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3 Career-Changing Lessons from Caroline Leavitt
Written by
She Writes
February 2018
Written by
She Writes
February 2018

In the upcoming She Writes University semester, Caroline Leavitt will be talking about Moral Choices: How to Transform a Good Book into a Great One. But you can start learning from this incredible author today!

Over years of writing and with nearly a dozen books under her belt, Caroline Leavitt has experienced the highs and lows of an author career. Whether you’re just getting started or are a seasoned veteran, Caroline’s outlook is one any author can follow.

Never. Ever. Give. Up.

Caroline Leavitt very candidly discusses her career and shows that if being a writer is what you want, there’s only one way to achieve it. In an interview with BookSparks, Caroline shared this story:

“I always tell writers to never, ever give up, and here is why:

My first novel, Meeting Rozzy Halfway, was a sensation and a huge success. My next seven novels were abject failures. Few reviews, no sales whatsoever. No one knew who I was and when asked what I did, I always said, ‘I’m a novelist?’ with a question mark.

I had to change publishers five times.

Then my ninth novel, Pictures of You, was rejected on contract by my then publisher. I was sure I would never be published again because who would want someone with eight failed novels and no sales? But I didn’t give up and that ‘not special’ novel was soon picked up by Algonquin Books and it went into six printings and became a New York Times bestseller its first month out! I finally, finally felt like a novelist. No more question mark!

So Never. Ever. Ever. Give. Up.”

Love Your Characters Deeply

There’s something deeply personal about being a writer and some would say, revealing. When you’re first learning to write or you’re still developing your craft, there can be a tendency to hold back. However, the way to make readers love your story is to make sure that you love it.

In a live Twitter chat, Caroline showed just how deeply she cared for her fictional cast:

Do the Research (and Get Help)

Whether you’re writing memoir or fiction, research can be a huge undertaking. Making your world feel real and being true to particular time periods is hard work. It can also detract from your ability to keep writing if you’re not careful.

In an interview with Psychology Today, Caroline discusses a time when she got hung up in the minutia of research and what she did to get the help she needed to move forward with her book.

JH: How much research did you do regarding the different eras in the book?

CL: After it took me three days just to find out what cops in the 1950s used instead of yellow crime tape (saw horses and rope), I hired two high school assistants and then a professional researcher. I also went on FB and Twitter and asked for people who had lived in the 1950s and 60s--and got a lot! That was the most fun. I talked to one guy who had been one of the first male nurses in the 60s and to a 1950s cop and to a master pastry chef!”

Caroline Leavitt proves that there’s no wrong way to reach your writing goals and that only persistence can get you to the finish line. If you’re interested in learning more from Caroline, make sure you sign up for her class during She Writes University 2018 where she and seven other amazing women will give writing advice you can’t miss!

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