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Which Type of Writing Guide Is Right for You, Right Now?

Posted by June 10th, 2014

Which type of writing guide is right for you right now

Many writers begin a story on a whim, and before long they’re taking an imaginary joy ride. Writing a novel is fun: the words flow . . . and then they don’t. Like Consumer Reports testing a car for safety, your writermobile slams into a wall. Now what?

Writing guides abound to address everything that stymies us. Search among the six types of resources to find a match for your problem or need.

Inspiration and Contemplation

These books prime the pump of imagination, help you generate ideas, and nudge you out of an unproductive rut. One of the best guides is The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. Her 12-week study that addresses and overcomes all manner of “blocks” can open the floodgates of productivity and confidence. Cameron’s “morning pages” and “artist’s dates” have sustained millions of writers.

The Writer’s Life and Writing

We all want to know what famous writers think, how they write, and how they “made it.” The King, Stephen King, in On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, tells vivid stories about his life including drug addiction, alcoholism, and being hit by a car. He kept writing novels through nearly all of the difficulties, often mining them for his stories. King’s book includes reading lists, excellent craft advice, examples to model, and writing assignments.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott, is seductive. Her honesty in laying bare her messy life, with humor, beckons the reader to do the same. By example and by the techniques she shares, Lamott urges readers to expect and move past “the shitty first draft.”

How to Write a Novel

Almost all novels have similar whole-book structure. If you’ve written your story “organically,” you may be out on a limb and need to return to the trunk. Three books will straighten you out. How to Write a Story: The Secrets of Writing a Captivating Tale, was written by Peter Rubie, agent and former book doctor for New York publishers, and Gary Provost, a master teacher and author of over 20 novels. This how-to-write book is straight-forward, clear, practical, specific, and almost foolproof for any writer who follows its directions. Continue reading

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