Yesterday, I finally finished 'Bird By Bird' by Anne Lamott and found it very funny, helpful and not at all patronising which, I've heard, some writing books are.
I love the way she writes - she's amusing, brutally honest and explains her writing 'tips' with personal anecdotes. I think this method of teaching helps you understand the 'why' of a piece of advice and how it works towards making you a better writer. I'm looking forward to reading more of her work given the humour and style of this book.
But the first book I ever read about writing was Stephen King's 'On Writing' which, again, was more like a vague autobiography interspersed with advice. The two main points I took away from this book were:
- Don't give up. Mr King received many, many, many rejections but persevered. I'm not saying that you'll become as famous and prolific as he is but don't quit at the first hurdle. Three rejections does not mean you can't write for crap. It just means those agents didn't like it or it's not quite polished again. Keep going - write something else, rewrite whatever you sent out, get it professionally critiqued if you have the money. I know I've said this before but, if you are in the UK and write romance of any kind, the RNA New Writers' Scheme is fantastic - very thorough and encouraging and not expensive.
- Write every day. All writers say this so it must be important! Even just fifteen minutes a day to get your writing 'muscle' working is okay.
Next on the list is going to be 'Gotham Writers' Workshop: Writing Fiction' which, as the name cunningly suggests, is more like a creative writing class to be taken in your own time. I did start it once upon a time but life took over (baby and emigrating!) so it's back to the beginning I go.
Of course, there's a mountain of websites and blogs online too. The ones I visit the most are:
- Help! I Need a Publisher (I can highly recommend her books 'How to Write a Great Synopsis' and 'Dear Agent' if you are ready for submissions)
- Strictly Writing
- Plot Whisperer
- Nathan Bransford
- London Bakes
- Relentless Laundry
I also follow quite a few authors because I like their books and they write in the same genre as me. Authors are often spectacularly generous with advice and tips. They will also direct you to other blogs and websites which might be useful in your quest to finish your novel, get an agent or, if you decide to go this route, self publish.
And there are lots of Twitter accounts that tweet about the writing industry - Advice to Writers and Publishing Talk to name a couple - publishers like Harper Collins and Choc Lit and, of course, a huge amount of authors. This is where you can get some really great links to interesting articles, blog posts and give aways (favourite!)
What websites and Twitter accounts do you read or follow that you think are helpful to writers of all levels? Are there any writing books that you recommend to fellow aspiring writers? Or ones that you found completely useless?
Of course, it could be said that all this