Everyone needs heroes, role models, people who have gone before and succeeded at the very thing that’s important to you. Even Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, who many consider the quintessential role model, had his own set of heroes. He called them his mastermind group. These were men (and in 1960 when he wrote this book, of course, they were all men) he admired. He didn’t know them all personally, but that didn’t stop them from inviting them to join his mastermind group. He chose such people as Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, Mahatma Gandhi, and Thomas Edison. He learned how they operated and what was special about them, and then he emulated those behaviors.
My copy of Think and Grow Rich is yellowed with age and highlighting. Napoleon Hill was ahead of his time in many of the things he proposed but none more than the idea of a mastermind group. One of the things he taught me was that these people do not all have to be in the same room, sitting around the same table, at the same time. You can pick people you admire, learn everything you can about them, and imagine them as your personal mentors.
I love that idea, and it is something I have been wanting to try for many years. Since this blog is called The Writing Life, I am going to assume that, if you read it, you are a writer and would be interested in the some of the same role models who inspire me. I will confess at the outset that most of mine are women because, when I started out, I didn’t know very many women who wrote. So, when I found a book I loved on writing, or building a career, or achieving success beyond all expectations, I frequently noticed the authors were women. Over the years, I have filled many book shelves with the works of authors I wanted to emulate.
I would like to invite you to share your favorite authors—past or present—with me and the readers of this blog. Many of the writers I admire are very much alive, and their work is readily accessible. Others are gone, but their writing remains for us to read and enjoy. In the comment section at the end of this blog post please tell us a little about you and a writer who has influenced you in some way. Feel free to list your latest published work.
About Bobbi Linkemer—ghostwriter, book coach, editor
If you read The Writing Life, you probably already know a lot about me, but I will introduce myself again to get things started. I have been writing for close to fifty years, which means my career started in the early seventies. The woman’s movement was just getting off the ground, and despite having no idea that was happening all around us, we (writers I knew as well as those I admired from a distance) were caught up in its forward momentum. Just to be an employed writer at a time when there were so few was an accomplishment. Neither my academic nor professional background prepared me for this career. I credit an obsession with writing, dogged determination, and a lot of luck for keeping me in this game for five decades.
My books on writing include:
- Write Your Book Now! A handbook for writers, authors, and self-publishers (paperback; soon to be released as an e-book)
- How to Write a Nonfiction Book: From planning to promotion in 6 simple steps (7th Edition) (in paperback and e-book)
- Going Solo: How to survive and thrive as a freelance writer (in paperback and e-book)
- Words to Live By: Reflections on the writing life from a 40-year veteran (in paperback and e-book)
- The Savvy Ghostwriter: Confessions of an Invisible Author (an e-book)
- How to Write an Online Course: From concept to completion one step at a time (an e-book)
- The Book of Five: Everything authors need to know about nonfiction books (an e-book)
- The Skillful Writer: What separates the pros from the amateurs (an e-book)
- The Prosperous Author: The business side of writing books (an e-book)
About Nora Ephron—icon, writer’s writer, one of my idols
Nora Ephron died in July 2011. She was an author who always seemed to find exactly the right words, the perfect tone. She could be uproariously funny, insightful, or profound. She was right up there at the top of my list of woman writers I most admire.
I have read her books and seen her movies, laughed out loud, occasionally cried, and always wished I could write half as well.
She wrote fiction (Heartburn), nonfiction (I Remember Nothing, I Feel Bad About My Neck), plays (Love, Loss, and What I Wore), screen plays (Julie & Julia, Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally). Often she collaborated with her very talented sister, Delia Ephron (Bewitched, You’ve Got Mail). Together they were a comedy team.
It is a challenge to describe a woman I knew well through her writing and what others have written about her but whom I had never met. Nora Ephron was a talented, skilled, prolific writer—all traits I view with awe. Yet, what made her special were her humanity and her courage. She was real and willing to reveal herself on the page, the stage, and the screen. She was a journalist who wrote about women for some of the most prestigious publications in the country. She came from a family of writers and left a large body of work to read and reread. And though we never got together over a cup of coffee to talk about our mutual love of writing, I shall truly miss her.
Please leave a comment. Introduce yourself, tell us about your favorite writer, list your books. I look forward to hearing from you.