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Recommended Books
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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
    by Brad Bunnin, Peter Beren
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    A Writer's Time: Making the Time to Write
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    Writing About Your Life: A Journey into the Past
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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: Writers On How They Think And Work
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    Writing the Novel: From Plot to Print
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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
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    Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You
    by Ray Bradbury

QUOTE OF THE DAY

Tuesday
Mar142017

Read With a Red Pen

I try to base my revision on a re-reading of what I’ve done so far, imitating, so far as it’s possible, a first-time reader. That is, I try not to bring too many ideas about what the story is doing etc., etc. Just SEE what it’s doing. In other words, read along with a red pen, reacting in real-time as I go along, deleting, adding, etc. When the energy drops, then I know that’s where I have to really start digging in, i.e., turn away from the hardcopy and go to the computer. Repeat as necessary?

GEORGE SAUNDERS

Monday
Mar132017

Stories Grow

Do stories grow? Pretty obviously—anybody who has ever heard a joke being passed on from one person to another knows that they can grow, they can change. Can stories reproduce? Well, yes. Not spontaneously, obviously—they tend to need people as vectors. We are the media in which they reproduce; we are their petri dishes.

NEIL GAIMAN

Sunday
Mar122017

A Title Is Like a Magnet

I think a title is like a magnet. It begins to draw these scraps of experience or conversation or memory to it. Eventually, it collects a book.

LOUISE ERDRICH

Saturday
Mar112017

It’s Not a Hobby

It’s a job. It’s not a hobby. You don’t write the way you build a model airplane. You have to sit down and work, to schedule your time and stick to it. Even if it’s just for an hour or so each day, you have to get a babysitter and make the time. If you’re going to make writing succeed you have to approach it as a job.

ROSELLEN BROWN

Friday
Mar102017

The Ear Demands Variety

This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.

GARY PROVOST

Thursday
Mar092017

Be a Good Steward of Your Gifts

Be a good steward of your gifts. Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise. Read good books, have good sentences in your ears. Be by yourself as often as you can. Walk. Take the phone off the hook. Work regular hours.

JANE KENYON

Wednesday
Mar082017

You Can't Control Your Legacy

You can’t control your legacy; it is determined by who survives. All you can control is the work. Make the best thing you know how. The world will do with it what it will.

LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA

Tuesday
Mar072017

The Adjective Habit

An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice.

MARK TWAIN

Monday
Mar062017

Either You Want to Tell a Story Or You Don't

Either you want to tell a story or you don't. Do you want to draw attention to yourself and your own writing and your beautiful style or do you want to be invisible and let the story and the characters take over for the reader. That's what it comes down to for me. What comes into it with crime is just conflicts. I like conflict in any kind of popular art. There is no greater conflict than life versus death, so there it is. I'm not that interested in the crime aspect of my books. I am interested in the characters.

GEORGE PELECANOS

Sunday
Mar052017

Swing for the Fences

Each time out should be a swing for the fences. Don't do base-running drills. You can do those on your own time.

TOBIAS WOLFF

Saturday
Mar042017

You Want To Read A Book With Blood

I’ve always fought off becoming a beloved writer.... Once you get to be at a certain level of mastery, you get to be beloved. That’s something that I don’t really care about. Beloved author? Why is that important for me to become? It’s not. You want to read a book with blood. A lot of it.

LOUISE ERDRICH

Friday
Mar032017

Style Is a Relation Between Form and Content

Style is a relation between form and content. Where the content is less than the form, where the author pretends to emotion which he does not feel, the language will seem flamboyant. The more ignorant a writer feels, the more artificial becomes his style. A writer who thinks himself cleverer than his readers writes simply, one who is afraid they are cleverer than he, will make use of mystification: good style is arrived at when the chosen represents what the author requires of it without mystification.

CYRIL CONNOLLY

Thursday
Mar022017

Get a Dog

Okay, you’re thinking, what does getting a dog have to do with becoming a writer? More than you’d think. Writing is about talent and creativity, but it’s also about discipline – about the ability to sit yourself down in that seat, day after day, often after eight hours of work, and make yourself do it, day after day, even if you’re not getting published yet, even if you’re not getting paid, even if ABC is hosting an all-star reunion of your favorite cast members from The Bachelor and The Amazing Race. It’s a form of training that’s as much physical as mental in nature – you sit down, you do the writing, no matter what distractions are out there, no matter that you’re tired or bored or uninspired.

Being a dog owner requires a similar form of discipline. You wake up every morning. You walk the dog. You do this whether you’re tired, depressed, broke, hung over, or have been recently dumped. You do it. And while you’re walking, you’re thinking about plot, or characters, or that tricky bit of dialogue that’s had you stumped for days. You’re out in the fresh air. Your legs are moving. Your dog is sniffing the butts of other dogs. It gives you a routine, a physical rhythm, a loyal companion, and a way to meet new people when you’re in a new place. It gets your body used to doing the same thing at the same time – and if you’re walking the dog for half an hour at the same time of every day, it’s an easy step to go sit in front of the computer and create for half an hour at the same time every day. So go to your local pound or rescue organization, and get a dog. Trust me. You’ll be glad you did.

JENNIFER WEINER

Wednesday
Mar012017

Inspiration Is Merely a Pretty Phrase for Work

I have learned, as has many another better writer, to summon inspiration to my call as soon as I begin my day’s stint, and not to hang around waiting for it. Inspiration is merely a pretty phrase for work. And it can be cultivated by anyone who has the patience to try. Inspiration which will not come at its possessor’s summons is like a dog that cannot be trained to obey. The sooner the both are gotten rid of, the better.

ALBERT PAYSON TERHUNE

Tuesday
Feb282017

A Story Is Devious

What a story is, is devious. It pretends transparency, forthrightness. It engages with ordinary people, ordinary matters, recognizable stuff. But this is all a masquerade. What good stories deal with is the horror and incomprehensibility of time, the dark encroachment of old catastrophes.

JOY WILLIAMS

Monday
Feb272017

Try Writing at Night

At night, when the objective world has slunk back into its cavern and left dreamers to their own, there come inspirations and capabilities impossible at any less magical and quiet hour. No one knows whether or not he is a writer unless he has tried writing at night.

H.P. LOVECRAFT

Sunday
Feb262017

We're All Novices When We Start A New Work

We're all there trying to make the story, novel, or chapter as good as it can be. It's a constant struggle to get it down, get it clear, and understand that your intentions are the same, whether you're an undergraduate writing a short story or a writer with seven published novels. The continually reassuring thing is that we're all novices when we start a new work.

ALICE McDERMOTT

Friday
Feb242017

You Write What You Write

All of these declarations of what writing ought to be, which I had myself—though, thank God I had never committed them to paper—I think are nonsense. You write what you write, and then either it holds up or it doesn't hold up. There are no rules or particular sensibilities. I don't believe in that at all anymore.

JAMAICA KINCAID

Thursday
Feb232017

Discretion Is Not for Novelists

I cannot and do not live in the world of discretion, not as a writer, anyway. I would prefer to, I assure you — it would make life easier. But discretion is, unfortunately, not for novelists.

PHILIP ROTH

Wednesday
Feb222017

At First You Look for a Model

At first, I think trying to form an approach to writing you look for a model. And I named four or five that meant a lot to me at a formative point in my life. But after you’re formed, then basically you kind of read for things so admirable that you wish you had done them and you’re not above maybe stealing them, if you can find a good place to hide them.

JOHN UPDIKE