November National Writing Month: Writing Resources

November National Writing Month

November National Writing Month

NaNoWriMo challenges writers to take the plunge and attempt to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days; while

NaBloPoMo challenges bloggers to write a blog post every day.

I look at these challenges every year and think about them. Last year, I even sort of signed up for NaNoWriMo and figured how many pages I would have to write every day to reach that 50,000 goal. And this year, I did sign up for NaBloPoMo, because I wanted to read more about writing. The problem is the moment I sign up for a challenge, my inner self challenges me…

Outer Me (OM): I will just sign up for NaBloPoMo so I can support other bloggers and enjoy some of the content that comes out of the event.

Inner Me (IM): I hate the name NaBloPoMo.

OM: It is a little odd. But really, who cares?

IM: I don’t want to write a blog post every day. I don’t want to write every day. You’ll become driven, start to drink, and eventually drown in fountain pen ink. You need to get out more.

OM: I don’t drink, and I use a computer.

IM: You’ll start and it won’t be pretty. You’ll forget to shower, and you hair will be matted and greasy.

OM: I already write a blog post every day and most days I write about 1000 words towards, you know, something that I someday might do something with…

IM: I hate writing every day

OM: Since when?

IM: Since you decided to sign up for a stupid challenge, start drinking, stop showering, and the kitchen is filled with dirty plates and glasses. Poor Cole.

OM: Wait, you forgot how I will neglect my poor campers, how my livelihood will suffer, and how we’ll lose the house and starve.

IM: Exactly.

OM: Ok, I won’t sign up for the challenges. I’ll just write a blog post every day as usual, plus an undisclosed amount of words—saving the family from my odious body odors, matted hair, and starvation.

IM: Good. Don’t you feel better now?

OM: I’ll also share some of the cool resources from the challenges.

IM (rolling inner eyes): Before long you will be pouring over books about the proper usage of commas, stop using whimsical capitalization, and use exclamation marks sparingly (!!).

OM: Maybe. But I promise to continue to confuse to, too, and two.

IM: …[sulks off.]

I’m sure you have similar arguments with yourself, right? I mean it’s not like I’m having these conversations out loud in different voices or anything. Ok, maybe I do need to get out a little more.

I digress.

This whole post was really supposed to be about writing resources that I found while not joining the challenges.


If you like to write, read, or just want to craft a better e-mail or text, you might find some of the writing resources listed below helpful, interesting, or fun. If you find them boring, part of me will understand completely

Most of these links are to Amazon, but I bet your local book store would appreciate the business! And of-course they are also available at the library for your free reading enjoyment.

Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You
Author:Ray Bradbury

Overview: As the title suggests, science fiction master Bradbury occasionally sounds like a Zen sage (“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you”), but for the most part these nine lightweight, zestful essays dispense the sort of shoptalk generally associated with writers’ workshops. The title piece aims to help the aspiring writer navigate between the self-consciously literary and the calculatingly commercial. Other essays deal with discovering one’s imaginative self; feeding one’s muse; the germination of Bradbury’s novel Dandelion Wine in his Illinois boyhood; a trip to Ireland; science fiction as a search for new modes of survival; and the author’s stage adaptation of his classic novel (Publisher’s Weekly)

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
Author:Scott McCloud

Overview:Scott McCloud’s book is about comics on the surface, but it’s also an excellent resource for visual storytelling in general.

On Writing – A Memoir Of The Craft
Author: Stephen King

Overview: “Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon the publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported near-fatal accident in 1999 — and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it — fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition
Author:William Strunk and E.B. White

Overview:You know the authors’ names. You recognize the title. You’ve probably used this book yourself.  The 4th edition of the book has retain the book’s unique tone, wit, and charm.

Ernest Hemingway on Writing
Edited: Larry Phillips

Overview: “Throughout Hemingway’s career as a writer, he maintained that it was bad luck to talk about writing — that it takes off ‘whatever butterflies have on their wings and the arrangement of hawk’s feathers if you show it or talk about it.'” Despite this belief, by the end of his life he had done just what he intended not to do. In his novels and stories, in letters to editors, friends, fellow artists, and critics, in interviews and in commissioned articles on the subject, Hemingway wrote often about writing.  This book contains Hemingway’s reflections on the nature of the writer and on elements of the writer’s life, including specific and helpful advice to writers on the craft of writing, work habits, and discipline. The Hemingway personality comes through in general wisdom, wit, humor, and insight, and in his insistence on the integrity of the writer and of the profession itself. — From the Preface by Larry W. Phillips

On Writing Well
Author: William Zinsser

Overview: On Writing Well is a book for everybody who wants to learn how to write or who needs to do some writing to get through the day, as almost everybody does in the age of e-mail and the Internet. Whether you want to write about people or places, science and technology, business, sports, the arts or about yourself in the increasingly popular memoir genre, On Writing Well offers you fundamental principles as well as the insights of a distinguished writer and teacher.

Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer
Author:Roy Peter Clark

Overview: “Writing is a craft you can learn,” says Roy Peter Clark. “You need tools, not rules.” His book distills decades of experience into 50 tools that will help any writer become more fluent and effective.

Writing tools covers everything from the most basic (“Tool 5: Watch those adverbs”) to the more complex (“Tool 34: Turn your notebook into a camera”) and provides more than 200 examples from literature and journalism to illustrate the concepts. For students, aspiring novelists, and writers of memos, e-mails, PowerPoint presentations, and love letters, here are 50 indispensable, memorable, and usable tools.

The Paris Review Interviews
Author: The Paris Review

Overview: How do great writers do it? From James M. Cain’s hard-nosed observation that “writing a novel is like working on foreign policy. There are problems to be solved. It’s not all inspirational,” to Joan Didion’s account of how she composes a book—”I constantly retype my own sentences. Every day I go back to page one and just retype what I have. It gets me into a rhythm”—The Paris Review has elicited some of the most revelatory and revealing thoughts from the literary masters of our age. For more than half a century, the magazine has spoken with most of our leading novelists, poets, and playwrights, and the interviews themselves have come to be recognized as classic works of literature, an essential and definitive record of the writing life.

How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One
Author: Stanley Fish

Overview:Some appreciate fine art; others appreciate fine wines. Stanley Fish appreciates fine sentences. The New York Times columnist and world-class professor has long been an aficionado of language. Like a seasoned sportscaster, Fish marvels at the adeptness of finely crafted sentences and breaks them down into digestible morsels, giving readers an instant play-by-play.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Author: Anne Lamott

Overview:“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”

The author of five books, including the novels Hard Laughter, Rosie and Joe Jones, offers an “inspiring book about writing as a way of finding truth” (San Francisco Chronicle). “A reveille to get off our duffs and start writing now, while we still can.”–Seattle Times.

How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing
Author:  Paul J. Sylvia

Overview: All students and professors need to write, and many struggle to finish their stalled dissertations, journal articles, book chapters, or grant proposals. Writing is hard work and can be difficult to wedge into a frenetic academic schedule. In this practical, lighthearted, and encouraging book, Paul J. Silvia explains that writing productively does not require innate skills or special traits but specific tactics and actions. Drawing examples from his own field of psychology, he shows readers how to overcome motivational roadblocks and become prolific without sacrificing evenings, weekends, and vacations. After describing strategies for writing productively, the author gives detailed advice from the trenches on how to write, submit, revise and resubmit articles; how to improve writing quality; and how to write and publish academic work.

Article WRITERS ON WRITING; Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle By ELMORE LEONARD Published: July 16, 2001

Article: “How to Write” by David Ogilvy (10 tips) 

Overview:  In 1982, the late founder of the Ogilvy & Mather advertising agency David Ogilvy issued a memo of 10 incredible writing tips to his staff.

Known as “the father of advertising,” Ogilvy made sure his employees knew they’d only climb the ladder at his agency if their writing was sharp, clear, and precise. As Ogilvy said, “people who think well, write well.

Article:“The Nature of the Fun” by David Foster Wallace

Overview: “The Nature of the Fun” — a meditation on why writers write, encrusted in Wallace’s signature blend of self-conscious despondency, even more self-conscious optimism, and overwhelming self-awareness. It was originally published in 1998 in Fiction Writer and also included in the wonderful 1998 anthology Why I Write: Thoughts on the Craft of Fiction.  ~ Maria Popova

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12 thoughts on “November National Writing Month: Writing Resources

  1. That’s a lot of resources your little self came up with!!! I am reading Anne LaMott right now ! I did not get Bird by Bird yet—but I will. Oh the Elements of Style–where is my copy of that anyway????

    • Clearly I don’t keep my element of style close at hand. I am not a huge Anne Lamott fan but I did enjoy Bird by Bird. These resources have come from a number of places and I wanted to gatherer them up to share and for myself. Lots I have not read and lots that I don’t know. Writing tools is a good one (from the library not to own 😀 )

  2. Thank you, ma’am, for compiling this helpful list. Many of these manuals are sitting (read, underlined, etc.) on my shelves right now; others, I have yet to read. I’m keeping a list beside my computer for the inevitable “What can I get you for Christmas?” questions!!
    I can appreciate your inner struggle with the November writing challenges. I tell myself, Some day. But not this year — waaaaay too much already going on, and I don’t need more stress!

    • Your most welcome. I have some of them and others I would like to read so I compiled the list for myself too!
      I like the idea just not the November commitment but I would probably being saying the same thing if they held it in April.

  3. This is great thanks so much. I’m a high school teacher and love new resources to pass along to my kids.
    The little voice in our heads can be such a menace. I know it well.

    • Hi Libby,
      Thanks for stopping by Odd. Glad you will find the list helpful and thanks for commiserating about the the “little voice.” Stop by anytime you’re in the neighborhood, the light is always on.

  4. This is really helpful. I haven’t started a blog, and I’m not a regular writer (little kids -right now) but someday, I’ll have more time and in the meantime I might be able to squeeze in some reading from the books on your list.

    Thank you,

    • Hi Melissa,
      Always nice to have a new visitor. Little kids make carving out time for yourself a really struggle. Enjoy the list at your leisure. The writing will be there when you are ready to start.
      Look forward to seeing you again when you have the time and inclination!

  5. Wow this is great. Thanks. My oldest is writing more and more for school and some of these might be good refreshers for me when he needs help.
    The conversation with yourself made me laugh. Those conversations between me and me happen all the time. Especially when it comes to food.

    • I know, right? I tell myself and myself it would be helpful if we could be on the same page.
      So glad you’ll find the list helpful. I’ve read some of the books and want to read others but it’s nice to at least know where to go when we need inspiration or help.

  6. seems like writing is fun until a contract is signed & then becomes drudgery. helpful resources.
    i talk to myself a lot, too. sometimes good, sometimes not!

    • Exactly. Just don’t argue out loud with yourself in the baking aisle of the grocery store. People stare, and don’t really understand when you pass on their help and continue to debate the value of one spice over the other with yourself.

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