Write a story every day, part 5: Helpful Books

A book becomes good or bad, pertinent or boring, constructive or not depending on how you read it. In fact, no two readers will ever read the same book in the same way. For that reason, recommending books we love for others to read may be tricky. What if you hate the books I live by? What if you resent me for making you read a lousy book? Well, you can always post a comment on my blog offering counter-recommendations. And don't forget nobody made you do anything in the first place!


ideas.jpgI suggested that finding a concept for a story is the easiest part of writing one. That doesn't mean it's easy, exactly; it's just easier than some other steps in the writing process. But if you're having a hard time finding an idea, a hook, a portal, a trigger, or what you will, help is at hand in Jack Heffron's The Writer's Idea Book. In a friendly and encouraging manner, Heffron comes up with several hundred prompts to get you going. They are numerous enough for you to find one or more that will trigger your imagination or, more precisely, your unstoppable urge to pour words out.


courage.jpgI wrote about the threatening blank page or computer screen that trips up many writers. In The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear, Ralph Keyes looks at the question of writerly anxiety and comes up with many astute and sympathetic observations. Keyes says, quite rightly, that courage isn't the absence of fear, but the willingness to act despite fear. Ultimately you're better off not getting rid of your fear, but learning how to harness it creatively.

1303411-1020792-thumbnail.jpgI suggested that one way of finding one's inner courage to write was by entering a trance. Trance is a big subject: there exist dozens of types of trances, each with its merits, risks, and dangers. Milton H. Erickson, M.D. was perhaps the 20th-century's greatest expert on trance states. A psychiatrist by training and a trailblazer in hypnotic techniques and their application to individual problem-solving, Erickson was also a master storyteller and a highly sensitive therapist with shamanic capabilities. Milton H. Erickson, M.D.: An American Healer, edited by Bradford Keeney and Betty Alice Erickson, is by no means a how-to on trance. Instead, it's a collection of essays, anecdotes, photo albums, and interviews that paints a delightful and compelling portrait of a free mind. Reading it might inspire you to free your mind in your own ways.



Rhythm & Flow in a Writer's Career is my own book for writers. It contains many dozens of suggestions and exercises to make you a more fluid, confident, and productive writer. My book has a singular defect, however: it hasn't been published yet! Until it comes out you'll have to resort to the other wonderful books on this page. But if you ask me nicely, I just might post my book's table of contents and a sample chapter on my website.