What could be more valuable to a writer than a book written from the editor’s perspective aimed right at those they must edit day to day? The Forest For the Trees: An Editor’s Advice For Writers is that book.
Betsy Lerner has a pedigree a mile long–Houghton-Mifflin, Ballantine, Simon & Schuster, and Doubleday, she’s worked for the best and has plenty of war stories to share. These are insider secrets and perspective you owe it to yourself to explore.
Lerner’s excellent advice includes some fun-but-right-on-the-money tips including letting your quirks and bizarre behaviors define you and inform your work. “I’ve come to look at neurotic behavior as a necessary component of a writer’s arsenal.” Lerner says. BRAVO!
She also adds “Too often the neurotic writer who still hasn’t learned to trust his own voice rushes to spill the beans…” Lerner was talking specifically here about story development and letting a piece unfold in its own time, but you get the idea that little aside can inform your work in any number of ways.
This is one book you should make the investment in. The perspective alone is worth a million.
This book is not new, but is pretty valuable. I’ve always loved coming back to A Whack on the Side of the Head from time to time to revisit the ideas and see if they kickstart anything new in my skull–especially if I am suffering a particularly bad dry spell in the creativity department.
Roger von Oech’s most valuable contribution to the fight writer’s block game comes in identifying barriers to creativity you probably don’t even see or percieve as standing in your way. He lists out sets of bad assumptions, limited thinking, and “we never did it that way before” notions, giving suggestions on how to break these unwritten rules to your creative advantage.
A lot of this is reminiscent of Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies, but in a more straightforward way. Where Eno would say “Honor thy error as thy hidden intention”, von Oech says “be foolish” and “mistakes are good”. Either way, the end result is getting out of that rut you’re in.
This is an excellent book to pull out when you’re feeling creatively stifled. Just one of von Oech’s great ideas can set your brain back in motion and leave you feeling like you’ve set yourself free from the quagmire. Great stuff, highly recommended.
Buy A Whack on the Side of the Head for $10.87
At first glance, stock market genius Jim Cramer’s painfully frank biography Confessions Of A Street Addict might not seem like a writer’s cup of tea. What freelancer has the money to sink into stocks or the time to properly manage a portfolio?
That’s what I though plowing into this, but I was quite surprised to read about Cramer’s horror stories as a writer–working as a broke, literally homeless crime writer for the LA Herald Examiner. It’s hard to complain about a little freelancer cabin-fever when reading about a writer who lived in the back seat of his car when he wasn’t out hanging out at murder scenes. Jim Cramer learned a great deal the hard way as a writer, including a much publicized scandal that nearly got him indicted for writing about stocks that he also happened to be invested in.
He nearly lost his entire career because of a simple editorial mistake. (He was cleared of any personal wrongdoing, and if the facts as presented in the book are true, he didn’t really deserve any of blame.) Cramer repeatedly tried to walk away from writing as his stock market career took him into millions of dollars in personal success, but his love of the craft brought him back for the creation of TheStreet.com, and the rest is history.
In short, this is an AMAZING book to read from a struggling writer’s standpoint. You can learn a lot from Jim Cramer’s mistakes and his successes in and out of the writing game. This is making the rounds at Freelance-Zone, and it’s kept at least one of us up at night, unable to put the damn thing down.
Buy for $10.20