Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Jeff Goins. Many of you aspiring writers may already be familiar with his work, as he is all over Amazon and the podcast world. I was introduced to Jeff when I was being interviewed for podcast, and the interviewer had only praise for him. Jeff Goins is a full-time author, blogger, and speaker. He frequently speaks and writes about how to make a difference in the world through our words and actions. You can follow him online at goinswriter.com.
Justin Sloan: As you can tell by my introduction, I am glad to include you in my interview series, and want to thank you again for your time and wisdom. Let’s assume the majority of my readers are not familiar with your work yet, and start off by going into what got you into writing and why you are so passionate about it, speaking, and everything else you do.
Jeff Goins: I’m not sure what got me into writing. It seems that writing got into me at a very early age. My mom used to read me the dictionary on long road trips. I guess you could see I was destined to be a writer.
JS: I love that we have found our passions, but maybe some of my readers are still unsure, and just looking to writing as a possibility. What are your thoughts on discovering one’s passion?
JG: I think you should listen to your life as Frederick Buechner says. Look for themes and threads that would help you identify what you’ve always loved and been good at. Parker Palmer once wrote, “Before I can tell my life what I want do with it, I need to listen to my life telling me who I am.”
JS: What were the first steps you took to becoming a writer, and would you do it the same again? What would be your advice to the college student considering a life as a writer?
JG: I began with calling myself a writer. I think that activity follows identity. Before you can do something, you have to become someone. If you’re thinking about writing, you should begin with asking yourself who you are.
JS: Would that advice be different for someone with over ten years of work experience who is considering giving it up to be a writer?
JG: I don’t think it’s ever too late to start again.
JS: In your podcast you talk about the importance of always improving your craft. What have you learned regarding improving your craft? Is it all about putting the fingers to the keyboard, or do you have other recommendations such as school or your favorite books on writing?
JG: Real practice hurts. It’s hard. And if you don’t love it, then you’re practicing the wrong thing. If you aren’t pushing yourself, then you aren’t trying hard enough.
JS: You had a great quote from Walt Disney, that I am not sure if I had heard before. Something about ‘We don’t make movies to make money, we make money to make movies.’ I love it. Can you elaborate on how this has played out in your writing career and how you would advise other writers take this to heart? How should we approach the business side of it? Of course the easy answer here is to tell everyone to read your books and listen to your podcast, so maybe do that too, but also a summary of your answer here would be great.
JG: Every artist needs a patron. Hemingway had his wife’s trust fund. Van Gogh had his brother. We all need a means of sharing our art with the world. Money has its place. But it makes a better means than a master.
JS: I am a big fan of putting forth the image of who you aspire to be, and therefore appreciate your book You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One). Can you give us a pitch for why my readers should read that book (and your other work), and elaborate on this topic of acting like the writers they are?
JG: As I said before, you have to become someone before you can do something. The process of becoming a writer starts with owning the title. And what do writers do? Well, they write, of course.
JS: One aspect of your career that personally inspires me is that you have taken it to the next level with podcasts and speaking engagements. For writers such as myself who may consider going past the pages at some point in our careers, what would be your advice? Do you have any resources you found helpful along the way, or maybe some great lessons learns?
JG: If you want your work to spread, it’s a good idea to consider the different mediums you have available. Speaking is one of those. I don’t think all writers need to speak, but it’s certainly fun for me. I do it, because I believe in my message and want to do everything I can to share it with the world. A great resource would be to read The Secrets of Dynamic Communication by Ken Davis, then go to his SCORRE Conference.
JS: Going forward, what are your goals as a writer and how do you hope to get there?
JG: I want to see my words make the impact I believe they’re capable of. We will see, in time, if that happens.
JS: Thank you again, Jeff. You are an inspiration to us all! Before signing off, please tell us more about how to follow you and what you have going on. Also, what is one last piece of advice you would like to leave my readers with?
JG: You can find all my stuff at goinswriter.com. Don’t listen to just what people say; watch what they do. (And yes, I’m aware of the irony of that advice.)
For other interviews like this, see my Creative Writing Career: Becoming a Writer of Movies, Video Games, and Books. (now in Audiobook!)