4 Books Every Pantser Should Read Before NaNoWriMo / by Julie Hopkins

4 Books Every Pantser Should Read Before NaNoWriMo

Oh snap, it’s really getting close now. We have about two weeks until day one National Novel Writing Month. For me, that's the day I need to hit at least 1,667 words or I’m going to be behind all month. It’s my tell-tale sign. Kind of like the groundhog predicting spring.

Alas, I won’t subject you to my superstitious NaNoWriMo voodoo. (We’ll save that for another blog post…) Let’s get down to it!

Last week, I wrote about books to help Plotters during #Nanowrimoprep. This week, I’m posting for all those Pantsers out there who will need to keep the creativity flowing for thirty straight days. You’re in great company with other seat-of-the-pants novelists like Stephen King and Nora Roberts.


bird by bird by Anne Lamott

Bird by Bird By Anne Lamott

Short Version: She will speak directly to your soul.

Long Version: Anne Lamott’s musings on creativity and writing are so spot on, it’s like she plagiarized the whole thing from your diary. You know that voice in your head that constantly judges you and tells you give up on all your hopes and dreams? Yeah, Lamott has that, too. Her book covers everything from thinking you’re the worst writer in the world to wondering if you’ve really gone crazy this time. Sound familiar? Thought so. All the while, she manages to spin it all into to a hilarious, positive story that will motivate you to JUST KEEP WRITING. 


The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass

The Fire in Fiction By Donald Maass

Short Version: Pretty sure it’s against this guy’s religion to sugarcoat anything. It’s fantastic.

Long Version: In my last post, I mentioned the book Writing the Breakout Novel. Here’s another great read from Donald Maass, big time literary agent. Think of him as the Bizarro-Lamott. No warm fuzzies here. His book, The Fire in Fiction features excerpts from lots of fancy fiction writers, all of which Maass dissects with the precision of your overachieving older sister playing Operation. He says what works and why. He’s not always nice about it, but he’s always helpful. Check out the sections on tension (chapter eight) and how to make scary monsters seem real (chapter 6).


Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg

Writing Down the Bones By Natalie Goldberg

Short Version: The bit about buying cheap notebooks and filling them up with bad writing is so freeing.

Long Version: Natalie Goldberg’s writing exercises give you tangible, practical ways to break through writer’s block. Not feeling creative? Feel like you’ve written yourself into a corner? Treat this book like an oracle. Open it to any page and start reading. She’ll have you back in your flow before the end of your lunch break.


On Writing by Stephen King

On Writing By Stephen King

Short Version: It’s written by Stephen-Freaking-King, the guy known for saying, “I am the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and fries.”

Long Version: Stephen King’s book is an inspiring read that centers on the idea that anyone can be a good writer. All it takes is lots of reading, writing and never giving up. And really, isn’t that the essence of NaNoWriMo?

Here’s a quote from On Writing that stuck with me for years after I read this book.

  “I used to tell interviewers that I wrote every day except for Christmas, the Fourth of July, and my birthday. That was a lie. I told them that because if you agree to an interview you have to say something, and it plays better if it’s something at least half-clever. Also, I didn’t want to sound like a workaholic dweeb (just a workaholic, I guess). The truth is that when I’m writing, I write every day, workaholic dweeb or not. That includes Christmas, the Fourth, and my birthday.”

Preach, man, preach.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment below with other books that inspire you to create! Happy Almost-Halloween (and the premiere of Walking Dead). Stay turned for some sweet photoshopped Zombie photos I made and tips on how to zombie-fy your pictures.