Write Like You Mean It
Mastering Your Passion for the Written Word
In his debut title, award-winning journalist Steve Gamel shares his best writing advice gained from decades spent mastering the written word. Write Like You Mean It: Mastering Your Passion for the Written Word (Brown Books Publishing; On sale: September 14, 2021) pushes writers from the starting point to the finish line while emphasizing the purpose behind it all: drawing readers in with quality content and style. Whether you’re an experienced writer, a novice, or a college professor aspiring to write full-time, this book is for you, so you too can Write Like You Mean It!
Sharing stories from his career’s early years and his frequent foibles as a journalist, Gamel equips aspiring writers with trade secrets, versatile tools, and actionable steps to create rich content. Topics include the intentional processes behind organizing ideas, conducting interviews, beating writer’s block, and networking. Simple steps in each chapter break down all stages of writing, including drafting, editing, marketing and publishing.
"Write Like You Mean It means putting all your heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears into your passion for writing. Our words are our stock in trade. We are craftsmen. We are artists. Furthermore, our audience deserves to see and feel each word we put on a page. I want writers to realize that whatever they’ve written deserves to see the light of day rather than being tucked away on a dusty bedroom shelf somewhere. They need to believe in themselves, and they need to believe in their writing. I think the tools, tips, life hacks, resources, and examples in this book will help writers from all walks of life write like they mean it." —Steve Gamel
“Steve Gamel has written a book that aspiring writers can treasure . . . a love letter to the written word.”
—Scott Parks, Retired Managing Editor, Denton Record-Chronicle
The Story Behind the Story
What was your “I’m going to do this” moment that led to Write Like You Mean It?
I’d been thinking about writing a book for several years, but the tipping point came at the very beginning of 2020. A local networking group that I help lead was putting together a time capsule, and every member and guest was asked to submit three goals that we each wanted to accomplish by the end of the year. Before the time capsule was sealed, we were each asked to share our goals with the group, and one of mine was to finally write this book I kept telling myself to write but hadn’t started yet. I think the fact that everyone now knew I wanted to write a book held me accountable in that moment. A week later, I started writing! The actual goal was to have it written and published. I underestimated how long it takes to get a book “publish-ready,” but I definitely got the book written and submitted to a publisher before the end of that year. It felt great.
The “show, don’t tell” phrase is common advice for writers. How do you feel about this cornerstone piece of advice related to info dumping and exposition?
Readers want to feel like they are in the action. They want to read it and visualize it. They want to feel it. They want to taste it and smell it. They want to be invited into the world you’ve created. They want to experience what your characters are experiencing, and as writers, it is our duty to give them what they want through quality description and storytelling. I’ll say this: info dumping and exposition are two great ways to keep your reader at arms length—and they will quickly be turned off if you do.
Which skills are indispensable for writers to have in their toolboxes to really write like they mean it?
There are so many! I think a great place to start is to have the undying willingness to be open to constructive criticism from those who came before you and can help you be a better writer. I also think it’s imperative that a writer who truly wants to write like they mean it learn how to actively listen, soak in the world around them, and find inventive ways to tell a story in ways no one else has thought of. As I said in my book, being the best writer you can possibly be is a lifelong endeavor. You never fully get there. But the fun is in the journey, and if you’re willing to take that trip, you’ll find that your toolbox will be overflowing by the end.
Has your own writing process or a specific viewpoint changed after you completed Write Like You Mean It?
If anything, I have an even greater appreciation for the hard work nonfiction and fiction writers put into writing a book and getting it published. You can’t fully grasp this until you go through the process yourself. With that said, I think many of the writing processes I outlined in this book helped prepare me for this journey. It’s a humbling feeling to be able to see something like this become a reality.
What do you hope is the main takeaway for readers from Write Like You Mean It?
Write Like You Mean It means putting all your heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears into your passion for writing. Our words are our stock in trade. We are craftsmen. We are artists. Furthermore, our audience deserves to see and feel each word we put on a page. I want writers to realize that whatever they’ve written deserves to see the light of day rather than being tucked away on a dusty bedroom shelf somewhere. They need to believe in themselves, and they need to believe in their writing. I think the tools, tips, life hacks, resources, and examples in this book will help writers from all walks of life write like they mean it.
“Steve’s book is as honest, transparent and realistic a book about writing as I’ve read in a very long time. His approach offers . . . insights, advice, and sensible strategies to stop procrastinating and start writing.”—Neil Foote, Principal Lecturer, Mayborn School of Journalism and Director, Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference
“Whether you’re looking to get into writing seriously or are an experienced writer looking to brush up on a few things, Steve does a great job of laying things out in an easy format that communicates good information to the reader—which is what writing is all about.” —Ben Baby, NFL and Boxing Reporter, ESPN