A Book Can Be Your Writing Coach!

ARGH! THE DAYS OF A STUCK WRITER CAN BE FILLED WITH DRAMA. Unfortunately, that drama is generally not the kind that reads well on the page. Nope. All too often, when we’re stuck, our days (and heads) are filled with the kind of internal drama that keeps us from even getting to the page. Or is that just me?

If not, if that might, sometimes, be you, too, I have a shortlist of get-the-drama-out-of-my-head-and-onto-the-page books to share. Time and again, whether I’m making things overly complicated or doubting the direction of my work-in-progress, I reach for one of these five books to unstick me. I hope they serve you as well as they’ve served me!

My “let’s get back to writing” coach

I turn to JULIA CAMERON’S THE ARTIST’S WAY when I’ve been creatively sidelined for too long, Like nothing else, the basic tools of the Artist’s Way—morning pages and artist dates—bring my imagination back to life! After just a few days with Julia, I reliably find myself writing (and cooking and art-making) again.

My “find my writing voice” coach

NATALIE GOLDBERG’S authentic voice sings out from the essays that comprise WRITING DOWN THE BONESHer exercises and advice remind me it’s my authentic voice that makes my own writing sing.

My memoir-writing coach

Although I think PAT SCHNEIDER would characterize herself as a poet, I always seem to write memoir in response to the writing prompts in her WRITING ALONE AND WITH OTHERS. They take me back and elicit sweet, deep writing about my past.

My novel-writing coach

In YOU’VE GOT A BOOK IN YOUELIZABETH SIMS’S friendly, no-nonsense approach helps when I need to make a freakin’ plan for a longer writing project. I’m not writing a novel at the moment. But, boy, when I am, I’ll be turning to page 1 of Ez’s book, pronto!

My writing business coach

When I just need to laugh, just need to remember that most writers are crazy—not just me—yet they still get published, still deal with the demanding world of the writing business as well as their sometimes-treacherous inner worlds, I pick up ANNE LAMOTT’S BIRD BY BIRD. Invariably, it restores both my sense of humor and of proportion.

As JUDITH GUEST says in her foreword to WRITING DOWN THE BONES: It would be wonderfully efficient and clever for us writers to have learned our lessons only once; failing that, a copy of Writing Down the Bones on a table nearby could save a lot of grief.

I agree, Judith. And I’m piling all these other books right on top of Bones.


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