Writing Resources

My writing resources, at the ready. July 28, 2013.As part of my goals, I’ve kicked up my writing in the past couple years. (This blog you’re reading—thank you!—represents part of the plan.) Writing is a return to an old love. It makes me incredibly happy.

In the process, I’ve found that I repeatedly turn to a few writing books, whether for inspiration, challenge, or resource:

The Awe-Maniac: A Daily Dose of Wonder, by Jill Badonsky

Badonsky set up this book as a daily meditation or writing prompt. I don’t use it daily, but when I struggle to get in the writing mindset and need a little kick, turning to the day’s page and reading her prompts and creative thinking helps get me started.

It’s a mood-jog and confidence-booster for creative energy.

Merriam-Webster’s New World Dictionary

I used to visit the thesaurus to find the right word—until I read John McPhee’s The New Yorker article, “Draft No. 4,” on the writing life, in which he discourses on finding just the right word and states,

“The dictionary definitions of words you are trying to replace are far more likely to help you out than a scattershot wad from a thesaurus.”

I tried it and, by golly, he’s right.

And yes, I do prefer the hardcopy when working at home. The onion-skin paper, the densely rich content feels like a discovery each time I open the book. (My brother gave me the gorgeous golf-edition in the picture.)

The Novelist’s Notebook, by Laurie Henry

Henry designed her text as a workbook, but I’ve generally used it as a way to think through an idea or a character or a plot trajectory in the outlining and planning phases of my writing process.

Her book has helped me test ideas, broaden my thinking, push past immediate tendencies, and rethink my work from new perspectives. It will prove invaluable anew when I reapproach my first novel draft for a full revision.

What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers, by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter

As with Henry’s book, Bernays and Painter help me flex and test my writing, pushing me to try new perspectives, voices, angles, and approaches to concepts, characters, contexts, and plots. Their exercises help in outlining and in getting me unstuck when I feel I’ve hit a writing wall.

Do you have any regular resources for your passions?