“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up.”
There is a meme going around Facebook right now...The 15 books that changed your life. Although I didn't participate it did get me thinking about all the writing books that kept me on the path of writing the last twenty years. The first book I recommend to all beginning writers is Natalie Goldberg's classic Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. Although she went on to write many more books including a new one on memoir writing I still think this first one was the most influential to my writing. On Amazon right now there are quite a few negative reviews of this book but in 1986 when it was first published, no one was writing this time of "writing craft" book. This book introduced me to timed writing and many other writing exercises and made me feel that my journal writing was valuable at a time where I questioned why I needed to write. Eight years later Anne Lamott published Bird by Bird-Some Instructions on Writing and Life. I reach for this book more than any other when I'm discouraged about many things. When I struggled with finishing an essay last month...I thought again of "bird by bird" a story in the book where Lamott's older brother is overwhelmed with the "hugeness of the task ahead." This simple advice of taking things "bird by bird" is the best writing advice I ever received. Writing a book is overwhelming but if you take it page by page or paragraph by paragraph or even simpler, sentence by sentence a story begins to unfold. You can take this advice into almost every area of your life.
Today, think about the best writing advice you ever received. Take time to write it down, post it where you will see it when you feel discouraged. And now get back to work!
The Writing Nag