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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Douglas Wilson has already written more books then the average American will read in their lifetime. His writing advice on his blog has been among the most popular content for a long time, and I was excited to see a book that expanded on his simple, effective tips. I was not disappointed. As a publisher, I have read a number of books on writing and advice for authors, and this is among the best.

Each of Wilson's seven writing tips has its own chapter, where 7 more sub-tips are given and additional books are recommended. I love the style that this book is written in. It is easily digestible, and will improve your writing immediately. His first two chapters are on living a real life and on reading more. I can't imagine a better start to a writing book.

I am a frequent highlighter/book-marker, but this book is so short and focused that there is really no need to highlight. All of the material is very good and easily referenced when you need a pick-me-up or a good kick in the pants. Wilson's writing is not a dry list of rules to follow, but a seriously funny guide to the writing life. It will make you laugh out loud and convict your own conscience in one fell swoop.

Some of my favorite quotes from Chapter 1:

"Your writing advances a particular view of the world. Pretending that it doesn't just confuses everybody, starting with you." (21)

"Interesting people are interested people." (23)

"Mark Twain once defined a classic as a book that everyone wanted to have read, but which no one wanted to read. In a similar spirit, lots of folks want to be "a writer" because they have had a few great ideas for a television script. They want to be a writer but are not all that thrilled about actually writing. They don't want to write, they want to have written." (25)

Buy it, you won't be disappointed. If you are at all interested in writing, this is the place to start. Highly Recommended.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2012
Point: You may think you are the next writing genius, but chances are you will have to muddle, labor, fail, and suffer through the process of becoming a good writer. That is the good news. The bad news can wait for another book.

Path: Wilson gives a series of seven broad suggestions to the writer. Because a writer is first an individual, he challenges the reader to become a better person so they might become a better writer. Therefore this book is not so much about where to put a comma, or how to find an editor, as it is on how to become an individual who has something to say.
The seven tips are as follows:
Know something about the world, and by this I mean the world outside of books.
Read. Read constantly. Read the kind of stuff you wish you could write. Read until your brain creaks.
Read mechanical helps.
Stretch before your routines.
Be at peace with being lousy for a while.
Learn other languages, preferably languages that are upstream from ours.
Keep a commonplace book.
Each of these tips receives a chapter which is then divided into seven more ideas to strengthen the main tip. At the end of the chapter Wilson leaves the reader with some outside reading.

Sources: Obviously an avid read, Wilson leaves the reader with a taste of Chesterton, Wodehouse, and the Scriptures.

Agreement: I enjoyed reading this humorous little book and it encouraged me to write. I need to write poems, stories, articles, and novels. I need to write something even when no one will ever read it. Not only did he encourage me to write, but he encouraged me to listen. I need to listen to those around me, listen to those I read, listen to what is being said.

Personal App: As Chesterton has said, anything worth doing is worth doing badly. I might as well get started.

Favorite Quote: "I estimate that my iPhone is the equivalent of having one hundred thousand servants. The problem is that about ninety thousand of those servants of mine are sitting on their butt all the time."

This would be a good book for someone who is interested in writing pretty much anything. If you are a blogger - buy this. If you are planning to write children stories - buy this. If you just like to read - buy this, you may start writing.

I plan on reading it again. Probably a few times. Some just to laugh, others to be reminded that I need to be listening, reading, and writing more.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2012
I've read a number of fantastic books on writing--books so inspiring, they're hard to finish because I'm constantly dropping them to start practicing what they teach. Doug Wilson's "Wordsmithy" is up there with the best of them. It's staying right here on my desk, and it isn't going to get dusty.

Some of Wilson's punchiest lines:

"You are a wordsmith. Remember that you are in the smithy all day long." (22)

"If you want to say a lot, you have to have a lot to say." (24)

"If you 'write by rule' only, then...you will come up [with] something that is equally free of both vice and virtue, like a verbal tapioca pudding made with skim milk." (32)

"The quality of what you keep will be directly proportional to how much you are willing to throw away." (81)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2012
Another book by Pastor Doug Wilson, another home run. This one, though, is of a different type. He's blessed us with theology, simultaneously instructed and entertained us with fiction, but this particular bit of advice is unique. In Wordsmithy, he teaches us how to live like a writer.

There are plenty of writing manuals out there on how write well-- how to craft a story, craft a sentence, place a comma. These are great, and have their place. In Wordsmithy, on the other hand, Wilson teaches us how to live the kind of life that will produce writing worth reading. His advice ranges from tips on what sort of stuff to read, how not to take yourself too seriously, and how to live in the real world, not just the comfortable padded armchair of writer-land.

The gist of the book is that to write well, one must live well. If you don't know what the world is like, you can hardly write about it. Closely related is the idea that you must love the world before you can write well about it. If you take no joy in the subject, neither will your readers.

The advice is far more specific, and clothed in gems of wit and little connections between tips that integrate the whole thing into a tapestry of good advice. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to be a writer.

[...]
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2012
With color and acumen, Douglas Wilson presents cogent and relevant writing wisdom in "Wordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life."

This book is well-written, entertaining, and insightful for readers, writers, and aspiring pens alike. Wilson does not prescribe mechanical techniques, but instead presents a way of living life as a writer, a constant learner, and a consistent reader to shape your person. As a result, your writing will be genuine, original, unique, colorful, and your life will be equally descriptive.

I have recommended this book to friends and highly recommend it to you.

Do buy a copy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2012
A Renaissance of Reading and Writing

Douglas Wilson writes with a certain gusto which often causes no small stir. He's also unique as a theologian who also writes about a variety of other topics ranging from education, writing, logic, philosophy. I might argue that the church has far too few renaissance men and that's part of the problem Wordsmithy address. Wilson urges aspiring writers to write well by reading broadly and writing widely. My default in reading and writing is to pigeon hole myself into a hole by only focusing on theological work. Theology is wonderful and I could count the ways but Wilson argues that to writer well no matter what your preferred genre requires more than reading in just your field. He offers seven practical tips:

Know something about the world.
Read.
Read mechanical helps.
Stretch before your routines.
Be at peace with being lousy for a while.
Learn another language.
Keep a commonplace book.

Wilson than expands each of these points into seven additional sub-points which flesh out each of these thesis. I found the advice practical, punchy, and memorable in the way you expect if you've read anything by Douglas Wilson.

Intentional Reading and Writing

I've been encouraged to be even more intentional in my reading to improve my writing. I have kept a common book of sorts on and off for over the last eight or nine years but I've never included phrases and the like in my book. I've read three books since and have already benefited from tracking interesting phrases and turn of words. Don't tell anyone but I've also taken to heart his advice about reading through dictionaries and etymologies and jotting down interesting words. I would also add that if you purchase your books through Kindle and use its highlight feature tracking these items is easy. You can download the Kindle app to your computer desktop and then copy and paste into a digital common book or transcribe into your hard cover. Also, I found Wordsmithy to be a fantastic companion to Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books. They very much complemented each other.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2012
Most good books are enjoyable, but you don't want to necessarily linger around in them. If they were much longer, you'd probably hate them. Part of their charm is that they end in a timely fashion. You enjoyed the day with them, but as the saying goes, at the end of the day "they are not your kids".

It's a rare and special book, though, that truly makes you really want to keep on chewing. Unfortunately, our notions of reading progress won't ordinarily let us linger in a 100-something page book for a year. So then, with much regret we plow along and finish the book. We vow to re-read it soon and secretly wish it were 2,000 pages so we could keep on chewing.

Wordsmithy falls into this second category. It's a delight to read from start to finish. The brevity was enjoyable, but also bittersweet. I wish I could keep on going.
I would put this on a "must read" list for all writers, aspiring or not. The book is chalk full of instructive examples and suggested reading. It has tons of examples. It provides serious practical insight for writers. And yet, it is very lighthearted, a proverbial bouncing ball of fun. It's less dry than one of Gussie Fink-Nottle's newts emerging from Sir Watkyn Bassett's bathtub.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2013
Wilson makes some good points and some weak ones, and tries a little too hard to entertain throughout. "Good writing grows and multiplies, like the loaves and the fishes. And pie." You know, I like a gratuitous mention of pie as much as the next guy, but there has to be some sort of sense and reason attached to it.
By far the weakest point of the book, though, is "Word Fussers," the chapter on mechanics. He says, "If I put a sign over our front door saying, `Welcome to the Wilson's,' you would be justified in asking yourself, `the Wilson's what? Is house implied?'" True enough; but he seems to be unaware that a more pertinent question might be "Who is `the Wilson'?"
In the same chapter, he states that "I couldn't care less" and "I could care less" mean the same thing. Sure they do-- in the same way that "regardless" means the same as "irregardless," and that "Where were you?" is just another way of saying "Where was you at?" In another book, use of the phrase "I could care less" would be enough of an irritant to prompt me to put the book down. In a book that professes to promote craftsmanship in writing, to promote the use of just the right word in just the right way--a book entitled Wordsmithy, for Pete's sake!--it's inexcusable. Not unforgivable, perhaps, but definitely inexcusable.
Wilson should perhaps have added an eighth writing tip and followed it: Find a trustworthy editor, and listen to him.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2012
This book's subtitle says it all: Hot Tips for the Writing Life. This is not just a collection of standard advice such as "Avoid cliches" or "Show, don't tell." Though there is some discussion of grammar and mechanics, it is primarily a guidebook on how to live if you want to write well. It's written in Wilson's characteristically jovial voice, and he lovingly snarks (did you know that was possible?) on those who would fancy themselves sensitive souls. I was duly chastened...but I perked up when he validated my nerdy love of reading dictionaries. Whether you're writing the next great American novel or blogging about the antics of your kids, check out Wordsmithy for some fresh pointers.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2012
The thing I most appreciated about Wordsmithy was the lifestyle advice. Wilson doesn't offer you ten steps to success but dozen of habits that one needs to cultivate in order to be a healthy writer. In addition, I found that almost all of his advice transcends just the field of writing and overflows into many other creative fields. If you are an artist, a craftsman, a creator of any stripe, Wordsmithy is a very worthwhile read.
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