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Recommended Books
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    To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction
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    What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers
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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
    Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do
    Plume
  • Women Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews
    Women Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews
    Modern Library
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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
    by Mario Vargas Llosa
  • A Writer's Time: Making the Time to Write
    A Writer's Time: Making the Time to Write
    by Kenneth Atchity
  • Writing About Your Life: A Journey into the Past
    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
  • Writing for Your Life
    Writing for Your Life
    by Deena Metzger
  • The Writing Life: Writers On How They Think And Work
    The Writing Life: Writers On How They Think And Work
    by Marie Arana
  • 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
Jun212018

Life Is Not Always Explained

Life is not always explained. When I used to teach summer classes at Columbia, I would often take my students to the Hungarian Pastry Shop on the Upper West Side. I would ask them to bring a notebook and to surreptitiously document, word for word, all the conversations they overheard. When we came back to the classroom we read these aloud. What we heard was fascinating. People never talk directly at one another. They seem to always talk in circles.

ANNIE DeWITT

Wednesday
Jun202018

Reading Reviews of Your Own Book Is a No-Win Game

Reading reviews of your own book is ... a no-win game. If the review is flattering, one tends to feel vain and uneasy. If it is bad, one tends to feel exposed, found out. Neither feeling does you any good.

WALKER PERCY

Tuesday
Jun192018

Read Ceaselessly

The greatest symbol of what writing is about is the full text version of the Oxford English Dictionary. The CD-ROM version is nice, but the physical enormity of the printed text gives a writer a sense of humility (if that is still possible), because the mountain to be scaled is the language. Auden used to sit on the first volume while at the dinner table, the better to stay even with language and with dinner. Any good teacher I've ever had—and the best was John McPhee—stressed the enormity of choice English provides, its capacity for clarity and ambiguity, dullness and thrill. It is the greatest invention ever devised (and re-devised). And, of course, the only way to get anywhere as a writer is to have read ceaselessly and then read some more. Pound (that rat) says somewhere that it is incredible to him that so many "poets" simply pick up a pen and start writing verse and call it poetry, while a would-be pianist knows full well how necessary it is to master scales and thousands of exercises before making music worthy of the name. Playing scales, for a writer, means reading. Is there any real writing that has no reading behind it? I don't think so.

DAVID REMNICK

Monday
Jun182018

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

Sunday
Jun172018

All Writers Are Vain, Selfish and Lazy

All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives lies a mystery. Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.

GEORGE ORWELL

Saturday
Jun162018

Good Writing Never Soothes or Comforts

Good writing never soothes or comforts. It is no prescription, neither is it diversionary, although it can and should enchant while it explodes in the reader's face. Whenever the writer writes, it's always three or four or five o'clock in the morning in his head. Those horrid hours are the writer's days and nights when he is writing.

JOY WILLIAMS

Friday
Jun152018

The Unconscious Takes Over

The unconscious mind takes the germ of an idea and develops it, but usually this happens only when a writer has tried hard, and logically, to develop it himself. After he has given it up for a few hours, getting nowhere, a great advancement of the plot will pop into his head. I have been waked up in the night sometimes by a plot advancement or a solution of a problem that I had not even been dreaming about.

PATRICIA HIGHSMITH

Thursday
Jun142018

No One Is Going to Select You

It’s a cultural instinct to wait to get picked. To seek out the permission and authority that comes from a publisher or talk show host or even a blogger saying, “I pick you.” Once you reject that impulse and realize that no one is going to select you—that Prince Charming has chosen another house—then you can actually get to work.

SETH GODIN

Wednesday
Jun132018

You Don't Know What You're Doing

What you're trying to do is hook one sentence to the sentence before and the next one to that sentence. And as you do, you're building a house…. The architect and the contractor, they know what the house is going to look like when it's done — and that's the big difference. I don't have any idea what it will look like when it's done. I don't have any idea whether it will even be done, because you don't know what you're doing when you're at work.

PHILIP ROTH

Tuesday
Jun122018

A Story Is Triggered by a Character

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 

Monday
Jun112018

A Good Style Comes From Lack of Pretentiousness

A good style comes primarily from lack of pretentiousness, and what is pretentious changes from year to year from day to day from minute to minute. We must be ever more careful. A man does not get old because he nears death; a man gets old because he can no longer see the false from the good.

CHARLES BUKOWSKI

Sunday
Jun102018

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

Saturday
Jun092018

The Burden of Time

I had done a writer's workshop with Gordon Lish, the notorious creative writing teacher at one point many years earlier. But I'd never actually written. And I think to a great extent, the reason Kitchen Confidential sounds like it does is I just did not have the luxury or the burden of a lot of time to sit around and contemplate the mysteries of the universe. I had to wake up at 5 o'clock in the morning, write for an hour and a half, and then I had to go to work to a real job. So here I was. It was liberating in the sense that I had no time to think about what I was writing. And I certainly had no customer or reader in mind because I was quite sure no one would ever read it. That was, in many ways, a very liberating place to be. And I've kind of tried to stick with that business model since.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN

Friday
Jun082018

Books Must Be Written, Not Talked

In a longish life as a professional writer, I have heard a thousand masterpieces talked out over bars, restaurant tables and love seats. I have never seen one of them in print. Books must be written, not talked.

MORRIS L. WEST

Wednesday
Jun062018

Writing Has to Do With Truth-Telling

Writing has to do with truth-telling. When you're writing, let's say, an essay for a magazine, you try to tell the truth at every moment. You do your best to quote people accurately and get everything right. Writing a novel is a break from that: freedom. When you're writing a novel, you are in charge; you can beef things up.

NICHOLSON BAKER

Tuesday
Jun052018

Make Your Characters Want Something Right Away

When I used to teach creative writing, I would tell the students to make their characters want something right away—even if it’s only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time.

KURT VONNEGUT

Monday
Jun042018

Never Tell Your Reader What Your Story Is About

Never tell your reader what your story is about. Reading is a participatory sport. People do it because they are intelligent and enjoy figuring things out for themselves.

GEORGE V. HIGGINS

Sunday
Jun032018

Read Like Mad

Read like mad. But try to do it analytically – which can be hard, because the better and more compelling a novel is, the less conscious you will be of its devices. It's worth trying to figure those devices out, however: they might come in useful in your own work.

SARAH WATERS

Saturday
Jun022018

Keep A Diary

Keep a diary, but don't just list all the things you did during the day. Pick one incident and write it up as a brief vignette. Give it color, include quotes and dialogue, shape it like a story with a beginning, middle and end—as if it were a short story or an episode in a novel. It's great practice. Do this while figuring out what you want to write a book about. The book may even emerge from within this running diary.

JOHN BERENDT

Friday
Jun012018

Your Best Tools Are Short, Plain, Anglo-Saxon Verbs

Your best tools are short, plain, Anglo-Saxon verbs. I mean active verbs, not passive verbs. If you could write an article using only active verbs, your article would automatically have clarity and warmth and vigor.

WILLIAM ZINSSER