Thursday, November 10, 2016

Five Fascinating Insights About The Writing Life

Recently I was thrilled to learn about How My Book Became A Movie from Robin Jones Gunn. While Robin has written over 90 novels, many authors dream of making their book into a movie. Do you realize what a long odds you have to overcome for such a possibility to happen?

Dr. Ted Baehr, the Founder and Publisher of Movieguide, wrote How to Succeed in Hollywood (Without Losing Your Soul) he said, “Remember that the average movie takes nine years from start to finish. The Passion of the Christ took ten years. Evita took twenty-three years. Batman took seventeen years. There are several reasons why it takes so long. First, there are 300,000 scripts submitted every year to the Writers guild of America and many more are written that are never submitted, aside from the flood of novels every year, but less than three hundred movies open in theaters every year. Thus, most scripts never make it into production.” (Page 150)

Now that you understand the huge obstacles to making a book into a movie, I want to tell you about why you need to read How My Book Became A Movie. Robin writes about her journey in a riveting, page-turning way that will keep your attention. You learn how a novella called Finding Father Christmas will be a Hallmark channel movie. In fact, the Hallmark Channel will air the movie Finding Father Christmas on Sunday, November 13th.

One of the novellas, Robin rewrote several times in the process of getting it accepted for print—an effort that would have made many writers with less courage and persistence give up. As she writes, “Have you noticed, fellow dreamers, that the way up is down? The higher the mountain before you, the longer and deeper and wider is the valley you must slog through in order to reach your desired haven.” (Page 34)

Valuable lessons and insights for every writer are scattered throughout this well-crafted nonfiction book. Some of those lessons are in chapter titles like: Ask for the Moon, Put Your Whole Heart into Your Work, Humble Yourself, Do the Hard Work and Show Up.  I loved the encouragement and honesty in these pages. I highly recommend How My Book Became A Movie. Amazon is selling only the Kindle version of this terrific book.  If you want a paperback, you can get the book directly from Robin Gunn (follow this link).

Also watch this short video from Robin (use this link if you can't see the video) about why she wrote this book:

This article on The Writing Life is more than a review of the book. I want to highlight several insights from this book for every writer:

1. Publishing is a long game. If you don't read Christian romance, you may have never heard of Robin Jones Gunn. I've known Robin for at least 20 years. She started her book publishing career with some nonfiction children's books yet now writes novels. Overnight success stories are rare and Robin has been faithfully writing for years. Book publishing is more of a marathon than a sprint. 

2. Writers need to be consistent and faithful. If you read How My Book Became A Movie, you will see the consistent effort that Robin puts into her writing. Yes there are struggles (see my next point), yet in obedience and faithful action, she writes the stories and gets them out of her head onto paper.

3. Writers need to do what their editor's ask them to do. When an editor directs a writer, many writers resist. If I'm honest, I mutter a bit (to myself), then I do what the editor asked me to do. The editor understands the focus of their publishing efforts and their audience. It's true in books and in the magazine world as well. As I read How My Book Became A Movie, I learned Robin had to rewrite one of her novellas several times before the book was accepted and published. Some authors would have not done this hard work that Robin did with her editor. Her actions provide a shining example for each of us to do whatever is needed for the book to get written with excellence.

4. Persistence will pay off—but not instantly. For years, Robin had this dream of one of her stories becoming a movie. It took years of persistent and hard work but finally happened. All too often in our culture, we are looking for the instant success or the instant fix. Every writer who succeeds needs a healthy dose of persistence.

5. Writers need to have big dreams and goals. As you write and move toward accomplishing your dreams, I encourage you to have big dreams. As Robin Gunn writes toward the end of her book, “Ask for anything. Be Extravagant. Ask for the moon.” (page 99)

As you ask for the moon and work toward your dreams, you might just get it.


@RobinGunn encourages authors with How My Book Became A Movie. Get insights here. (ClickToTweet)

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