Have you ever felt exhausted, jaded, exasperated during Nanowrimo or writing in general? I certainly have. Actually these feelings have popped in to see me almost every day this November. They’ve been sitting here with me at the desk, staring at my face, biting off chunks of my biscuits when they think I’m not looking… But I won’t let them intimidate me. When the going gets tough, I turn to other writers who have been in the same hopeless and difficult place where I am, where doubts visit you, whispering in your ears if you are really any good and what’s the point anyway? Instead of listening to them, these are the talks and books I’m listening to. Of course, you can also read them to yourselves, but I like the warmness of another human voice speaking to me, telling me stories.
Food for the writing soul in no particular order:
- Make Good art by Neil Gaiman
Okay, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t start with Neil Gaiman. I can’t help it and I won’t feel ashamed for it. He is my literary guiding star and if I have problems, he will be the first person I run to as a child runs to her dad when she has fallen while running around in the playground. There.
If you have the means, I also suggest listening to his Masterclass on Storytelling. Also very motivating.
- Zen in the art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
If Neil Gaiman is my literary father, I’ve been recently starting to think of Bradbury as a literary grandfather. He’s been, of course, in my mind a lot these days since I write a story set on Mars, partly in a city named after him. Reading this book made me see that very deep, childlike joy Bradbury seems to have in the act of writing. The zest and the gusto! On good days I feel the same. There is this overwhelming sense of wonder, a profound joy (and sometimes pain) I find it difficult to explain to others even though my deal is supposed to be expressing myself through words.
- Bird by bird: Some instructions on writing and life by Anne Lamott
I’ve finished the audiobook this morning and this is actually what prompted this post. I wasn’t too convinced in the beginning, but as I got further into the book, I got more and more into it. We hear so much about the technical side of writing, that is why it’s most welcome that Lamott, similarly to Bradbury, talks about the “spiritual” side. Writing is its own reward. Shut out the doubting voices and write.
- What I talk about when I talk about running by Haruki Murakami
Staying with my extended and somewhat exhausting family metaphor, Murakami would be my literary uncle. I don’t see him all the time, I’m not in the mood for him all the time, but when we meet, he always brings me something amazing, something I need at that moment. This book is about long distance running, but it is also about writing. Reading it helped me to become more physically active and become a regular gym goer. (Not now though, it’s cold and it’s Nano… I know, excuses.) It’s always very revelatory to look at things from a completely different angle, and thinking about writing from the side of running is very interesting.
- Big Magic: Creative Living without fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
I read this book four years ago, so I’ll be honest I don’t remember a lot, only that it had a great impact on me and probably made me cry more than once. Since I’ve finished Bird by bird, this is next up on my listening list.
I hope you could find some encouragement in this post and discovered some great books you might have not come across before.
What books do you read / listen to when you need writing motivation?