How Writers Work: Finding a Process That Works for You

How Writers Work: Finding a Process That Works for You

by Ralph Fletcher

Paperback(First Harper Trophy Edition)

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Unlock the secret to being a writer! Turn to this practical and enjoyable guide by the bestselling author of A Writer’s Notebook and the ALA Notable Book Fig Pudding.

Surprise! There is no secret to being a writer. But there is a process.

Good writing isn't forged by magic or hatched out of thin air. Good writing happens when you follow certain steps to take control of your sentences—to make your words do what you want them to do. This book lifts the curtain on how writers work and helps aspiring writers discover their own writing process.

Perfect for classrooms, How Writers Work is full of practical wisdom. It's tailored especially for young writers, but aspiring authors of all ages can benefit from bestselling writer Ralph Fletcher's tips.

Everyone can struggle with the writing process at times. Unlock your potential by reading How Writers Work!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780380797028
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/25/2000
Edition description: First Harper Trophy Edition
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 349,764
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.26(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Ralph Fletcher has always been a special person for children's literature. He is the author of picture books, nonfiction, and novels for young readers. How to Write Your Life Story is the fifth book in Mr. Fletcher's series of instructional writing books, which includes A Writer's Notebook, Live Writing, How Writers Work, and Poetry Matters. Mr. Fletcher lives with his family in New Hampshire.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

A Place Where Words Can Grow

I keep pens and pencils within reach wherever I am. My favorite writing spot is in my bed.
— Jerdine Nolan

Lately I've been feeling unsettled. Shook up. Discombobulated. I'm smack in the midst of moving myself and my family from Alabama to New Hampshire. We are renting a home while our new house is being built. Most of our furniture, books, and clothes are still packed in boxes.

In some ways I don't have much to complain about. I'm writing in a large, airy office with windows on three sides that look out into the forest. It's a nice room, a great office, except for one small thing—it's not my space.

The books on all the bookshelves are someone else's books. The desk, light, rug, easy chair, photos on the wall belong to someone else. Right now all my personal belongings are packed up in boxes. I'm writing here, but I'm counting the days until I can write in my own space, surrounded by my own stuff.

Walk into a restaurant and your stomach starts to growl. Walk into a gym and your body prepares to sweat while you exercise. Our brains are conditioned to know what to expect in particular spaces.

The same thing is true about writing.

Your writing place doesn't have to be a spacious office with windows looking out at the forest. It could be an easy chair in a corner of a room or a breakfast nook in the kitchen. It could be a place in the woods where you can lean back against a tree or rock. You may have to try out several different writing places before you settle on one that feels right.

Many people write best when they are away fromall the distractions of home. Some people like to write in a noisy cafeteria; others need a quiet place like a library. I like public places where I can write surrounded by strangers babbling around me. Airplanes are okay, but I usually get squashed between two huge people. I need to be able to stretch out.

I love writing in rooms with tall ceilings and huge windows. I also like to write while sitting by a window in a busy coffee shop. Somehow the combination of the talk, the coffee smell, the sunlight pouring over me and my notebook make it a great place for me to write.

“Writing is so compact, so portable, so easy to take with me wherever I go,” says Jerdine Nolan, author of Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm and other books. “I hardly ever write at a desk, but there are times when I have to. I like to write in unexpected places like airports, train stations, the passenger seat of a moving car, on trains or planes. I like the idea of sitting still while I'm moving very fast. Seeing scenery flash by me is also very stimulating. For a while I even wrote in a very small closet!”

One way to make your writing place comfortable is to surround yourself with the things that help you write. I set up my office so I have certain objects around me when I work: crystals I've dug up, trilobite fossils, sand dollars, an owl pellet somebody sent me. On the wall I've hung a photograph of me when I was five years old, my brother Jim was four, Elaine was three, Tom was two, Bobby was one. These things remind me of roots—not only my family roots but also deep roots of ancient life on this planet.

I like to have certain books within easy reach when I write. I use books (novels and poetry) for inspiration. Other books (dictionary, thesaurus, and a book on grammar and usage) are important resources, too. When I'm putting words to paper I like to know that there are plenty of other words close by.Find a place that feels right. Get a good place to sit. If you're outside, get a clipboard so you have something solid to write on. Make sure you have what you need to start writing. These may seem like small details, but I have found they matter a great deal. Just as a carpenter has tools particular to his or her trade, so does a writer—pens, a notebook, paper. If you have these tools in your writing place, you won't have to go rummaging around when it's time to write. Everything you need will be right where you want it.

When you come right down to it, you are the place where your words will grow. But most writers find it invaluable to have a regular writing place, a physical space, where they can water and weed a garden of words.

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How Writers Work: Finding a Process That Works for You 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hi,I want to be a writer when I grow up and I found this delight-full book here in the nook changer.better buy it if you want to be a writer.there's this other book by ralph fletcher called a writer's notebook,I want to buy it but I'm broke.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago