Has this (or something similar) ever happened to you?
You meet someone and he/she asks, “What do you do?”
You reply, “I’m a writer.” (Or novelist, poet, essayist, etc.)
He/she says, “I’ve been thinking about writing a book. How do I to get started?”
Then somehow, between the dairy section and the checkout line, you are expected to give them all the information and tools needed to write a book, tools you’ve spent decades learning and are still learning. Easy-peasy. Right?
In researching how many people want to write a book, I found the numbers ranged from 200 million to 80% of the population. The annual number of books published in the USA ranges from 600,000 to one million. So where are the other 199 million would be writers? Some may be standing behind you in line at Costco. You want to be helpful, right? We’ve all been there, trying to come up with the first sentence of our first book or article. We’ve all had experienced writers, teachers, critique groups, etc. who helped us find our voice and learn the craft of writing. We want to pay it forward. But how?
Personal Story: On hearing that I had published a book, two neighbors said they wanted to write a book too. I loaned them books on writing and suggested they attend free meetings at Authors of the Flathead and Montana Women Writers (they didn’t go). A month later, they brought the books back. One said it was too much work and the other, God bless her heart, said “You’re at home every day, so I’ll come over and tell you my story (a memoir), and you can write it for me.” She had a graduate degree, a desire to see her story told, but she wanted to skip the work of learning the craft of writing. I didn’t ghost write her book, but I bought $20.00 worth of stuff I probably don’t need at her garage sell. So all is well.
Writing is a continuous learning experience. With that in mind, I asked several local authors what books they’d recommend for writers and would be writers. Here is a list of their Top 12 books. So, next time someone asks you, “How can I become a writer?” give her this list. If she reads them and comes back for more, you got a budding author. I’ve also included a link to a list of the 100 best websites for writers.
Thanks for stopping by,
Strunk and White’s: Elements of Style (4 recommendations)
Stephen King: On Writing (3 recommendations) Sol Stein: Stein on Writing
Jack Bickham: Scene & Structure (2 recommendations and a rave review)
James Scott Bell’s books: Plot and Structure and Voice.
Brenda Uleland: If You Want to Write (1938 – republished many times)
Gotham Writers’ Workshop: Writing Fiction
Sharon m. Lippincott: The Heart and Craft of Lifestory (about writing a memoir.)
J. I. Rodale’s Word Finder Lisa Cron: Wired for Story
Stephen Glazier’s Random House Word Menu. Functions as: a thesaurus, a dictionary, a reverse dictionary; a collection of glossaries.
Ackerman & Puglisi: The Emotion Thesaurus (check out other books in Thesaurus series)
The 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2015 – The Write Life
thewritelife.com/100-best-websites-for-writers-2015 List is broken down into eight categories: blogging, creativity and craft, entrepreneurship, freelancing, literary agents, marketing, publishing, and writing communities.