Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Moving offices last month, I was forced to thin out a bookcase overflowing with writing related books and came across an old school book called The Writer’s Way.

First published in 1948, it’s full of exciting little chunks of prose from writers as varied as Izaak Walton, Virginia Woolf, Shakespeare and Richard Burton. In the introduction, James Reeves, the editor, describes the book as an aid to helping older students to write good English. “They may,” he says, “try to do this by learning the rules and maxims, or they may do it the writer’s way – by studying the writing of others.”

Many of the chosen passages will undoubtedly seem dated to today’s audience, although a good number of the writers are still in print (and selling!). Absorbing style through the reading of good writing, however, is undoubtedly the most enjoyable way to learn; a lot more fun than sweating over the “rules” – real or imaginary.

The Writer’s Way made it into the new office, as did…


This is a collection of writing exercises, anecdotes, prompts, put together by Monica Wood and is a great book to dip into when the writing is going slowly. The following, one of my favourites, has an author signing books in his home town. Confronted by a familiar face, an expectant smile, a proffered book and a total blank on the name, he does his best to cover this lapse with a big smile as, pen poised, he asks: “And how do you spell your name?’ The book buyer pauses, then says, “ B-O-B.”

And for really bad days, when the brain is as blank as the screen, I took…


Lucy: “I just can’t believe how stupid your stories are!”
Lucy: “In fact, I can’t see anything good at all about your writing!”
Snoopy: “I have neat margins.”


Julie said...

What a coincidence. I have Monica's book, too. She's the sister of my favourite teacher from high school, and was the definite proof to me as a teenager that real people could become writers.

A lovely woman, warm and talented. And I love the Pocket Muse.

Heather said...

I also have The Pocket Muse, having received it as a gift last Christmas. Definitely great inspiration!

Liz Fielding said...

Thanks for sharing that, Julie. It's so great when someone who's produced a lovely book turns out to be a lovely person.

Heather! I had to buy my own!