One of the many things I love about my job at Portrait is getting to meet so many people who want to write. It’s not important what they’re writing – the next big screenplay, the great American novel, a prize winning book of poetry. It matters that they are writing. Hunkering down over laptops with their cups of coffee or tea, oblivious to all the chatter and goings-on around them. Or scribbling on a yellow legal pad, the pen sailing over the paper, stopping suddenly- the writer pondering a moment lost in the world of imagination. How could any of this effort and concentration be a waste of time? Isn’t any effort at creativity worth something? Even the simple benefit of the writer having to search within for the right word or phrase, the linking of these to make a coherent sentence. It’s all a process, it’s all good- even the bad.
I also happen to believe that our bookstore rooms and gardens are almost charmed in a sense and have an aura of creativity hovering about the ceilings and the trees. After all, it’s said that Raymond Chandler himself wrote in the room that was once a bedroom of this house and is now the main room of the bookstore.
Occasionally I’m asked about good writing books. We have a section devoted to the best of these, from the how-to, to the examination of the inner workings of a writer’s psyche. We each have our favorites. Mine tend to be practical and goal oriented.
The first: “No Plot? No Problem!” by Chris Baty. This is a great book for those who have trouble just sitting down and writing. His whole theory is don’t worry about plot and story, get your characters firmly in your head and then sit down to write. He gives you a specific number of words to write each day. Do no editing, re-reading or re-writing, just churn out your words and at the end of 30 days you will have something resembling a short novel. Then you can do all the re-working that you want. This way you have something to show for your effort and it gets you in the habit of setting aside time each day to write. I’ve done this 30-day exercise myself twice and thoroughly enjoyed the process. I highly recommend it.
My next favorite is “Writing Treatments that Sell” by Kenneth Atchity and Chi-Li Wong. I love writing books that are written in a simple easy-to-understand format. I feel that writers are in a hurry to get back to their writing and just want the facts and suggestions in a quick delivery. While this book is aimed at screen and television writing, much of the advice can be useful for plays and novels as well.
What are some of your favorite books which discuss the creative process? We’re always eager to know what stimulates, inspires and gets you creating.
Posted by Donna