Writer's Gym: Exercises and Training Tips for Writers.


188 pages
ISBN 978-0-14-305427-9
DDC 808.3





Nikki Tate-Stratton writes children’s picture books and novels for
preteens. Her most recent novels are Jo’s Triumph, Raven’s Revenge,
and Tarragon Island. Her latest picture book is Grandparents’ Day.


In this collection filled with suggestions from an eclectic group of writers, Eliza Clark presents writing exercises, tips, and reading lists intended to get pens flying and keyboards clicking. Many contributor names will be familiar to aspiring writers (Gail Anderson-Dargatz, Margaret Atwood, and Dave Eggers, to name just a few) and each brings a unique perspective to the craft of writing, though always with a focus on doing.


Advice runs the gamut from life management for writers (Elizabeth Ruth suggests, among other things, unplugging the phone, tossing the TV, and lowering your housekeeping standards), to revision and editing techniques, to research and creating three-dimensional worlds. There’s plenty of motivation here to get started, keep going, and finish up. Alix Ohlin sends writers into coffee shops to practice observing conversational subtext, Toby Litt encourages writers to put down on paper what they don’t know, and Steven Heighton sings the praises of micro-editing. Some exercises are best used in writing groups or workshop settings while others are ideal for individuals.


Throughout, writers offer advice, speak frankly during interviews, and offer up some interesting suggested reading. Each essay (set of tips, interview, or collection of exercises) is easily absorbed and, in addition to imparting information about some aspect of the writing process, the voice of the contributor comes through loud and clear. The effect is like having a series of conversations with wiser, more experienced friends, and the hands-on approach stops the book from becoming a set of introspective ruminations about a craft that is often practiced in solitude.


Some sort of cross-referencing or an index would have been handy for those looking for information about a particular subject, but otherwise, this is an engaging and inspiring book useful to writers at all levels as well as instructors looking for fresh ideas to incorporate into creative writing workshops.


Clark, Eliza., “Writer's Gym: Exercises and Training Tips for Writers.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 14, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/28810.