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Recommended Books
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    What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers
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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
    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
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    The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition
    by Christopher Vogler
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    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
    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

Tuesday
Mar052019

What Makes a Writer

I should think it extremely improbable that anyone ever wrote simply for the money. What makes a writer is that he likes writing. Naturally, when he has written something, he wants to get as much for it as he can, but that is a very different thing from writing for money.

P.G. WODEHOUSE

Monday
Mar042019

Detachment

When I'm writing, I like to gain distance from my work so I can tell how it will strike a reader who is seeing it for the first time. I do this through a trick I devised while I was living in Savannah writing Midnight—I would call my apartment in New York, the answering machine would pick up, I'd read the page of text I'd just written, then I'd hang up. A minute later, I'd call my apartment again and listen to the "message." Hearing my own voice reading the page over the phone—my voice having traveled 1,800 miles (900 each way)—gave me just the detached perspective I needed.

JOHN BERENDT

Sunday
Mar032019

Ask a Reading Friend to Look at It First

You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You’ve been backstage. You’ve seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business.This friend should not be someone with whom you have a romantic relationship, unless you want to break up. 

MARGARET ATWOOD

Saturday
Mar022019

You've Got to Work on Something Dangerous

You’ve got to work on something dangerous. You have to work on something that makes you uncertain. Something that makes you doubt yourself. You shouldn’t feel safe. You should feel, “I don’t know if I can write this.” That’s what I mean by dangerous, and I think that’s a good thing to do. Sacrifice something safe.

STEPHEN SONDHEIM

Friday
Mar012019

Most Bad Writers Are Very Confident

Most great writers suffer and have no idea how good they are. Most bad writers are very confident. Be willing to be a child and be the Lilliputian in the world of Gulliver, the bat girl in Yankee Stadium. That’s a more fruitful way to be.

MARY KARR

Thursday
Feb282019

Everything Becomes Agitated

Everything becomes agitated. Ideas quick-march into motion like battalions of a grand army to its legendary fighting ground, and the battle rages. Memories charge in, bright flags on high; the cavalry of metaphor deploys with a magnificent gallop; the artillery of logic rushes up with clattering wagons and cartridges; on imagination's orders, sharpshooters sight and fire; forms and shapes and characters rear up; the paper is spread with ink—for the nightly labor begins and ends with torrents of this black water, as a battle opens and concludes with black powder.

HONORÉ DE BALZAC

Wednesday
Feb272019

Trust Your Reader

Trust your reader. Not everything needs to be explained. If you really know something, and breathe life into it, they'll know it too.

ESTHER FREUD

Tuesday
Feb262019

It's No Fun If You Have a Plan

If you have a plan—if you know the end when you start—it’s no fun to write that novel. You know, a painter may draw sketches before he starts painting, but I don’t. There is a white canvas, I have this paintbrush, and I just paint the picture.

HARUKI MURAKAMI 

Monday
Feb252019

It's Your Duty to Lie

There's an enormous difference between being a story writer and being a regular person. As a person, it's your duty to stay on a straight and even keel, not to break down blubbering in the streets, not to pull rude drivers from their cars, not to swing from the branches of trees. But as a writer it's your duty to lie and to view everything in life, however outrageous, as an interesting possibility. You may need to be ruthless or amoral in your writing to be original. Telling a story straight from real life is only being a reporter, not a creator. You have to make your story bigger, better, more magical, more meaningful than life is, no matter how special or wonderful in real life the moment may have been.

RICK BASS

Sunday
Feb242019

The "Singular They"

Many of the language tenets that the purists and the snobs and the sticklers criticize are in fact perfectly logical according to the grammar of English. One example being so-called “singular they,” as in: everyone return to their seats. A number of the purists would claim this has a grammatical error: namely, the clash of concord between the plural pronoun “they” and the singular antecedent “everyone.” But in fact it would be the purists that are wrong and error-makers are right—because singular “they” has a long history in English, including Shakespeare and Jane Austen. And if, in fact, you analyze the semantics of it, it is not at all illogical, because “they” in that context is not in fact a plural pronoun but rather a bound variable.

STEVEN PINKER

Saturday
Feb232019

Try to Talk Yourself Out of It

Try to talk yourself out of it. As a life, it's much too solitary, it makes you obsessive, the rewards seem to be much too inward for most people, and too much rides on luck. Other than that, it's great.

RICHARD FORD

Friday
Feb222019

Creativity Is Paradoxical

Creativity is paradoxical. To create, a person must have knowledge but forget the knowledge, must see unexpected connections in things but not have a mental disorder, must work hard but spend time doing nothing as information incubates, must create many ideas yet most of them are useless, must look at the same thing as everyone else, yet see something different, must desire success but embrace failure, must be persistent but not stubborn, and must listen to experts but know how to disregard them.

MICHAEL MICHALKO

Thursday
Feb212019

Books Take Care of Themselves

Novelists—especially novelists who paint on a broad canvas—are generally not given to undue anxiety, I think. The task is so enormous that if we ever really thought about what we were letting ourselves in for, we'd never begin. Early on we learn to worry only about what we do today. If I get my two or three pages written on Monday my day's work is done. It's useless to worry about Friday or four years from Friday. Pages need our attention; books take care of themselves.

RICHARD RUSSO

Wednesday
Feb202019

You Develop Empathy

When you understand that nobody wants to read your shit, you develop empathy. You acquire the skill that is indispensable to all artists and entrepreneurs—the ability to switch back and forth in your imagination from your own point of view as writer/painter/seller to the point of view of your reader/gallery-goer/customer. You learn to ask yourself with every sentence and every phrase: Is this interesting? Is it fun or challenging or inventive? Am I giving the reader enough? Is she bored? Is she following where I want to lead her?

STEVEN PRESSFIELD

Tuesday
Feb192019

Writers Aren't People Exactly

Writers aren’t people exactly. Or, if they’re any good, they’re a whole lot of people trying so hard to be one person. It’s like actors, who try so pathetically not to look in mirrors. Who lean backward trying–only to see their faces in the reflecting chandeliers.

F. SCOTT FITZGERALD

Monday
Feb182019

Why Not Revise As You Go Along?

Why not revise as you go along? Some people do, but my own general insecurity and confusion are so high that if I revised as I wrote, it would take me ten years to get a page done. Also, I don’t want to start revising until I know what I’m revising toward. 

CAROLYN SEE

Sunday
Feb172019

A Character Is Never a Whole Person

A character is never a whole person, but just those parts of him that fit the story or the piece of writing. So the act of selection is the writer's first step in delineating character. From what does he select? From a whole mass of what Bernard DeVoto used to call, somewhat clinically, "placental material." He must know an enormous amount more about each of his characters than he will ever use directly--childhood, family background, religion, schooling, health, wealth, sexuality, reading, tastes, hobbies--an endless questionnaire for the writer to fill out. For example, the writer knows that people speak, and therefore his characters will describe themselves indirectly when they talk. Clothing is a means of characterization. In short, each character has a style of his own in everything he does. These need not all be listed, but the writer should have a sure grasp of them. If he has, his characters will, within the book, read like people.

WILLIAM SLOANE

Saturday
Feb162019

Find Some Last-Line Grace

Try, if possible, to finish in the concrete, with an action, a movement, to carry the reader forward. Never forget that a story begins long before you start it and ends long after you end it. Allow your reader to walk out from your last line and into her own imagination. Find some last-line grace. This is the true gift of writing. It is not yours any more. It belongs in the elsewhere. It is the place you have created. Your last line is the first line for everybody else.

COLUM McCANN

Friday
Feb152019

Learn How to Be in Your Head

Because of phones, we always have the ability to jump out of ourselves. But unless you learn how to be in your head, you'll never learn how to create. I remember when I was a kid, I was in a three-hour car ride with my best friend, Danny. Before we got in the car, he grabbed a stick from his front yard, and the entire drive home he made up games with this…stick. Sometimes the stick was a man, sometimes a piece in a larger game, or he'd give it voices, pretend the stick was a telephone. I remember sitting there next to him with my Donkey Kong thinking, Dude, you just entertained yourself for three hours…with a fucking twig! And I thought to myself, Wow, I have to raise my imagination game.

LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA

Thursday
Feb142019

Write What You Would Read

The most important thing is you can’t write what you wouldn’t read for pleasure. It’s a mistake to analyze the market thinking you can write whatever is hot. You can’t say you’re going to write romance when you don’t even like it. You need to write what you would read if you expect anybody else to read it.
 And you have to be driven. You have to have the three D’s: drive, discipline and desire. If you’re missing any one of those three, you can have all the talent in the world, but it’s going to be really hard to get anything done.

NORA ROBERTS