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Take Joy: A Writer's Guide to Loving the Craft
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Take Joy: A Writer's Guide to Loving the Craft

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  292 ratings  ·  45 reviews
Are you a writer longing to rediscover the joy that you once had in the craft (or even find it for the first time)? In this inspiring guide, Jane Yolen, an author who has been called America's Hans Christian Andersen, shows writers how to focus on aspects of the craft that bring them joy.She remarks in the first chapter, "Save the blood and pain for real life, where tourni ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published February 1st 2006 by Writer's Digest Books (first published March 5th 2003)
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On Writing by Stephen KingBird by Bird by Anne LamottWriting Down the Bones by Natalie GoldbergWrite Away by Elizabeth  GeorgeSteering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin
Best Books on The Writing Life
22nd out of 51 books — 23 voters
On Writing by Stephen KingThe Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr.Bird by Bird by Anne LamottWriting Down the Bones by Natalie GoldbergEats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss
Best Books on Writing
400th out of 479 books — 858 voters

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Community Reviews

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Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
This is about writing. And writing well. As it covers a lot of aspects of the craft, and as I have done more reading than writing, this was an eye-opener for me. The author is an accomplished writer herself, having successfully published a lot of prose and poetry, yet she did not fail to go beyond her own experience in writing. She did not fail to research (yes, serious writing involves a lot of research, apart from those you can get from your own imagination, observation or recollection) on wha ...more
Jane Yolen is a wonderful writer, and this book was a fun, enjoyable read. Its tone is that of a friend telling you--sometimes with wry humor, but always with an undercurrent of passion and seriousness--how to love the writing you do, and how to enjoy the craft itself. Through chapters with amusing titles and examples to support her explanations of things like inspiration and voice; to the short, more personal interludes; Yolen wove together a book on writing that I read as voraciously and joyfu ...more
Marianne D. Wallace
This book has something of use on nearly every page. I kept a pen clipped to my pages as a bookmark so I would always have something handy to underline or write in the margins if something seemed especially useful.

More a "how to" than an essay of the joys of being a writer, I especially liked the quotes that lead off each chapter and all the examples from Jane Yolen's own work and experience as well as those from other writers.

This book reminded me why I love being a writer.

If you're struggling with writing, hit a wall, or find it an agonizing process, read this book. The main message is to find and take joy in writing. This book's purpose is to inspire and motivate rather than improve the technical aspects of writing. Despite it's apparent lack of organization, the fifteen chapters written by Yolen in an engaging style all have something to offer. She discusses, beginnings, middles, and ends, plots, utlizing landscapes, viewpoints, poems, outlines, muses, and how ...more
Are you a writer longing to rediscover the joy that you once had in the craft (or even find it for the first time)? In this inspiring guide, Jane Yolen, an author who has been called America's Hans Christian Andersen, shows writers how to focus on aspects of the craft that bring them joy.
She remarks in the first chapter, "Save the blood and pain for real life, where tourniquets and ibuprofen can have some chance of helping. Do not be afraid to grab hold of the experience with both hands and tak
Aline Newman
Over the years, I have read many dozens of how-to books on writing, some more helpful than others. TAKE JOY, by Jane Yolen, is also a how-to, but it differs from the rest because, befitting its title, it is less directional and more inspirational. Even though the book appears to be a rather unconnected compilation of reprinted speeches and writings, much of it makes for worthwhile reading. The section labeled "Many Voices," on the different styles of fantasy writing was over my head. Although I ...more
NONFICTION REQUIREMENT- Jane Yolen is a great author, and I was excited to read her book on writing. This book didn't disappoint. Her easy style and fun little interludes made this nonfiction book fun to read. She doesn't just write inspirational words to keep you writing, or practical skills and strategies to use when you are writing or publishing; she does both. And her "Alphabetics of Story," where she goes through each letter of the alphabet and gives a quick writing tip, are great- I bet yo ...more
Jane Yolen author of Take Joy and one of the most beloved and prolific writers of children’s novels, picture books, and essays said, “Before I got a house in Scotland I thought I was a morning writer. Then we started spending summers in Scotland where the day lasts until 11 o’clock at night. That’s when I realized I was a Light writer.”

She is so witty. In this book you will feel as if you have a new friend after you read it.
Allynn Riggs
Yolen speaks to the heart and soul of the writer. She encourages trying new methods while understanding that how an author feels about their writing, the processes and the end product, is important. She doesn't dictate that there is only one way to write. the work of writing changes daily, if not hourly, and even frustration leads to good things. She affirms my own writing process.
Randy Cauthen
Meh. Some good stuff to share with students. The point of view stuff is OK, the plotting stuff, though rudimentary. And I like her basic attitude, which is why I bought the book in the first place. But the voice stuff is horrible -- even when she's trying to sound serious, it sounds like a bad parody -- and that's the basic problem with the book. Smarmy.
Becky Villareal
In Jay Yolen's book, "Take Joy: A Writer's Guide to Loving the Craft", she has given back the reason for writing in the first place. "Joy in writing can be akin to joy in life," she says and reiterates this throughout the book. It is a wonderful read for writers who have forgotten the joy of creating just for themselves. A truly great read!
Mandi Murphy
This book is exactly what I needed to read. Yolen speaks more to the heart of the writer than the intellect, although she does offer some technical instruction. I need to own this book so that I can mark it up and read it over and over again. I don't lean toward profanity as a general rule(and Yolen doesn't really either in this book), but my favorite passage of this book is on the next to last page:

"Have zero expectations. Don't dream about winning a Pulitzer, making a hundred thou on your firs
Julie Hedlund
A splendid book for writers of all genres. One that will make you feel better after a bad writing day.
I love Jane Yolen. She writes with a style that is really easy to follow, and in this case, inspiring. I loved the chapter where she took a simple story line (the barbarian has tea with the queen) and fit it into various writing styles (a la Ernest Hemingway or J.R.R. Tolkien). This book reminded me how much I used to write for my own enjoyment. In high school, for example, for every writing assignment we got, a few friends and I would turn in a spoof under a pen name. Except for my journal, I'v ...more
Most of all, I appreciate Chapter 13: An Eruption of Poppies, which is about incorporating landscape into your stories. This is a topic I haven't seen much of in other books on writing. I enjoyed being able to read about writing without being asked to do exercises every few pages (think essay collection, not instruction manual), and I like her attitude toward writing (see the title, plus the summary above). But except for Chapter 13, I don't know as I'll remember much about this book six months ...more
Nov 03, 2014 Victoria marked it as to-read
via Tacy, a commenter on Anne's blog today
Loved this book. Better still, I really needed to read it right now in my life. Thank you.
Mary Catelli
If you are looking for an orderly, systemic book dealing with all the major aspects of writing, this may not be what you are looking for.

However, it does hit on a lot of the major aspects, often with sideways approaches that hits portions that a more systemic approach might not manage to encompass. And it is eloquently written and in some interesting treatments -- it contains not one but two writer's alphabets.

I am particularly fond of the section on voices.
Maria Hooley
This book is a must-have for writers. There's always so much focus on how-to, but this isn't a how-to book, at least not in the technical aspect. It's about how to live with writing and dreams at the stage you're in. So many writers think that publishing is the end-all, be-all, but this book is quick to point out that writing should be about the joy the craft not only brings readers, but first, and foremost, the joy it should bring the writer.
Jarm Del Boccio
An informative and inspiring "how-to" book written by a children's author. Easy to read, with short chapters. You can digest it a bit at a time!
I don't normally like advice that is long winded and preachy. Fortunately, this book is not that at all. Instead, it was more about enjoying the process and not focusing so much on the end result. To be positive about the process of writing.

I liked it.
So well written. Yolen is cracking open how writers write. It does not have to be a painful process. I concur.

While I don't foresee myself reading Yolen's fiction (fantasy), I have mad respect for her writing and perspective on writing.
Jan 21, 2008 al rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: writers. those who like writers. those who reeeally love to read.
Shelves: own
this was an ok book, but not quite as inspiring as i'd hoped. somewhere in the middle it becomes more of a "how to write fiction" book, which wasn't really what i was looking for. i did enjoy the quotations and samples from other author's, though.
Oct 14, 2008 Alexis rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: readers & writers
Recommended to Alexis by: The Friz Kid
Shelves: non-fiction
I love Jane Yolen as a children’s writer and she has created this wonderful book that gives insight into her writing process as well as encourages the reader to delve into some strong, clear thinking of his/her own process.
This was very nice, worth searching for. Mz. Yolen has a marvelous sense of humor as she describes her word craft and story building. If you must read a reference book on writing books, then it might as well be fun!
Kathleen Damp
I love this book. I want to read it every year. There are many how to books around but this one just comforts my soul and set my "why" free. I write because I like ideas. This book reminds me of that.
I've marked this 'currently reading' because I'm ALWAYS picking it up. Whenever I feel bummed about writing, this bad ass book encourages my spirit.

It's sort of The Art of War for writers.
Alison Acheson
A mix of memoir and thoughts on craft. A beautiful passage on "priming the pump"--finding your way to daily writing on p.66.
Probably of most use to those who are beyond beginning phase.
Her work fitted well to my history. Never being certain of where I'd windup while working with any client, Jane's encouraging writers to positively take on uncertainty rung true with me.
Didn't like. I'm not going to waste any more time on this one besides to say that it was boring, confusing and had too many flouncy words and obtuse literary references.
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Jane Yolen is a novelist, poet, fantasist, journalist, songwriter, storyteller, folklorist, and children’s book author who has written more than three hundred books. Her accolades include the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Awards, the Kerlan Award, two Christopher Awards, and six honorary doctorate degrees from colleges and universities in Massachuset ...more
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