Writers On Writing

“You have to simply love writing, and you have to remind yourself often that you love it.”
— Susan Orlean

What is it that makes a writer? How do you start writing a novel? These books feature some of our favourite authors and masters of the craft of writing dispensing words of wisdom, shedding light on their creative processes and inspiration.


How To Start Writing (And When To Stop) by Wislawa Szymborska

In this witty "how-to" guide, Wislawa Szymborska has nothing but sympathy for the labors of would-be writers generally: "I myself started out with rotten poetry and stories," she confesses in this collection of pieces culled from the advice she gave--anonymously--for many years in the well-known Polish journal Literary Life.

Szymborska stubbornly insists on poetry's "prosaic side" "Let's take the wings off and try writing on foot, shall we?" This delightful compilation, translated by the peerless Clare Cavanagh, will delight readers and writers alike.

The Art And Craft Of Asian Stories by Robin Hemley and Xu Xi

An all-in-one craft guide and anthology, this is the first creative writing text to find inspiration and guidance in the diverse literary traditions of Asia. Including exemplary stories by leading writers from Japan, China, India, Singapore and beyond as well as those from Asian diasporas in Europe and America, The Art And Craft Of Asian Stories helps writers at all levels develop and find new perspectives on key elements of their craft, from character and setting to the challenges of writing across cultures.

Craft In The Real World by Matthew Salesses

The traditional writing workshop was established with white male writers in mind; what we call craft is informed by their cultural values. In this bold and original examination of elements of writing—including plot, character, conflict, structure, and believability—and aspects of workshop—including the silenced writer and the imagined reader—Matthew Salesses asks questions to invigorate these familiar concepts. He upends Western notions of how a story must progress. How can we rethink craft, and the teaching of it, to better reach writers with diverse backgrounds? How can we invite diverse storytelling traditions into literary spaces?

Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott

Bird by Bird is the Bible of writing guides--a wry, honest, down-to-earth book that has never stopped selling since it was first published in the United States in the 1990s. Bestselling novelist and memoirist Anne Lamott distils what she's learned over years of trial and error. Beautifully written, wise and immensely helpful, this is the book for all serious writers and writers-to-be.

Alchemy: Writers On Truth, Lies And Fiction

Reality versus fiction is at the heart of the current literary debate. We live in a world of docu-drama, the ‘real life’ story. Works of art, novels, films, are frequently bolstered by reference to the autobiography of the creator, or to underlying ‘fact.’ Where does that leave the imagination? And who gets to define the parameters of ‘reality’ and ‘fiction’ anyway? Five writers debate the limits of materialism and realism, in art and literature – and offer a passionate defence of the alchemical imagination in a fact-based world.

Daemon Voices by Philip Pullman

From the internationally best-selling author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, a spellbinding journey into the secrets of his art--the narratives that have shaped his vision, his experience of writing, and the keys to mastering the art of storytelling. Pullman gives us a book that charts the history of his own enchantment with story--from his own books to those of Blake, Milton, Dickens, and the Brothers Grimm, among others--and delves into the role of story in education, religion, and science.

Devotion by Patti Smith

Patti Smith presents an original and beautifully crafted tale of obsession-a young skater who lives for her art, a possessive collector who ruthlessly seeks his prize, a relationship forged of need both craven and exalted. She then takes us on a second journey, exploring the sources of her story. Whether writing in a cafe or a train, Smith generously opens her notebooks and lets us glimpse the alchemy of her art and craft in this arresting and original book on writing.

A Swim In A Pond In The Rain by George Saunders

For the last twenty years, George Saunders has been teaching a class on the Russian short story to his MFA students. In A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, he shares a version of that class with us, offering some of what he and his students have discovered together over the years. Paired with iconic short stories by Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Gogol, the seven essays in this book are intended for anyone interested in how fiction works and why it’s more relevant than ever in these turbulent times.

On Writers And Writing by Margaret Atwood

What is the role of the writer? Prophet? High Priest of Art? Court Jester? Or witness to the real world? Looking back on her own childhood and the development of her writing career, Margaret Atwood examines the metaphors which writers of fiction and poetry have used to explain - or excuse! - their activities, looking at what costumes they have seen fit to assume, what roles they have chosen to play. In her final chapter she takes up the challenge of the book's title: if a writer is to be seen as 'gifted', who is doing the giving and what are the terms of the gift?

On Writing by Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski was one of our most iconoclastic, raw and riveting writers, one whose stories, poems and novels have left an enduring mark on our culture. Piercing, unsentimental and often hilarious, On Writing is filled not only with memorable lines but also with the author's trademark toughness, leavened with moments of grace, pathos and intimacy. In the previously unpublished letters to editors, friends and fellow writers collected here, Bukowski is brutally frank about the drudgery of work and uncompromising when it comes to the absurdities of life and of art.

On Writing by Stephen King

Part memoir, part master class, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer's craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King's advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999--and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery.

Zen In The Art Of Writing by Ray Bradbury

The first thing a writer should be is – excited. Part memoir, part masterclass, Zen in the Art of Writing offers a vivid and exuberant insight into the craft of writing. Bradbury reveals how writers can each find their own unique path to developing their voice and style. Zen in the Art of Writing offers a celebration of the act of writing that will delight, impassion, and inspire.