Tag Archives: writing resources

The Best Non-Books on Writing – Part 2

BY JON PILL

After the online reading material of the last post, I promised there would be a follow up in a weeks time. In an effort to keep you guessing – or rather in a total lack of effort to do anything – that post is now here just a few weeks later than scheduled but no more polished or thought out for all that extra time.

This post is a collection of links to things I and those around me have found useful creatively

 

Morton Feldman and John Cage in Conversation (Youtube)

This from friend of the blog Flo, who found much in this discussion of music that has helped with her writing.

In fact it is interesting to note how many of the links below relate as much if not more to music, the one art that is almost entirely unrepresentative but which seems to be a source of endless ekphrastism at least in the particular circle of eccentrics I’ve been landed with.

Watch the conversation here.

 

Meet the Composers (Podcast)

I’ve never listened to this, so have little to say on the subject, but best friend of the blog J S Loveard said it should be on the list. Listen here.

Glass in 12 Parts (Youtube)

Ditto this.

Ira Glass on creating stuff (Youtube)

And while we’re on the subject of the glass brothers….

Desert Island Discs

This hardly needs an introduction if you’re British, but for those who hail from outside these fair isles this BBC institution involves celebrities of all stripes, including writers, choosing a series of records which they would take with them if they were to be stranded on a desert island without hope of rescue.

The music is then used to punctuate an interview about their professional careers. It is a format that works even in the vast archive where the actual tracks have been taken out for copyright reasons.

You can hunt for your favourite castaways in the BBC radio archives here.

In Their Own Words (TV Series)

This is another favourite of JS’s. A documentary series based around interviews of various novelists it basically serves as an introduction to the 20th-Century novel as directed by the people who happened to have spent time in front of the camera.

Watch the trailer here.

Civilisation BBC TV Series

Commissioned by David Attenborough in his time as one of the admin top-brass in the then new colour channel BBC 2. To make full use of the new colour format this inspiring and beautiful walk through Western European art history was curated and told by Kenneth Clarke as he wanders through museums and churches pointing cameras at nice things and then talking about them. Like Planet Earth but for sculptures, tapestries and paint.

You can the DVDs on Amazon here.

A good companion read is E M Gombrich’s The Story of Art.

BBC Modern Writers Archive

Lord Reith’s commission has a lot to answer for on this list. Including the collection of interviews with writers (one of the sources for much of the In Their Own Words series). They’ve been collected, conveniently on the BBC website, so you can hear your favourite and least favourite writers talk at you from your own computer.

Find their trapped souls here.

Every Frame A Painting

A fabulous series of short video essays, which are lovely works of art in and of themselves. You can subscribe to the channel here.

I will also leave you with this, which remains one of my favourite clips about creating:

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Filed under Writing

The Best Non-Books on Writing – Part 1

BY JON PILL

When I was doing the series of post on the best books for writers to read, I polled my pals about the sort of books they hunted up when feeling a little autodidactic. The books made the previous list but there were a lot of responses along the lines of “this website on the neterweb” or “some lecture series I watched” or “a human’s blog that I read once”.

I shoved those links into a separate document and meant to write them up as a final post to the books articles. That didn’t happen for complicated reasons (lazy, disorganised). But I’ve brought my extraordinary faculties of sedulisation to bear on the bits of fluff that serve me as a brain and sorted them into something resembling a useful list.

Here is that list. Many thanks to those who suggested links, and if I’ve missed something useful or interesting, stick it in the comments.

A lot of them just involve creative people talking about their own ways of creating, from the Ordinance Survey level of the ‘creative process’ through the fine detail of daily schedules down to the electron microscopic processes of choosing a word or punctuation marks.

I’ve split them up over a few posts starting with those links that are for eye reading:

Paris Review Interviews (The Paris Review website)

This huge archive of interviews with mostly 20th Century writers is free and contains hundreds of interviews on how writers have approached their works in general and whatever creative niggles were on their mind at the time of the interview.

It is a fabulous resource which you can access here, and if you suffer from literary tastes and read mostly Westerners then there’s a good chance your favourite authors have done an interview with the Review at some point.

Uncle Jim undiluted (Absolute Write Forum)

Fabulously pragmatic and unsentimental spec-fic hack James MacDonald (not to be confused with Dear Jim) set up this long running, wide-reaching, and hugely educational thread in which he throws out reading and writing exercises, his own personal brand of literary theory, guidance for novelists and short story writers, and information on the publishing industry.

This thread is one of the best places for the inexperienced and unpublished author to start. It is highly unsystematic though, and makes for good reading alongside Stephen King’s more structured On Writing, assuming King’s approach to work works for you.

You can find the thread with all the non-Jim posts boiled off here.

Writing About Writing (Blog)

Fitting in with Uncle Jim’s pragmatic, writing-is-a-craft-slash-job-and-18th-Century-ideas-about-the-artist-as-genius-are-perpetuated-by-morons-now-drop-and-give-me-1000-words-you-maggot approach, Writing About Writing is maintained by prolific blogger and floppy haired swear-machine Chris Brecheen, whose blog broadly fall into variations on ‘Write Every Day’ and ‘Pay Attention to Social Issues When Writing’. If that’s likely to trigger you, then maybe don’t click here.

Also, if you need a relentless pit-bull to remind you to put in some BIC time the Writing About Writing Facebook feed is a wonderful pun-factory 90% of the time, but does a great line in ‘Shouldn’t You Be Writing?’ memes.

Nico Muhly’s Blog (Blog)

If modern classical music is your jam, you will probably get more out of Nico Muhly’s blogs than I did. But it’s always interesting to hear from creatives at work and Muhly is a first-class human-being to spend some reading time with, regardless of your level of musical sophistication/babarism.

Read his ramblings here.

Guardian’s 10 Tips series (Guardian Online)

At the risk of giving away a great deal about my political leanings here I do have to recommend two series from the Guardian online.

Firstly, their 10 Tips series in which writers collect their wisdom into 10 pithy bits of advice. Will Self’s advice is a particular joy, and Elmore Leonard has gained a certain amount of memetic traction (find them here.)

The other is their series of articles in which writers either describe a typical or recent writing day (click here for that) Facinating to see how people organise their time, especially if you are the sort of person who loves a good life hack… speaking of which.

Lifehack.org

It’s not exactly about writing, but for ways of organising your life (so that you have the discipline, methods, and time management to actually do the writing you should be doing if you want to be a writer) there are few places on the internet that work better.

I’d recommend giving it a quick search for ‘Getting Things Done’ and ‘Bullet Journals’ to start with.

Click here to check them out.

I’ll follow up next week with a list of things to watch, and to listen to with your other earholes.

See ya then.

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