Favorite Books on Writing

Lately I’ve read some great books on writing and it led me to make a list of my favorites so far. I highly recommend the following four titles for anyone who could use some writing inspiration!

birdbybirdBird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
This was the first book I read on the topic of a writer’s lifestyle and it didn’t disappoint. I’ve read several of Lamott’s books and when one of my Goodreads friends posted a review of Bird by Bird, I had to get my hands on a copy. It’s a relatively short read (237 pages) and I finished it in one evening, hanging onto every word. Lamott’s writing style may not be for everyone, but I love her conversational tone and emotional honesty.

Favorite quote: “Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored.”

onwritingOn Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
I’m not a huge fan of Stephen King’s work, but there’s no denying the man has an enviable work ethic. King has published more than 50 books — that’s insane! As the title suggests, the book is part memoir, part writing advice. He made a point of mentioning all the rejections he collected in his early days as a writer, and I was inspired by his ability to use those rejections as a decision to work even harder instead of becoming discouraged.
This book should be a must read for every writer.

Favorite quote: “Writing is not life, but I think that sometimes it can be a way back to life.”

writingdownbonesWriting Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg
I’d never heard of Natalie Goldberg before having this book recommended to me. Let me just say that I wanted to highlight and take notes throughout this whole book. It was inspiring, her words were incredibly encouraging, and I know I’ll pick this book up again and again. She has several other books about writing that I’m eager to check out next!

Favorite quote: “Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.”

zenZen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
Bradbury’s enthusiasm for writing immediately jumps off the page. His passion for the craft reignites my own flame and that is my ultimate goal when reading books like this. He urges writers to get serious and stretch out of the comfort zone. I particularly liked his advice to write down the nouns bouncing around in your mind. A list like: “The Meadow. The Toy Chest. The Monster” would then become a prompt for a story.

Favorite quote: “You grow ravenous. You run fevers. You know exhilarations. You can’t sleep at night, because your best-creature ideas want out and turn you in your bed. It is a grand way to live.”

Have you read any of these books? Any not on this list that you think I should check out? Leave a comment and let me know!

My Writing Space

My desk is one of my favorite places. As a writer I spend countless hours sitting at it, either typing on my laptop, writing by hand in a notebook, or procrastinating any number of ways.

I’ve always been fascinated by seeing other writer’s spaces. When I was around 11 years old, my family took me on a short road trip to visit the home of author Gene Stratton-Porter in Rome, Indiana. I’ll never forget that trip, because it’s when I first felt the inspiration of peeking into another writer’s life. Gene’s home in Wildflower Woods is insanely gorgeous and I remember thinking it was the ideal writing space. I still feel that way, and am planning another visit to her memorial soon!

In Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, she writes; “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” I agree with this, but am currently writing from one side of the bedroom I share with my husband. I had my own writing room when we first moved to this house, but after a year it turned into my son’s nursery. Someday I’ll have my very own space, and until then I’m very thankful for my cozy corner.

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This is my desk on a tidy day. It usually looks like this, although sometimes it gets bogged down with flurries of papers and coffee cups.

On the far left side of the desk I have two magazine organizers which I use to hold notebooks I’m currently using, my sketchbook and a couple of file folders with important documents. Then, the first row of books are some of my favorite about writing that I own, and the second row are library books I’m working my way through.

That typewriter was a thrift store find for only $10. It came with the 1960 user manual, and I just had to replace the ink ribbon to get it working. I mostly use that pink laptop for all my writing projects and keep notes and lists in notebooks.

Not pictured: my extensive collection of pens and notebooks. That could be a standalone post since I have so many and am particular about which products I prefer.

Happy writing!

Ohio Book Store: a book lover’s paradise

The moment I walked into Ohio Book Store on Main Street, I knew I’d found something special.

My husband heard about the store from a friend, and when he relayed the information to me — five floors of used books in an old building — a visit was inevitable. Our 11-month-old son woke us up extra early yesterday, so we decided to head downtown and check it out.

It paid off to go in the morning because we practically had the place to ourselves. The owner of the bookstore greeted us when we walked in, and one gentleman was browsing on the first floor. So, we set off to explore!

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The view from an aisle in the juvenile section.

The sheer amount of books was overwhelming at first. The shelves towered over me, crammed with jewels waiting to be discovered and toted home. Books spilled out over tables and stacks hunkered haphazardly on the floor or atop the shelves. Vintage crates and boxes held still more treasure, tucked away for who knows how long.

ob_boxesI stopped short in surprise at this sight — an entire aisle of my favorite magazine — National Geographic!

An entire aisle of National Geographic magazines.

An entire aisle of National Geographic magazines.

The oldest copy I found was dated March of 1920.

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I spent the most time perusing these magazines. I could have spent hours in this one section if we’d had more time to spare.

I love the repurposed scotch crates holding all those bright yellow spines.

I love the repurposed scotch crates holding all those bright yellow spines.

Unfortunately we had to leave all too soon. We barely scratched the surface of exploring this incredible place. I already can’t wait to visit again and purchase a few of the titles I saw, if they’re still there!

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Aside from having more than 300,000 books and magazines for sale, the bookstore also specializes in custom book binding and restoration. Click here for more information.

If you ever get a chance to check out the Ohio Book Store I highly recommend it. I think it would be the perfect place to find one-of-a-kind gifts for anyone, including yourself, of course!

Camp NaNoWriMo 2015

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Have you heard of Camp NaNoWriMo? It’s an online community where 12 people are sorted into a writing group called a cabin. Then, for the month of April, you’re encouraged to consistently work on whatever project you’re itching to finish. I’m going to use the month to edit the novel I wrote during my first NaNoWriMo in 2013.

I’ve won two NaNoWriMos and this will be my first Camp NaNoWriMo. The difference between the two programs is the Camp version is supposed to be more laid back. You can write in any genre and any word count is allowed.

I love joining a community of other writers a few times a year – camps in April and July, regular Nano in November – it inspires me to write daily and the sense of accomplishment at the end is so nice!

There’s exactly one week left to prepare. So far I’ve filled out my camper profile, and started a to-do list of how I can whip my old novel into shape. I’ll probably write a few updates on here about my progress with my NaNo project and I’d love to hear if you’re participating!

Rainy Day Inspiration

Rain is splashing against the windows and drumming on the roof as I sit here at my desk, cozily writing. Rainy days are my favorite type of weather, especially when I’m inside my warm dry house. Sunny days are obviously great too, but those elicit the opposite feeling: I have to get out of the house and delve into nature when the sun peeks out.

The sound of rain is calming and inspiring. Simulated rain sounds on phone apps or websites just don’t cut it; I need the real deal to really get in the mood.

When I was little I remember grabbing my pink umbrella with its ruffly lace trim and rushing out to the front yard. I laid my raincoat on a patch of wet grass, sat down on it, and huddled under the dry safety of the umbrella. Watching the nature around me take a long spring drink, and listening to the rain drops plopping just above my head felt like meditation.

Here’s some rainy day inspiration in case you share the same fondness:

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Click on the images for original sources. I found them all on Pinterest, my go-to for visual inspiration.

First Post – the post that hurts the most*

Introductory posts are at best boring and at worst awkward, so I’ll keep this short to minimize any discomfort.

Really it all comes down to one thing: I need to write. If I stop, if I decide I don’t have enough time to sit down and write, or am suffering from a creative block, my mind is restless like consistently-worked muscles that are left to deteriorate. It’s dramatic, I know, but it’s the truth! It doesn’t even matter if anyone reads the words I’ve written because they have to come out anyway, if that makes sense (it’s ok if it doesn’t!).

So. The point of this blog, at the moment, is to be a tiny corner of the internet I can call my own. I might post book reviews. I’ll probably post quotes, articles, or videos that inspire me. I want to showcase some shorter pieces I’ve written. Also document my experiences with Nanowrimo and my process of shaping the resulting 50,000 words into something recognizable. If I’m being honest there will likely be mentions of my adorable 11-month-old baby and my not-so-adorable addiction to Starbucks iced triple grande vanilla lattes.

Okay that’s probably all you need to know to get the gist of this blog. Now let’s get crackin’.

*A joke from The Mighty Boosh aka my favorite show of all time.