A Writer's Workbook: Daily Exercises for the Writing Life

Overview

Aspiring doctors have medical school. Karate students have belts of different colors. Pianists have scales and arpeggios. But what system do writers have for getting and staying "in shape," to help them focus, practice, and make progress? A Writer's Workbook is Caroline Sharp's ingenious collection of exercises to inspire, encourage, warm up, and jump-start anyone who writes. A wise and funny friend who will cheerlead you through even your darkest can't-write days and "every idea I've ever had is awful" nights, ...
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Overview

Aspiring doctors have medical school. Karate students have belts of different colors. Pianists have scales and arpeggios. But what system do writers have for getting and staying "in shape," to help them focus, practice, and make progress? A Writer's Workbook is Caroline Sharp's ingenious collection of exercises to inspire, encourage, warm up, and jump-start anyone who writes. A wise and funny friend who will cheerlead you through even your darkest can't-write days and "every idea I've ever had is awful" nights, she provides encouraging suggestions, hilarious observations, and an amazingly vivid catalogue of writers' neuroses (with advice on overcoming them, of course). From "Roget's Resume" and "Emulating Ernest" to "End Well," "The Rewrite Rut," and "Dear John," the exercises in this generous, wry workbook will keep your ideas fresh, your mind open, and your pen moving.
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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
For most of us who think of ourselves as writers—as well as for those who would like to include themselves in that illustrious group—one of the most challenging parts of the entire writing process can be just getting started. Caroline Sharp knows that words do not get put on paper by frustrated writers who think that tomorrow would be a perfectly reasonable time to start writing. The purpose of her workbook is to help the would-be writer to start writing today. To that end, she offers 31 exercises that lead writers past the agonizing "what-shall-I-write-about?" stage and directly to the more satisfying putting-words-on-paper part of the process. Sharp's exercises involve various journaling techniques, listening to and elaborating on overheard conversations, copying the style of admired writers, describing people and places both familiar and imaginary, creating and developing characters, recalling past experiences both good and not-so-good, and the creative use of dreams. Along the way, she presents "obstacle pages" that address some of the fundamental issues that frequently keep writers from getting the job done despite their excellent intentions. Sharp concludes her workbook with some suggestions on how to make the most of a writing group and a bibliography of works on the art and craft of writing. This is not a book aimed directly at young writers; indeed, the book's somewhat unfocused organization and Sharp's occasionally meandering writing style could be a bit off-putting to would-be writers below high-school age. For the rest of us, however, Sharp's workbook offers some inspiring words of encouragement and several intriguingly diverse approaches to overcoming the dreaded writer'sblock that is sure to afflict every writer at one time or another. Category: Literature & Language Arts. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2000, St. Martin's, Griffin, 144p. bibliogs.,
— Jeffrey Cooper; Writer/Editor, Long Island, NY
From the Publisher
"A Writer's Workbook is the most generous favor to those among us who would write and could write, if only we could get down to work . . . This is a book for students, for professionals, for poets, for playwrights, for journalists and for those of you who don't even dare call yourself writers yet, except the most secret moments of the night."—Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Stern Men, from the Foreword

"Opened-hearted, ardent, and encouraging. A must-have book for students and teachers alike."—Elise Paschen, Executive Director, Poetry Society of America, and author of Infidelities

"With this charming, insightful, and indispensable guide, Caroline Sharp may very well have ended writer's block in our time."—Albert J. Zuckerman, author of Writing the Blockbuster Novel

"A supportive and encouraging book every aspiring writer will find particularly useful."—Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312242725
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 7/7/2000
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 6.54 (w) x 8.58 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Caroline Sharp has a degree in psychology from Princeton University, an MFA from Columbia University, and is a graduate of the Writer's Boot Camp. The mother of two, she lives and writes in New York City.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi
Foreword xv
Introduction xix
How to Use This Workbook: A Few Suggestions xxi
Obstacle Pages, or...Reasons Why You Just Can't Write--Today xxv
Warm-Ups 1
Warm-up, Stretch, and Extend 3
One-liners: A Quick Warm-up Exercise 5
Stop 'n' Shop 8
Roget's Resume 11
The Exercises 13
Obstacle Page: What If You Don't Like Being Alone? or Writing in the Company of Strangers 15
Step One: Your Journal Pages 17
Reviews: What Do You Think? 21
Character, Character, on the Wall 24
Picture This 28
Finish the Thought 33
Conversation Observation 37
Obstacle Page: Fear of Failure/Fear of Success, or "Fish of the Day" 40
Emulating Ernest 42
Your "Idea Book": A Lifetime Commitment 45
To Outline or Not to Outline? 49
Where Have You Gone? 52
Don't Know Much Geography...But I Should! 56
A Small Snack 59
If Breakfast Be the Meal of Love 62
Obstacle Page: Dyslexia and Other Physical Obstacles, or The Pen Is Mightier Than the Problem 66
Your Daily Grind 68
A Day in the Life 71
The Time of Their Lives 75
The Wrong Date and Time 78
Objects of Desire 81
Reuse, Rethink, Recycle 84
Obstacle Page: Writer's Block, or Surviving a Big Chill 87
Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain 89
Triple Dare/Triple Scare, or How Low Will You Go? 93
The Wrong Brother 97
Plot, Plot, Fizz, Fizz 101
X Marks the Spot 104
Obstacle Page: The Rewrite Rut, or "My Name's Russell and I'm a Perfectionist" 107
The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of 109
End Well 113
Lost and Found 117
Bad Appetites 120
Obstacle Page: The Committee, or Bad Guys: 65/Good Guys: 1 124
"Dear John..." 127
7-Up 131
One Last Thought 133
Appendix Basic Etiquette for Reading and Responding to Your Peers' Work, or Miss Manners Comes to Your Writing Group 135
Bibliography 139
About the Author 145
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