10 Anthologies About Writing

By Mark Nichol

It is quite possible to spend the rest of your life reading about how to write and never get around to actually writing — especially with so many convenient collections of writers’ ruminations like the ones listed and described below.

1. Bad Girls: 26 Writers Misbehave
Twenty-six authors share confessions about their transgressions in this collection.

2. Behind the Mystery: Top Mystery Writers
Mystery writer Stuart Kaminsky’s conversations with friends and colleagues — from old-school authors like Elmore Leonard and Mickey Spillane to more recent talents such as Sue Grafton and Tony Hillerman — are distinguished from similar interviews by their informality.

3. The Creative Writing Coursebook: Forty Authors Share Advice and Exercises for Fiction and Poetry
Beginning, intermediate, and expert writers alike will benefit from this assortment of advice and activities from a diverse array of published authors.

4. The Paris Review Interviews
This four-volume set, also available in individual volumes, features interviews with a who’s who of twentieth-century literature by George Plimpton, longtime editor of the Paris Review.

5. The Resilient Writer: Tales of Rejection and Triumph by 23 Top Authors
Arthur Golden, Bret Easton Ellis, Amy Tan, and a score of other successful writers share the agony of rejection and the ecstasy of acceptance.

6. Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do
Twenty top writers answer a set of ten questions about their motivations for writing and about the favorite and least favorite aspects of their work.

7. Writers on Writing: Collected Essays from The New York Times

8. Writers on Writing, Volume II: More Collected Essays from The New York Times
In these two collections of essays originally published in the New York Times in its weekly “Writers on Writing” feature, some of the greatest writers of our age explore both the practical and the artistic aspects of what it means to be a writer.

9. Writers On Writing: A Bread Loaf Anthology
Twenty-five poets, short story writers, and novelists offer a series of literary workshops in book form, sharing their thoughts about the writing process.

10. The Writing Life: Writers on How They Think and Work
This collection of entries of “The Writing Life,” a Washington Post column, shares the thoughts of dozens of celebrated fiction and nonfiction writers.

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2 Responses to “10 Anthologies About Writing”

  • opsimath

    Thank you once again, Mark, for a fascinating piece, collecting together many resources I think would be well worth investigating. Your opening sentence is one I can truly take to heart and and I certainly seem to spend so much time in reading about the correct way to write that I am intimidated by a blank page in a notebook or an empty document in a text editor.

    It is, I am sure, analogous to the bumblee-bee’s ‘scientific’ inability to fly; the bee has never studied aerodynamics and simply gets on with the job at hand!

    I don’t know what to do to break out of this cycle, either, and can only marvel at the works of such writers as Julian Barnes and Neil Gaiman – among many others, of course – who have, at their disposal, the same 26 letters to make the same general vocabulary we all share.

    That, I have to conclude, is where genius lies. Again, my thanks and please keep this wonderful site going.

    opsimath

  • Rona Simmons

    Ahh! thanks for more for my list (though I swear I am not procrastinating). I have to offer my favorite: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and On Writing by Stephen King.
    Tick Tock

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