Some authors recommend to aspiring writers: Read as much as you can, it will improve your skills. While other writers might say: I don’t read a lot because it could influence my style, and I don’t have time for it anyway.
I would tell you: It depends on what you read. Some books are an investment in your writing and your imaginative skills. You can get started right now. I have just the book for you if you are looking for a read that really leaves an impact. Let me introduce you to – the Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer.
Prepare to be amazed
You open the first page, flip through it fast and you immediately get the feeling that this is gonna be fun. The chapters promise everything a writer would care about: From inspiration, creative life, world building up to revision. But that is not why I keep this book always on hand. I am constantly rereading the Wonderbook because it feels like the writer friend whom I sometimes need by my side. Whispering words of encouragement into my ears, offering me advice when I am stuck and taking my imagination to new places.
I have read many books on writing, style and character development. The first one was by James N. Frey, called „How to write a damn good novel„. Then I moved on to books which focus more on the act of developing an idea into a story. I would recommend „Where do you get your ideas“ by Fred White to anyone who is seeking for some guidance in this process.
Where does the Wonderbook fit into all of this? Well, it was written by a writer, like most writing guides. The difference is: It is NOT written in a way that feels like a lecture or even a guide. Reading this book is a journey. The author leads you into the magical world of imagination and lets you experience the writing process almost in a childlike way. You won’t learn about strict writing rules, like „show don’t tell“. Wonderbook is about freeing your mind and following your story freely.
What I learned from the Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer
There was one story that touched me in particular. The author wrote about a child who invents stories all day long. About bears that live next door and the parents just go with the story. This child learns to follow its creativity and to allow himself the craziest ideas. Then there is the child who hears this sentence from its parents. „There are no bears in this neighborhood, you are dreaming.“ This attitude hinders imagination and discourages the child from coming up with more stories.
What I took away from this little tale was: If I censor my imagination, I will have less ideas for books. No matter what bubbles up in my mind, I will allow it because it means letting my creative juices flow. And more great ideas will follow.
Remember this when the image of a dancing snake in a bikini pops up in your mind. When you need a good read remember Jeff Vandermeer and add the Wonderbook to your library.
For a closer look inside the Wonderbook, check out the „books“ highlight on my Instagram.
Your writing friend,