The Art of Slow Writing by Louise DeSalvo –
I just picked this one up at the Indigos in the Eaton Center, Easter Weekend, after reluctantly narrowing my selection from a stack of about ten books to this one and the Art of War for Writers (see below). DeSalvo reminds writers to “slow down, you move to fast.” (It’s a 70s song I paraphrase, but the gist is the same.) If overwhelmed, frustrated or doubtful about a current project, read this collection of essays and meditations from a generous writer and teacher.
The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell –
This compact red book caught my eye for it’s title. My nephew was a fan of the Art of War by Sun Tzu and I loved the comparison of writing to battle. The book is filled with ‘strategies, tactics and exercises’ to make us better warrors, sorry, writers. Like the Art of Slow Writing, the brief chapters can be read out of order. Perfect snippets for bedtime reading, starting your writing day, or to further procrastinate writing.
On Writing by Stephen King –
The only book by Stephen King I’m not afraid to read, though I love his films, which are never as scary. Here he dispels the myths of both substance abuse and isolation as means of creative inspiration, based on his experience. I’ve lent this one out to a Stephen King fan, and I want it back. Now.
The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Begining Poets by Ted Kooser
This is the first book on writing I’d ever read – except for the text books on essay writing I used in university and the ones I’ve assigned to students teaching college English. Isn’t it bizarre that it had never ocurred to me to read about the craft on my own. My brother sent the book to me through Amazon after he had read my first poems and wanted to encourage me to keep writing. Or else he thought they were really bad efforts and wanted me to improve. Whatever the reason – I turn to Kooser’s practical advice whether I’m working on a poem or fiction. Ted Kooser sounds exactly like the type of person you’d imagine a poet to be.
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
I use Anne Lamott’s advice with my stressed out children and students all the time. Imagine a group of birds on a telephone wire that you want to scare away. You peg each one off, one bullet, or one stone, or one bird at a time. That’s how you deal with an overwhelming project. [Lamott’s book is meditative or spiritual in nature, if you’re into that kind of thing, which most books on writing are, I guess, only it’s really funny.]