have only got around to reading it in the past couple of weeks.

‘Writing with cold feet’ is short, but excellent. The subtitle, ‘Secrets of how to write when you are not writing’ is one that appeals to me strongly, as I often find myself ‘not writing’ when I had planned to write. Rather than just addressing procrastinating tendencies, Kathrin Lake understands that many people feel a sense of resistance, or reluctance to get started, even when circumstances are ideal and time is allocated to writing.

Chapter One examines the fears that sometimes lie behind resistance to writing: of judgement, of negative feedback, and so on. I can relate to these, although on the whole I have moved on from there. But they are very important concerns to address for those who want to write but are afraid even to start.

Chapter Two, however, looks at the idea of ‘resistance’ and the anxieties and fears that can lie behind it. I am relieved to learn that this is a common problem for writers; perhaps for others, too. This chapter is the key to the book, and gives ideas for overcoming resistance. The most obvious, that of sitting down and writing for three minutes even if it’s rubbish, is one I have come across before - but then forget. It’s worth doing regularly.

There are only five chapters in all, and the last three look at what the author terms ‘secrets’ - but not of style, or grammar, or plotting, or any of the things that so many other writing books focus on. Instead she explores what writing is NOT, despite what some may think, and encourages the readers to let go of some mistaken ideas about what writing ‘should’ be.

In one sense there’s nothing new in this book. I had come across most of the concepts before. However, it was very encouraging to have them all in one short book, written in a friendly style, addressing concerns which can strike any writer at any time. It’s the kind of book to re-read regularly, and at less than 100 pages it doesn’t take much time to do so.

The price is a bit high for such a short book, but if it works (and that remains to be seen, in my case) it’s more than worth it. Highly recommended to anyone feeling ‘stuck’ or ‘blocked’ in their writing.

Review by copyright 2017 Sue's Book Reviews

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