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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

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  470 ratings  ·  67 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 tourn ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published February 1st 2006 by Writer's Digest Books (first published March 5th 2003)
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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
Kressel Housman
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
There’s a famous quote that my tenth grade English teacher had hanging in her office: “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” That and a similarly brutal quote begin this book, but as you can tell by the title, they’re the precise opposite of what the author hopes to convey. It’s true that good writing means exploring your emotional core, but it’s also true that at the end of it all, you might not get published anyway, so you’ve really got to enjoy t ...more
I used this as a daily meditation of sorts. The chapters are short and light-hearted which made them perfect to read with a cup of coffee before beginning the day. There wasn't much new ground covered in the craft sections of the book, but I strongly resonated with her message of joyful, irreverent, and hopeful writing. The final page where she gives heradvice as a woman and writer in her later years--a "winter queen"as she calls herself--was perhaps the best part. It's definitely the section I' ...more
Kris Dersch
I can tell I'm going to like a writing craft book when I want to write down at least one quote a chapter. No one is quite like the great Jane Yolen and as a result there's no writing book quite like this one. It is a bit of a hodgepodge, almost intentionally, with little "interlude" thoughts between each chapter, but it's all here...the whimsy and mystery as well as the hard work with chapters on everything from plot to poetry. I love that this book includes tips for kidlit and poetry writers as ...more
Marianne Wallace
Dec 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.

May 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Jane Yolen was one of my go-to authors during my tween-ish years. Picked this up out of nostalgia, but really enjoyed reading about how she approaches her craft. And as a sometimes-writer, I loved her advice and anecdotes on writing and the nature of stories. My respect for her has grown immensely.
Anna Mattaar
Oct 27, 2019 rated it liked it
I picked up this book because I felt like I needed some writing motivation instead of the more complicated books on craft I'd been reading a lot of. It turned out to be a nice, positive collection of essays on writing. Some solid advice, although nothing I didn't already know. The humour is a bit too silly or gimmicky for me in places. But overall it was a nice way to put my mind to writing without making it difficult right away, which was a bit of a challenge in a busy time.
Dec 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Every morning, I wake before my children like Toni Morrison used to do and sit down to work on the book I've dreamed of writing all my life. In the background, the dryer does its work, since I write in the laundry room, like Tina Fey says she does. I don't claim to be a writer of that caliber, however different from each other they may be, but I like to borrow good ideas and try them on and see what fits.

And every morning for some time, I have been reading one essay on writing from Jane Yolen'
Tom Britz
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Take Joy is an anecdotal memoir guide to writing. Jane Yolen is a well known name in the fantasy/science fictional field, but she has also many children's books and other writings to classify herself as a writer of over 100 books. Though she does go into some of the "nuts and bolts" of writing, it is mainly as an overview. This is an interesting read for those looking for more than a "how to", it's more along the lines of a "here's what to expect". There are many little gems of wisdom scattered ...more
Hayley Stone
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is now tied with Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird for my favorite book on writing & craft. Yolen has an elegant way of communicating, smoothly alternating between encouraging and straight-forward advice. Required reading for any writer at any stage of their career. ...more
Jennifer Phillips
Sep 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
An easy-to-carry bundle of therapy for writers of all genres and experience levels. While some of the book's references feel outdated now, the overall messages and advice still feels very relevant today. Good to keep nearby for the moments when you need a boost of encouragement!
Nov 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: library, on-writing, 2019
This is a lovely little book on writing, although as with most books on writing, I didn't agree with everything that Yolen wrote.

It's also more a series of short essays than a book, but still worth a writer's time.
Kyla Gardner
Dec 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Disappointed there wasn't more about "taking joy." This book was standard in the genre of an overview of writing from a writer. It included a lot on things like plotting, beginnings and endings, poetry.
A refreshingly unpretentious and (as the title would suggest) non-gloomy book on the writing life. It reads well in small bits of time, Yolen's voice here is experienced and likable, and I especially appreciate her repeated little nods to the challenges of writing while caring for children.
Kelly Sedinger
Aug 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Finished several weeks ago, actually. This was a re-read; I read this originally a number of years ago. Yolen's book isn't nearly as well known as Stephen King's ON WRITING, but maybe it should be? There's a lot of good advice in here that helps to center and focus one's writing life.
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Strangely readable craft book
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
Take joy is, predictably, an absolute joy to read. Refreshingly upbeat and playful approach to writing advice.
Kathleen Vincenz
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great! If only I had read it 15 years ago when I started writing. It would have been revelatory.
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
Jane Yolen is a national treasure. And right now, I really needed this book, which is a delight to read as well as inspirational, as she intended.
Mar 08, 2019 rated it liked it
If anyone wants to learn about the craft of writing, who better than such a prolific and successful author than Jane Yolen to learn from?
Sep 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Inspirational and practical: this book seems perfectly geared towards the way my mind works. It balances the idealism of a life lived through words with the grounded understanding that writing is hard work, and publishing (and monetary success) is never guaranteed. With that in mind, Yolen argues that writing shouldn't be a slow grind through mud, trying to reach an ever-shifting, fickle audience. Writing is a career, but it's also a calling. It's something you do because you love it. Because si ...more
Tom Hooker
Oct 21, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Sep 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
For the past few months, I've had a story by Jane Yolen circling round in my head, and so I was looking for it online. I read a lot of Jane Yolen as a child, and I want to re-read some of her work. I didn't manage to find that book, but I did find that she'd written a little book for writers, so I ordered it.

This book was quite charming and upbeat. She shared some of her ideas about the writing life and her thoughts on craft and it was a quick, breezy and easy read. It's not a writing book that
Mandi Murphy
Apr 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
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
Jan 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-help
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
Jan 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
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
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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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