Genre: Non-fiction | Writing
Themes: Writing Fiction, Publishing, Social Media, Monkeys & Bees
*Explicit* (In other words, he swears a lot)
Wow, what to say about Chuck Wendig? He’s the blogger at www.terribleminds.com, he’s very funny, and he’s a kick-ass writer. All three of these characteristics of Chuck are wrapped neatly into his book, The Kick-Ass Writer.
This book bears a somewhat lengthier report, simply because my reasons for reading it were more personal than for many of the other books I read.
I stumbled upon this particular penmonkey (Chuck’s nickname for writers) in November 2016, not long after I’d signed up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Chuck’s blog post on the subject was so honest and refreshing, and completely hilarious, that I continued to return to it for inspiration and guidance (and comic relief) throughout the month. I also subscribed to his blog, which offers up a daily dose of writing advice, political angst, stories about his young son, inappropriate language, and flash fiction challenges.
I liked his snarky writing so much that when I found out he’d written a book on writing (my particular drug of choice), I immediately ordered it and waited with excitement for it to arrive.
I cracked the book open upon delivery and was disappointed to find that each chapter was formatted as a list. The dreaded, four-letter word. Contrary to popular trends, I am not a fan of lists. Lists make my eyes go cross, my brain shut down, my eyelids grow heavy.
Maybe it’s a rebellion against the stringent, industrialized writing I learned in business school. Or maybe it’s my own personal mutiny against the collective idea that we’re only willing to read something if it’s organized neatly into numbered sentences (not paragraphs, heavens no, TLDR).
Whatever the reason, if I see blog posts, articles, and—banish the thought—BOOKS written in list format, I run the other way.
And that’s exactly what I did with Chuck’s book on writing. I added it to the pile of writing books on my desk and told myself I’d get to it later.
Meanwhile, I kept reading Chuck’s blog. And I kept enjoying his writing. And I kept laughing out loud and reading excerpts of his writing to my bewildered husband, yearning for someone else to share in this hilarity. The guy is funny. And he offers real, no-bullshit, relatable writing advice.
So I picked up his book again and finally sat down to read it. I read at least one chapter every day until I was finished, underlining key sections and sharing some of my favorite quotes online. It didn’t take me long to get over the list formatting and to really dive in and enjoy the book. Chuck’s writing advice is so silly and so insightful at the same time, you can’t help but gain something—a lot—from The Kick-Ass Writer.
Now that I’ve finished his book, I can’t wait to get to work on my rambling and unfinished first draft using the tools I learned from Chuck. The Kick-Ass Writer gave me the clear-cut and technical approach I didn’t realize I needed to finally outline the story I’m working on, making this one of my favorite writing books…even if it is a bunch of lists.
“Nothing in this book is true.”
“Finishing is a good start.”
“Stories move the world at the same time they explain our place in it.”
“Your first draft can and should look like a goddamn war zone.”
“The truth of the story lives between the lines.”
“Aspiring is a meaningless null state that romanticizes Not Writing.”
“Nobody respects writers, yet everybody wants to be one.”
“Your writing will never chase you. You need to chase your writing.”
“If you want to get back to the heart of learning how to write a goddamn sentence, you could do worse than nabbing a couple of kiddie books and studying their elegance.”
“If you’re a writer, you’ll write. And you’ll never look back.”
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