How to Be a Writer

Building your creative skills through practice and play. 
Author:
Publish date:


How to Be a Writer
Building Your Creative Skills Through Practice and Play
by Barbara Baig
Writer's Digest Books, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-58297-805-5
$16.99, paperback, 272 pages

Buy the book


Read an excerpt

Develop your writer's investigative powers with this excerpt from Barbara Baig's How to Be a Writer titled the "Sherlock Holmes School of Writing."

Read an interview with the author

How to Be a Writer author Barbara Baig discusses writing practice, being in the moment, and more in this exclusive Q&A.

Image placeholder title

About the book

Athletes practice. Musicians practice. As a writer you need to do the same. Whether you have dreams of writing a novel or a memoir or a collection of poems, or you simply want to improve your everyday writing, this innovative book will show you how to build your skills by way of practice.

Through playful and purposeful exercises, you’ll develop your natural aptitude for communication, strengthening your ability to come up with things to say, and your ability to get those things into the minds (and the hearts) of readers. You’ll learn to:

• Train and develop your writer’s powers—creativity, memory, observation, imagination, curiosity, and the subconscious
• Understand the true nature of the relationship between you and your readers
• Find your writer’s voice
• Get required writing projects done so you have more time for the writing you want to do
• And much more

Empowering and down-to-earth, How to Be a Writer gives you the tools you need, and tells you what (and how) to practice so that you can become the writer you want to be.

Praise for How to Be a Writer

This is a wise, humane and practical book for anyone who wants to write; it guides the novice and re-awakens the veteran to processes and practices which can bring out the best writing in all of us.
—Emma Darwin, author of A Secret Alchemy

How To Be Writer
is the writing coach you always wanted but never knew how to find. Distilling thirty years of writing and teaching, author Barbara Baig serves up substance and support in her own sparkling prose. Any writer in search of encouragement and inspiration needs only one notebook, one pen, and a copy of this book.
—Kate Whouley, author of Cottage for Sale, Must Be Moved

"Baig takes the building-blocks of free-writing and stretches this creative process with specific, active practices that will grow every writer’s confidence and craft."
—Becky Levine, author of The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide

About the Author
Writer and self-described “maverick educator” Barbara Baig has been helping adults and college students learn to write since 1984. Barbara’s real-world writing experience, combined with her passion for teaching, has enabled her to develop an approach to teaching writing that is innovative, practical, and empowering, helpful to amateur and professional writers alike. Her website is http://www.barbarabaig.com.

Table of Contents
Welcome: 1
Section 1: Getting Started
Chapter 1: What Is Writing Practice (and How Do I Do It)? 11
Chapter 2: Starting the Journey 29
Chapter 3: Waking Up the Content-Mind: The Basic Practices 34
Section 2: A Writer’s Powers
Chapter 4: Creativity 57
Chapter 5: Memory and Expertise 69
Chapter 6: Observation 76
Chapter 7: Imagination 89
Chapter 8: The Subconscious 108
Chapter 9: Curiosity 114
Chapter 10: The Sherlock Holmes School of Writing 131
Section 3: Moving Toward Readers
Chapter 11: Tools for Developing Your Material 135
Chapter 12: Your Relationship with Readers 150
Chapter 13: Telling Stories 170
Chapter 14: Voice 184
Chapter 15: A Few Words on Words 192
Section 4: Required Writing
Chapter 16: Do I Have to Write That? 198
Chapter 17: Getting It Written 204
Section 5: Staying on the Path
Chapter 18: Walking the Writer’s Way 241
Appendix: A Writer’s Bookshelf 255
Notes 257
Acknowledgements 260
Index 263

Batra&DeCandido_1:18

Dr. Munish Batra and Keith R.A. DeCandido: Entertainment and Outrage

Authors Dr. Munish Batra and Keith R.A. DeCandido explain how they came to co-write their novel and why it's important to them that the readers experience outrage while reading.

incite_vs_insight_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Incite vs. Insight (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use incite vs. insight with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Cleland_1:17

Jane K. Cleland: On Writing the Successful Long-Running Series

Award-winning mystery author Jane K. Cleland describes what it's like to write a long-running book series and offers expert advice for the genre writer.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: #StartWrite, Virtual Conference, and New Courses

This week, we’re excited to announce free resources to start your writing year off well, our Novel Writing Virtual Conference, and more!

20_most_popular_writing_posts_of_2020_robert_lee_brewer

20 Most Popular Writing Posts of 2020

We share a lot of writing-related posts throughout the year on the Writer's Digest website. In this post, we've collected the 20 most popular writing posts of 2020.

Malden_1:16

Carla Malden: Writing With Optimism and Innocence

Screenwriter and author Carla Malden explains why young adult fiction and the '60s go hand-in-hand and how she connected with her main character's voice.

writing_mistakes_writers_make_talking_about_the_work_in_progress_robert_lee_brewer

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Talking About the Work-in-Progress

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake writers make is talking about the work-in-progress.

Kelly_1:15

Greta K. Kelly: Publishing Is a Marathon

Debut author Greta K. Kelly reveals how the idea for her novel sparked and the biggest surprise of her publication journey.

Poetic Forms

Mistress Bradstreet Stanza: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the Mistress Bradstreet stanza, an invented form of John Berryman.