Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Writing Resources

As I mentioned in my last entry, one of the things that helped me get started writing regularly was reading about writing. Aside from learning a lot, perusing writing books and web sites helped me think of myself as a writer.


You can't spend so much of your time reading and researching about writing that you don't ever sit down and write.

Butt in chair. Hands on the keyboard. (Or pen in notebook, if you're one of those odd, "write by hand" people.") It's the only way you are going to get anything written.

That being said there is an overwhelming amount of information out there for the aspiring writer. Here are some of the resources I've found particularly helpful.


Words Fail Me: What Everyone Who Writes Should Know about Writing
A fantastic book! It focuses on how to make your writing clear, logical, and easy to understand. Plus it's really, really, REALLY funny.

On Writing
This is the most inspirational book about writing I've ever read, bar none. I don't know if I ever would have gotten started writing my novel, if I hadn't read this book.

The Outlandish Companion, by Diana Gabaldon
Okay, this isn't a book about writing--it mostly provides background information for the first four "Outlander" novels. But it is one of the things I read before I got started that prompted me to try to write my own novel. Diana Gabaldon is such a terrific writer and storyteller. She has a great web site with excellent writing tips (see below) and one of the sections in this book gives a fascinating look at her methodology for both research and writing. There's also a hilarious description of how she gets her work done in the midst of all the pulls of real life.

The Courage to Write
I picked this one up after I'd been writing for awhile. If you've read any of this blog, you can probably guess why I'd be drawn to a book like this!

Bird by Bird
This is a "must have". It's filled with truth about the writing process and the writing life. The SFD concept is described in this book. Need I say more?

Fearless Creating
Along with including lots of great information about dealing with creative anxiety, this is a workbook. It contains many helpful exercises to help artists of all kinds overcome their fears and get to work.

Web Sites

Writer’s Digest
This site is filled with information on all kinds of writing and every stage of the writing process.

I subscribed to this email group right after I started writing magazine articles. I don't belong to their list anymore, since I believe they now charge a small subscription fee. But I did learn a lot from them when I first got started.

The Compuserve Books & Writers Community
If I were to get involved with an online writing group, this would be it. There are SO many wonderful writers who participate here, from newbies just getting started, to bestselling authors (including Diana Gabaldon).

Diana Gabaldon's Web Site
Notice a trend here? I've included Diana Gabaldon on this list three times because she's one of my favorite authors and also because she is a natural teacher with lots of great information for aspiring writers. The "Writer's Corner" part of her web site is both helpful and interesting. Check it out!

The Writer’s Almanac
You can listen to the Writer's Almanac on National Public Radio (performed by Garrison Keillor). You can also sign up to receive the transcripts via email. Very inspiring!


Karenna said...

Thank you, again, for the posts! Sorry sharing this info has sent you on the train to Funkytown. Even if you were the worst writer in the world, you're qualified to give this "advice" because you are writing, and really -- for me, at least -- it's just about getting the process started.


Renée said...

Aw, it doesn't take much to get me there. I'm lots better now. And I'd been meaning to compile all that information anyway. Hope it helps!

What's going on with you? Any idea what you want to write first?

Karenna said...

Why yes: First, I would like to write an instructional manual for myself that concisely and matter-of-factly tells me how to get out of my head, out of my way and on with my life.


No, really -- no idea where to start. Here's some irony: I work for a newspaper, but I'm a copyeditor. I am paid to take all the fun out of other people's writing (well, that's what they think).

I think I'll write a memoir of made-up stuff, that seems to get some serious recognition.

Renée said...

Yeah, I always thought stories where the incidents and characters were made up were called "fiction". Shows you how little I know! ;o) And apparently James Frey marketed Million Little Pieces as a novel at first and didn't get any interest so he decided to call it a memoir. What a guy!

Have you read it? I did before the scandal broke. I thought it was really compelling, but a lot of that was because I was so impressed that he had fought his way out of such a difficult place/state of mind. Knowing that he fabricated so much of the book definitely takes away from its impact.

As for where to start, I'd just keep learning, pining, and percolating and all of a sudden something will click into place. You have such a marvellous way of expressing yourself and when the time comes, you'll take off running, I'm sure.