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Monday, July 6, 2015

Books Every Young Writer Should Own

The thing about writing- any job, really, but we’re talking about writing- is that you never stop learning. There is always something different, something new. We start learning from the moment we hear our first story, from the moment we open our first book, even before we decide to start writing. And then it never stops from there.

There are thousands of resources out there- books, blog posts, lectures, classes. This month, I would like to share just a couple of my favorite books for writers.

So, to kick off the month, my favorite books on writing by my favorite resources for young writers.

These would make great gifts. If you know a young adult who is a writer, this would be great for a birthday or Christmas or the like. And notebooks. Best part of being a writer is getting fun notebooks you can’t justify spending your own money on as presents.

Anyway! The two books I would most recommend to beginning writers:

Spilling Ink: A Young Writers Handbook by Ellen Porter and Ann Mazer
I read this book when I myself was a young writer and I loved it. I remember the day I first discovered it on the library shelves and then going home and curling up in a chair, so excited for the wisdom I hoped to glean from it. Most of the other books on writing I had read all gave rule and taught mechanics. This book is written more as advice, while also admitting that all writers are different and it’s important to find what works best for you.

This opened up a whole new world for me. I had always thought there was something wrong with me or I wasn’t a good enough writer because some things just didn’t work. But this book taught me I could dance to the beat of my own drum and write the way I wanted to. But, at the same time, it taught me a lot about writing and offered some amazing advice.

If I could afford it, I would give a copy of this book to every young writer I know.

Go Teen Writers: How to Turn Your First Draft into a Published Novel by Stephanie Morrill and Jill Williamson
I was first introduced to Stephanie Morrill and Jill Williamson through a writing conference two years ago. They both spoke on many different subjects and I learned a lot from both of them. I bought this book last year and wasn’t surprised to find the same kind of wisdom within its pages.

Ms. Morrill and Ms. Williamson have a blog they post regularly on (goteenwriters.com) and are very much committed to encouraging young writers in their journey to becoming authors. This book includes not only chapters on everything from outlining to writing to editing to publishing, but also has a lot of great checklists and such to help with these stages of writing.

This is another book I think every writer should have on their desk or bookshelf. If you are looking for the perfect gift, this one would be perfect.

Jill Williamson also published another book geared toward fantasy writing called Storyworld First: Creating a Unique Fantasy World for Your Novel. I haven’t had the chance to read it yet, but having gotten to hear her speak two years in a row about fantasy writing, I would guess this book is as amazing as her other one, if not better. These two would make a great bundle gift, for a fantasy writer- a book on how to write in general, and a book with advice for writing their favorite genre.

And, yeah, I know I keep mentioning the whole gift thing. That’s because I not only think these books are amazing, but I also know whenever someone bought me something writing related, it meant the world to me.

It wasn’t until I was twelve or thirteen that I actually realized that hobby I had- writing, of course- was something people got paid to do. I read just about anything I could get my hands on, but for some reason, it never clicked for me until then. I guess I pictured writers are some special brand of person, as if they were chosen. I didn’t realize it was something someone- something I- could choose to do.

But, so often, when a teen tells someone they want to be a writers, people make jokes about starving artists and rejection letters. And, the negativity starts to get to you after a while. You start to question whether you’re being realistic or making the right decision. At fourteen, I was already questioning my life choices.

So, when someone would get me something writing related- a book on writing, or a notebook, or the day my parents bought me my laptop so I could write on that- it meant the world to me, because it was like they were affirming the fact that I did indeed have a choice and not only that, but I had chosen well.

When I suggest buying young writers these books, it’s because I think it’s important. The publishing world is very competitive and had to make a go in, yes. And I think it’s important that writers understand that. But, because it’s so competitive, I also think it’s all the more important for people to be building young writers up, to encourage them and assure them they can make it if they work hard enough.

So, if you know a young writer and you’re looking for a gift for them, consider one of these books. Or some notebooks. Notebooks are good. Or both, because then you can tie them together with a fancy ribbon it that’d look awesome.

As is the routine for the summer, more of my old writing on Friday- the very first western I ever wrote, actually! And then, come next Monday, more of my favorite books for writers. Hope you’ll return for that.

How about you? What book do you think every young writers should own?

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