What I’m Reading: On Writing by Stephen King

I loved every page of this book, which I listened to on audiobook. Stephen King generously (those darn adverbs!) shares his insights about and faith in the magic of storytelling, the nuts and bolts of the writer’s toolbox, his own creative process, and the life events that shaped the writer he is today. He does all of this with the combination of compassion, encouragement, and straight dealing from the b.s.-free zone that I adore about this master wordsmith. A thoroughly enjoyable and illuminating read, with excellent narration by the author himself

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Reading for Writers: The Cormoran Strike Series

I’ve always been a voracious reader. I read for pleasure, relaxation, inspiration, and insights. I’ve also discovered that for those of us who are writers, there’s a bonus feature baked into every great book: a master class on writing.

I enjoy exploring an author’s sensory descriptions, seamless transitions, witty dialogue, deft handling of POV, and judicious sprinklings of humor. I’m fascinated by the sleight of hand that plants foreshadowings and the skillful ways in which the writer made me lose sleep for turning pages late into the night. And, perhaps most important, I am always in awe of the keen eye that shines a light on the manifold facets of human nature.

Jane Austen is one of those authors with an unflinching eye for human nature at its best and its worst. So are Nick Hornby, Zadie Smith, J.K. Rowling, and Aurelia Haslboeck, whose debut novel, The Journeys of John and Julia: Genesis, exemplifies why I return to the works of these authors again and again. I re-read them for pleasure, inspiration, and to marvel at the sheer brilliance of their writing.

Recently, within the space of two weeks, I devoured the first three books in J.K. Rowling’s Cormoran Strike detective series, which she writes under the pen name Robert Galbraith. Here’s a brief clip of Rowling talking about the creation of her series:


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Writing at a Standing Desk? Brilliant.

I used to think of ‘writing at a standing desk’ as an oxymoron–can’t be done. And didn’t article after article talk about how despite how good for you standing desks are, writing is best done sitting down? Well, I’m happy to say that I was wrong. I have gone from raising a skeptical eyebrow at the ‘standing desk craze’ to full-on convert.

Why do I LOVE writing at my standing desk?

  • It’s energized my writing routine. I feel physically, mentally, and emotionally vibrant as I stand at my desk and write.
  • I’ve always thought of writing fiction as something akin to acting, and somehow standing enables me to connect on a more physical level with what the characters are feeling and doing than when I’m sitting slumped in my chair. Yeah, I tend to slump when sitting. Which leads me to the next point.
  • My posture is better when I’m standing and writing than when I’m sitting and writing.
  • I am more focused when standing than I am when sitting.
  • I have more clarity about both big picture and details when I’m standing than when I’m sitting.
  • Standing helps me remember to do the ‘power pose’ from that famous TED talk by Amy Cuddy. And that’s always great for my writing.

This is my ReadyDesk standing desk converter, which sits on top of my regular desk. It comes with two shelves that you can move around till you find the perfect height. I also bought an extra shelf:
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New Year’s Resolutions: doomed to fail, or an excellent idea?

I’m usually not one for New Year’s resolutions. Probably because I tend to fail at them. But is it the inherent concept of a New Year’s resolution which is at fault? Or is it the nature of my particular resolutions?

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This piece in Forbes has some insights into those questions, suggesting that resolutions tend to be unrealistic and/or punishing, and thus we inadvertently sabotage our real chance at making positive change.

Because of course, we can change. I truly believe that with all my heart. If we want badly enough to make a change, and if we make our goals tangible and doable, one bit at a time, practicing till we master and perfect, then of course we can and will and do change. Click here to read more…

The Writing Life: Finding Inspiration

“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”-W. Somerset Maugham

If that doesn’t demystify the process, I don’t know what does. This is well worth remembering, both for its inherent humor and profound truth. Very happy to have rediscovered The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, with a foreword by Robert McKee. That’s where this quote appeared. Just open to any random page, and you will find a gem, too! 

Writing Tips from Fitzgerald, Ishiguro, & Vonnegut

If you’re feeling stuck or just craving inspiration, or if you’d love to get a peek at the creative process of a favorite author, these are for you, thanks to 1st Books* and Boing Boing:

8 Writing tips from F. Scott Fitzgerald (courtesy of 1st Books*) GreatGatsby

My favorite of Fitzgerald’s: “I think it’s a pretty good rule not to tell what a thing is about until it’s finished. If you do you always seem to lose some of it. It never quite belongs to you so much again.”Read the rest of his tips here. 

6 Writing tips from Kazuo Ishiguro (also courtesy of 1st Books*)

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My favorite of Ishiguro’s: “Focus on the relationship, and the characters will take care of themselves.” Read the rest of his tips here.

 

 

 

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