Author's advice -- 'Write every day'

September 05, 2006|by ELINA MIR

Jack Canfield is a motivational speaker and co-author of the best-selling "Chicken Soup for the Soul" book series, which has more than 65 titles in print. Pulse writer Elina Mir met Canfield at a conference and asked him about his work.

Elina: When did you first get the idea for "Chicken Soup for the Soul"?

Canfield: Well, I first started giving speeches and telling stories to people, and this woman came up to me and said, "Are your stories published in a book?" and I said, "No," and then she said, "Well, you should publish them into a book." So she gave me the idea, and I turned it into a book, and "Chicken Soup for the Soul" was published by 1993.

Elina: What ages are your conferences for?

Canfield: The youngest person this year is 16 and the oldest is 80. But the regular age range is about 23 to about 65.


Elina:What do you teach at your confrences?

Canfield: I teach people to follow their dreams and don't let things things block it from happening.

Elina: What was the first book you wrote?

Canfield: I wrote a book in 1976 to help teachers, because, when I was a high school teacher, my students were doing better than the other classes. So I wanted to help the other teacher.

Elina: How can people send stories (to be included in future "Chicken Soup" books)?

Canfield: Well, we have two ways. For example, when we wrote "(Chicken Soup for) the Sport Lover's Soul," we had sport players write stories for it or other people send in stories that they want to be published. We put them in two stacks - one that we really like and will publish and one that possibly would get published. Next, we call up the author and get permission to publish them.

Elina: Do you pay the authors?

Canfield: Yes, we pay the (amateur) $300 and $1,200 to the professional.

Elina: How do you get ideas for new "Chicken Soup for the Soul" books?

Canfield: Well if there is someone who I think needs inspirition, I write a book for them - for example, "(Chicken Soup for the) Caregiver's Soul." Also, many people give us suggestions for books.

Elina: What advice do you give for teens who want to become writers?

Canfield: They should keep a journal. Write about their day, something that inspired them. They basically need to take time in their day to write.

When I first started working on stories for "Chicken Soup for the Soul," I said to myself I would write a story every week. Later, it became two.

I used to have my students hand-write their favorite books to see the language used and structure of the stories. If you're going to take it seriously, I suggest you take writing classes or join some type of writing group.

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