Books to help you write your book


A friend recently told me (with pure exasperation) that this year she’s going to write her book.  She’s not the first person I’ve heard the words from.  It’s not a typical New Year’s resolution, but we writers are not a typical bunch, are we?

One of the things I’ve found to help me write my books is to use resources from other writers who are successful.  There are endless articles online, in writing magazines, and on blogs that can offer inspiration.  And there are a zillion writing books out there to help us as well.  But how do you know which book is for you?

First, let me reassure you that I’ve been in your shoes.  I know how daunting it feels to want to write that book, but to have no idea how to start.  Here are the books that helped me at different stages of my writing process.  Try one out – I promise you won’t be disappointed.

  • You haven’t written a word, or at least nothing that resembles a book.  Start with Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones or Wild Mind to get you going.  Goldberg introduces you to writing practice, offers fun writing prompts, and helps get those creative juices flowing.  Remember that it can take weeks or months (or years, like Goldberg found for herself) to find your voice and your story, so be patient.
  • You’ve been writing for a little while but only have the basics down.  You know your book’s perfect beginning, you know how it should end, and you know some of the scenes… but not much else.  Character work and outlining can go a long way in solidifying your story.  Try 90 Days to Your Novel by Sarah Domet to kick start your book.  You’ll come up with a strong outline and characters that will carry your story, even if you don’t stick to the 90 day schedule.
  • You’re halfway finished writing your book… and stuck.  Writer’s block, anyone? Middles can be a painful slog.  But don’t give up!  Check out James Scott Bell’s new book Just Write.  You’ll find useful tips on everything from creating a strong premise to building  memorable characters.  Bell even wrote  a section on writer’s block in the chapter titled “Brave the Writing Life.”  This book not only inspires writers to strengthen their stories, but to pay attention to the rewards of a writing life.
  • You finished your rough draft.  Now what?  First of all, treat yourself to a nice meal, a glass of wine, a massage – whatever makes you happy.  Read something fun.  Do the things you put off while you were busy writing.  And be proud of yourself, because completing a first draft is a huge deal!  Then, get back to work.  It’s time to pull that manuscript out of the drawer and find a marking pen.  Hone your editing skills with the book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Brown & King, where you’ll learn how to use professional editing techniques to perfect your manuscript.

Feeling a little more motivated?  Good!  Now remember, there’s one fundamental act that will see you through to a finished book.  It’s not inspiration or time or talent…  it’s actually writing.  Like William Faulkner said, “I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes at nine every morning.”

Well, it’s 9:00 a.m.  I’m off to my writing desk.  Are you?


Wanted: A little inspiration

I have hit a brick wall.  A full face plant on the task of editing my second book. It’s painful and frustrating and driving me crazy!

For a week I’ve been trying to get into my 3rd round of editing this manuscript, bribing myself with chocolate and breaks and yes, even naps.  But nothing is working.  My goal of editing at least nine pages per day has only been reached once – all other days have ranged from zero pages to a whopping three. 

So today I’m trying something different.  I’m reaching for a little inspiration in the form of images that remind me of what I love most about my book.  Keep your fingers crossed (and toes and eyes too, please) that this gets me going again.

These pictures represent the things I love about Lola and her story (click on the image for source info):

And yes, I want each and every one of these lovely items.  It is Want It Wednesday, after all!

Replenish the well

“As artists, we must learn to be self-nourishing.  We must become alert enough to consciously replenish our creative resources as we draw on them – to restock the trout pond, so to speak.  We can call this process filling the well.” ~ Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

Scrapbooking seems to be my favorite way to ‘replenish the well’ this week.  The act of cutting and pasting, stamping and sewing – it all brings relaxation and peace to my busy mind.  I have 198 pages of a new manuscript to edit, but somehow taking an hour a day to play with the colors and textures of my scrapbooking keeps me from feeling overwhelmed about the writing project.

How are you filling the well these days?

home again, home again, jiggety-jig

I’ve been away for the past week, enjoying some time with my family in Door County, Wisconsin.  So much beauty and inspiration in one place!

While I celebrated the completion of a third round of edits on Book One, I also refueled and collected a lot of ideas for the setting of my next book.

Book Two was completed about eight weeks ago and is now tucked away in my desk drawer, waiting patiently to come back out for a round of editing.  The story takes place in a small town surrounded by gorgeous farmland.  I was thrilled to find this kind of setting everywhere I looked in Door County.

The heroine of Book Two drives an old Chevy truck from the 50’s, so imagine my excitement when we came across this treasure at one of the vineyards!

I had such a sweet time with my husband and boys – a whole week of nothing but relaxing and sunshine and fun.  Now I’m ready to dive back into my writing, and excited to move forward with Book Two.  I think I’ll go dig it out of the drawer now and let it enjoy some sunshine too.

three reasons to celebrate

1.  I’m DONE!  With my editing!  80,000 words, 121 single-spaced pages, edited for a third time.  I’m done, done, DONEAnd doin’ a happy dance.

2.  The Autumn/Winter CTMH Idea Book arrived in my mailbox today – it’s my very favorite crafting catalog in the world.  I can’t even explain how happy I feel when I sift through its pages and collect ideas.   Colors, papers, sewing techniques and fun, all spilled across each and every page.   These idea books never cease to amaze the artist in me, and never fail to inspire my creative juices.

3.  One of my favorite writing bloggers, Tahereh Mafi (author of the highly anticipated YA novel Shatter Me) is having an awesome giveaway!  Just pop over to her blog Grab a Pen and simply leave a comment.  You could win one of three book prize packs and get a head start on some fantastic reads.

And did I mention that I’m done?  With my editing?  Happy Dance!

I hope you’re having a happy dance kind of day too.  🙂