For the journey...
We writers need all the support we can get on what can be a lonely journey. No wonder we join writing communities and writing groups, sign up for writing classes and follow writer’s blogs. It helps to know that others like ourselves are out there, rooting for us, encouraging us, teaching us and supporting us. The tribe of writers is a vast one, spanning the globe and almost every age-group and circumstance.
So as we embark on this new year, I thought I’d write about the resources which have been most helpful on my own writer’s journey. Perhaps you’d like to add your own.
FOR EARLY INSPIRATION
The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron
This is the most brilliant resource to really help you focus on your creativity. Especially good if you like a structure. Its combination of a 12-week plan, daily Morning Pages and walking and a weekly Artist’s Date are excellent for restoring your own confidence in yourself as a creative person.
Becoming A Writer – Dorothea Brande
Written many decades ago, this is still seen as a definitive guide to becoming a writer.
The Way We Write – Barbara Baker
A collection of fascinating essays by writers in many different genres about their writing practices.
I love The Complete Book of Novel Writing (everything you need to know about creating and selling your work) - Writers Digest – a vast tome which is made up of essays by writers, each focussing on a different angle of the novel-writing process. Really good on the craft of writing.
Stein on Writing - Sol Stein is fabulous. Stein is both an editor and a successful novelist and he Talks Sense. His other book on growing a novel is also great.
This one’s a bit controversial. Self-Editing For Fiction Writers - Browne and King is the Marmite of the editing guides. I found it helpful. Judge for yourself.
FOR THE LOWS: REJECTION, EXHAUSTION ETC.
The Resilient Writer (tales of rejection and triumph from 23 writers) – Catherine Wald
This cheered me up during the hard times.
The Writer’s Book of Hope – Ralph Keyes
The Sound of Paper and The Right to Write – Julia Cameron
In these, Cameron is very open about her own writerly rocky patches and how she copes with the hard times.
From Pitch to Publication – Carole Blake
Written by the founder of literary agents Blake Friedmann. Gives a good overview of the process of submitting from an agent’s point of view. Not sure about her advice about long synopses, but if you’re subbing to her, you know what you need to do!
MARKETING AND PUBLICITY
Marketing Your Book – Alison Baverstock
Wanna Be A Writer We’ve Heard Of? – Jane Wenham-Jones
WriteWords Writing Community
A great online resource where writers can get together, let off steam, learn, be critiqued and where several well-published authors are experts and are extremely generous with their time and advice. Free for a month’s trial, then £20/35 per year.
The Hilary Johnson Author’s Advisory Service
I sent off my first three chapters, synopsis and cover letter and received a very helpful and encouraging report.
Have heard good things about them. They also occasionally have competitions which are well worth entering.
The Writer’s Workshop
Again, heard good things. And they will look at your cover letter by email for free, or at least they used to.
COURSES AND OPPORTUNITIES
NAWE (National Association of Writers in Education, aka The Writers Compass)
Used to be called Literature Training. An excellent, free guide to opportunities for writers – courses, classes, jobs etc. You only need to sign up with them and they’ll email you updates every couple of weeks.
I’ve never been on an Arvon course myself, but pretty much everyone I know who has has returned singing their praises. Expensive, yes, but they have the very best tutors and also offer bursaries.
A friend was kind enough to post me the Guardian Masterclass supplement on How To Write Fiction – a really, really excellent publication which is now available as an e-book for less than £3: definitely worth it.
So that’s my personal list of resources. Would love to hear yours.
And wishing you all a creative, productive and successful writing year from all of us at Strictly.