Several months ago an email popped into my inbox advertising “365 ways to get you writing: daily inspiration and advice for Creative Writers”by Jane Cooper. Although I write many different things, I’m always interested in new ways to learn so I asked for a review copy and it quickly arrived. Unfortunately the last few months have been somewhat busy, so I haven’t been able to get around to posting the promised review until today.
Jane Cooper is not an author I’m familiar with. She lives in Edinburgh where she teaches English and Creative Writing. She has written six school text books as well as poetry and short stories. I wish I lived a little closer to her because I suspect she is an inspiring and supportive teacher.
I love her book. It is split into over one hundred chapters ranging from “Googlewhack” to “Taboo” and other more familiar topics such as “Show, don’t tell” and “Changing tense”. Each chapter is split between information and practical tasks, giving the reader simple yet efficient ways of improving and inspiring their writing.
Cooper is a very subtle teacher. Within the chapters are suggestions about other books or TV shows the reader can investigate and if they follow her lead, they will find they have devoured a comprehensive diet of literature from both past and present which cannot help but influence their own writing in a positive way.
I was very impressed by the subjects included in the suggestions. As well as the usual five senses, Cooper shows how personal experience can be accessed to provide inspiration and depth when writing. She also includes areas you might not have considered before such as song lyrics, writing spells and first times.
She also includes standard creative writing techniques in her chapters – using different perspectives, increasing tension and conflict, using hypothetical subjects and writing dialogue between family members or other scenarios. The whole book contains a wealth of experience and expertise the reader can dip into at any time and, if the exercises are completed, personal skills cannot help but be improved.
Not everyone can attend creative writing classes or courses. Not everyone has a supportive writers group they can join. I count 365 Ways to get you writing by Jane Cooper as a useful tool for every writer, no matter their level of competence. Published by How to Books at £10.99 (or £6.37 from Amazon), it is a worthwhile investment.