Skip to content
Stephen King offers his hard-earned writing advice for writers of all types

Summer Learning Track: The Write Stuff

Everybody has a story inside them, so why not use this summer to write your own? Richland Library is full of people, events, and materials to help you get creative with words, whether you want to record your family history, learn what the heck iambic pentameter is, or finally finish that novel you’ve been tinkering with.

Whatever your age, skill level, or preferred writing utensil, we can help! Join one of our writing groups for all-year support and creative camaraderie, get the latest writing news delivered straight to your device through Zinio magazine issues, and take the best writing advice by reading whatever you can get your hands on. Get started by using this sample Learning Track, or develop your own!


Amazon Says: "If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write." In 1999, Stephen King began to write about his craft -- and his life. By midyear, a wid more...
Amazon Says: "If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write." In 1999, Stephen King began to write about his craft -- and his life. By midyear, a widely reported accident jeopardized the survival of both. And in his months of recovery, the link between writing and living became more crucial than ever. Rarely has a book on writing been so clear, so useful, and so revealing. On Writing begins with a mesmerizing account of King's childhood and his uncannily early focus on writing to tell a story. A series of vivid memories from adolescence, college, and the struggling years that led up to his first novel, Carrie, will afford readers a fresh and often very funny perspective on the formation of a writer. King next turns to the basic tools of his trade -- how to sharpen and multiply them through use, and how the writer must always have them close at hand. He takes the reader through crucial aspects of the writer's art and life, offering practical and inspiring advice on everything from plot and character development to work habits and rejection. Serialized in the New Yorker to vivid acclaim, On Writing culminates with a profoundly moving account of how King's overwhelming need to write spurred him toward recovery, and brought him back to his life. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower -- and entertain -- everyone who reads it. less...
Amazon

Amazon Says: "Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write. [It] was due the next d more...
Amazon Says: "Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write. [It] was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said. 'Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'" With this basic instruction always in mind, Anne Lamott returns to offer us a new gift: a step-by-step guide on how to write and on how to manage the writer's life. From "Getting Started,' with "Short Assignments," through "Shitty First Drafts," "Character," "Plot," "Dialogue." all the way from "False Starts" to "How Do You Know When You're Done?" Lamott encourages, instructs, and inspires. She discusses "Writers Block," "Writing Groups," and "Publication." Bracingly honest, she is also one of the funniest people alive. If you have ever wondered what it takes to be a writer, what it means to be a writer, what the contents of your school lunches said about what your parents were really like, this books for you. From faith, love, and grace to pain, jealousy, and fear, Lamott insists that you keep your eves open, and then shows you how to survive. And always, from the life of the artist she turns to the art of life. "An inspiring book about writing as a way of finding the truth -- San Francisco Chronicle "Surpasses all the other books on writing already out there -- even the wonderful stuff by Natalie Goldberg, John Gardner, and Annie Dillard." -- Seattle Times "Well-written, funny, and useful." -- Denver Post "I ended up reading it twice and expect to dip into it again in times of need. I recommend this book to other writers without reservation....This woman is uncanny." -- Marie Winn, Wall Street Journal "A quirky, personal, mordant, down-to-earth guide to fiction writing by a wonderful novelist essayist. Lamott makes writing seem like something you could actually enjoy." -- The Nation less...
Amazon

Amazon Says: "When I begin to write, I open myself and wait. And when I turn toward an inner spiritual awareness, I open myself and wait." With that insight, Pat Schneider invites readers more...
Amazon Says: "When I begin to write, I open myself and wait. And when I turn toward an inner spiritual awareness, I open myself and wait." With that insight, Pat Schneider invites readers to contemplate their lives and deepest questions through writing. In seventeen concise thematic chapters that include meditations on topics such as fear, freedom, tradition in writing and in religions, forgiveness, joy, social justice, and death, How the Light Gets In gracefully guides readers through the artistic and spiritual questions that life offers to everyone. Praised as a "fuse lighter" by author Julia Cameron and "the wisest teacher of writing I know" by the celebrated writing guru Peter Elbow, Pat Schneider has lived a life of writing and teaching, passion and compassion. With How the Light Gets In, she delves beyond the typical "how-to's" of writing to offer an extended rumination on two inner paths, and how they can run as one. Schneider's book is distinct from the many others in the popular spirituality and creative writing genre by virtue of its approach, using one's lived experience--including the experience of writing--as a springboard for expressing the often ineffable events that define everyday life. Her belief that writing about one's own life leads to greater consciousness, satisfaction, and wisdom energizes the book and carries the reader elegantly through difficult topics. As Schneider writes, "All of us live in relation to mystery, and becoming conscious of that relationship can be a beginning point for a spiritual practice--whether we experience mystery in nature, in ecstatic love, in the eyes of our children, our friends, the animals we love, or in more strange experiences of intuition, synchronicity, or prescience." less...
Amazon

Amazon Says: Writing was the central passion of Emerson’s life. While his thoughts on the craft are well developed in “The Poet,” “The American Scholar,” Nature, “Goethe,” an more...
Amazon Says: Writing was the central passion of Emerson’s life. While his thoughts on the craft are well developed in “The Poet,” “The American Scholar,” Nature, “Goethe,” and “Persian Poetry,” less well known are the many pages in his private journals devoted to the relationship between writing and reading. Here, for the first time, is the Concord Sage’s energetic, exuberant, and unconventional advice on the idea of writing, focused and distilled by the preeminent Emerson biographer at work today. Emerson advised that “the way to write is to throw your body at the mark when your arrows are spent.” First We Read, Then We Write contains numerous such surprises—from “every word we speak is million-faced” to “talent alone cannot make a writer”—but it is no mere collection of aphorisms and exhortations. Instead, in Robert Richardson’s hands, the biographical and historical context in which Emerson worked becomes clear. Emerson’s advice grew from his personal experience; in practically every moment of his adult life he was either preparing to write, trying to write, or writing. Richardson shows us an Emerson who is no granite bust but instead is a fully fleshed, creative person disarmingly willing to confront his own failures. Emerson urges his readers to try anything—strategies, tricks, makeshifts—speaking not only of the nuts and bolts of writing but also of the grain and sinew of his determination. Whether a writer by trade or a novice, every reader will find something to treasure in this volume. Fearlessly wrestling with “the birthing stage of art,” Emerson’s counsel on being a reader and writer will be read and reread for years to come. less...
Amazon

Amazon Says: "My instructions to them were deliberately vague--they were to write about writing, any aspect or approach that caught their fancy. Leaving it open seemed to me to heighten th more...
Amazon Says: "My instructions to them were deliberately vague--they were to write about writing, any aspect or approach that caught their fancy. Leaving it open seemed to me to heighten the chances of getting the strongest and least predictable work. And so it was. They came at it from different angles, using different techniques, and each piece is unique. Perhaps the only common tacit assumption is that writing is difficult."-- From the Introduction by Frank Conroy Since its inception in 1936, the Iowa Writers' Workshop has been perched atop the creative writing landscape, producing some of the greatest writers of the century. Though no one claims that writing can be taught--the Workshop itself professes no method--there is no disputing the success of the program and its celebrated attendees. Of the 20 Pulitzers awarded for fiction and poetry in the ‘90s, nine have gone to University of Iowa graduates.For The Eleventh Draft, present-day director Frank Conroy invited 23 former professors and students of the Iowa Writers' Workshop to pen essays on their craft. As he hints in his Introduction, he was looking for an eclecticism, and The Eleventh Draft is nothing if not diverse. Some pieces are deeply personal; others might have been scripted for the first day of class. They are sometimes prescriptive, often contradictory, but always eloquent and provocative. The Eleventh Draftis an invaluable resource for aspiring and established writers, for lovers of literature, and for anyone intrigued by the writing process or the Workshop itself. If you have doubts, open this anthology and, as Conroy advises, "Listen up." less...
Amazon

Amazon Says: This all-new definitive guide to writing imaginative fiction takes a completely novel approach and fully exploits the visual nature of fantasy through original drawings, maps, more...
Amazon Says: This all-new definitive guide to writing imaginative fiction takes a completely novel approach and fully exploits the visual nature of fantasy through original drawings, maps, renderings, and exercises to create a spectacularly beautiful and inspiring object. Employing an accessible, example-rich approach, Wonderbook energizes and motivates while also providing practical, nuts-and-bolts information needed to improve as a writer. Aimed at aspiring and intermediate-level writers, Wonderbook includes helpful sidebars and essays from some of the biggest names in fantasy today, such as George R. R. Martin, Lev Grossman, Neil Gaiman, Michael Moorcock, Catherynne M. Valente, and Karen Joy Fowler, to name a few. Praise for Wonderbook: “Jammed with storytelling wisdom.” —Fast Company’s Co.Create blog “This is the kind of book you leave sitting out for all to see . . . and the kind of book you will find yourself picking up again and again.” —Kirkus Reviews online “If you’re looking for a handy guide to not just crafting imaginative fiction like sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, but to writing in general, be sure to pick up a copy of Steampunk Bible author Jeff Vandermeer’s lovingly compiled Wonderbook."  —Flavorwire “Jeff Vandermeer and Jeremy Zerfoss have created a kaleidoscopically rich and beautiful book about fiction writing.”  —Star Tribune “Because it is so layered and filled with text, tips, and links to online extras, this book can be read again and again by both those who want to learn the craft of writing and those interested in the process of others.” —Library Journal less...
Amazon

Amazon Says: Many people can write. But writing well enough to get published takes hours of practice, the ability to take criticism, and expert advice. Filled with stories and tips from pu more...
Amazon Says: Many people can write. But writing well enough to get published takes hours of practice, the ability to take criticism, and expert advice. Filled with stories and tips from published authors, this easy-to-use guide teaches you the basics of the writing craft. Whether you want to create poems or plays, children's books or online blogs, romance novels or a memoir, you'll learn to write more effectively and creatively. Published author, editor, and PR consultant Wendy Burt-Thomas covers all aspects of writing, including how to:Prepare to write, from planning to research to organizationProperly structure your piece to fit your chosen genre Stay focused during the drafting and editing processesWork with other authorsOvercome writer's blockMarket your writingWhether you're an aspiring or experienced writer, you'll find all you need to spark creativity and get your works in print. With exercises, techniques, samples, and interviews with published writers, The Everything Creative Writing Book, 2nd Edition will turn any dedicated craftsman into a great writer. less...
Amazon

Amazon Says: Comic books, also called "sequential art" or "graphic storytelling," are currently a billion-dollar industry. Books of sequential art, popularly known as graphic novels, fill more...
Amazon Says: Comic books, also called "sequential art" or "graphic storytelling," are currently a billion-dollar industry. Books of sequential art, popularly known as graphic novels, fill bookstores and libraries all over the world. In WRITE A GRAPHIC NOVEL IN 5 SIMPLE STEPS, author Jeffrey Edward Peters shows young, aspiring writers how to create new universes of their own through the unique combination of words and pictures that make a graphic novel. less...
Amazon

Amazon Says: Experience the power and the promise of working in today' most exciting literary form: Creative NonfictionWriting Creative Nonfiction presents more than thirty essays e more...
Amazon Says: Experience the power and the promise of working in today' most exciting literary form: Creative NonfictionWriting Creative Nonfiction presents more than thirty essays examining every key element of the craft, from researching ideas and structuring the story, to reportage and personal reflection. You'll learn from some of today's top creative nonfiction writers, including:Terry Tempest Williams - Analyze your motivation for writing, its value, and its strength. Alan Cheuse - Discover how interesting, compelling essays can be drawn from every corner of your life and the world in which you live. Phillip Lopate - Build your narrator–yourself–into a fully fleshed-out character, giving your readers a clearer, more compelling idea of who is speaking and why they should listen. Robin Hemley - Develop a narrative strategy for structuring your story and making it cohesive. Carolyn Forche - Master the journalistic ethics of creative nonfiction. Dinty W. Moore - Use satire, exaggeration, juxtaposition, and other forms of humor in creative nonfiction. Philip Gerard - Understand the narrative stance–why and how an author should, or should not, enter into the story. Through insightful prompts and exercises, these contributors help make the challenge of writing creative nonfiction–whether biography, true-life adventure, memoir, or narrative history–a welcome, rewarding endeavor. You'll also find an exciting, creative nonfiction "reader" comprising the final third of the book, featuring pieces from Barry Lopez, Annie Dillard, Beverly Lowry, Phillip Lopate, and more–selections so extraordinary, they will teach, delight, inspire, and entertain you for years to come! less...
Amazon

Amazon Says: What makes a poem a poem? is it simply a matter of taking words and writing them out in verse form and making them rhyme? Or is it actually much more than that-the use of rule more...
Amazon Says: What makes a poem a poem? is it simply a matter of taking words and writing them out in verse form and making them rhyme? Or is it actually much more than that-the use of rules about meter, form, and rhyme to create a framework for the expression of special observations and ideas?POEM-MAKING is a handbook of the mechanics of writing poetry. In a clear, understandable tone it introduces children to the different voices of poetry; types of rhyme and other elements of sound, rhythm, and metrics; and some of the most common forms of poetry.Myra Cohn Livingston is a well known author, anthologist, poet, and teacher. She has used all her experiences in these fields to make POEM MAKING a useful, accessible, and unique guide for children to use in creating poems of their own. less...
Amazon

Amazon Says: Writers write the way they were taught, which may not suit them at all, making their writing slow, painful, and not what they want to say. Writing Your Way shows you how to cr more...
Amazon Says: Writers write the way they were taught, which may not suit them at all, making their writing slow, painful, and not what they want to say. Writing Your Way shows you how to create your own unique writing process that magnifies your strengths and avoids your weaknesses. It shows you a multitude of ways to do the five key stages: Idea, Gather, Organize, Draft, and Revise. You can then design your own collection of techniques that work for you. You'll write clearer, faster, and more powerfully, with less effort and suffering.The second half of this book shows you how to create and modify your own voice, one that sounds like the real you, that sounds the way you want agents and publishers and readers to experience you. less...
Amazon

Amazon Says: In this book of highly practical advice and informative exercises, using quotes from diaries, interviews and autobiographies, the masters of contemporary and classic fiction a more...
Amazon Says: In this book of highly practical advice and informative exercises, using quotes from diaries, interviews and autobiographies, the masters of contemporary and classic fiction are gathered together to impart lessons from their own careers: Charles Dickens drops in to help you create exciting characters; Ernest Hemingway helps you figure out how to write concisely and powerfully; and Jane Austen shows you show to make the reader warm to an unsympathetic character. Using a combination of tried-and-tested advice and ingenious applications, Your Creative Writing Masterclass helps the budding writer to finesse her talent, flesh out characters, write to her market, and—most importantly—overcome psychological obstructions and put pen to paper. More than just a ‘how-to’ book, Your Creative Writing Masterclass is a friendly companion and coach which will provide the advice needed to become a full-time writer. less...
Amazon
Print

Comment about this page...