- Age Range: 8 - 12 years
- Grade Level: 3 - 7
- Paperback: 128 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins; 1 edition (July 25, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 038079702X
- ISBN-13: 978-0380797028
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.3 x 7.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 24 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #287,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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How Writers Work: Finding a Process That Works for You Paperback – July 25, 2000
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From School Library Journal
Grade 4-8-Fletcher focuses on the different ways professionals and students create a solid piece of writing. In the introduction, he states that there is no secret formula, though he manages to sustain the tone of one imparting a secret throughout the book. Processes such as brainstorming, rough drafts, rereading and revising, proofreading, and publishing are demystified through examples of students' writing and interviews with children's authors. The style is conversational and the suggestions are general. The book doesn't cover specifics of poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. Instead, it suggests that any piece of writing could become any one of these with a sufficient amount of work. The book makes youngsters feel good about their writing without making light of the work involved. Numerous mentions of the author's previous works begin to grate as the book progresses, as does the self-referential "Selected Reading" list appended. Still, this is a useful resource. It is not a replacement for but a good companion to Marion Dane Bauer's still excellent What's Your Story? (Clarion, 1992).
Timothy Capehart, Leominster Public Library, MA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From the Back Cover
Its misleading to think of writers as special creatures, word sorcerers who possess some sort of magic knowledge hidden from everyone else. Writers are ordinary people who like to write. They feel the urge to write, and scratch that itch every chance they have. Writers get their ideas down on paper using particular strategies that seem to work for them. These strategies are available to anyone who wants to be a writer
There is no secret. But there is a process. If you like to write, there are definite steps you can take to help you reach your goals. Good writing isn't forged by magic or hatched out of thin air. Good writing happens when human beings follow particular steps to take control o their sentences-to make their words do what they want them to do.
This book will show you how writers work, how you can become a writer, and how you can find a process that works for you
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I love to write and like to think I have a wonderful novel and play in the works yet they never seem to get finished because I am frequently paralyzed by perfection. How Writers Work is a great antidote for the miserable disease of perfect procrastination. Thoughtful, insightful and joyfully embracing it addresses the curious and open child that still lives within our heart and in the back of our mind, you remember... the adventurous little kid who never associated cats pooping in sand with making mud pies and eating them?
I loved this book and will keep it as my go-to kick in the pants when I get all tangled up in my perfect fishing nets. Yes, this book has many wonderful ideas about how to write creatively, but more importantly, it reminds we somewhat anal adults how to direct our simpler, inner genius so we can easily whip up marvelous mud pies instead of getting bogged down perfecting the art of tarts.
This book is not about the craft and mechanics of writing, but about how to establish that all-important *habit* of writing. It's about all the elements that enable and support a person to actually write. I don't know whether this book or "A Writer's Notebook" by Ralph Fletcher should be read first; they are both so important. I'm thinking of having my students read them concurrently.
I love the fact that Fletcher does not teach "the process," but rather encourages kids to find their own process. He cautions students not to "prewrite the life out of their topic" through excessive prewriting. It is also made clear, through the book's inspiring interviews with children's writers, that the processes that these successful writers use differ greatly from each other. One of the authors says she would never talk about her topic before writing about it, because "ideas bring with them an energy to write them. If I talk about them instead, I lose that initial energy that's crucial." I am a prolific writer, have almost never written an outline (before writing) in my life, and have always disagreed with requiring kids to do so (see Peter Elbow books for more on the process I use - freewriting).
Some of the topics this book goes into are where to write, finding an idea, brainstorming, getting started, amount to write, rereading, handwriting vs. using a computer, research, rough drafting, revision, and the proper place of grammar and spelling (definitely never "disturb the flow," when you're writing well, to deal with them). In all these topics, a variety of options are given, with liberal use of quotes from both kids and adult authors.
Fletcher makes it clear that "getting an idea" and "getting started" are two distinct activities, and not necessarily related. It's common to have a great idea that you never bring to fruition, and even more common to just start writing, with no ideas initially. In fact he goes into the value of writing "just a bunch of slop," and valuing it as a form of "exercising."
His overall message is that although some people are born or inspired writers, for most people, writing is hard work. You have to live a full life to have material; be conscientious in capturing those inspired thoughts and moments in your writer's notebook; do the tough work of writing something bad as a first draft; be open to "radical surgery" type revision; reread your own work incessantly; solicit feedback; be a careful editor; and look for appropriate places to publish.
Lastly, I read this book as a mother of three and a teacher who supervises homeschooling families. Since reading this (and Fletcher's other wonderful books: "A Writer's Notebook" and "Live Writing"), I haven't been able to stop writing poetry myself (which is not something I normally do)!