There must be hundreds of books on writing out there. And there are probably thousands of qualified people out there to “teach” people how to write. But as a writing coach, my main goal is to encourage and empower participants to simply get writing. The hands-on approach—developing a regular writing practice and learning on the go—I think, is the surest way to improve one’s writing.
When someone joins a creative writing boot camp they’re making a commitment to significantly raise the bar on their writing practice within a very short time. It helps to come prepared. The best preparation for a writing boot camp is to start writing beforehand, but there are also a couple of books I recommend participants read before kicking off:
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. Now available as a 30th anniversary edition, this book is nothing short of essential for anyone interested in creative writing. The creative writing practice developed in the Just For Fun boot camp and the Creative Cafe writing sessions is influenced by the insightful writing of Natalie Goldberg.
The Cambridge Companion to Creative Writing (edited by David Morley and Philip Nielsen) is yet another extremely useful book for anyone keen to take their writing to the next level, and for those who appreciate an academic perspective on the art and discipline of creative writing. This book too has influenced the way the Creative Cafe writing sessions are run.
Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain is perhaps one of the most practical and thorough books available on the craft of writing. For anyone considering hitting the ground running in a Short Story boot camp, this instructive book will help keep them on track!
The Secrets of Story by Matt Bird is ideal for anyone with a few years of writing experience, having already developed their craft, who are seeking to perfect their fiction and captivate their readers.
Perhaps you’ve read other books and found them particularly helpful. If so, you might like to share your favourites with your writing buddies (and writing coach :-)) when you join one of the next Creative Writing on the Go boot camps.