The return of Writing About Writing About Writing

WAWAW Is an intermittent series where I read or re-read the writing books on my shelf to see if they’re worth keeping. See previous part here. And an index of the books in the series here. In my previous post way back in June I put the series on pause as I needed to use my time to do some writing for hire. That’s now over and it’s time to dust WAWAW off and start posting again.

One type of writing book I have on the shelf is ‘Exercise and Prompt’ books which I will be diving in and using. ‘No-one does the exercises in writing books’ is the received wisdom (and to be sure I’ve rarely done so in the books in the WAWAW series.) But it’s been a while since I was writing short stories on spec and subbing them to magazines and anthologies and so I think returning to writing with ‘beginner’s mind’ may be of some use. Therefore I’m going to be using those exercise and prompt books to practise and come up with new stories – I’ll blog about the experience, about the stories, about the submissions and rejections and acceptances warts and all.

First up is What If? by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter. Which definitely sticks to the theme of bad covers on writing books!

I’ll be reading this and doing the exercises with the idea of generating stories but at the same time I’ll be returning to The Certainty of Dust in order to revise it to give to the publisher early next year with the intention of the book coming out next year. I also have a bunch of stories I wrote last year and earlier this year that need a bit of polishing to then send out.

My short review of the book will be along the lines of how useful it is to generate new writing. A lot of writing exercises are basically ways to get you freewriting. Although freewriting is a useful method to train you to get into a flow state and turn off the inner critic, it tends not to generate stories (for me at least). Writing exercises could be considered similar to playing scales as a musician or sketching as an artist preparing to start a new work, it’s not wasted time. However I specifically want to get some stories and will be judging these books by that criteria, which may lead to an idiosyncratic review.

In addition I’ll be at a weekend writing retreat (at MeddwlCoed) in a couple of weeks time and hoping to generate some new writing. Time to get back in the saddle…

Drop a comment with your favourite writing book or tip here or email me via the Contact page. If you’re a publisher or Indie Author and would like me to review your writing book drop me a line!

Published by suttope

Pete W Sutton is a writer and editor. His two short story collections – A Tiding of Magpies and The Museum for Forgetting – were shortlisted for Best Collection in the British Fantasy Awards in 2017 & 2022 respectively. His novel – Seven Deadly Swords – was published by Grimbold Books. He has edited several short story anthologies and is the editor for the British Fantasy Society Horizons fiction magazine.

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