I'm in the midst of re-working a short story that almost found a home a few months ago and plowing through a YA and romance novel. I've got that delicious sense my fingers can't type fast enough - what a surprise given the fact that not so long ago a pen felt so heavy between my fingers I feared I would never overcome writer's inertia (much stronger than writer's block, as I'm sure some of you know). What brought on this delightful change of state?
Alex Quick's "102 Ways to Write a Novel", and Stewart Ferris's "How to be a Writer". I purchased both of these books while on vacation, and in desperation. I'd been carrying around a notebook and pen for weeks, recording every last detail of my everyday life and every person and place I encountered, hoping that somehow these disparate elements would string themselves into a story, a poem, even a coherent journal entry. When my efforts produced nothing, I took myself into a large book shop, straight to the writers' section, which was (not coincidentally) next to the psychology department. When I wasn't busy reassuring myself that I wasn't cracking up I snuck a peek through the stacks.
Quick's book offers 102 precise ideas on how to write a novel. It reads like a blueprint, a how-to for those finding themselves in a can't do mindset. Ferris's tome is more of a primer on the writing life, complete with "reader's questions" and explanations such as "how to write video games". Definitely a new kind of craft book.
If the dog days of summer are finding you lying on your back, give these books a go. They're sure to lead you into the sunshine.