Sunday, July 9, 2017

Kendra Levin: The Hero Is You -- Tools from the Hero's Journey to Illuminate Your Writing and Life

Kendra Levin is an executive editor at Viking Children’s Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, where since 2005 she has worked on a wide range of children’s literature from picture books to young adult novels. She has edited the New York Times bestseller Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton, Printz Honor winner The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry, Theodor Seuss Geisel award winner Don’t Throw It to Mo! by David A. Adler, Society of Illustrators Gold Medal winner The Lost House by B.B. Cronin, and the work of authors including Janet Fox, Deborah Freedman, and others. Kendra also helps writers as a teacher and certified life coach, and is the author of The Hero Is You, a grounded self-help guide to a healthier writing process. Visit her at www.kendracoaching.com and follow her @kendralevin.

Kendra Levin is an editor at Viking Children's Books and the author of The Hero Is You, a book that uses The Hero's Journey to help writers find the right path and process for themselves. Because there is no one right way. "If it works for you, then it works," Levin says. "And if it doesn't, don't do it." 

1) MAKE A MAP: The number one way that you can be a hero in your creative process is by creating a plan for yourself, a map for what you are going to do. Figure out your goal -- and give yourself a deadline. Then figure out what you need to accomplish that goal by that deadline. 

2) KNOW YOURSELF: Specifically, know your own strengths and weaknesses -- and be honest about acknowledging them. What do you excel at? What is it that you're not really strong in, and how can you improve? Work on your craft muscles but also work on your process muscles. "There are all these ways that self-awareness can be a very solid tool. If you can predict where you'll likely struggle, you can do things to address that." 

3) ASK YOURSELF WHY: Ask yourself the question: "Why am I doing this?" What's your greater mission and purpose? What do you want to say, what do you want to share with the world? Figure out two things: a) What is your mission statement as a writer? b) What is your vision for this specific project? 

4) FIND A MENTOR: Or turn yourself into one by focusing and studying. Writing is a craft, and Levin compares it to any athletic pursuit. "Work that muscle." Study books that you love, study craft, ground yourself in the work of others to take your own writing to the next level. Explore all kinds of story. And talk to people. "Everyone around us has something to teach us." 

5) FIND ALLIES: Writing can be a very solitary experience. But you don't have to do this alone. "It's so vital to have a support system," Levin says. "You need people who understand what you're doing and why and will support you through that process -- and let them support them, too." Look for critique partners or a writers' group. 

6) CHANGE IT UP. Levin notes: what (and who!) works for you now may not in the future as your writing experience, path and circumstances change. Don't be afraid to revisit and rework the process. Change is scary, but can lead to breakthroughs. 
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