Tag Archives: books

Freelance Writing Wisdom From Feudal Japan

hagakure.jpgMany people will think I’ve gone completely around the bend by recommending Hagakure as a manual for freelance writers, but try reading this with your career firmly in mind. You’ll find plenty of inspiration and practical advice. Consider these quotes:

“In the words of the ancients, one should make his decisions within the space of seven breaths. Lord Takanobu said: If discrimination is long, it will spoil. Lord Naoshige said: When matters are done leisurely, seven out of ten will turn out badly. A warrior is a person who does things quickly.”

“Master Yagyu once remarked: I do not know the way to defeat others, but the way to defeat myself.”

“According to Master lttei, even a poor penman will become substantial in the art of calligraphy if he studies by imitating a good model and puts forth effort. A retainer should be able to become substantial too, if he takes a good retainer as his model.”

Sure, some of it is a stretch when it comes to the modern day lifestyle of a freelance writer, but there’s plenty to ponder here. You can apply it to being mindful of well-crafted query letters, carefully checked final drafts and keeping your determination in the face of many rejections. Hagakure was written in the early 1700s by Yamamoto Tsunetomo. It was only read by a select few in the early years after its publication, but it has endured. And yes, other writers have found much inspiration in these pages–Yukio Mishima, one of Japan’s most famous authors, was a devoted reader of Hagakure. It’s a great book even if it does sometimes bewilder 21st century minds.

Buy Hagakure for $13.57

The Self-Publishing Manual by Dan Poynter

dan-poynter-self-publishing-manual.jpg If you are interested in the journalistic aspects of the writing game and don’t know who Dan Poynter is, do yourself a favor and check out the Poynter Institute. You will find a whole universe of stuff you didn’t know existed. Dan Poynter has built a hell of a reputation as an expert in all kinds of journalism, and you should not underestimate the value of any writing-related material with the Poynter name on it.

That includes this self-publishing manual. To be fair, I haven’t read this one yet but the Poynter name lends enough credibility to recommend it. To those who might take issue with me on this one, spend an hour at the Poynter site and tell me if you still disagree. And if that’s the case, forget the book–you can learn a LOT just by having a go at the site and soaking up the benefit of all that experience. At the website you will find a lot of info on Poynter workshops and seminars,and I have many friends who have attended Poynter seminars, all come back with glowing reports of the massive amount you can learn about the craft in a very short amount of time.

Buy for $13.57

The Handbook of Magazine Article Writing

handbook-of-magazine-article-writing.JPG The Writer’s Digest Handbook of Magazine Article Writing covers all the bases; query letters, coming up with ideas editors will love, and developing that all-important skill of targeting your queries to just the right market. If you’re new to the magazine writing game, try out this one…you’ll get some great help to get your first batch of queries out the door in the most effective way possible.

Most appealing about this book? It draws on the experience of a large number of successful freelancers. There are plenty of books written from a single freelancer’s point of view, but the range of experience represented in this book offers more perspective. Take what works and leave the rest! With 248 pages of freelance writing wisdom, you’ll find plenty of advice to apply to your early work.

Buy for $11.55