Low-stress, high productivity writing tips

Cecelia Munzenmaier takes what she calls the Julia Child approach to writing: learn the basics, practice, correct what you can, and accept the fact that your writing won’t always be perfect.

In her forthcoming book Write More, Stress Less: From Getting Ideas to Getting It Done, Munzenmaier draws on her experience as composition instructor and freelance writer, as well as research into writing and other creative activities, to present a smorgasbord of ideas that will appeal to writers with a wide range of needs and interests.

Both fiction and nonfiction writers will find suggestions for ways of doing things that their English teacher may not have advocated but may be just what they need in a certain situation.

Munzenmaier assumes readers have at least a general idea of how to write the kind of material they are planning. She organizes ideas into four sections that represent four stages of any writing process: getting ideas, determining a way to organize material, constructing the actual piece of writing, and “quality control,” which I like as an umbrella term for revision and editing tasks.

Many suggestions Munzenmaier offers are ones I also suggest, such as editing for a single error at a time and not feeling obligated to write a formal outline—or any outline—if some other way of organizing material works better for you.

She also suggests some resources I recommend writing teachers could try with students, such as the Write or Die software and the Polodormo technique for managing time.

However unlike my work, however, Write More, Stress Less includes many ideas that would appeal to writers of fiction or of nonfiction narrative. Many novice writing teachers would undoubtedly appreciate having Munzenmaier’s volume as a kind of extended glossary to writing techniques for a wider range of types of writing than I discuss.

Since I’m a linear thinker, the nonlinear arrangement of material within sections annoyed me. It would delight many of my students and critics who are not linear thinkers. I was also irritated by the absence of in-text tags to signal why author A was an authority on a particular topic. That information is in an appendix. Again, I suspect that many readers would be pleased not to have those details in the text itself.

Write More, Stress Less is available through Booklocker,  Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

[2/27/2014 updated links to booksellers]