Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.
QUESTION: Someone recently asked me if I could recommend a book on writing for a beginning writer. What one book would you recommend?
Diane MacKinnon: I’d recommend Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott. I know I’ve mentioned this book before on this site, but this is the book that gave me permission to stop taking writing to seriously and just get something on the page. I re-read this book at least once a year and I always find something new to process every time I do!
Lisa J. Jackson: Outwitting Writer’s Block and Other Problems of the Pen by Jenna Glatzer. I have this book so marked up with stickies that I can barely flip the pages. The word “Outwitting” caught my attention in the bookstore’s writing section. Instead of “beating”, “conquering”, “eliminating”, and other well-used bully-sounding words, ‘outwitting’ is clever. enjoy the conversational tone, the exercises, and the fun I have each time I open this book.
Jamie Wallace: That’s easy. I’d go with an old favorite – Brenda Ueland’s If You Want to Write. This slim tome is aptly and, I think, beautifully sub-titled: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit.
There is hardly a page of this book that isn’t criss-crossed with pencil underlinings from previous readings. In some places, I’ve actually drawn hearts and stars in the margins. Originally published in 1938, this book is as relevant as ever, perhaps even more so. With a gentle, but no nonsense voice, Ueland quietly transforms the often overwhelming task of writing into a simple magic that feels simultaneously accessible and miraculous.
If you have ever felt daunted by writing or doubtful about your right to write, please read this book. I promise you that it will warm your heart, ease your mind, and stoke your creative fires.
Deborah Lee Luskin: All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. This is a book that kept me on the couch, unable to move anything but a finger to turn the pages. I was caught by both the story and the language. Wonderful.