Gilbert’s book – so full of soundbites it’s almost impossible not to begin quoting it immediately – urges readers to pursue a creative life, without becoming bogged down by questions of talent, and by all-pervasive fear. Creativity is its own end, and Gilbert suggests that it’s the birthright of all human beings. So clear and compelling is Gilbert’s argument, that, after reading Big Magic, it feels greedy not to write; guilty not to paint; wrong to let one’s creativity submerge into the busyness of life’s daily demands.
Tina Welling wrote Writing Wild: Forming a Creative Partnership with Nature, to share an insight she had while hiking near her home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a location which attracts visitors from all over because of its magnificent scenery and wildlife. While walking, she experienced “the interconnectedness between the earth’s creative energy and [her] own personal creative energy.” Since then, Welling takes “spirit walks” in nature to replenish her resources and let the earth’s energy provide insights and answers.
The book is designed to be used in a kinaesthetic way – through practical exercises that take the writer from the brainstorming of story ideas through to a three-act plot, writing a workable synopsis, creating characters, working up dialogue, themes, setting, building conflict, using symbols, setting scenes, and working up a cohesive story plan (call it an outline if you want). All of these are elements of good fiction, and Jaden covers them in a surprising amount of detail and in a way which is not facile at all.
Ignore this kind of stuff and unless you win some kind of book lotto, your book will almost certainly fall into the obscurity that is an ever-present risk of modern authordom. What I like best about Howard-Johnson’s book is the simple, informal prose which is both warmly reassuring (‘of course you can do this’), and deceptively intelligent. The reader is encouraged and reminded of his or her own innate capabilities even as they’re goaded onto to raising the bar.
Could a full-length novel result from an accumulation of five minute exercises? Maybe an episodic one. Of the seventeen “Student Contributors” whose exercises Abercrombie includes, only two are working on novels; the others are working on memoirs.
he week by week guide allows the reader to follow in the steps of the author with a daily look at some new topic or experience. The poetry selected by the author helps to build an appreciation of the many ideas considered by Walt Whitman, looking at snippets from his overall work may allow poets to appreciate how thoughtful he was and seek to follow in his steps.
As a writer, we know the importance of self-marketing and it can be overwhelming. By utilizing Talk Up Your Book: How to Sell Your Book through Public Speaking, Interviews, Signings, Festivals, Conferences and More we can take on this subject with the professional guidance of many authors who have been there, done that, and made it easy for the rest of us.
If you’re an artist–an author, a painter, a musician or an actor–who has chosen to live a creative life, you can’t avoid anxiety. It’s part of the process, inherent in the work you do. Coming to grips with that anxiety can be the difference between working and not working, which can be the difference between a fulfilled life that has meaning and one that is unsatisfying and meaningless.
So Writing Down the Bones isn’t just a guide for writers to write better, it’s a guide for living better and for integrating that life with work that is immensely meaningful. This is a book that will open doors of perception that won’t be closed again when you close the pages.
If you are serious about going the whole hog and self-publishing one, or many books, then you are going to become a publisher and trying to do it without this guide could be a big mistake. The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing is one of the most seminal, practical and valuable books on the topic on the market and it belongs on every self-publisher’s shelf.