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Friday Reads: Chart Your Course with Author in Progress

Let me set the scene: You're sitting at home, perhaps in your office or at your kitchen table, maybe sipping some coffee or tea. You'd like to start writing your novel ... but instead you're staring at the cursor on your laptop screen as it blinks back at you. You're suddenly possessed of a singular, creeping dread: Now what?

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If you've ever faced the blank page before (and who hasn't?), you know how frightening, downtrodden, and lonely this experience can be. This week's Friday Read is a book about combating those feelings and spinning them into pure literary gold—in the form of a published novel that fills you with pride.

Author in Progress features more than 50 essays from best-selling novelists, editors, agents, and contributors from the Writer Unboxed community, led by co-founder Therese Walsh. Every page is threaded with wisdom from the likes of M.J. Rose, Brunonia Barry, David Corbett, Donald Maass, Jane Friedman, Barbara O'Neal, and so many more.

From tackling that first draft to seeking critique, and from revising to publication and beyond, Author in Progress is filled with practical, candid essays to help you reach the next run on the publishing ladder. Here's just a small sampling of the excellent advice you'll find:

"Unboxed writers are free, yes, but they are also smart. They know the rules but also know themselves. They please readers but aren’t happy if they’re not pleasing themselves first." —Donald Maass, in his essay "Being Unboxed"

"Your reader is biologically wired to respond to your protagonist’s inner struggle. When we’re lost in a story, our brains sync with the protagonist’s and her struggle becomes our struggle. This isn’t a metaphor—functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) reveals that when a story engages us, we experience what the protagonist is going through as if it were happening to us—because it is." —Lisa Cron, from her essay "Story First, Plot Second"

"If you’re not a good human, it really doesn’t matter how good you are at writing, because the foundation below you is quicksand. Good writers are, by necessity, good humans. Cutting yourself off from the world outside won’t help. An alternative exists. You can read real people and then write them—read their dialogue, read their defining attributes, read the direction of their relational conflict. Become a student of the masses." —Lancelot Schaubert, from his essay "Reading People (and Writing Them, Too)"

"Discovering your community is easier than you might think. And although I once feared writers would be distant and judgmental, I’ve found them—almost without exception—to be kind, warm, and inclusive. Starting your search might be as simple as inviting an old friend to a conference. Or checking your local library and bookshops for writing clubs, groups, or classes. Or, easier still, searching the Internet." —Vaughn Roycroft, from his essay "Community Comfort"

"Think of yourself as a writer first and foremost, without boxing yourself into a category. This type of mass categorization—as children’s author, novelist, nonfiction writer, and so on—will inevitably restrict your options, should cycles change." —Sophie Masson, from her essay "Writer as Phoenix"

"Keep stretching yourself. Reach for that next rung and then the next. The only limits to this ladder are those you set for yourself, so don’t set any at all." —Therese Walsh, from her essay "Write On"

Author in Progress is available now!

Rimma Onoseta: On Trusting the Process of Revision

Rimma Onoseta: On Trusting the Process of Revision

Author Rimma Onoseta discusses how seeing other Black female authors on bookshelves encouraged her to finish writing her contemporary YA novel, How You Grow Wings.

Writer's Digest September/October 2022 Cover

Writer's Digest September/October 2022 Cover Reveal

Writer's Digest is excited to announce our Sept/Oct 2022 issue featuring our Annual Literary Agent Roundup, an interview with NYT-bestselling YA horror novelist Tiffany D. Jackson, and articles about writing sinister stories.

Your Story #120

Your Story #120

Write the opening line to a story based on the photo prompt below. (One sentence only.) You can be poignant, funny, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.

5 Tips for Writing as a Parent

5 Tips for Writing as a Parent

Author Sarah Grunder Ruiz shares how she fits writing into her life and offers 5 tips on how to achieve a sustainable writing life as a parent.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 621

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write an animal poem.

Why Is This Love Scene Here? How To Write Compelling Love Scenes

Why Is This Love Scene Here? How To Write Compelling Love Scenes

Not sure which way to turn when writing intimate scenes? Author Jo McNally shares how to write compelling love scenes that make sense for the story you’re writing.

How Can I Help You?

How Can I Help You?

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, your character is a high-end retail salesperson.

Phong Nguyen: On Freedom To Invent in Historical Fiction

Phong Nguyen: On Freedom To Invent in Historical Fiction

Award-winning author Phong Nguyen discusses his lifelong dream of writing his new historical fiction novel, Bronze Drum.

Historical Fiction Authors Don’t Expect Their Characters’ Battles To Appear in Modern Headlines, but Here We Are

Historical Fiction Authors Don’t Expect Their Characters’ Battles To Appear in Modern Headlines, but Here We Are

What happens to historical fiction when history repeats itself? Author Addison Armstrong discusses writing about the past and seeing it reflected in the present.