Saturday, November 07, 2009

Writerly Book Rec

Tonight I finished Bob Mayer's book, Who Dares Wins. It was an excellent, eye-opening read... and I strongly recommend it to all writers out there.

This isn't a book about craft. It won't tell you how to write a break-out novel or edit more tension into your scenes. Instead, it will help you to clarify your vision. To improve your habits of mind. To force you to confront some of your blind spots and flaws and recognize what it will take to change them. Big undertaking, no?

As Mayer states, reading the book is "most likely the equivalent of trying to take a sip of water from a fire hydrant." (183) No kidding! I get the feeling I'm going to be re-reading this constantly in the years to come.

This book helped me narrow down my goals and consider the fact that they have to align. Yeah, maybe this sounds like a no-brainer to the rest of you, but I'm the girl who once tried to finish up a semester's worth of grading, write two chapters, and make a three-course meal from scratch... all in one night. (Hey, Kate! There's this really cool place called reality. You should try living there sometime.)

So, I've looked at aligning my goals for the rest of 2009. I'm leaving my day job every day at 5pm and resisting the urge to bring grading home. I'm going to eat dinner at the table with my husband every night. And I'm going to write (or at least stare frustratedly at my Word document) for one hour every weekday.

Check that out! Alignment! I rule.

I'm sure in the weeks to come I'll have updates (confessionals?) about my progress or lack thereof. And don't worry--I'm still hard at work on the promo/writing separation experiment. More soon!

For now, I'd love your input. What are your favorite writing books? What's one goal you hope to achieve before the end of 2009?


Anna Richland said...

I think I've mentioned Blake Snyder's Save the Cat here before. It's the only book I can say I've consciously used with concrete improvement/results. I followed his index card plotting advice, and voila it was exactly right for me. Like him I had a big gap in the "third act" and realized I needed one more whole subplot. Crazy. I haven't tried something as comprehensive as the Bob Mayer Warrior book though.

Anna Richland said...

Oh, goals by the end of 2009:

That's easy - at least to say: this is what I put in the goal bowl at the monthly meeting today: (1) enter both books in Golden Heart and (2) send Warrior's Hilt to three more agents by the end of the year (I sent out to one last week! yeah!).

I'll keep everyone posted!

dayner said...

Since I'm doing NaNoWriMo I'm reading No Plot? No Problem! By Chris Baty. I love it, it really helped me step out of the box and overcome my fear and just write. Not because I want a best seller but just because I love to write. I think for any person sitting around wanting to write but to fearful to actually put pen to paper should read it.

JAD said...

My favorite writing book is, well, not a how to" book so much as it's an analysis of an author's works, and is moren of an inspiration for me, than a "how to plant the butt" kind of work: Julia Briggs' "Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life". I think if VW could write the gorgeous masterpieces she did, with what she had to deal with, the lesser of us can pull off our own masterpieces.

And my goal is to finish my WIP enough to submit it to at least one contest, if nothing else, before spring comes around. Hopefully. :)

Kate Diamond said...

Anna, I love Save the Cat! I've also read "No Plot, No Problem" when I did NaNo last year, dayner.

JAD--I've never read that book. I've only ever read Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf, but I really liked it and wouldn't mind reading more of her work. Sadly, Woolf is the sort of writer I only pick up if it's on a course syllabus!

Hm... perhaps a sign I should go back to college?