My Favorite Books About Writing

I really love books about writing. They combine my 2 favorite pastimes - reading and writing. Plus, you can learn a lot from other writers who have been doing it for a lot longer and have really great advice and motivation to share. So, here are some of my favorites. 

What are your favorites? Share them below so I can go check them out. 

The Importance of a Writing Tribe

There are some things you should most certainly do alone. Go to the bathroom. Daydream. Vomit. But writing isn't one of them. I mean, sure, you will need to produce the words from your brain onto paper or the screen. No one can write your words for you. But that doesn't mean you have to be alone in the process. 

There are people in our lives - family, friends, other writers - with whom we can share our hearts and our words. People who cheer you up when you're in a writing funk. People who look past your excuses and want to know exactly what's holding you back. People who help you by reading your words and giving their honest appraisal, because they genuinely want you to succeed. 

Those lovely people are your writing tribe. 

That's why I started The Figment Forum. Because I want it to be a place where writers can come together and share. Why shouldn't we cheer each other on? Each writer in the forum is different. Poetry, fantasy, personal essays, thrillers, and more. But at our core, our love of words brings us all together. 

And that my friends, is what it's all about. Join us

The Balance Between Truth and Privacy

When my writing journey began at a young age, I was fiercely drawn to the fictional world. I loved creating stories and characters and worlds. It was fun to immerse myself in something other than reality. And from that came many short stories about princesses and ghosts and best friends. I really wish I had kept those stories to look back on, but alas they didn't survive various moves. 

But now that I'm older, I've found that I've changed course and am drawn to nonfiction and personal essays and poetry. I think there's something beautiful about pulling from your memories and the lessons you've learned and to document your growth (or lack thereof). 

The problem or obstacle that I run into, though, is trying to strike that balance between truth and privacy. I have many stories that I'd like to share. But some of them involve people who would probably not appreciate being mentioned. Or some of the stories I think would be good for me to share from a personal growth standpoint, but the fear of judgment keeps me from fully going there. 

Some days, I think, Screw it. Today is the day I'm going to let it all out there. But something always holds me back. How much truth is too much? Or not enough? And how do I hold back without feeling like I'm not being true to myself? It's like taking a shower but only washing one side of your body. Are you really clean? No. Are you really dirty? No. It's just a frustrating combination of both. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this issue, comment below so we can chat. 

 

**Join The Figment Forum, a Facebook group for writers who don't want to write alone. Find your writing tribe, get support and encouragement, and get inspired by weekly writing prompts. Hope to see you there!

 

What Writing Has Taught Me

Today I'm super excited to have our friend Yzabelle with us to share what writing has taught her. Take it away, Yzabelle! 


Writing has taught me many things, besides learning how to better create a story or poem, it has also taught me to look at the world differently. To write is easy, but to write with passion and creativity is a challenge; it’s not something you keep at one day and then drop—it’s a continuous circle of formulate, create, write, and edit. Writers never stop writing; we write with our imagination, with our voices—while walking down the street or while traveling—writers are always working on and editing their next or current piece. 

Writing, for me, is another way I express creativity. Each writer’s style and descriptions will be different; we are all inspired, sometimes by the same thing and sometimes not. I not only write because it’s so much fun, and of course sometimes it can get daunting—but we writers write in order to share these works that are apart of us. With each letter and each word, a writer is sharing their outlook, their story with you; there’s always a piece of the author in their work.

Writing every day has helped me think better and has helped me paint a picture, an image that will make my readers believe that they are there. Writing pushes us—urges us to think out of the box. It’s important to describe something that makes the reader go "wow!" and to create a scene so haunting, so compelling that the reader is lured in—with their mind is stuck on how that particular scene happened; they analyze it, then study it like a new textbook—it’s full of mystery and knowledge. But that’s one of the most enjoyable things about being a writer (besides writing), is to have an effect on your audience. Our jobs as writers are to, first: create something familiar, and second: to create something familiar that is at the same time, new and exciting. 

Lastly, what I think is important as a writer is to be open minded. Explore past your comfort zone and explore in order to create. Often it’s the unlikely sources of inspiration that we draw from. If you’re hesitant about a trip or taking a chance to travel because all you want to do is write—go. Taking a break (not a long one, of course) is good for our brains; we become refreshed and take in new inspiration from these unlikely places (a trip, a café, a neighborhood, anything). And remember; take in these new and unlikely experiences, savor and revel in how they feel; it will help us write so much better. 


About The Author

Yzabelle Onate is a writer and photographer inspired by the small in-between moments that some tend to miss in their everyday lives. She documents her travels and adventures on her blog, A Traveler's Notebook. Past writing, she is a lover of good coffee, the French language, and old movies. 

Why I Write

Today, I have the lovely Sarah Hartley sharing with us about why she writes and how writing has changed for her over the years, especially since becoming a mother. Take it away, Sarah!


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All my life I've been a writer - without actually knowing I was a writer.  English was always my favorite subject, something I just had a knack in.  I wrote short story after short story as I grew up and essays were always preferred over multiple choice.  I express myself best through written words.  In person I can become easily flustered and tongue-tied, but put a screen and keyboard in front of me and you'd think I was the most naturally composed person alive.


I write to express every emotion I experience.  I write to talk about the hard times of being a working mother.  I write letters to my husband to explain my side of an argument.  I write blog posts to remember specific moments in my life. I write birthday card novels to let my loved ones know just how cherished they are.  The written word is my safe place, my sanity, my understanding of the world.  


Since becoming a mother, my view on writing has changed.  It's not just a way to document the special moments, but it's a way to have something to pass onto my son so he can see what our lives were like.  Baby books show the facts and figures, but my writing is a way to show the emotion.  My son is my muse.  As most mothers know, motherhood is one of the most difficult things we do and that presents itself with many writing opportunities.  My writing has developed into a true journal of love, frustrations, inadequacy, and pride.  I want him to have my writing to look back on and I want him to feel what I felt as I wrote each word.


My favorite moments in the past two years have all been carefully crafted and documented.  Each time that the days feel long, or I feel overwhelmed by motherhood, I look back on those words and they remind me of the times I've smiled or cried, of the many, many times that I've laughed.  Writing allows me to relive life as often as I want to.  Writing remains my safe place.

 

About the Author:
Sarah Hartley is the creator and Editor-in-Chief for Holl & Lane Magazine (which just released its 8th issue, check it out here). She's also a wife, a mom, a blogger, and a donut aficionado. 

#writerproblems

Hi everybody! Today I have my lovely friend, Sandra, sharing a guest post with us. Because The Figment is all about community, I didn't want this blog to just be about me. It's about all of us who love to write. We all have advice or skills that we can share with others. Take it away, Sandra! 

Before I start, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank The Figment’s creator, Mia, for allowing me to guest-blog on her page.  For those of you that write and follow this blog, join the forum, get involved and be active.  You have a voice. Your story needs to be shared.  I cannot emphasize enough how much this site has helped me with ideas; networking and making friends who share my passion.  For a self-published author, networking and knowing people who not only share your passion but are willing to challenge that passion from time to time, is crucial.  With that being said, thanks being delivered, let’s get on with it.  

***

Writer’s Block.  We all face it, we all hate it.  We all despise when the words don’t want to come.  We all rage when ideas fizzle out like a fourth of July sparkler.   For many writers, this is an endless source of frustration—including me.   For my own sake, here’s what I can tell you.  These times pass if you persevere. Out of the four novels I have written, Hope's Child was the most challenging.   The main character just did not want to tell me her story.   Ironically, she’s one of my favorite characters to date.  Perhaps because she challenged me, I am not precisely sure, even as I write this and that book’s publication is months behind me. 

So that begs the question; how do you deal with writer’s block?  I can give you a few tips that help me get unstuck but I am uncertain if they work for anyone but me.

•    Free word association.  Pick a word that grabs your attention and just run with it.  Add another word, then another to grease the wheels so to speak.
•    Protect your writing time.  Carve out a little corner of your day.  Half hour; forty-five minutes, an hour, whatever works.  Set the time at the same time every single day and when your time runs out, stop. Whether your muse has shut her mouth or not, stop.  For the first time, I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I wrote for twenty two days straight, every day.  I carved out the same time every day and whether I wrote 20 words or 2000 words, I wrote.  This wisdom was imparted to me by a fellow writer.  He said, at the time, the schedule helps structure your creativity.  The tactic worked well.  I hardly experienced any blocks or stoppage. Some days were slow, I might have only gotten a few paragraphs done but I got the work done.  So that was my lesson from NaNoWriMo. 
•    Music.  This idea is offered completely to those of us that are frequently inspired by music. For me, I have a playlist of every song I have ever gotten visual flashes to, some instrumental things that encourage my inner muse to pull her head out of the sand and work with me. (Readers: If you need musical ideas, contact me. I would be delighted to share and discuss what motivates or inspires us both
•    Hand-write.  I know this might sound odd to some but for me, staring at a laptop screen gets old fast.  So to circumvent the irritations of getting stuck, I put the laptop away; get out my earbuds and a notebook. I feel more connected writing this way at times. 

So that leaves ideas fizzling or feeling incomplete. I have a kind of entertaining tactic with this.  If you have access to post-its or a corkboard and push pins, this idea helps me tie concepts together.  Say you have a flash of an idea, or a visual (if you’re like me) and you have no idea how to tie things in, where it goes or what the hell brought it to mind;  write it down on a post-it and stick it to the wall next to your writing area or your laptop or whatever works.  Keep chaining those ideas together.  Have you ever suffered from “what the hell was that idea I had three weeks ago that works NOW”?  This helps with that too.  We always have times where our muse demands attention right now.  This helps get the idea out and, for me can assist in chaining ideas together in a way I may not have considered.  I’m a visual person. Often, those visual cues help me find direction. If you don’t have a wall or available post-its, Windows has a nifty sticky-note program that is a blessing. 

The last suggestion I have for any writer that struggles. Find a buddy.  Find a person you’re comfortable brainstorming with and bouncing ideas off. Keep in mind, make sure this buddy is also someone who is willing to positively critique and give feedback.   This has saved my butt more times than I can count when I’m stuck trying to build a story.  Other writers outline, I am not that structured.  I write by the seat of my pants so to speak. 

So those are my words of wisdom. Go. Write.  Don’t give up and push on through that frustration.  Your story needs a very specific set of eyes—yours.   

 

 

 


About the author:
Sandra Hults is a fantasy-fiction author who is a full time parent, breadwinner and juggles her busy life while finding time to write.   She has published three novels in her fantasy series, The Maeseloria Saga, which is available for purchase on Amazon.com.   To learn more about her or to contact her directly, please visit her website, http://sandrahults.wordpress.com/

 

Lost

I'm feeling lost in my writing these days. Disjointed. I have so many ideas, and drafts that I've started. But I'm lacking in execution. How many years have I put "write a book" on my goals list and how many years have I come up short? All of them.  My dream to publish a book of poetry. And also a book of short stories/personal essays. And a fiction novel, of course. I work on them periodically. But mostly I just come up with more ideas for stuff and never finish a damn thing.  It's frustrating. I used to blame it on lack of time, which was valid, as I used to work full time and I was just exhausted most days. But now that I have a little more free time, I find that my brain still doesn't want to cooperate. That focusing and thinking about the book(s) seems to require too much energy and I can't make myself focus.  I'm disappointed in myself. I know that there are words inside of me that I need to get out. I feel them every day, calling my name, begging to be acknowledged. And I silence them with books and TV binge-watching and random internet surfing.  I need a healthy dose of follow-through. I need to tune out all of the distractions.  I need to write. 

I'm feeling lost in my writing these days. Disjointed. I have so many ideas, and drafts that I've started. But I'm lacking in execution. How many years have I put "write a book" on my goals list and how many years have I come up short? All of them. 

My dream to publish a book of poetry. And also a book of short stories/personal essays. And a fiction novel, of course. I work on them periodically. But mostly I just come up with more ideas for stuff and never finish a damn thing. 

It's frustrating. I used to blame it on lack of time, which was valid, as I used to work full time and I was just exhausted most days. But now that I have a little more free time, I find that my brain still doesn't want to cooperate. That focusing and thinking about the book(s) seems to require too much energy and I can't make myself focus. 

I'm disappointed in myself. I know that there are words inside of me that I need to get out. I feel them every day, calling my name, begging to be acknowledged. And I silence them with books and TV binge-watching and random internet surfing. 

I need a healthy dose of follow-through. I need to tune out all of the distractions. 

I need to write. 

Dry like the desert

I haven't written anything in almost 2 weeks. I just haven't had anything to say. I get like this every so often. And it bothers me, but I know that forcing myself isn't really the answer. I've been reading a lot, though, which helps. Losing myself in someone else's words helps to fill the void. 

We all go through dry spells, right? Days when the words don't come as freely as they used to. The ups and downs of being a wordsmith. My brain just needs some time to recharge, and I'm OK with that. 

What do you do when the words aren't there? 

*Don't forget to check out The Figment forum for weekly writing prompts and a supportive writing community. 

The Words

The words they come
I write them down
The words they don't come
My heart falls down

Pencil, paper, scribble, scratch
The ideas light up like a match
Until they run out and go up in smoke
And then I fear it's all been a joke

I write what's in my heart
That's all I know, but it's a start
I write them for me, but also for you
I hope you enjoy them as much I do
 

Writing Through the Noise

It's often very loud in my house. Pretty much all the time. I'm surrounded by boys who love to talk. And sing. And yell. And laugh. All to the soundtrack of a loud movie (right now, they are in LOVE with the Star Wars movies... all of them) or cartoon in the background. It becomes difficult for me to hear my thoughts sometimes, let alone express myself creatively. I find myself saying, "Shhhhh!" more times than a librarian. 

Noise is not my friend. 

I don't need complete silence to write. I sometimes play music in the background or put on a movie that I've seen a 100 times and don't need to pay attention to. But I can't do it when someone talks to me. I lose my focus and get really frustrated. It feels like being pulled out of a lovely dream, one that you can't get back to, no matter how quickly you try to fall back asleep.

How do you write through the noise? 

 

When do you do your best writing?

I'm a night owl. I love to stay up late reading or watching tv or writing. My brain is in a fog in the mornings. Well, let's be honest, it probably stays in a fog until like 3pm. I'm at my most creative when the house is quiet and everyone is asleep. I'll snack on my favorite candy (Lemonheads!) and just write my little heart out. 

I tried to do morning pages. I really did. There was a month and a half period earlier this year when I wasn't working and I would eat breakfast with my youngest son and write in my journal. Yeah. Those were the most boring entries ever. "This coffee needs to kick in. I'm so tired. I can't think. I want to go back to bed." That was pretty much the theme for 45 days straight. 

I don't know what it is about late night writing, but it just fills me up creatively. I really want to take a "write-cation" and just check into a hotel and write for a week. That would seriously make my year! 

Aside from writing during my most productive time, it also helps me to be in the right mindset with the right supplies. I'll have my bullet journal next to me with all of my trusty pens. I'll have my regular journal with me as well. And I'll have my laptop. I get random inspiration throughout the day - a song lyric, a Facebook meme, a passage from a book that I'm reading, a memory. When inspiration strikes, I'll jot it down in my bullet journal - a few words or sentences about the idea. And then when I have more time to write, I'll flesh it out in my regular journal. Sometimes it stays there, or sometimes I'll use it for blog material, it just depends on the subject matter. 

Anyway, I'd love to hear more about when you do your best writing and your writing process. Please feel free to share!