Nov 24, 2008

Grit for the Oyster: 250 Pearls of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers

Thanks to the authors--Suzanne Woods Fisher, Debora M. Coty, Faith Tibbetts McDonald, and Joanna Bloss--of Grit for the Oyster: 250 Pearls of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers and Dorothy Thompson at Pump Up Your Book Promotion for sending me this inspirational writing guide for amateur writers.

This book meshes scripture from the Bible with inspirational quotes from published authors and writers as well as questions writers should ask themselves about their own writing and writing careers. I would equate this book to a writer's devotional. It is broken down into a sometimes personal or inspirational story from the author of each section, a prayer fashioned for writers, a reflection, and a set of quotes from authors, publishers, agents, and others.

There are several references to Anne Lamont, author of Bird by Bird, and other published authors.

A couple of prominent tips in the beginning pages of this book include

1. Outlining the three steps amateur writers can take to become more qualified at their own craft.

2. Seek inspiration in the ordinary world and among ordinary people.

In "No More Detours," Joanna Bloss has some great tips for writers who have ADD, or the inability to focus on one project at a time. Rather than write like type-A personality writers who have set numbers of words to write per day, Bloss recommends ADD writers work on more than one piece of writing at a time and gradually finishing each one by the deadline. Learn to prepare the writing space first, ridding the atmosphere of noises and tasks that are unfinished. Writers also should remember to connect with other writers and hold one another comfortable. (pg. 29)

Here's a sample quote from this section from author Kristin Billerbeck:

"Now get busy, go write and quit making excuses. A badly finished manuscript can be fixed. A blank sheet of paper? Not so much." (pg. 31)

My caveat to this would be that a blank sheet of paper can be remedied as well, you simply have to write!

In "Will Work for Words" by Debora Coty, there is some great advice about writing on a freelance basis for money. I will share this quote with you: "Do not be squelched by low pay rates. View nothing as beneath you, and consider each publishing experience as a step up to the next level." (pg. 35)

Section one of the book is a vast outline of how to start writing and remain motivated as a beginning writer. For me this section of the book was a bit long, but other writers may need this kind of motivational pep talk. The nuggets of information in this section are helpful for Christian writers as well as those of other faiths.

There are some sections of this book that preached to the reader about the righteous path of writing, which could limit the outreach potential for this book. Writing is a way to express oneself and to say that writing about sex in romance novels is not the right path is to limit that self expression. In this respect, this writer's guide falls short for me.

However, some of the tips on how to remain motivated and inspired are eye-opening. For instance, Joanna Bloss indicates that some writers are more productive at certain times than others, but what they accomplish in their off-times is as equally important as what they accomplish when their writing productivity is high. Most importantly, Debora Coty suggests each writer take a Cyber Sabbath or time away from writing and the computer to provide balance to his/her life. I agree, without time away, how will you gain perspective on what you've already written? How will you have gained new experiences to supplement and breath life into your writing? You can't. Take a break. Breathe in the fresh air, then get back to work.

Interested in Grit for the Oyster? Want to win a copy? Feel free to leave a comment about this review and why you want to read this book or discuss your biggest fears as a blogger and/or writer. Deadline is November 30; will choose a winner for December 1.

Check out some announcements I made on Sunday!


Anonymous said...

A writers devotional. Interesting concept indeed.

Jeannie said...

I really like Tip #2: "Seek inspiration in the ordinary world and among ordinary people. I also think the Cyber Sabbath idea is a very good one. Writing is fun, but it can seem like a chore. If you say to yourself, "I have to write", then that would be a good day not to.

Serena said...

Some of these tips are great.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like a really interesting book with some good tips.

Bridget said...

I've posted this at Win a Book. No need to enter the contest.

Wendy said...

My biggest fear of writing is that someone will hate what I've written - I guess that falls under rejection and comes from a sense that what I write (fiction) is so much a part of who I am that rejecting my work feels like rejection of *me.* Thanks for the opportunity to win this book!

caribousmom (at) gmail (dot) com

Anonymous said...

Nice book - but i dnt think i will be "writing" in the near future :) so pls dnt enter me!

darbyscloset said...

Oh yes, I will have to read this book!!!! My biggest fear is that nobody would read.....they need to know me in order to see the humor...or the sickness....sick/humor. How to let/get others to know me through my writing so they enjoy what I write. Mostly, I write and keep it to myself. Only recently the local paper asked me to do a monthly column for them...that's a start!
Please, I'd so love to win this book!!!
Thanks so much,
darbyscloset at yahoo dot com

Anna said...

I've been taking a lot of cyber sabbaths it seems. LOL

Sounds like an interesting book, but I think I'll pass. Great review, though!

Diary of an Eccentric

Shana said...

I love that quote by Kristin Billerbeck.

Great review, Serena.

This makes me want to read more Anne Lamont.


The Bookworm said...

No need to enter me since I've read this one too, it was really good. The tips were great.
The Cyber Sabbath idea is really a good one.

Serena said...

Shana: I loved Anne Lamont's book.

Naida: Cyber Sabbath is my usual routine for blogging.

Roderick_E said...

I'd be careful with stuff by Mrs. Coty -- her husband is a hyperpreterist. Hyperpreterists believe 3 things:

1. That Jesus came back once & for all in the year AD70.
2. That the resurrection of the believers happened in AD70.
3. That the judgment of the wicked & righteous happened in AD70.

I'm not certain we should encourage this kind of influence within the Christian community.

For more on hyperpreterism: