When it comes to writing technique, it's not hard to find books on the subject. Instructors have covered just about every aspect of the topic from plot structure to navigating the publishing maze. It's quite easy to improve your writing, but where can you find information on improving the writer? Enter Word Work: Surviving and Thriving as a Writer.
This helpful guide by Bruce Holland Rogers is a compilation of columns originally published in the magazine Speculations. The 35 chapters are divided into eight sections that cover the psychological aspects of the writing process.
Rogers discusses the hurdles writers face and provides practical advice to overcome those obstacles. Procrastination, self-doubt, and fear of rejection are tackled with a fresh perspective drawn from the author's own experiences.
Word Work is the first writing book I've read that takes family into consideration. Do you live with a fellow writer? A non-writer? Do you have children that need your care? Rogers has tips on balancing your writing and personal lives.
The biggest plus of Word Work is the casual tone in which the book is written. Rogers uses a friendly, yet professional voice in his essays. From the first page, readers are treated as colleagues. The author has a great deal of respect for the writing profession and those who commit to it. This creates a supportive atmosphere from which readers will greatly benefit. I know I did.
It's possible the author's science fiction background is the motivation behind chapters that reference war, armor and mythical beasts. Even if you don't respond to battle metaphors, you'll appreciate the ample humor and simple imagery Rogers uses to illustrate his points.
Word Work has some of the best advice I have ever seen regarding the acceptance and rejection of criticism. The chapters titled "The Hazards of Writing Workshops" and "The Hazards of Reviews" should be read, reread and then tattooed on the foreheads of all writers.
Not everything Bruce Holland Rogers says in this book will work for you, and frankly it shouldn't. The author covers many topics using many angles in order to encompass all types of writers. Get your highlighter ready, though, because you're guaranteed to find plenty of advice that applies directly to you and your writing.
As I mentioned earlier, Word Work focuses on the writer over the act of writing. It shouldn't be the only book in you're writing library, but it definitely deserves a spot on the shelf between Strunk and White and your latest copy of Writer's Market.
Good luck in your writing endeavors.