Outwitting Writer’s Block and Other Problems of the Pen By Jenna Glatzer

The Lyons Press, 2003
ISBN: 1592281249
Contact Reviewer: hojoreviews@aol.com
Rating: 5 of 5

AbsoluteWrite.com’s Guru Debunks Myths So You Can Write

Reviewed by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, award-winning author of This is the Place and Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered

Jenna Glatzer, editor of AbsoluteWrite.com, is every writer’s friend. She has assembled all her own ideas (well, maybe not all but a huge number of ideas!) as well as many she has gleaned from a cadre of writing associates into a single book. It is the kind of gift that could only be given from one writer to another. It is evident that, with her experience and this kind of research, she knows about Outwitting Writer’s Block and Other Problems of the Pen.

Glatzer has a knack for images that will smack you in the face with their truth like: “Writers block is really more a case of opportunity knocking and you having your radio tuned up too loudly to hear it.” (p. 10).Her book sets an example because it is fresh, carefully crafted, and entertaining. There are, to be sure, other books that address writer’s block but this one is far more fun and less dogmatic than most. These are the fraternal twins that make this book fill a much-needed niche in advice books for writers.

Outwitting Writer’s Block offers exercises and darn near irresistible prompts: “What would your character die for? Prove it.” (p.9). You’ll want to know about her ugly notebook and why it must be a clock-stopper, and how she rewards herself with toothpaste (sorry, you’re going to have to read the book to find the answer to this one). She debunks myths like “You must write every day,” (p. 26) and replaces them with practical suggestions, not-heaven forbid-RULES.

Beginners will benefit from the section of her book subtitled “Respect Your Language” and old-timers will find their own favorite defenses against writer’s block in this book.. The one I recognized was her suggestion to write first thing in the morning while the mind is still unrestricted by duties of the day. When you run across yours, it may give you confidence in the workability of some of the others she lists.

Glatzer’s rich book is a practical endowment to the writing world. May she sell a million copies.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s first novel, This is the Place, has won eight awards. Her newly released Harkening, a collection of stories, has won three. A UCLA Writer’s Program teacher, she is soon to release An Author’s Guide to Penny-Pinching Promotion. Learn more at: carolynhowardjohnson.com.)


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