NaNoWriMo Inspiration: Five Books That Help Me Write More

In addition to those 50,000 words I've convinced you to write next month, I'm going to suggest you do another time-consuming thing in November. Reading.

ALL writers, without exception, agree that reading will help your writing.

I'm not about to argue with them. In fact, I've already banged on about the benefits of reading more.

While reading anything will help you write next month, here are five books on writing that I think will specifically help you tackle NaNoWriMo.

No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty

It's all this guys fault. He started NaNoWriMo and he's doing everything he can as a NaNoWriMo Board Member and designer of these very cool posters to keep us writing and losing our sanity every November.

An incredibly easy read, this book is the ultimate guide for the first-time NaNoWriMo-er. It's 100% worth getting the slightly more expensive updated version and although I think the ebook is a bit overpriced (a debate for another day) it's got enough spark and wit to keep you smiling on even the worst writing days next month... not that there will be any of those... ish.

Get it on Amazon now.

2K to 10k by Rachel Aaron

A much more realistically priced book about writing fast and enjoying the process, this book written by fantasy and YA fiction author Rachel Aaron is essentially a "How I do it" guide to the way she changed her approach to writing in order to increase her daily word count from 2000 words a day to 10000. (That's NaNoWriMo done in five days, Gulp). While I'll never write anything remotely resembling her style of fiction - and this led me to skipping some sections - this book did make me rethink how much I plan and schedule what I write. 

This is a book for those who like planning, analysing their progress and seeing results.

Get it on Amazon now.

On Writing by Stephen King

This is one of those books that countless writers refer to as a bit of a Bible on how to write fiction. Another one that people always name drop is Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. The latter is a writer after my own heart; she writes contemporary literary fiction, memoir and emotive narratives. The former is arguably the world's most famous authors of horror, a genre I'm not massively keen on. Logic would dictate I love Lamott's book about writing, and not Mr King's. 

Logic is a fickle thing who likes surprises.

I LOVED Stephen King's book. And I sort of finished Bird by Bird with a big, fat, wrinkled-nose "Meh".

]f you're going to read On Writing while doing NaNoWriMo, I highly recommend skipping the first few chapters (or rather saving them for later because they're still very interesting) and really getting stuck into the final half of the book where he shares what he's learned from years and years of writing (and years and years of rejection, suffering and generally not always being a very nice man). It's arguably the most accessible guide to writing fiction out there from someone who's earnt his stripes. Good stuff.

Get it on Amazon now.

A Novel In a Year by Louise Doughty

Yes, I know you don't have a year. There's only a month for NaNoWriMo, but I still think this book is worth your time and eyes and in many ways it will help you think about life after November for your novel. It is a compilation of several articles British novelist Louise Doughty wrote in the Telegraph back in 2006. Each week, in addition to taking readers through the life cycle of a novel, from idea to release, she set readers a writing challenge or prompt and the following week she shared many of the results in her column. This makes for very interesting reading, not just for the results but for the fact it makes you realise how many people out there want to be novelists, or published authors at any rate.

You should find this encouraging next month because not all of these people are taking on NaNoWriMo but YOU ARE.

I read this book at the very beginning of my travels in 2011 when I started to realise that I could use my new found flexibility (thanks to my location independence and freelance career) to pursue my dream of writing fiction. It was the perfect book to read at that time and opened up my eyes to several different techniques and tips that I still remember today.

 Get it on Amazon now.

Editor of Genius by A. Scott Berg

This is arguably my favourite book about writing, and one that has helped me most, which is strange considering it is a biography and not a "How to" guide in anyway. However, this story of Max Perkins, New York-based editor to the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe taught me more about publishing and the art of writing a novel than any other book I've read. This is thanks in huge part to Scott Berg's extensive research which highlights the many "hooks" and "trends" that Perkins recognised as essential to a book's - and author's - appeal. It's also just a fascinating story about not just the struggle of several authors - including Hemingway and Fitzgerald, oh goodness me, poor Fitzgerald - but also the everlasting strength of a well built, carefully nurtured, original story.

In many ways this is one book you should wait until after November to read, just so you can savour it at great length, but the impact and inspiration I found in this biography left me no choice but to include it in this list. It may also be the book I re-read this November.

Get it on Amazon now

How about you? Do you have any recommendations for books that have helped you write faster, better or simply more often?

Bookmark this page for NaNoWriMo Daily Inspiration Posts, every day in November 2014.

Frances M. Thompson

Londoner turned wanderer, Frankie is an author, freelance writer and blogger. Currently based in Amsterdam, Frankie was nomadic for two years before starting a family with her Australian partner. Frankie is the author of three short story collections, and is a freelance writer for travel and creative brands. In 2017, she launched WriteNOW Cards, affirmation cards for writers that help build a productive and positive writing practice. When not writing contemporary fiction, Frankie shops for vintage clothes, dances to 70s disco music and chases her two young sons around Amsterdam.
Find Frankie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+.

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