Wordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life
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Wordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life

4.5 of 5 stars 4.50  ·  rating details  ·  491 ratings  ·  144 reviews
Wordsmithy is for writers of every sort, whether experienced veterans, still just hoping, or somewhere in between. Through a series of out-of-the-ordinary lessons, each with its own takeaway points and recommended readings, Douglas Wilson provides indispensable guidance, showing how to develop the writer s craft and the kind of life from which good writing comes.
Paperback, 120 pages
Published 2011 by Canon Press
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As an early Christmas present my in-laws gave me a copy of Wordsmithy by Doug Wilson, and I read it very quickly. I have read many Doug Wilson books so I am used to his voice and perspective, but in this book he really is playful and expansive. This is not a how to manual for aspiring writers with nuts and bolts, there are some good books that can do that, such as The Book on Writing by LaRocque.

This book is all about how live as a writer. Read good books, live a life with something to say, pra...more
Mark Ward
I try to be scrupulous in my use of the five stars allotted to me by the gentle people of Goodreads. Five stars means "it was amazing." And I can't honestly say that about this book. But it was certainly fantastic. I—four stars—"really liked it." I chuckled and I learned. And it was short. It's hard to beat those qualities.

All Christian writers should pick up this book, and most Christian preachers, especially those who do anything remotely close to manuscripting their sermons. Sermonizing is on...more
Courtney Joshua
If only he'd called it "Wordpsmithy"... :)
Jeff Short
Of making many books there is no end, so says Solomon. I would add a corollary: Of making many books about making many books there is no end. In this case, that is a good thing. I have read enough of Doug Wilson that I wasn't surprised at how good this book is. Readable doesn't do it justice even if it is eminently. Wordsmithy is informative, insightful, and entertaining.

I must confess that I audibly chortled a number of times. I maybe even threatened a guffaw. I thought about including some quo...more
A Renaissance of Reading and Writing

Douglas Wilson writes with a certain gusto which often causes no small stir. He’s also unique as a theologian who also writes about a variety of other topics ranging from education, writing, logic, philosophy. I might argue that the church has far too few renaissance men and that’s part of the problem Wordsmithy address. Wilson urges aspiring writers to write well by reading broadly and writing widely. My default in reading and writing is to pigeon hole myself...more
Miss Pickwickian
Doug Wilson attacks the craft head-on… by addressing the craftsman.

"Wordsmithy" discusses how to be a person with your head on right--how to be a good writer not just good at writing.

The book is divided into seven tips with seven sub-tips, "a veritable Russian doll," as he puts it. From living to reading, from mechanics to language, from lousiness to skill, from sketching to stretching, Wilson moves with light-hearted seriousness from topic to topic while demonstrating his own subject matter....more
Jacob Aitken
I am evaluating Wilson on professional respect, and I am trying to keep my antipathy of his theology, polemics, and ecclesiology to a minimum. Wilson has triumphed in an area where most people have failed--writing. Therefore, if he writes a book on how to write well, and how to live the writer's life, then he deserves to be listened to.

The book is interestingly arranged. He writes an introduction and then divides that introduction to intersperse throughout the chapters. At the end of each secti...more
Jun 19, 2012 Grace rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Grace by: Dad
This book was amazing. It took me a while to read because he seemed to pack a lot of simple points into a small book, which was rather overwhelming to me. The points were big in themselves. While I did read it slowly, I feel like I got a lot out of it by reading it like that instead of reading it in one day like how it usually happens.

I’m trying to refrain from ranting about it. Good size, funny but hardcore writing tips, simple and easy to understand for any growing writer - or even writers who...more
Aug 09, 2012 Jimmy added it
I've enjoyed this book, it was a fun and informative read. Filled with practical advice for writers (maybe I think they are great because I've read very little on writing). I've enjoyed Doug Wilson's other works so I had high hopes with this book to reveal the working of a great writer. Wilson had seven points in the book, which he then breaks down into seven smaller points in a format that he describes as "Seven Russian Dolls." If you find that clever as I did, you would enjoy other witty sayin...more
Gavin Breeden
Read it in a few hours. Very enjoyable. The subtitle says it all, "hot tips for the writing life." This book doesn't focus as much on rules and tips about sentence structure or dialogue, instead, it considers what one writer believes the writer's life should include.

Some of Wilson's tips: Know more about life than books because it will make your writing more colorful and give you experiences to draw from, "read until your brain creaks", practice writing in different forms such as sonnets, essay...more
Aaron Downs
Reading Douglas Wilson’s witty work about writing, Wordsmithy, was a wacky way to want wonderful words to work their way into my own writing. This short book serves as a sort of discipleship manual for those who want to use words effectively, especially in writing. The suggestions given by this book serve to help one become a better writer, a better speaker, and a better reader. The directions that Wilson gives, if followed, produce a disciplined, yet delightful, development of diction. Though I...more
Mark Nenadov
Most good books are enjoyable, but you don’t want to necessarily linger around in them. If they were much longer, you’d probably hate them. Part of their charm is that they end in a timely fashion. You enjoyed the day with them, but as the saying goes, at the end of the day “they are not your kids”.

It’s a rare and special book, though, that truly makes you really want to keep on chewing. Unfortunately, our notions of reading progress won’t ordinarily let us linger in a 100-something page book fo...more
Adam Ross
Doug Wilson's book on writing is a lot of things, but boring is hardly one of them. His trademark pithy style is in full force here (something I haven't had so much fun with since A Serrated Edge).

If you picked the book up hoping for some help on the mechanics of writing, you're sure to be disappointed, because Wilson's book is about the writing "life," and therefore has more to do with prep than enactment, principles rather than rules. Much of it, in fact, is advice that needs to be applied ye...more
This was a very good book, and one that I highly recommend. Mr. Wilson is highly entertaining to read, and he has many good ideas as well. I especially liked the idea of having a commonplace notebook, where you write down good ideas and expressions you could use. I also thought it was interesting that almost every chapter ended with suggested readings that were mostly Wodehouse. I liked his section on writing about life. You have to go out there and live a full life in order to write about it. H...more
This little handbook on the writer’s life contains an immense deal of wisdom, and advice that is easy for everyone to take. Probably the two most valuable points in the book are to live a productive life both in the world of books and in the world of action. Get out there into the real world, he says, and do something, so you’ll have something to say. At the same time, read voraciously so you’ll know how to say it. Packed with the witty wisdom we’ve come to expect from Wilson, and all of it cons...more
Jesse Broussard
I feel far too inadequate to review this book, as if I were asked to give a comic introduction to Bob Hope: I'd much rather shut up and sit down.

Having said that, read this book. Again and again and again. Memorize the blasted thing, and buy and read all the books he recommends. Or just follow him around till you see a chariot then steal his coat.
Craig Houston
For this aspiring writer, who at the present has more aspire than write, Wordsmithy is a glorious gem. There were many points to take away from this book, but the most important to me is the need to have a life that is filled with experience, broad reading, and study so that there is a deep well to draw from. I highly recommend this book.
So fun I couldn't put it down for long. Great advice from a pro, and it comes in small chunks, so I made lots of little bits of progress and finished in about 2 days. I've gotten into a habit of noting funny spots, and in this 120-page book, there might be 100. Not bad.
Darby Stouffer
I loved this. It's funny, it's easy to read, and it provides great advice for those of us that want to be better writers, but aren't quite sure how to go about it. My only complaint is that I wish it were longer.
This punchy little book more than lived up to its title. Fun to read and makes you want to write.
Rachel  Winn
The only reason I gave this book four stars instead of three is because it didn't quite grip me like some books do. But for obvious reasons.... no one was trying to save the world, survive a hunger games, or even claim the attention of their long time sweetheart. But that was expected and I loved the book.

This was actually my second time reading Wordsmithy. I love to write and find this a awesome book on teaching how to do it probably. I'll will most likely be reading Wordsmithy again sometime...more
Daniel Bastian
“Read. Read the kind of stuff you wish you could write…Tolkien said that his ideas sprang up from the leaf mold of his mind: your readings are the trees where your fallen leaves would come from. Mind mulch.”

If your goal is to be a great chef, you must first have a respectable set of ingredients at your disposal and become well-acquainted with how to combine those ingredients to create a tasty whole. To excel as a writer, you need a similarly diverse caisson of linguistic ammunition along with a...more
Just as good as I hoped it would be. This isn't a textbook on plot and grammar, it's about living life as a writer. This is for writers in for the long haul, who don't see writing as the boring stuff that precedes publication, but as a whole-life discipline.

Mr. Wilson knows what he's talking about, and he says it well, succinctly, and, as always entertainingly. I went through all 120 pages saying - alternately - "YES" and "OUCH."

Good stuff.

A couple brief quotes to whet your appetite (all in orde...more
Loved this book.
There are other greats out there (On Writing Well- Zinsser, On Writing- King), but Wilson goes beneath the technique and function. Heck, he even goes beneath the form. He unearths precious and needed truths regarding how to live our lives, in order to write well, which is an off-shoot of living well.

Doug Wilson is pastor of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho. Preacher, apologists, squirmy author and enjoyable guitar player. He writes with the humor of Chesteron, the clarity of Lewi...more
Technically speaking, I have read this book twice. Once as a series of blog posts on Blog and Mablog, and once after receiving the actual book for Christmas. I may yet read it again very soon.
First and foremost, the style is casual, easy to comprehend and often funny, but never flippant, and it grows serious when it has a reason to. The points are well-organized and expanded on logically, and it stops when it's made its case.
Once before, also upon reading a blog post, I realized just what it mea...more
As a hobby writer, this book was both encouraging and entertaining. I love the wisdom that comes across in Mr. Wilson’s writing. This is my second book of his and I like his style. He doesn’t jack around with words but says just what he means. I enjoy how he keeps me reaching for my dictionary: not so much that it becomes irritating, but enough to keep me stretched and learning something new (isn’t this the main point of reading?).

A book about writing will also be a book about reading. This one...more
So weit ich weiß, existiert dieses Buch nur in Englisch; die Tipps sind aber auch für deutsche "Schreiberlinge" brauchbar.
Douglas Wilson versucht vor allem mit der Vorstellung aufzuräumen, Begabung zum Schreiben sei etwas, das ohne Fleiß zum Preis führe.
Als erstes empfiehlt er, Lebenserfahrungen zu sammeln, Verantwortung zu übernehmen und sich zu interessieren und zwar nicht nur, um das Leben als "Stoff" auszuwerten. Kurz, man sollte wirklich was zu sagen haben.
Und dann gibt er praktische Tipps,...more
Dan Glover
For a really good review of this book, check out Tim Challies review at goodreads. Here's my additional 2 cents...Wilson describes this book as a Russian doll of writing advice, with seven main point that are in turn further fleshed out by seven supporting points. There is plenty of good material here so no where does this format seem forced. I have only read a handful of books on the "how-to" of writing, and some of them were quite helpful, but this was the only one where I could underline some...more
Matt Pitts
Doug Wilson is a master craftsman who has spent countless hours tinkering with his tools and honing his skills as a wordsmith. I know that not because I have watched him work and practice, but because I have seen his finished products. Wilson is always a pleasure to read and this book is no exception. In fact, this might be one of his most pleasurable books to read.

A book about writing well has to be written well or else, well, no one will want to read it. But Wilson's great skill with words is...more
A quick and enjoyable read, sharing seven good practices (and/or attitudes) for the writing life, each expanded upon with seven more points. I appreciated the clear organization, the takeaway points summing up sections, and the recommended reading lists (many more books to explore from there!). I'm encouraged to continue certain practices (and attitudes) and also to cultivate other ones (such as exploring languages "upstream" from English and keeping a commonplace book).
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I write in order to make the little voices in my head go away. Thus far it hasn't worked.
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“A lot of aspiring writers quote the right people, but they do so like Mary Bennett in Pride and Prejudice. They quote Austen like Mary quoted her eighteenth-century bromides, and were Austen here to see them do it, she'd slap them right into her next book, and it wouldn't be pretty.” 7 likes
“Know something about the world, and by this I mean the world outside of books. This might require joining the Marines, or working on an oil rig or as a hash slinger at a truck stop in Kentucky. Know what it smells like out there. If everything you write smells like a library, then your prospective audience will be limited to those who like the smell of libraries.” 4 likes
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