Book Review: Write Smart, Write Happy by Cheryl St. John

I love creating worlds, developing characters and plotting their stories but I struggle with the art of writing and getting the images in my mind written in a coherent, enjoyable way. Part of this is the crippling self-doubt which I have talked about lots on here and some of it is the fact I haven’t got a clue what I am doing. To combat this I am reading around the subject. Thank you to F+W Media and NetGalley for giving me the copy in exchange to an honest review.

Title: Write Smart, Write Happy – how to become a more productive, resilient and successful writer

Author: Cheryl St. John

Publisher: F+W Media, Writer’s Digest Books


Vanquish Your Writing Doubts & Obstacles

Writing is a vulnerable occupation; it is both personal and intimate. The act of writing, cycles of revision, and the confusing publishing industry can shatter a writer’s confidence, leaving you feeling like an imposter, overcome with rejection. Survival–and success–requires commitment, honesty, courage, resilience, sacrifice, and miles and miles of heart.

You have everything you need as a writer–it lies within, in the form of consistency and self-confidence. With Write Smart, Write Happy, best-selling author Cheryl St. John will help you unlock your skills, guiding you to overcome every hesitation, obstacle,  form of writer’s block, and procrastination habit you have. Within these pages, you’ll learn to:

Organize your writing life by using a planner, scheduling your yearly goals, and acknowledging career plans.Sharpen your saw by recharging your creativity, developing positive motivation, and creating healthy writing habits.Affirm your beliefs by overcoming self-doubt, learning to use affirmations, and altering your thinking.Conquer remaining fears by releasing tendencies towards perfectionism and establishing strategies for habitual success.Written with a no-nonsense attitude, St. John’s “advice from the trenches” will help you take an introspective look at your own writing habits and life. Through examples and inspiration from writers who struggled with–and overcame–rejection and reservations, discover the path towards writing smarter and happier today.

My Thoughts

This is an encouraging book which helps put writing worries in perspective with advice that can be used in all aspects of life. Cheryl St. John has written over 40 books for Harlequin and Silhouette so has a wealth of information to share including organising your time and work. She is an advocate for planners and gives detailed examples of her own schedule. This is helpful but for someone as disorganised as me it was overwhelming and left me feeling daunted at the challenge ahead, despite her empathising everyone works differently. I nearly stopped reading but am glad I continued because the advice on self-doubt and the chapters beyond came into their own when I hit a writing slump. It is full of quotes to remind you about the realities of writing, positivity, affirmation, tips to help you deal with disappointment, failure, social media and pressures of being a writer. The focus is on traditional publishing so it discusses dealing with editors and deadlines. She backs up all her advice with her own experiences. One of the main messages, like many of these books, is just sit down and write.

Would I recommend?

 If you are struggling with the stress of all aspects of writing, editing and publishing or crippling self-doubt this may be the book to read. It has tips I use regularly and is aimed at writers at all stages of their career.


Happy reading and writing


Weekly Update: 15th Jan Books 

It’s the beginning of another week and more books are being lifted from my TBR pile. After last week’ s reading of The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan, and Jennifer Gilmour’s Isolation Junction these are the books I plan to read:

  • The One by John Marrs. This has been out a while but I have patiently waited my turn on the library reservation list. I first heard about it on Simon Mayo’s Radio 2 Book Club and the premise of dating based on DNA testing had me hooked.
  • Clipped Wings by Jennifer Gilmour. After reading Isolation Junction, which is a fictional account of domestic abuse (eye-opening, worrying and uplifting book) I decided to try her second book. This is a collection of survivor’s stories on their experiences of domestic abuse.
  • Forget her Name by Jane Holland, in time for next week’s blog tour.
  • Write Smart, Write Happy by Cheryl St. John. I am jumping into this after receiving a digital ARC from NetGalley. Will I be a happier writer and will my technique improve once I have finished it? I will find out soon. 

What books are you opening this week?

Happy reading!

Book review: I Should be Writing: A Writer’s Workshop by Murs Lafferty

The first book review of the year is Murs Lafferty’s book I Should be Writing: A Writer’s Workshop I first read this book when I received a digital ARC from NetGalley but I loved it so much a physical copy appeared under the Christmas tree. Sometimes only a real book will do.

One of the main reasons I enjoy this book is its straightforward and concise nature.  I may have heard some of the advice before by browsing the web and reading other writing books but the waffle is stripped away, leaving a book that is like a personal cheerleader on my desk, encouraging me to stop procrastinating and write.

Her language, delivery of the information and the inclusion of the conversations between a fictional muse and bully fit my way of thinking. After all, I have my own muse, Elsie. The chapters are short (handy for a brain which has a tendency to get distracted) and covers all aspects of writing including

  • writer’s doubts and fears
  • tools you need
  • myths
  • writing your first and second draft
  • editing
  • self-publishing
  • traditional publishing

At the back, there are several exercises to complete to help you on your writing journey after all writing is a journey and not just a destination. Now I need to catch up on her podcasts and the others she recommends.

Have you listened to any podcasts on writing and what books on writing would you recommend trying?

Happy writing!

Reading, writing and New Year plans

Happy New Year! I hope 2018 is full of happiness, good health, inspirational ideas and good books to read.

My main goal for this year is the same as last year and probably every year – write! I may not have finished my first draft yet but I have learnt lots in 2017, made close friendships with fellow aspiring writers and have discovered the desire to write is not going away.

Goals for 2018

  • Be more organised – this seems an impossible dream.
  • Use a life planner or similar to keep my grasshopper brain on track. I found a wonderful, thought-provoking life planner I would love to use and it was free. Thank you The Swish Family Robertson for creating it.
  • Use a planner to keep track of book reviews, blog tours and writing deadlines
  • Explore more places, be spontaneous.
  • Meet up with writing friends I have met online.
  • Sit in a coffee shop and write. I see other writers do this and I am always envious.
  • Learn how to write short stories.
  • Be brave and contact relevant people to help in my research. The first hurdle is admitting I am a writer to strangers.
  • Finish my first draft of The Ellfaenian Journals.
  • Read more books about the craft of writing.
  • Pluck up the courage to enter competitions.
  • Read more and send in reviews to Amazon and Goodreads. It was only recently I discovered the importance of this for writers. If you want to support the authors who bring you the stories you love, write a review.

Pile of books

Read more

Dreams Come True with Writing Pressies

I hope you all had a good Christmas and Father Christmas was kind. We had a quiet one with family and lots of food. Bailey’s thick cream is my downfall. The diet must start tomorrow if I want to fit into my favourite jeans. I was surprised and excited to find several writing themed gifts under the tree. These included:

  • A subscription to a writing magazine. Every month I can have a cup of tea while I catch up and learn this craft.
  • The subscription came free gifts too including 3 entries for competitions. Maybe this will encourage me to enter.
  • I Should be Writing by Murs Lafferty – a book review will be posted in the New Year
  • The Emotion Thesaurus; A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression
  • Notebooks galore including one to record the books I have read
  • Pencils (as a left-handed person I struggle with pens and their delightful habit of leaving a trail of smudge behind)
  • A metal pencil sharpener like the ones I remember from my school days sitting on the teacher’s desk

And finally J.K Rowling’s illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as a reminder that writer’s dreams can come true if they believe in themselves. If I could have a teaspoonful of her imagination and success I will be happy.


Reading Harry Potter

The arrival of these gifts are not just about having tools to use but they are an acknowledgement from my family that writing is important to me and they are somewhat supportive of me, even if the whole idea of writing a book bewilders them. This means more than the gifts themselves.


How was your Christmas?

Happy writing.