“Does your pen miss you? Is your manuscript lonely? Does your keyboard wish you were pounding out a draft or simply removing a comma in the morning only to replace it in the afternoon?” These are some of the questions authors Brenda Knight and Nita Sweeney playfully- and purposefully- ask readers in their book You Should Be Writing: A Journal of Inspiration & Instruction to Keep Your Pen Moving.
So, what will it take to get you- stuck author or would-be writer- to stop staring at a blank page or, perhaps worse, avoiding it altogether? Inspirational author Becca Anderson shares in the book’s Foreword that Voltaire drank “as many as thirty to fifty cups of coffee a day” (that’s my kind of writer…) to inspire his writing production, and that Proust “took to his bed” with madeleines and lime tea. In You Should Be Writing, Knight and Sweeney offer more practical ways to tap creativity.
Nita Sweeney is the award-winning author of the memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink. She has many other publication credits, including essays and poems published in major magazines, books, and more. But perhaps most important for this particular book is her credential as a student and assistant of ten years to the bestselling author Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones. Sweeney has taught writing for 20 years.
Brenda Knight started her career in publishing with major publishers, including HarperCollins. She is the author of Wild Women and Books, The Grateful Table, Be a Good in the World, and Women of the Beat Generation (an American Book Award winner). Knight continues as poet, writer, editor, as well president of the Women’s National Book Association, San Francisco chapter. Knight knows a thing or two about writing…
“The only cure for not writing,” the authors point out, “is writing.” And that’s what this book aims to promote. Beautifully, as well as thoughtfully, designed, each chapter contains a brief introductory section of one to three paragraphs which invite the writer to many pages following that offer a quote from a known writer. After this, the authors provide several, lined, pages providing space and freedom to let whatever comes up come out.
The quotes were specially selected to encourage craft, inspire, and, as the authors state,”everything in-between.” They are strategically arranged with quotes on left-hand pages to inspire, right-hand pages to instruct. Throughout the book, the reader is gifted with tidbits of wisdom from Zadie Smith, William Faulkner, Margaret Atwood, Alice Walker and many more, all more than food for thought to write away to one’s heart’s content as the offered prompts inspire.
“A pen works best when the ink flows free,” Knight shares in the journal page dedicated to her own wisdom. “A writer works best when the spirit flows freely. Learn and practice some form of deep relaxation- even five centering breaths- and feel the spigot open.”
“For writers, until the final breath, there is no end,” Sweeney writes in her Conclusion aptly titled “Onward.” “There is only the next word, the next thought, the next manuscript. It’s a bit like having homework for the rest of your life, hopefully assignments you love…” Sweeney adds “I wish I could meet each of you, hold your hand when things get tough, raise a cup when things go well.” Just short of visiting all of our homes, offices, or local coffee shop “offices,” Sweeney has brought her encouragement on pages to any writer who is willing to sit and do the work.
Yes, indeed: You. Should. Be. Writing.
So let the writing begin!
Text ©2021 Michele Caprario— Images provided by Mango Publishing, used with permission
You Should Be Writing: A Journal of Inspiration & Instruction to Keep Your Pen Moving
By Brenda Knight and Nita Sweeney
Pretty AND practical gift or personal tool: $15.95