Some Writers to Keep With You When Writing Anything

As writers, we know a bit of struggle, even if that means there are no physical bumps or bruises to prove it. It’s the blockage: that one famous actor’s last name, forgetting how to spell that word correctly, or just being stuck on where to go next.

The good news is that there is a lot of help and inspiration out there for the writer within to help you move past that boulder in the middle of the road you’ve been crafting.

I’ve come up with two helpful books for the ladies that need help lighting the match to their creative writing sides. The first book is Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, the wild English novelist, and the second is Stephen King’s On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft, a name I need not to explain.

These books will let you dive into the minds of two of the most acclaimed writers out there. They both show you don’t have to be a natural born writer to be a good writer. They are the perfect duo to keep in your satchel when on a long journey.

In Bird by Bird you hear Lamott’s voice give unique and distinctive advice through her own life experiences. No matter how many times you may hear the line, “listen to your broccoli and your broccoli will tell you how to eat it,” you will still find it quirky and weird, and the meaning will stick with you forever. It’s really just a silly way to remember to listen to your intuition and the rest will follow, but the fact that she calls it your broccoli is what make you listen to her when necessary.

Also the advice she gives by E.L. Doctorow, “writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. You don't have to see where you're going, you don't have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you,” is simply perfect. All writers, nay, human beings should hear this. We all get lost inside of our crazy and creative heads, and hearing things like this keeps you from taking insignificant detours on our way toward greatness…or maybe it opens them up!

Lamott writes with such style, making each section of her book humorous and poignant for her gigantic audience of readers who continue to love her. She leaves us with advice by her own father (which you’ll have to pick up the book to figure out its contexts), which is to take life “bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”

That being said, Stephen King’s On Writing isn’t a far off second-hand guide to pick up while in the process of writing. His story shows the struggle of an average kid who made it big, really big. It’s probably the greatest underdog story of all time that doesn’t involve a baseball. In his book (the only one of his that doesn’t involve aliens or alternative beings) you get the backstory of his life. Who he was before the famous Carrie was released. The times when he couldn’t afford a phone. How he cut out his addiction of coke lines and miller lites. This book is perfect for the writer who wants to be inspired; who wants reassurance that it’s okay to fail, and the persuasion to pick up the pen and hit the ground not running, but sprinting.

Some of his greatest advice: “It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”  This is a great thing to keep in mind when starting off a short story, poem, or even that pesky thesis paper.

Yes, both of those are novels, and books are so…long, right?

For those who are looking for more of a short, burst of inspiration check out Sugar’s advice column at The Rumpus. Her articles are but a page long, yet have enough to speak to all people, specifically to those who are writers.

A somewhat famous article gives the best advice for when you’re just about to rip up that blue lined paper and call it quits. It’s called  Write Like A Mother Fucker, and it’s great.

Sugar’s tone is full of “huns” and “sweet peas” that are touching enough that you will actually feel a mother’s hug, then an immediate kick in the ass for being so hard on yourself. In the article she gives advice to a woman, “Elissa Bassis,” (and a number of other readers), that no matter where you are in life, it is ok to be there; it’s ok to be young, to be old, to fail, to be depressed. She then advises on how to take those frustrations and put them to real, meaningful work. She helps the aspiring writer “bring life to the story that beats within you,” and to always write like a mother fucker.Another quick article by Sugar is for those who are graduating from college, or just need some inspiration for the step.

It’s called The Future Has an Ancient Heart. She tells that even successful writers have struggles, including herself. Simply because someone tells you to get into the “lamborghini that life pulls up for you” doesn’t mean you have to listen to average Joe and get in. In fact, Sugar insists on “travelling by foot,” and that, “there is so much ahead that’s worth seeing; so much that you can’t identify at top speed.”

As she addresses an entire class of graduating English majors, she tells the story of her particular route and how emotionally entranced it is. Reading this article will bring tears to your heart and a pen to your hand.

So if you find yourself stuck as a writer, here you go. If it helps, great! If it doesn’t, then just add them to the shelf of fantastic reads you keep in the library of your mind.