1000 Words by Jami Attenberg [8/10]

Novelist Jami Attenberg came to personify the strange provenance of NaNoWriM0, National Novel Writing Month, the challenge to spend November writing enough each day to complete, yes, a full novel. Her exhortations to pump out 1,000 words each day, struck a chord and over time, other writers chipped in to help her encourage writers, and the end result is this book, 1000 Words: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Creative, Focused, and Productive All Year Round. The book is exactly what it says, the spirit of NaNoWriMo expanded into one of those writing how-to books such as the classic Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. Attenberg, who is a judicious stylist and a prodigious worker, as well as being a kindly soul, offers a range of advice over the book, covering the four seasons, and over fifty other writers contribute pithy letters of advice and support. Books such as this can seem vacuous unless you are either desperate or primed to write the skin off your life, but if this is the book you need, well, 1000 Words delivers and with oomph. I found that a couple of the external missives chimed perfectly with my current writing situation, and I also enjoyed some of Attenberg’s lyrical bullet-point exhortations, such as this one: “We all need support. We all need the time to write. We all need feedback, even if it’s just from one other person. We all need to read. We all need a vacation. We all need to feel valuable or recognized. We all need to feel safe.” More specific writing/editing advice such as this—”There are two questions I ask myself repeatedly about my writing until I’m so far along in a project I don’t need to ask them anymore. They are: Who are you writing this for? What do you hope to accomplish with this work?”—arrived just in time to benefit my current work. All in all, 1000 Words is the perfect gift for anyone you know who clearly longs to write but cannot, for whatever reasons, commence the actual labor.

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