WRITING FEATURE Lacking motivation? Need support?

If you're looking for motivation or help with your writing, Natalie Yates can point you in the right direction as she revisits the review series from 2018 

So, 2021 is turning out to be much like 2020, with perhaps a glimmer of light in the tunnel, but at the moment things seem pretty dark. It is at times like this when us creatives struggle to get motivated, so I thought I'd revisit the series we ran a few years ago on SCBWI members' reviews on writing resources. You never know, some of it may help reignite your creative spark, give you a leg up if you're stuck in a black hole full of dead ends or even just give you something interesting to read or listen to. 

Shortly after our household expanded to include two four-legged furiends, I discovered podcasts and was delighted to find several on writing or author related. One in particular which I enjoyed then and still do, was the first to be reviewed in the series – The Worried Writer run by author Sarah Painter. In each episode, Sarah chats to another author to pick their brains on their writing routine and tips for over-coming writer's block. Another podcast was reviewed later in the series by Kelly McCaughrain: KM Weiland's Helping Writers Become Authors provides a fantastic wealth of knowledge and tips in short 20 minute episodes. There is a huge back catalogue to delve into if you've not come across this series before. 

The rest of the review series looked at SCBWI members' favourite books on writing. First up was Roy Peter Clark's Writing Tools, reviewed by Miranda Moore. She explains how she finds his book a valuable source to tighten and polish your prose with up to 55 different tools with which you can arm yourself. In April 2018, Marie-Claire Imam-Gutierrez revealed how a broken wrist lead to her reading Neal Soloponte's The Ultimate Hero's Journey, which improved the plotting of her WIP no end. A couple of months later, Miranda Moore was kind enough to review another of her favourite resources: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. This book exposes many of the habits commonly developed by novice writers, with examples of how paragraphs can be polished to perfection. 

If you are struggling to get started on something new or need a diversion from a project with which you've come to a dead end, then what about Tommy Donbavand's 101 Stunning Story Starters? BB Taylor reviewed this for us in July 2018, and explained how this pocket-sized resource can really get your creative juices flowing again, covering story openers for every genre, making it a valuable read for writers, storytellers and teachers everywhere. 

The phrase 'read like a writer' was repeated often on my MA and one book which discusses this in detail is Francine Prose's Reading Like a Writer. Despite finding it hard to read instructional books on writing, Claire Watts discovered this was a cracking book, with Prose providing an entertaining read on how to become a better writer. 

When Zoe Williams found herself a little lost during the second edit of her fantasy novel, she was directed to John Yorke's Into The Woods. Here, she found that Yorke was able to demystify plot and showed how you can map out your story to give it more punch. He covers the three-act structure, showing & telling, and characterisation with direct references to film and TV as well as novels. 

The final review of the series was of Kristen Lamb's blog – another entertaining resource on how to improve your writing, covering all aspects from structure, editing and motivation to get the job done.

* Picture credit: Sara Netherway

Natalie Yates has been a SCBWI member since 2015 and is Networks Coordinator for the North East. When she is not working as a Teaching Assistant for a local secondary school, she spends her time writing for YA and sometimes on Instagram or Twitter.

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