Once again, readers, I’m thrilled to recommend an excellent book.
Reading about writing is essential to develop skills as a writer. Fantastic books on writing are listed in my “books on craft” page. These books focus on the craft of writing itself: character development, POV, plot and pacing, voice, and a hundred other elements.Their explanations and examples of techniques and principles are invaluable to writers of all kinds. Mostly, though, they teach writing skills, not how to be a writer.
I’ve just finished reading WRITE-A-THON: Write Your Book in 26 Days by Rochelle Melander, and at first I was skeptical. “26 days?” I thought. “Not if it’s a book worth reading.” Ms. Melander’s book, however, is not about rushing writers through creating their masterpiece, nor is the book about cranking out poor material. Her book is of a different sort. Rather than focusing on how to produce excellent prose and story, WRITE-A-THON teaches people how to be sucessful writers.
Ms. Melander comes alongside writers in this book as a coach. She teaches how to prepare for the write-a-thon, how to write that first draft, and how to finish strong by revising, searching for agents, and preparing for the next project.
Really, WRITE-A-THON is 3 kinds of books in one. First, it’s a field guide. Ms. Mellander discusses who and what writers are and why they write. “Waiters wait,” she says. “Writers write.” She takes writers through the steps of preparing to write a book: finding the concept, beginning the research, designing the structure of the book, creating the marathon schedule, etc. She then moves on to writing the first draft. This first draft is what will take the 26 days. Every step of the way, she tells writers what needs to be done, what to expect while doing it, what works for others, and what may work for them.
WRITE-A-THON is also a motivational book. I don’t normally like motivational reading. I am typically a self-motivated person. This book, however, I found to be genuinely helpful and realisically motivating. Ms. Melander helps writers to identify their excuses, envision what they want their writing career to look like, and obtain the support needed to make those goals happen. She walks writers through isolating why they want to write, prioritizing the desire to write in their daily lives, and learning to take themselves seriously. Motivational discussion continues through the training, drafting, and editing stages of the book to keep writers encouraged and focused. Ms. Melander understands that writing can be difficult, isolating, and frustrating; she also understands how much confidence and persistence it takes. Even though I’ve already written my first novel, I was motivated to keep working by this book- not the brief motivation of cheerful encouragement, but rather the motivation that comes from identifying a goal, valuing it appropriately, and recognizing progress. Before long, I was motivating myself. My writing motivated me. My research motivated me. The small steps I made each day in developing my writing career motivated me.
Finally, WRITE-A-THON is a toolbox. This is my favorite element of the book. I have truly never read a book this useful for making writing a daily part of life. Ms. Melander, while telling writers what needs done and what to expect, while telling them it will be hard but it will be even more rewarding, shows writers how to get it done.
People can Google warm-up tips and editing tips; Ms. Melander goes beyond standard how-to’s for writers. She teaches how to create a writing space; how to prioritize writing; how to build a support team; how to explain to friends and family that you are sorry, but you are writing, so you can’t babysit. She walks writers through finding out what brainstorming, writing, and researching materials work best for them. She discusses overcoming perfectionism, blank pages, and lack of inspiration. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle during the write-a-thon is discussed as well, as is developing the writer’s creative life. She keeps the writer progressing while avoiding burn-out.
Ms. Melander organizes all of this material into three sections: training, the write-a-thon, and recovery. Part One: Training takes the writer through the necessary steps to prepare. I loved this section because of its thoroughness and Ms. Melander’s spot-on observations about writers- how they write, how they think, how they act and react. Faithfully following the steps she lays out will make every writer a better writer.
Part Two: The Write-a-Thon guides writers through getting the first draft on paper. Resources and even meals have been gathered beforehand; daily writing exercises have built writing muscles; project binders and story bibles have captured research, outlines, and character profiles. Writing the draft at this point just takes encouragement, focus, and seat-time. Ms. Melander will get writers there.
Part Three: Recovery helps writers celebrate their accomplishment, then gets them back to the task of finishing. Revisions, editors, first lines and word economy, the querying process, and finally persistence through rejection are outlined. The book closes with a fabulous bibliography of writer’s resources on organizing the writer’s life, writing advice, writing books quickly, fiction writing, nonfiction writing, writing exercises, and revising, submitting, and publishing.
WRITE-A-THON is both accessible and well-written. Concepts are made memorable through clear, humorous writing and relevant examples. Not only is this a book worth reading, but its also a book worth re-reading. Writers of all kinds and all levels of experience will find it useful and motivating. One quote Ms. Melander includes is from Richard Bach: “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” Rochelle Melander shows writers how to stick to their goals and not quit. She shows people how to be writers. “Writers write,” she says. WRITE-A-THON thoroughly unpacks how to be a writer who truly writes.