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Wordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  1,046 ratings  ·  271 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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Average rating 4.43  · 
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Courtney Carlson
Jul 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
If only he'd called it "Wordpsmithy"... :) ...more
Jacob Aitken
EDIT and UPDATE: His ministry is a complete disaster and marred by scandal. Still, here are the barebones of the book.

I am evaluating Wilson on professional respect, and I am trying to keep my antipathy of his theology, polemics, and ecclesiology to a minimum.

The book is interestingly arranged. He writes an introduction and then divides that introduction to intersperse throughout the chapters. At the end of each section he gives a short bibliography that supposedly expands the points he made.

Becky Pliego
2018: Grateful for Pastor Wilson who generously gives us not only great books to learn about God, life, education, etc. but also this really good book filled with practical tips to encourage us to write too.

2012: Great book.
Jesse Broussard
Sep 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mark Jr.
Jan 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, 2013
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
Evan Hecht
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent wisdom found here that's worth rereading annually. ...more
Aidan McGuire
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Helpful teaching on the unteachable subject.
Aaron Downs
Oct 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Wesley Rea
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a quick and easy read for a car trip. I know Doug Wilson is a polarizing figure to some, but one cannot deny that he is a great writer. This book is filled with tips and thoughts related to becoming a better writer, and I felt very inspired by the time I finished it.

One point in particular that stuck with me was the section about how we forget most of what we read. This is because we are human and most of us can't possibly memorize every book we go through, even though the pressure migh
Dec 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Lotta fun. 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.

Gospel Coalition review here.

And here Wilson explains which writers have provided his own writing with "that winsome tartness." Those writers are C.S. Lewis, H.L. Mencken, P.G. Wodehouse, J.R.R. Tolkien, John Calvin, G.K. Chesterton, Rousas Rushdoony, William
Feb 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
There is one book Wilson has written that is funnier than this one, and it is an obscure one (Contours of Postmaturity). Get that one, and read it, if you can. But this one is helpful in a different way. A delight to read (which it ought to be considering it's a book on writing), and quite helpful. ...more
Jan 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: words, writing
This punchy little book more than lived up to its title. Fun to read and makes you want to write.
Mazzy Mitchell
Mar 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020, y-dubs
Welp, I kind of don't know what to say. I enjoyed this book. I wrote down the takeaway points and book recommendations for every point and every chapter. Some of it was rather hard to follow, and probably worth spending some more time on... sometimes the takeaway points didn't seem to meld very well with the actual explanation of the point, I guess.

Douglas Wilson has a very laid-back, good-natured, personable style of writing. It worked pretty well for this book (although his humor did muddy th
Nov 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
A wonderfully enjoyable read.
James Nance
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A good book full of good words, directing the reader and writer to more good words and good books.
Bethany B.
Jan 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-on-writing
It's an eclectic book that jumps from one point to another, but that eclectic nature works in this style of book. Whatever you may think of Wilson's theology and personal life, his writing voice is strong and he gives a myriad of helpful tips in this book surrounding what sorts of writing habits & exercises create memorable voices and writers. Despite its brevity, though, it's a book best read slowly and savored rather than a book skimmed through on a single afternoon. There's a lot of value pac ...more
Sep 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Words are fun.
So is this book.
Ryan Hawkins
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
I listen frequently to the Home Row podcast hosted by J.A. Medders and this is recommended on there all the time. I love the podcast, and I enjoy Doug Wilson and his writing. And I did like this book. But I’ll be honest (and this might change as I will certainly read this book again, probably next year since it’s so short), I didn’t love this. I was a little disappointed.

In brief, here’s two main reasons why I was a tad disappointed.

First, it’s a very basic book structure (and Wilson admits it o
Jeremy Gardiner
Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a gift from my wife who got it for me to support my writing. This is a short, funny, practical read.

The major tips he gives are as follows.

1) Know something about the world (so you have something to say)
2) Read constantly
3) Read mechanical helps (anecdotes, dictionaries, quotations, books on how to write, etc.)
4) Stretch before your routines (meaning, try writing an article or blog post before you write a 200-page book).
5) Be at peace with being lousy for a while (mastery takes time)
Terrence Daugherty
Worth reading repeatedly

I recommend this book to those nascent writers, like myself, who want to expand their abilities, but don't really have the time to compile the necessary resources for doing so. This book will be one of the few that I try to read often as I continue to develop my skills.

While Wilson is quite prescriptive in this book, he leaves the reader (or rather, the writer) with a plethora of recommended resources. Not only that, but Wilson also 'practices what he preaches.' His pith
Jenai Hamilton
Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I walked into it, expecting it to be really pedantic, but Wilson writes so well that it was incredibly enjoyable to read his book on writing well. It was practical and prescriptive. He takes the onus there, but his prescriptions were not set so high they were unreachable.

Keep away from the highlighter if you’re that sort. I purposely avoided the highlighter because I wanted to ensure it would be readable when I was done. Unknowingly, he had so many oneliners I enjoyed, if I w
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
There are innumerable how-to books for writers cluttering the marketplace. I tend to avoid them (often, I suppose, to my detriment), but I read this one on the recommendation of my father, and I'm not sorry I did.
This is not another book purporting to tell you how to write correctly, or in the manner that might prove most lucrative. This is more a guide on how to cultivate a life conducive to worthy writing. I found it to be equal parts approachable and entertaining.
Chris Dow
Jan 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My goodness, this guy can write.

I think much of this book will end up in my commonplace book. Not so that I can quote him, per se, but so I can marinate in what I have just read. And I have a good many more books to read, thanks to this one. An excellent read, even and especially if you are only a hobbyist writer!
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the best writing books out there. Period.
Scotty Mac
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Hard to beat a book on writing that makes you laugh throughout. This quick hitting practical guide to writing with power is one that I will recommend often to any aspiring writers such as myself.
Vincent Stewart
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
Really fun! Great insight. Will reference again and again.
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, writing
I just wish there was more. Some really interesting thoughts on the writing life!
Gradon Schaub
Oct 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Helpful and practical. This book will spur you on in your writing. One of my favorite books on writing, along with On Writing by Stephen King.
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