A couple of years ago, a friend gave me a book about writing.
Now, I’m unfamiliar with such gifts – if I had a penny every time someone recommended Stephen King’s On Writing…
Still, there is always something new to learn in this writing business. So I brought the book with me to work the following day.
I intended to give the book a quick read before my shift started.
By the time my shift started, I couldn’t put it down.
That book was Still Writing. And to this day, it is the number one book I recommend to writers.
In her book, Still Writing, she offers her readers a witty, insightful and heartfelt reflection on life through the writer’s lens.
Part memoir, part meditation, part adviser on the creative process and so, so much more, Still Writing is a beautiful analysis on what it’s like be a writer, a wife, a mother, a daughter, and a human being driven by the unknowable creative spark.
In order to describe the impact of this book upon me, I have to show you a picture:
This book never leaves my writing desk. I glance to it over the top of my laptop screen now and then, just to check that it’s still there.
I’ve marked out my favourite segments – those anecdotes, or scenes, or words that knocked my chest with truth – as a safety net for the bad days.
When the words won’t come. When my fear is louder than my resolve. When I find all the mistakes and none of the joy.
Still Writing has become my go-to companion for such bad days.
Not because it offers a clear way out. Not at all. This book isn’t interested in “How to’s” or “Do’s and Don’ts.”
Rather, this book recognises these days as part of the process – not something to be overcome, but a state of mind that comes with the writing package.
It is one of the few books written by a writer, for other writers, that has made me think: “She gets it. She knows what this feels like.”
Dani Shapiro is unafraid to discuss her experiences, good and bad, and is able to both relax you and strike you where it hurts.
Her style is clear, but also carries an edge of the reflective, just how writing itself is a practical, yet strangely intimate experience.
Her honesty with life, in all of its terrible shortcomings, makes this book a breath of fresh air from the typical “self-help writing manuals” out there.
And honestly, I could go on and on. If you haven’t got Still Writing on your shelf, I highly suggest that you do.
This book is a must-have for any writer, at any stage of their careers, be it the curious beginner or the bestselling professional.
If you’re still unsure, I am going to leave this review with its best anecdote. And if you find yourself agreeing? Well, then you know what you need to do.