I set out to write a festive, seasonal Top Three post about things I’m thankful for in fantasy stories, but I’ve already written about all of the books involved, so I decided on a different approach. I’ve been thinking a lot about why I love writing and how to become better at it. Coincidentally (but probably not), the non-fiction books I’ve been reading have all mentioned writing as an act of service. In one way or another, they’ve all talked about “serving the writing” and how being a good writer means serving the writing well. Since Lands Uncharted has a thread about writing, today I’m sharing my top three books about the art of writing and being a writer.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Modeled after The Art of War by Sun Tzu, The War of Art is a collection of very short chapters (most are less than a page) that define the resistance most authors think of as writer’s block, identify its sources, and offer strategies to counter this particular road block. I don’t often suffer from this particular malady, but The War of Art helped me identify a types of resistance I experience frequently. Since I finished reading this book, I have written more regularly simply because I now recognize when I’m resisting.
Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson
Andrew Peterson is a singer, a songwriter, an author, and a filmmaker. Based in Nashville, he founded The Rabbit Room, “a non-profit ministry dedicated to fostering spiritual formation and Christ-centered community through story, art, and music.” I’m quoting the About the Author section here because the story of how these things occurred is what this book is about. Adorning the Dark discusses Peterson’s journey to becoming the artist he is today and meditates on the lessons he’s learned along the way.
I connected with this book on so many levels, and I came away encouraged, inspired, and determined to… (wait for it…) serve my writing better.
Walking on Water by Madeline L’Engle
Have you ever answered the question of who you would have lunch with if you could have lunch with anyone from any time period? My answer to this question is always Madeline L’Engle. Unfortunately, she has passed away, so her writings will have to do. Fortunately, those writings are uniquely suited to me, just as her stories always were.
In Walking on Water, L’Engle talks about what it means to be a Christian who is an artist. I began the book this morning, so I have only read the first chapter, but already L’Engle has talked about… you guessed it… serving the writing well. Based on the experiences I have had with other L’Engle works on writing, and the fact that I am already inspired after only one chapter, I can’t wait to see what this book holds.
As Thanksgiving officially signals the start of the holiday season, I hope your holiday is filled with love and laughter. I hope you are surrounded by kindness and compassion, and that the wonder of the season fills your days. If you are in a darker place, I pray that you find peace, fellowship with others who love you if you so desire, and the love of a Father who carries you even through the darkness.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.