Tamora Pierce was one of my favorite authors during my adolescence. Though I haven’t read her books in a while, they still hold a special place in my heart and on my shelf. Read about her Immortals series in my new Magus Blog article.
Tag Archives: reading
Continuing on the theme of jumpstarting one’s creativity with great and unnecessary side projects, let’s talk about Story A Day. Story A Day is a challenge, often called the Nanowrimo of short stories, that dares you to start and finish one story everyday of May (and sometimes September). There are no word limits on the stories and no pressure to publish them. These kinds of challenges are great for loosening up your writing, getting away from the editorial voices in your head, and exploring some of the ideas simmering in the back of your head. Additionally, founder Julie Duffy provides prompts before and during May to keep your ideas flowing. Interested? Me too. Find out all about it here.
I stumbled upon Story A Day through DIY MFA founder Gabriela Pereira’s podcast interview with Duffy. DIY MFA is another great way to jumpstart creativity, by as the name suggests, giving yourself a Do It Yourself Masters of Fine Arts. The self-driven program focuses on this simple equation: Writing + Reading + Community = MFA. It gives writers the building blocks to educate themselves the way they would be in a MFA program, but for free! It’s great if you have good self-discipline or want to direct your writing life with more purpose. I have been trying it for myself and so far I am enjoying reshaping my life to be more constructive for my writing career. It has been especially great for helping me read more around the genre I’m writing in (sci-fi), see what the competition is up to, figure out how I measure up, and what I can compare my book to when I’m ready to query agents. Conversely, Pereira’s advice to read short story anthologies in order to study aspects of storytelling in a more condensed format has gotten me to read more broadly. In all, it’s a great program and writers at any level can gain a lot from it. Learn more here.
I’m going to give Story A Day a whirl as well (wish me luck) and I would love to hear advice from anyone who has done it before as well as anyone who plans to do it this May so drop me a line in the comments below.
On Writing is not a typical writing book. For one thing, it isn’t an instructional manual, it doesn’t give the reader a step by step break down of the process and it only has one, albeit rather interesting, writing exercise prompt. For another thing, it’s written by Stephen King. King puts his own stamp on the genre, turning what could’ve been a dry academic text into cross between a memoir and an advice book nearly as addicting as a fiction page-turner.
One of the greatest things about On Writing is the brutal honesty with which King tackles the craft of writing. “This isn’t a popularity contest, it’s not the moral Olympics, and it’s not church. But it’s writing, damn it, not washing the car or putting on eyeliner. If you can take it seriously, we can do business. If you can’t or won’t, it’s time for you to close the book and do something else. Wash the car, maybe.” (King, 107)
His honesty extends to his life story, chronicling his childhood, struggle to get published, addiction, and terrible car accident in 1999 with the same bluntness. In the memoir section, he dispels the romantic myth of the Hemingway writer who spends his days strung out on his drug of choice. “Hemingway and Fitzgerald didn’t drink because they were creative, alienated, or morally weak. They drank because it’s what alkies are wired up to do. Creative people probably do run a greater risk of alcoholism and addiction…but so what? We all look pretty much the same when we’re puking in the gutter.” (King, 99)
On Writing is a fantastic book and an inspiring read. It will test your mettle if you are unsure of yourself as a writer and reinforce your will if you are set on your path to writing. Either way it is worth reading.