Book Review: Confessions Of A Freelance Penmonkey By Chuck Wendig


Yes, I said winners. I chose one comment at random (actually my cat did. She knocked over the hat full of numbers and in the end there was only one left in it). I also picked one because it contained the bit of advice I wish I’d gotten.

Actually I did get the advice, I just didn’t listen.

So the random draw winner is Bailey (The Bookworm)  and the one I picked out is from (Squid Ink) Sarah. Congratulations and thanks for commenting.

Thanks everyone else for commenting too. I’ll be doing more giveaways soon.



First a confession from this penmonkey; I’m a fan of Chuck Wendig’s writing. I love his blog and his work, so this review probably isn’t coming from a place you could call unbiased.


With that said, I loved Confessions Of A Freelance Penmonkey. Chuck has taken all of his best advice for writers from his blog and put it all together in a liquor and profanity soaked hybrid tome. This is not for the faint of heart, if you can’t cope with swearing, sexual references (including but not limited to badgers) and writing advice that sounds like it came from a belligerent sasquatch then this is not your writing advice book.


Sometimes books that are made up of blog posts are pointless money grabs, and while I can’t deny that Chuck’s probably getting paid for Confessions Of A Freelance Penmonkey he manages to avoid the “pointless” by putting in an editors commentary to each post, telling readers how he feels about the advice he gave then, and any extra advice on top of what he’s already given. These little extras are not just one hundred word bites added in ten minutes of desperation (I don’t think so anyway), they are well thought out and often several pages long.


There was some criticism that the book is full of mistakes, but I didn’t find that in the copy I bought from Amazon. This may be down to me being unobservant, but I didn’t find any typos that pulled me up short or made me want to write Chuck an angry email.


There is a certain theme to the points, which is that of a drunken three am rant by a bearded and desperate writer pushed to the edges of sanity, so if you don’t enjoy the blog posts at Chuck’s website then I should warn you that the beardy insanity is omnipresent in Confessions Of A Freelance Penmonkey.

Chuck manages to cover a lot of ground over the course of one book. Plot, structure, story, characterization and dialogue all get serious scrutiny. So does querying and self publishing.

To sum up: The advice is excellent, bullshit free advice that gets to the core of the problems that plague virtually all writers (pants, or no pants? That is the question.) I found the posts hilarious and relevant to the things I’m doing a writer. This book is five bucks, and I think that makes it a bargain.



Hit up Chuck’s site here for the myriad of ways you can buy the book.



So, I’m going to give away a copy of this to a random commenter. Tell me the one piece of writing advice you wish you’d gotten before you started writing and I’ll pick a winner on Friday.



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13 Responses to Book Review: Confessions Of A Freelance Penmonkey By Chuck Wendig

  1. Jeffrey ChapmanNo Gravatar says:

    There’s a butt-load of advice I wish I had before I started writing, but there’s one big one for me that I still have to remind myself of: That I, as a writer, will always be the one of the most critical people to my own work. This is a good thing too, as it means that I actually care about getting it right.

  2. Soon to be doing freelance penmonkey full time in t-minus 10 days. This type of advice is serendipitously needed right now. Thanks Chuck. Thanks Jack. BTFO.

  3. There are too many, but as I think back through the addled haze that is my mind, I’d have to say writing every day. When I started writing, I couldn’t get enough of it. i was 15, in that awkward stage of life between playing with friends and knowing that girl’s existed. You have to remember that the only thing I had to fill my time was the Atari 2600, frequent trips to the bathroom to *wash* my hands and writing. I broke the joystick on the Atari so it was write, of have very chaffed hands.
    Anyway, once I got older (read got a girl friend) I stopped writing as much and let things slip. Write every day, or the Little Cretans in your head will board up the pathways of your imagination faster than Hermes can deliver a message, and then you’ll need to drown them in scotch just to get a drunken glimpse of what you might have been able to achieve, had you known this tidbit from the beginning. So write everyday to avoid drunken Cretans holding your imagination hostage!

  4. BA BoucherNo Gravatar says:

    What I wished was drilled into me a little harder when I was younger (ahem) was that good writing doesn’t stem from imagination. Good writing comes from great rewriting.

    Self editing is crucial and it is still a dragon that haunts me today.

  5. The one piece of writing advice I wish I had gotten before becoming a writer; the whole schlemele is going to be even worse than you thought it would be.

  6. BaileyNo Gravatar says:

    One piece of writing advice I wish I’d gotten is that it’s okay to write crap the first draft (or even the first several drafts). I went into writing with almost a competitive attitude, that I had to produce, at the drop of a hat, something better than the lost good story I’d read. That killed me for a long time, because I knew I couldn’t do it, but I also didn’t appreciate the beauty of revisions for way too long.

  7. KeithNo Gravatar says:

    Solid review & thanks for the upfront statement of bias; maybe journalists of both camps will one day take your lead.

    One piece of advice I would have liked is: Enjoy rewriting as much as writing.

    As a young writer I recall hastily & hatefully rewriting. But the rewrite is where the heady hump of literary coitis becomes a life.


  8. BaileyNo Gravatar says:

    And see, even my comments need revising! The *last* good story. Heavens.

  9. ED MartinNo Gravatar says:

    I think the advice I would’ve liked before I started is this: Know the rules before you break them. Know what tools are available, when to use them, and why.

    I wrote a novel. I knew it wasn’t great but it was close, right? And then I learned about limited POV, show don’t tell, superfluous tags, etc. I rewrote my novel several times, and now it’s a lot closer to great than it was before.

    Knowing the rules, knowing what to use and when, made writing my second novel a lot less painful.

  10. SarahNo Gravatar says:

    Huh, I’ve been thinking about getting a copy of this, so I’ll throw in my two cents.

    I really wish someone had told me that it’s more important to actually finish a manuscript than to labor over the first chapter until it’s beautiful. :)

  11. BrennaNo Gravatar says:

    I wish someone would have told me that it’s okay to change things halfway through a manuscript. Things change and ideas come while you’re writing – but you can continue to write knowing your new ideas vs. going back and changing the other part first.

  12. Given that 2 cents isn’t even worth that nowadays I will toss in my less than 2 cents. I so fucking, sorry, fracking, wish that someone would have told me that your own personal voice is your most powerful tool in your writing arsenal. Yes, it’s important to know grammar. Yes, it’s important to know the rules. And yes, it’s important to have writing heroes that you look up too. But, I spent so much time trying to write like everyone else that I forgot that I write best when I write for me. Your words will NOT connect with everyone. Some people, a lot probably, will think your stuff is crap. But, if you stick to your unique voice sooner or later someone will connect with it. Just work at crafting that. Like a pitcher developing his signature pitch. Just work on that singular voice, no matter how non-commercial or strange it may be.

  13. Pingback: Irregular Penmonkey: An Interview With Chuck Wendig | Andrew Jack Writing

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