Pick of the Month, Writer’s Guide Edition: Letters to A Young Artist

The Writing Days / Pick of the Month, Writer's Guide Edition: Letters to a young artist

The world of writer’s guides is massive. Some are brilliant, some good, some… well, absolutely horrible. Every month, I’ll recommend some of my favourite writer’s guides. Do you read writing guides? Which have been most helpful, and which do you disagree with?

My February pick is not a writer’s guide per se, but I feel it will still inspire writers. Letters to a young artist by Anna Deavere Smith is a collection of short letters from Smith to an imagined young artist BZ. In the letters, Smith describes her own experiences in art and working in the industry. The front cover promises “straight-up advice on making a life in arts – for actors, performers, writers, and artists of any kind”. This task is rather ambitious, and Smith partly succeeds in it.

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Pick of the Month, Writer’s Guide Edition: TED talks

This month I’d like to share something different in my writer’s guide picks. That is, inspirational talks from TED and TEDx events. In the past few days, I’ve spent hours listening to insights into writing and creativity, and I’d like to share some of these with you. You might already be familiar with some or most of them, as they are a couple of years old. They’re all 18 minutes, so listening to one won’t take up too much of your time. Let me know what you think of them! Were they useful? Do you disagree?

Elizabeth Gilbert: Your elusive creative genius

I found this talk a refreshing look into the creative process. Gilbert talks about the link between art and suffering. Is it needed? What can we do as artists to change our mindset, and what might that alternate mindset be?

Simon Van Booy: How to write your novel in under 20 minutes

“Don’t worry about understanding anything – understanding is overrated.” Van Booy talks about the process of writing, how to create your writing conditions and how to feel inspired. He also points out the relationship between writing and playing, which I found interesting and relevant. The love and respect he feels towards writing are very obvious in this talk, and I found the ideas made a lot of sense.

Jarred McGinnis: Writing is the only magic I still believe in

McGinnis speaks about the wonder and the magic of words. He uses the example of speech act theory to demonstrate how words have the power to change the world. McGinnis’ style is very academic, which I connect with, but he also trusts and believes in the magic that is writing.

Adam Falkner: How can writing change the world?

This talk is, once again, about the power of writing and about the honesty that it requires. Falkner demonstrates, through his experiences in teaching, how engaging in dialogue can help us understand and embrace difference. I found this talk inspirational and encouraging – how could we use writing to communicate our identity and share our view of the world with others?

That’s it for today. I hope you find these talks useful!

Love,
Aino.

Pick of the Month, Writer’s Guide Edition: No Plot? No Problem!

The world of writer’s guides is massive. Some are brilliant, some good, some… well, absolutely horrible. Every month, I’ll recommend some of my favourite writer’s guides. Do you read writing guides? Which have been most helpful, and which do you disagree with?

My very obvious writer’s guide pick for November is No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing A Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty. Baty is the founder of NaNoWriMo, my favourite ever writing event. My version is the 2014 revised, updated and expanded version.

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One of the most valuable lessons to be taken from No Plot? No Problem! (besides the obvious lesson from the title) is that writers can accomplish almost anything once they start writing.

“It felt like we’d stumbled through a portal into a giddy netherworld, a Narnia for grown-ups where hours passed like seconds and the most outrageous and wonderful things you could imagine became real.” p. 18

Baty has a lot of faith in the writing mind, and it shows in his love for the magic that we call writing. In addition to the appreciation, the advice he shares is very down to earth. Quotes from other nanoists are full of great tips, but also laughter. I mean, nothing creates a sense of community like the shared realisation that we are absolutely insane for taking on such a project. In what other situations have you found yourself thinking: “Buy extra underwear for your entire family in October”?

Baty’s book is everything he asks you as a novelist to accomplish. The book is approximately 50,000 words in length. Baty’s respect for writing comes through in his text, and his love for words makes the book an excellent read. While writing a novel in 30 days is a challenge to be taken seriously, Baty shows with his own example that it doesn’t mean it has to be serious all the time. No Plot? No Problem! manages to entertain and teach at the same time.

I haven’t posted anything this week, I’m sorry! NaNoWriMo took over. I’ll outline my progress for you later.

Love,
Aino.

Pick of the Month, Writer’s Guide Edition: Writing Down the Bones

The world of writer’s guides is massive. Some are brilliant, some good, some… well, absolutely horrible. Every month, I’ll recommend some of my favourite writer’s guides.  Do you read writing guides? Which have been most helpful, and which do you disagree with?

My writer’s guide pick for this October is Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg.

I didn’t expect I’d like this guide. I’ve read some Julia Cameron and expected Writing Down the Bones to be similar. In a way, it is. Goldberg writes with a very personal touch and shares her own experiences, much like Cameron. I can’t quite put my finger on the differences between the two, but they are there. Where Cameron’s writing mostly annoyed me, Goldberg’s got me thinking.

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Pick of the Month, Writer’s Guide Edition: How Not to Write A Novel

The world of writer’s guides is massive. Some are brilliant, some good, some… well, absolutely horrible. Every month, I’ll recommend some of my favourite writer’s guides.  Do you read writing guides? Which have been most helpful, and which do you disagree with?

My writer’s guide recommendation for this September is How Not to Write A Novel: 200 mistakes to avoid at all costs if you ever want to get published by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark.

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Why?

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