Guest Bloggers

Understanding 4 C’s: Being a Successful Author

Guest Blogger Joan Gelfand writes:

I never set out to write a novel. I mean, really? I had cut my literary teeth on Simone de Beauvoir, Virginia Woolf, Willa Cather, Kurt Vonnegut, Gunter Grass and Wallace Stegner. I was satisfied being a poet, known to my local community.

Writing a novel seemed terribly pretentious, a misguided idea. No. I did not start out to write a novel. I started out with a story that, after two years, and much encouragement from my writing instructor, grew into three hundred pages. I had written my first novel without planning to do so.

 It was with that first novel that I began to understand that becoming a successful writer wasn’t just about writing. It was several years after my first attempt to find a publisher for that first novel that I understood the business of writing.

I learned that the letter I got back from an agent asking me to revise my manuscript was a serious request, not a rejection. And, I learned the hard way that without confidence, without commitment, and community,  I was never going to become a winning writer.

While the 4 C’s approach encourages you to improve your craft, it also provides suggestions for the design of a productive work practice, recommends ways to cultivate a supportive network and gives clear and practical examples of how to build your confidence. What makes the 4 C’s approach unique is that the key is to develop all four skills at the same time.

Does it sound like a lot of work? It is.

Over the years, I’ve coached innumerable writers who start out insisting that they barely have time for the actual writing. Just getting to their desks, crafting a piece of writing, and finishing it is a tremendous challenge. And it is. But just finishing a piece of writing is not enough.

After just a few sessions of working with me, these same writers find their priorities shifting as they begin to understand the importance of cultivating a network and building community. They realize that sending out their work one or even ten times is not enough. Soon, they find themselves more confident about every aspect of their work.

The 4 c’s system: Imagine that your writing career is a stove with four burners: Craft. Commitment. Community. Confidence.

Each burner has a pot on it that needs care and attention. Each pot is cooking up something tasty.

Craft is bubbling while commitment is on a low simmer; you are out in the community, seen everywhere! That pot is on full boil. While you were out, confidence has scalded; that last manuscript rejection has you wondering if you’ve got what it takes. Who said you could write your way out of a boiling pot?

As the Head Chef de Cuisine, your job is to fire up the burners, keep the grill hot, and tend to the ovens.

Juggling is involved. Timing is essential. But this is your piece de resistance! You can do it.

Joan Gelfand, MFA, Author, Coach is the author of the #1 Amazon Best Seller, You Can Be a Winning Writer (Mango Press).

Joan’s three volumes of poetry and chapbook of short fiction have garnered over twenty awards and commendations. Joan’s novel, Fear to Shred, set in a Silicon Valley startup, will be published by Mastodon/C&R Press in March, 2020.

Key publications include Los Angeles Review, PANK!, Rattle, Huffington Post, Poetry Flash, Prairie Schooner, Kalliope, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and over 100 lit mags and journals.

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