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Recommended Books
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    Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
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    The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
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    Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do
    Plume
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    Women Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews
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    The Writer Got Screwed (but didn't have to): Guide to the Legal and Business Practices of Writing for the Entertainment Industry
    by Brooke A. Wharton
  • Ambrose Bierce's Write It Right: The Celebrated Cynic's Language Peeves Deciphered, Appraised, and Annotated for 21st-Century Readers
    Ambrose Bierce's Write It Right: The Celebrated Cynic's Language Peeves Deciphered, Appraised, and Annotated for 21st-Century Readers
    by Ambrose Bierce, Jan Freeman
  • The Writer's Chapbook: A Compendium of Fact, Opinion, Wit, and Advice from the Twentieth Century's Preeminent Writers (Modern Library)
    The Writer's Chapbook: A Compendium of Fact, Opinion, Wit, and Advice from the Twentieth Century's Preeminent Writers (Modern Library)
    Modern Library
  • The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition
    The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition
    by Christopher Vogler
  • The Writer on Her Work, Volume 1
    The Writer on Her Work, Volume 1
    by Janet Sternberg
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    The Writer's Legal Companion: The Complete Handbook For The Working Writer, Third Edition
    by Brad Bunnin, Peter Beren
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    A Writer's Reality
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    A Writer's Time: Making the Time to Write
    by Kenneth Atchity
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    Writing About Your Life: A Journey into the Past
    by William Zinsser
  • Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within (Paperback)
    Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within (Paperback)
    by Natalie Goldberg (Author)
  • Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular
    Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular
    by L. Rust Hills
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    Writing for Your Life
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    The Writing Life: Writers On How They Think And Work
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  • The Writing Life
    The Writing Life
    by Annie Dillard
  • The Writing of Fiction
    The Writing of Fiction
    by Edith Wharton
  • Writing the Novel: From Plot to Print
    Writing the Novel: From Plot to Print
    by Lawrence Block
  • Writing Past Dark: Envy, Fear, Distraction and Other Dilemmas in the Writer's Life
    Writing Past Dark: Envy, Fear, Distraction and Other Dilemmas in the Writer's Life
    by Bonnie Friedman
  • You're a Genius All the Time: Belief and Technique for Modern Prose
    You're a Genius All the Time: Belief and Technique for Modern Prose
    by Regina Weinreich, Jack Kerouac
  • Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You
    Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You
    by Ray Bradbury
  • Endangered Species: Writers Talk About Their Craft, Their Visions, Their Lives
    Endangered Species: Writers Talk About Their Craft, Their Visions, Their Lives
    by Lawrence Grobel

QUOTE OF THE DAY

Thursday
Dec132018

Streamline Your Message

Nobody—not even your dog or your mother—has the slightest interest in your commercial for Rice Krispies or Delco batteries or Preparation H. Nor does anybody care about your one-act play, your Facebook page or your new sesame chicken joint at Canal and Tchoupitoulas. It isn’t that people are mean or cruel. They’re just busy. Nobody wants to read your shit. What’s the answer? 1) Streamline your message. Focus it and pare it down to its simplest, clearest, easiest-to-understand form. 2) Make its expression fun. Or sexy or interesting or scary or informative. Make it so compelling that a person would have to be crazy NOT to read it. 3) Apply that to all forms of writing or art or commerce.

STEVEN PRESSFIELD

Wednesday
Dec122018

Character Is the Kindling

Usually, a story is triggered by a notion I have of a character in a particular situation, and the various reactions that character might have to the situation. My starting point is always the character. Person + event + reaction = what next? If something like setting or plot or a line of dialogue happens to be the spark, it’s not the kindling. Character is always the kindling.

PATRICK RYAN

Tuesday
Dec112018

Writing Is Facing Your Deepest Fears

Writing is facing your deepest fears and all your failures, including how hard it is to write a lot of the time and how much you loathe what you’ve just written and that you’re the person who just committed those flawed sentences (many a writer, and God, I know I’m one, has worried about dying before the really crappy version is revised so that posterity will never know how awful it was). When it totally sucks, pause, look out the window (there should always be a window) and say, I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing.

REBECCA SOLNIT

Monday
Dec102018

Pace Is Crucial

Pace is crucial. Fine writing isn't enough. Writing students can be great at producing a single page of well-crafted prose; what they sometimes lack is the ability to take the reader on a journey, with all the changes of terrain, speed and mood that a long journey involves. Again, I find that looking at films can help. Most novels will want to move close, linger, move back, move on, in pretty cinematic ways.

SARAH WATERS

 

Sunday
Dec092018

The Truth of Your Own Conception

When I write I am trying to express my way of being in the world. This is primarily a process of elimination: once you have removed all the dead language, the second-hand dogma, the truths that are not your own but other people's, the mottos, the slogans, the out-and-out lies of your nation, the myths of your historical moment - once you have removed all that warps experience into a shape you do not recognise and do not believe in - what you are left with is something approximating the truth of your own conception.

ZADIE SMITH

Saturday
Dec082018

It's a Slow Process

When you’re writing, it’s rather like going on a very long walk, across valleys and mountains and things, and you get the first view of what you see and you write it down. Then you walk a bit further, maybe you up onto the top of a hill, and you see something else. Then you write that and you go on like that, day after day, getting different views of the same landscape really. The highest mountain on the walk is obviously the end of the book, because it’s got to be the best view of all, when everything comes together and you can look back and see that everything you’ve done all ties up. But it’s a very, very long, slow process.

ROALD DAHL

 

Friday
Dec072018

Go Where Your Characters Lead You

Trollope said, “On the last day of each month recorded, every person in a work of fiction should be a month older than on the first.” We go with our characters wherever they lead us, and as time makes its mark on us, so it must on them.

HALLIE BURNETT

Thursday
Dec062018

Make Mistakes

I recall that my workshop leaders were tactful in their ways of acquainting me with my shortcomings as a writer. So much so that I hardly realized they were doing it. I want always to keep that sort of thing in mind when I'm teaching. The way you get better in everything in this life is to make mistakes. Otherwise you're probably doing it right by accident. But you have to do everything wrong before you can really start with some authority to do it right.

TOBIAS WOLFF

Wednesday
Dec052018

Zest. Gusto.

Zest. Gusto. How rarely one hears these words used. How rarely do we see people living, or for that matter, creating by them. Yet if I were asked to name the most important items in a writer’s make-up, the things that shape his material and rush him along the road to where he wants to go, I could only warn him to look to his zest, see to his gusto.

RAY BRADBURY

Monday
Dec032018

Exercising Is a Good Analogy for Writing

Exercising is a good analogy for writing. If you’re not used to exercising you want to avoid it forever. If you’re used to it, it feels uncomfortable and strange not to. No matter where you are in your writing career, the same is true for writing. Even fifteen minutes a day will keep you in the habit.

JENNIFER EGAN

Sunday
Dec022018

The Rules

The rules seem to be these: if you have written a successful novel, everyone invites you to write short stories. If you have written some good short stories, everyone wants you to write a novel. But nobody wants anything until you have already proved yourself by being published somewhere else.

JAMES MICHENER

Saturday
Dec012018

Don't Worry About Success and Failure

You must once and for all give up being worried about successes and failures. Don’t let that concern you. It’s your duty to go on working steadily day by day, quite steadily, to be prepared for mistakes, which are inevitable, and for failures.

ANTON CHEKHOV

Friday
Nov302018

Bring It Back to What You Really Feel

Almost the whole problem of writing poetry is to bring it back to what you really feel, and that takes an awful lot of maneuvering. You may feel the doorknob more strongly than some big personal event, and the doorknob will open into something you can use as your own.

ROBERT LOWELL

Thursday
Nov292018

Go Against the Devils

Write against patterns. Go against the devils. Write what you never write. Lie. Validate what you don’t validate. Indulge what you don’t like. Wallow in it. Write the opposite of what you always write, think, speak. Do everything against the grain!

DEENA METZGER

Wednesday
Nov282018

The Writer Is Both a Sadist and a Masochist

The writer is both a sadist and a masochist. We create people we love, and then we torture them. The more we love them, and the more cleverly we torture them along the lines of their greatest vulnerability and fear, the better the story. Sometimes we try to protect them from getting booboos that are too big. Don’t. This is your protagonist, not your kid.

JANET FITCH

Tuesday
Nov272018

Beware of Cleverness

Beware of cleverness; think of nothing but greatness. Make up your mind to write the greatest short stories in the world, and do not permit yourself even to dream that you cannot write them.

EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON

Monday
Nov262018

Never Fear the Audience

Never fear [the audience] or despise it. Coax it, charm it, interest it, stimulate it, shock it now and then if you must, make it laugh, make it cry, but above all . . . never, never, never bore the hell out of it.

NOEL COWARD

Sunday
Nov252018

This Is the Air We Breathe

Of course, as a novelist, I never want to write about “issues” like “the Indian family.” What I want to write about is the air we breathe. These days, I feel that novels, I don’t know for what reason—maybe because of the speed and the way that books have to be sold—these days, novels are becoming kind of domesticated, you know? They have a title, and a team, and they are branded just like NGOs: you writing on gender, you writing on caste, you writing on whatever. But for me, the fact is that these are not “issues”—this is the air we breathe.

ARUNDHATI ROY

Saturday
Nov242018

Just the Language

Most of my friends who are novelists have told me that they never know the end of their novels when they start writing them; they find it peculiar that for my novels I need to know, and I need to know not just the ending, but every significant event in the main characters’ lives. When I finally write the first sentence, I want to know everything that happens, so that I am not inventing the story as I write it; rather, I am remembering a story that has already happened. The invention is over by the time I begin. All I want to be thinking of is the language—the sentence I am writing, and the sentence that follows it. Just the language.

JOHN IRVING

Friday
Nov232018

Memoir Is Like Therapy

In terms of cathartic affect, memoir is like therapy, the difference being that in therapy, you pay them. The therapist is the mommy, and you’re the baby. In memoir, you’re the mommy, and the reader’s the baby. And—hopefully—they pay you.

MARY KARR