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Recommended Books
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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
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    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
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    The Writer on Her Work, Volume 1
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    The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition
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    The Writer's Legal Companion: The Complete Handbook For The Working Writer, Third Edition
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    A Writer's Reality
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    A Writer's Time: Making the Time to Write
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    Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within (Paperback)
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    Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular
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    Writing for Your Life
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    The Writing Life
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    The Writing Life: Writers On How They Think And Work
    by Marie Arana
  • The Writing of Fiction
    The Writing of Fiction
    by Edith Wharton
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    Writing the Novel: From Plot to Print
    by Lawrence Block
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    Writing Past Dark: Envy, Fear, Distraction and Other Dilemmas in the Writer's Life
    by Bonnie Friedman
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    You're a Genius All the Time: Belief and Technique for Modern Prose
    by Regina Weinreich, Jack Kerouac
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    Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You
    by Ray Bradbury

QUOTE OF THE DAY

Tuesday
Dec272016

We Fret About Words

We fret about words, we writers. Words mean. Words point. They are arrows. Arrows stuck in the rough hide of reality. And the more portentous, more general the word, the more they can also resemble rooms or tunnels. They can expand, or cave in. They can come to be filled with a bad smell. They will often remind us of other rooms, where we’d rather dwell or where we think we are already living. They can be spaces we lose the art or the wisdom of inhabiting. And eventually those volumes of mental intention we no longer know how to inhabit will be abandoned, boarded up, closed down.

SUSAN SONTAG

Monday
Dec262016

Creative Work Needs Solitude

It is a silver morning like any other. I am at my desk. Then the phone rings, or someone raps at the door. I am deep in the machinery of my wits. Reluctantly I rise, I answer the phone or I open the door. And the thought which I had in hand, or almost in hand, is gone. Creative work needs solitude. It needs concentration, without interruptions. It needs the whole sky to fly in, and no eye watching until it comes to that certainty which it aspires to, but does not necessarily have at once. Privacy, then. A place apart — to pace, to chew pencils, to scribble and erase and scribble again.

MARY OLIVER

Sunday
Dec252016

Just Sit Down and Write

When it comes time for me to write, I don't outline and I don't do any of that stuff. I just sit down and write. If it's not honest emotionally then it's not good, and that's my only rule.

SHONDA RHIMES

Saturday
Dec242016

Creation Is A Joyous Torment

Fraught and messy though an artistic life may be, is there a drug that can induce the euphoria as energizing as that intensely fragile moment when the muse passes through one and the artist becomes the simultaneously perfect and flawed instrument of expression? No, there is not. Even as the inner voices battle it out, intoning “You suck!” and “Eureka!” in equal measure, creation is—like the loosest of teeth just begging to be toggled by the curious tongue—a joyous torment, in whatever form it takes.

DAVID RAKOFF

Friday
Dec232016

The Important Thing in Writing is the Capacity to Astonish

The important thing in writing is the capacity to astonish. Not shock—shock is a worn-out word—but astonish. The world has no grounds whatever for complacency. The Titanic couldn’t sink, but it did. Where you find smugness, you find something worth blasting. I want to blast it.

TERRY SOUTHERN

Thursday
Dec222016

You Lay Out A Line of Words

When you write, you lay out a line of words. The line of words is a miner’s pick, a woodcarver’s gouge, a surgeon’s probe. You wield it, and it digs a path you follow. Soon you find yourself deep in new territory. Is it a dead end, or have you located the real subject? You will know tomorrow, or this time next year.

ANNIE DILLARD

Wednesday
Dec212016

Our Heroes Are Simple

Behind the complicated details of the world stand the simplicities: God is good, the grown-up man or woman knows the answer to every question, there is such a thing as truth, and justice is as measured and faultless as a clock. Our heroes are simple: they are brave, they tell the truth, they are good swordsmen and they are never in the long run really defeated. That is why no later books satisfy us like those which were read to us in childhood—for those promised a world of great simplicity of which we knew the rules, but the later books are complicated and contradictory with experience; they are formed out of our own disappointing memories.

GRAHAM GREENE

Tuesday
Dec202016

Getting Going Is Always Tough

I work in erratic spurts. Getting started is like getting a rocket off the ground. You need the most energy and the most push to get started; once you're up there and you're going, then it's easier to keep going. Sit down and pick up where you left off, you know. Getting going is always tough.

R. CRUMB

Monday
Dec192016

Keep On Writing

Keep on writing, no matter what! That's the most important thing. As long as you have a job on hand that absorbs all your mental energy, you haven't much worry to spare over other things. It serves as a suit of armor.

EUGENE O’NEILL

Sunday
Dec182016

You Learn the Most from Doing the Work

You learn the most from sitting down and doing the work, regularly, patiently, sometimes in hope, sometimes despairingly. When you have something that seems complete, show your work to people you trust to be honest but not malicious. Put it aside for six months and reread it. Expect to be disgusted by your own early work. If writing is your vocation, if you hope that it might be your salvation, push on through the disgust until you find one true sentence, a few words that say more than you expected, something you didn’t know until you set it down.

NAOMI ALDERMAN

Saturday
Dec172016

Writing Is A Voyage of Discovery

Writing, like life itself, is a voyage of discovery. The adventure is a metaphysical one; it is a way of approaching life indirectly, of acquiring a total rather than a partial view of the universe. The writer lives between the upper and lower worlds: he takes the path in order eventually to become that path himself.

HENRY MILLER

Friday
Dec162016

Here Comes Lightning

Words create sentences; sentences create paragraphs; sometimes paragraphs quicken and begin to breathe. Imagine, if you like, Frankenstein’s monster on its slab. Here comes lightning, not from the sky but from a humble paragraph of English words. Maybe it’s the first really good paragraph you wrote, something so fragile and yet full of possibility that you are frightened. You feel as Victor Frankenstein must have when the dead conglomeration of sewn-together spare parts suddenly opened its watery yellow eyes. Oh my God, it’s breathing, you realize. Maybe it’s even thinking. What in hell’s name do I do next?

STEPHEN KING

Thursday
Dec152016

It Is Mainly A Question of the Ear

It is mainly a question of the ear. If one has read a lot, and especially in poetry, all one's life, one's ear signals falsity, infelicity, banality. What one can do about it is another matter.

SHIRLEY HAZZARD

Wednesday
Dec142016

Happy Are They Who Don't Doubt Themselves

Happy are they who don't doubt themselves and whose pens fly across the page. I myself hesitate, I falter, I become angry and fearful, my drive diminishes as my taste improves, and I brood more over an ill-suited word than I rejoice over a well-proportioned paragraph.

GUSTAVE FLAUBERT

Tuesday
Dec132016

Process Is Nothing

Process is nothing; erase your tracks. The path is not the work. I hope your tracks have grown over; I hope birds ate the crumbs; I hope you will toss it all and not look back.

ANNIE DILLARD

Monday
Dec122016

It Comes Out of Reading

It comes out of reading, of being a reader and wanting to create something like what I’ve read, and also, it’s a way of experiencing time, like never missing any of it.

ZADIE SMITH

Sunday
Dec112016

Never Listen to Execs

Never listen to execs. Just do your own thing. Whether it happens or doesn’t happen, at least you did what you wanted and you tried. That’s what writers have to get into their heads—no matter what you come up with, it won’t ever be as bad as the executives’ suggestions.

LARRY WILMORE

Saturday
Dec102016

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

Friday
Dec092016

Poetry Is A Solitary Process

Poetry is a solitary process. One does not write poetry for the masses. Poetry is a self-involved, lofty pursuit. Songs are for the people. When I’m writing a song, I imagine performing it. I imagine giving it. It’s a different aspect of communication. It’s for the people.

PATTI SMITH

Thursday
Dec082016

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