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Take Joy: A Writer's Guide to Loving the Craft

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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 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 take joy." Addressing topics all writers struggle with, Yolen discusses the writer's voice, beginnings and endings, dealing with rejection, the technical aspects of writing, and the process of coming up with an idea–and deals with each of them in a way that focuses on the positive and eliminates the negative. As Yolen says, "Be prepared as you write to be surprised by your own writing, surprised by what you find out about yourself and about your world. Be ready for the happy accident." Get ready to take joy in your writing once again.


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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 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 take joy." Addressing topics all writers struggle with, Yolen discusses the writer's voice, beginnings and endings, dealing with rejection, the technical aspects of writing, and the process of coming up with an idea–and deals with each of them in a way that focuses on the positive and eliminates the negative. As Yolen says, "Be prepared as you write to be surprised by your own writing, surprised by what you find out about yourself and about your world. Be ready for the happy accident." Get ready to take joy in your writing once again.

30 review for Take Joy: A Writer's Guide to Loving the Craft

  1. 4 out of 5

    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 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 what other writers say about writing. Especially writing well. She discusses practically all things: style, points of view, plot, the "many voices" of written works, the seemingly endless rejection slips, getting published, and so many others, including the importance of a book's beginning and ending. Obviously, she practices what she preaches. This, for example, is her starting paragraph: "There are writers who believe that writing is agony, and that's the best anyone can say of it. Gene Fowler's famous words are quoted all the time: 'Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead.' Or Red Smith's infamous screed: 'There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.'" Then she ends this book with this: "It's your turn to write your own alphabet. Like writing any story, you may be surprised at what you find there. You might also be illuminated, changed, and charged by what you discover. We write not just to show off, not just to tell, or only to have written. "We write to know ourselves." Now, tell me if you do not feel the urge to read this book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kressel Housman

    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 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 the process. That doesn’t mean writing has to be all pleasure all the time, but it does mean that achieving the end result of a finished piece has to give you more joy than whatever pain it will take you to get there. I liked that perspective, so I liked the book, though some parts were more useful than others. The ABCs of writing seemed a little gimmicky to me, but the basic outline of every story – that I wrote down for future reference. Call it formulaic if you like, but I’m grateful to be clued in. May G-d help that if it’s the right thing, I should finish my own book. At any rate, I do expect it to be a therapeutic journey.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Stephanielaurenwilling

    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' 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'll remember the most.

  4. 4 out of 5

    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 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 well as novelists and, well, everyone. I expect this will be one I will come back to.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Marianne Wallace

    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. 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.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Anna Mattaar

    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. 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.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kaseka

    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 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 joyfully as any book with a plot thread pulling me from chapter to chapter. A writer friend recommended this book to me. I'd definitely recommend it to others who want to write, even casually. Yolen's comfortable, informal approach to issues of craft make Take Joy easy to get into, and enjoyable to learn from.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    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' 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's brilliant TAKE JOY, just before I dive into my MG world. This book has been an inspiration and a gift. I'm thinking about just flipping back over and starting from the beginning. And, oh! That last page. That last page spoke to me on the deepest level I have, as a woman and a lover of words and a dreamer. Thank you, Jane Yolen. Your book is a gift.

  9. 5 out of 5

    J.Istsfor Manity

    This was tedious to get through. Yolen has a tendency to infantilize and “euphemize” the creative pursuit: using terms like “whirlygig” for plot complications and “Josephus” (among other oddities) to explain point of view. It may be a holdover from being a children’s writer — this book may be better suited for those aspiring to that audience. She makes many good and solid points about writing, and this will be helpful and inspiring to those looking for an affected primer. In my estimation there This was tedious to get through. Yolen has a tendency to infantilize and “euphemize” the creative pursuit: using terms like “whirlygig” for plot complications and “Josephus” (among other oddities) to explain point of view. It may be a holdover from being a children’s writer — this book may be better suited for those aspiring to that audience. She makes many good and solid points about writing, and this will be helpful and inspiring to those looking for an affected primer. In my estimation there are many better and more entertaining (and engaging) books about the crafts of writing (see: Dillard, Lamott, Oliver, King, Mosley, et al.) Paperback, 03/15/21.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tom Britz

    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 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 throughout. It is a worthwhile read for beginners as well as those accomplished writers.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Hayley Stone

    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. 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.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Phillips

    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! 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!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    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. 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.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kyla Gardner

    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. 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.

  15. 4 out of 5

    passeriform

    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. 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.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Sedinger

    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. 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.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    Strangely readable craft book

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Take joy is, predictably, an absolute joy to read. Refreshingly upbeat and playful approach to writing advice.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Vincenz

    Great! If only I had read it 15 years ago when I started writing. It would have been revelatory.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mackay

    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.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Judy Vervalin

    This book got me writing again every day <3

  22. 4 out of 5

    C.J.

    Good writerly romp, with wisdom and well-crafted words. Take some, leave other bits. But learn from someone who deeply yearns to weave a yarn.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Adriana

    if you need a hug from a book because you're in a writing rut, this is a good one if you need a hug from a book because you're in a writing rut, this is a good one

  24. 5 out of 5

    Earl

    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?

  25. 5 out of 5

    Katrina

    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 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 sitting down with your fingers wrapped around a pen, or poised over a keyboard, gives you that rush of joy that taps into the very essence of your being. Because you feel empty and restless without taking the time out of your day to put those words down in a more tangible form than the nebulous shapes constantly darting about in your head. Yolen approaches the subject from an encouraging, positive angle, but anchors her advice solidly in reality. She proffers concrete tips about openings, closings, and that tangled muddle in the middle of narratives. She gives examples of poetry, different styles of prose, and the points of view that shift a story. And, in the end, she warns against taking any writing advice too literally. Writers' methods differ, and what works for one may prove crippling for another. The key is to dig in, do the work necessary, and shape your voice in the way that best fits it. It's not an easy task, but that's what sets apart those who actually sit down in a chair day after day and crank out words. Take Joy is an appealing, approachable book that would fit nicely on any writer's reference shelf.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tom Hooker

    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 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 take joy." Addressing topics all writers struggle with, Yolen discusses the writer's voice, beginnings and endings, dealing with rejection, the technical aspects of writing, and the process of coming up with an idea—and deals with each of them in a way that focuses on the positive and eliminates the negative. As Yolen says, "Be prepared as you write to be surprised by your own writing, surprised by what you find out about yourself and about your world. Be ready for the happy accident." Get ready to take joy in your writing once again.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Aline Newman

    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 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 am in awe of Yolen's ability to create eight different versions of the same story scene, I could never do that myself and found neither the exercise nor the analysis very useful. But the sections labeled "The Alphabetics of Story" and "Advice" contain many nuggets of helpful information. Yolen has authored over 300 books--an astonishing number--and this volume is worth reading for that reason alone. I also enjoyed her bluntness, her honesty, and her wry humor. A writer friend loaned me her copy and I liked it so much that I will probably buy one of my own.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    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 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 you wish you knew how she tied U for underwear, J for Junco Hyemalis, and B for Botox in to writing novels! The key for nonfiction is to read books about topics that you find interesting, and I love writing and am constantly looking for ways to improve my fiction writing skills, especially in the fantasy genre. She also gives a lot of good tips for writing poetry, which was a bit of a surprise. I would recommend this great read to any aspiring writer.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alexis

    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 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 I will turn to again and again, like Dani Shapiro's "Still writing", but it's one that I'm happy to add to my shelf. Edited to add- by browsing through her 300(!!) books on goodreads, I was able to find the title I wanted to read and have ordered it. I needed to see the cover to make sure it was the right book, and the cover wasn't on Abebooks. But now the book is on its way to me. (Book is Neptune Rising- Tales of undersea folk)

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mandi Murphy

    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 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 first (or thirty-first) book...Don't plan your outfit for the Oprah show or practice crossing your legs while talking to Katie Couric. Don't expect to find your books piled high at Borders or in the window of Barnes and Noble. Don't search Amazon.com for your numbers. Write the d*** story. Nothing else matters."

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