Put your novel, magazine, remote control or chocolate hobnob down. Immediately find a copy of The Writer’s Workbook (Jenny Newman, Edmund Cusick and Aileen La Tourette) – I have the 2000 version, but I suspect there isn’t a need to update the book. The lovelist aspect of reading about writing is that the advice and quotes never date.
This is the first book I’ve read in a while where I finish reading paragraphs. Usually I’m gripped by the first few words, then boredom kicks in until two thirds of the way down when I feel the need to progress or be inspired again. The Writer’s Workbook is a dipper, and each word counts. Surely that’s what all writers aim to do?
I’d like to share something from its conclusion:
‘Above all, do not be discouraged. You are engaged in a creative activity which is absorbing and inspiring. The creative process itself is valuable and worthwhile, and the time you spend on it will never be wasted. If you have any talent, and persevere, you will break through eventually. Be patient, be willing to work hard, and enjoy the marvellous path you have chosen for yourself.’
They finish with a ‘Bon Voyage’ but I felt sure I’d exceeded the copyright rules, so left that unnecessary cliche out, as the paragraph says it all. Of course, Churchill put it shortly and sweetly too, ‘when you’re going through hell, keep going.’
And a gorgeous little writing exercise I found is to write out copy, with a good old fashioned pen. Or a streamlined Staedtler, which ever works for you. I’ve just spent the last hour writing out inspiration from The Writer’s Workbook and have had to concentrate on grammar and spellings. Sometimes writing everything on a computer means mistakes are corrected before we realise we’ve committed them to paper.