Reading List: The Writing Life vs. The Blinking Cursor

Emily Perper is a word-writing human for hire. She blogs about her favorite longreads at Diet Coker.

Over the weekend, I attended the annual National Book Festival in Washington D.C. One of the highlights was Tamora Pierce’s presentation. Pierce is a young adult fantasy lit author, known for her great writing and awesome female characters. The tent was packed with fans of all ages, and once the Q&A microphones were opened, tween girls rushed to be the first in line. One girl, probably six or seven years old, asked how Mrs. Pierce dealt with writer’s block. Precocious, indeed, but that moment made me think—almost every aspiring writer struggles with the terror of a blank mind and a blank page, from time to time. In every panel I attended over the weekend, at least one person asked about writer’s block. Get out your pencils, punks.

1. “Getting Unstuck” (Caitlin, Rookie, November 2012) features ideas for overcoming writer’s block from many writers, including Joss Whedon, Adrian Tomine and Fran Lebowitz.

2. “The Daily Routines of Famous Writers,” compiled by Brain Pickings’ Maria Popova, is great for its anecdotal charm, as well as its practical advice. Don’t be surprised if you feel envious.

3. In “Ask the Writing Teacher: Story Arc(s),” author and teacher Edan Lepucki expounds upon her understanding of the definition and purpose of story arc, with a little help from Eileen Myles, Margaret Atwood and Orange is the New Black. Includes writing exercises and reading suggestions.

4. The beautiful “A Writer’s Room” (John Spinks, New York Times, August 2013) slideshow includes pictures of the authors in their treasured workspaces, as well as their meditations on writing and the books they’re publishing this fall.

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