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Recommended Books
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    To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction
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    Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
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    What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers
    by Anne Bernays, Pamela Painter
  • The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
    The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
    by Steven Pressfield
  • 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
  • The Writer Got Screwed (but didn't have to): Guide to the Legal and Business Practices of Writing for the Entertainment Industry
    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 Writer on Her Work, Volume 1
    The Writer on Her Work, Volume 1
    by Janet Sternberg
  • The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition
    The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition
    by Christopher Vogler
  • The Writer's Legal Companion: The Complete Handbook For The Working Writer, Third Edition
    The Writer's Legal Companion: The Complete Handbook For The Working Writer, Third Edition
    by Brad Bunnin, Peter Beren
  • A Writer's Reality
    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
    The Writing Life
    by Annie Dillard
  • 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 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

QUOTE OF THE DAY

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

Tuesday
Feb212017

Look for the Hot-Spots

I finish them all. This comes out of some kind of professional pride. I finish even if I know or strongly suspect a story is crap. You’ve got to get it done and see what you’ve got. Put it in a drawer for a few weeks—this cliché is true—and then take it out again, rub your hand over the material and look for the hot-spots. By a hot-spot I mean merely the good stuff, the true stuff. Actually, it’s what you tend to wriggle away from on the page. The stuff that makes you feel uncomfortable or shameful in some way. The stuff that embarrasses you, that isn’t trying to sound like, you know, a piece of cool prose. The stuff that comes from deep within you and mortifies you. These are the hot-spots. They make a story come alive.

KEVIN BARRY

Monday
Feb202017

Write While the Heat is In You

Write while the heat is in you. The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with. He cannot inflame the minds of his audience.

HENRY DAVID THOREAU

Sunday
Feb192017

The Rules of Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote Cartoons

Animator Chuck Jones and his team were said to follow these simple rules when creating the cartoons:

1. The Road Runner cannot harm the Coyote except by going “meep, meep.”

2. No outside force can harm the Coyote — only his own ineptitude or the failure of Acme products. Trains and trucks were the exception from time to time.

3. The Coyote could stop anytime — if he were not a fanatic.

4. No dialogue ever, except “meep, meep” and yowling in pain.

5. The Road Runner must stay on the road — for no other reason than that he’s a roadrunner.

6. All action must be confined to the natural environment of the two characters — the southwest American desert.

7. All tools, weapons, or mechanical conveniences must be obtained from the Acme Corporation.

8. Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote’s greatest enemy.

9. The Coyote is always more humiliated than harmed by his failures.

10. The audience’s sympathy must remain with the Coyote.

11. The Coyote is not allowed to catch or eat the Road Runner.

JASON KOTTKE

Saturday
Feb182017

You Never Know Who Your Readers Might Be

Publishing a book is like stuffing a note into a bottle and hurling it into the sea. Some bottles drown, some come safe to land, where the notes are read and then possibly cherished, or else misinterpreted, or else understood all too well by those who hate the message. You never know who your readers might be.

MARGARET ATWOOD

Friday
Feb172017

There Is No Finer Form of Fiction Than the Mystery

There is no finer form of fiction than the mystery. It has structure, a story line and a sense of place and pace. It is the one genre where the reader and the writer are pitted against each other. Readers don’t want to guess the ending, but they don’t want to be so baffled that it annoys them. ... The research you do is crucial. In mystery fiction, you have to tell the truth. You can’t fool the reader and expect to get away with it.

SUE GRAFTON

Thursday
Feb162017

Keep Looking for the Right Address

This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it “to the editor who can appreciate my work” and it has simply come back stamped “Not at this address.” Just keep looking for the right address.

BARBARA KINGSOLVER

Wednesday
Feb152017

Literary Talent Isn't Rare

The funny thing about it all is that literary talent isn’t rare. Lots of people can write good stories with good characters and great sentences. What’s rare is the stubborn, pragmatic thing that tells you “I’ve got to do this every single fucking day, even when I don’t want to do it, when I’d rather pluck my eyes out and feed them to the birds.” That discipline combined with talent is very rare. I’d be willing to bet that some of the most brilliant writers who ever lived have never been published, because they weren’t prepared to do the work. You have to make sacrifices and be utterly selfish. Everything else and everyone else is secondary to your writing.

KEVIN BARRY

Tuesday
Feb142017

Writing Fiction is Solitary but Not Lonely

Writing fiction is a solitary occupation but not really a lonely one. The writer's head is mobbed with characters, images and language, making the creative process something like eavesdropping at a party for which you've had the fun of drawing up the guest list. Loneliness usually doesn't set in until the work is finished, and all the partygoers and their imagined universe have disappeared.

HILMA WOLITZER

Monday
Feb132017

Completing A Book is Like Having a Baby

Completing a book, it’s a little like having a baby. There’s a feeling of relief and satisfaction when you get to the end. A feeling that you have brought your family, your characters, home. Then a sort of post-natal depression and then, very quickly, the horizon of a new book. The consolation that next time I will do it better.

JOHN LE CARRÉ

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