Chronicle Books knows that if readers are to read, writers must write. On the verge of National Novel Writing Month in November, the Bay Area publisher released literary inspiration: Pep Talks for Writers by author and NaNoWriMo Executive Director Grant Faulkner; 642 Lists to Write, from the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto; an interview compilation, 200 Women Who Will Change the Way You See the World; and a stack of blank journals, post-it-sized notepads, and colorful pencils.
You might think a December review is late, but Faulkner makes the case for greeting winter doldrums with the drumbeat of 52 actions and insights. Long after November’s “rollicking novel-writing party” ends and the holiday season is a wrap, “The Art of Boredom,” “Overcoming Creativity Wounds,” “Be Deluded . . . Be Grand,” and other creative manifestos delivered in three-page chapters maintain a writer’s momentum. There’s no single tip that’s overwhelmingly novel, but collectively, Pep Talks offers enough sass and sangfroid to keep a writer writing.
Likewise, the Grotto’s 642 mini trampoline techniques for springing out of stuck-ness include opportunities to list and write about musical instruments you wish you’d played, the worst hotels you’ve stayed in, five examples of epic parenting failures, the first lines of your three favorite poems, your three best high school dance moves, four times your instincts were correct, the place you’d plant your garden if the choice included anywhere in the world and more. Not meant to be to-do lists, your facts, memories, and imagination mingle and interplay.
Some people find temptation in an open door, or in imagery. For writers of that ilk, Chronicle pumps out journals with inspirational missives or blank pages that beg for words. Doodle and coloring books encourage breaking out in new directions. And never underestimate the power of a red (or neon green, blue, orange) pencil used not to mark up a manuscript but to decorate or even to write it.
200 Women, with photos by Kieran Scott and answers to five questions posed to 200 contributors, expands the boundaries of the female experience. Along with portraits, the women, many of them authors, share thoughts on happiness, misery, what really matters, what in life they’d most want to change and the single word with which they most identify. Respondents include Jane Goodall, Margaret Atwood, Dolores Huerta, and Alice Waters. There’s no reason the book should be only for women: male writers stand to gain special insight, too.
And who knows? A person might take a cue and set out to find 200 men with words that inspire new readers to read and writers to write with another book from Chronicle.