Bookstore Epiphany


Last night while reading through some writing books, I had a thought. Shocking, I know. It had to do with books on writing.

They’re all the same.

Some might focus on a certain element like plot or characterization, while others tackle the whole kit and caboodle. When you’re first striking out on the writing road, the endless titles can get overwhelming. One might be tempted to only read the works by accomplished authors. Obviously they know what they’re doing, right?

Then again, there are those who know the ins and outs of a field without being able to reproduce their own. I know car enthusiasts that could tell you anything you want to know about a particular car, but not have a clue on how to make one. Should I not take their advice?

Want my advice?

Go to a bookstore or library. Grab as many writing books as you can and read through them. Find the ones that speak to you. If you can, buy them. If not, take notes or check them out from your library. Eventually you’ll find that there’s nothing new to learn. The same ideas are just regurgitated in a new stylized manner.

Don’t forget to analyze the books you like to read. You find them entertaining for a reason. Try to take them apart to see why.

It’s important to learn the rules of storytelling and grammar. It does NOT mean you need to stick to them. I just prefer to know that if I’m breaking a traditional rule in writing, that I’m doing on purpose to gain a desired effect.

Rules were meant to be broken. Just know why you’re doing it.

So to wrap up, here’s my Something New: I will never buy another book on writing. The temptation is there, but I think I know better now. This is good for me at where I am in my own writing. This might not be good for yours.

As always, I’m happy to hear your thoughts on this.

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3 thoughts on “Bookstore Epiphany

  1. Very interesting post. For the most part, I agree with you. There isn’t anything earth shattering in books about writing, except, perhaps, this: writers, even those that I idolize and hold up to near deity status, are just human beings. They write first drafts, just like me, and they often struggle with the quality of their work.

    I don’t think the practical advice found in these books should be interpreted as being more than it is: advice. Maybe it works for you, maybe it doesn’t. The inspiration such a book can provide, as well as the sanity at realizing that even wildly successful writers have to work at it, can truly be worth something.

    If you’ve gotten that from the writing books you’ve read, then you’ve likely gotten as much as there is to get.

    1. Too right, Dex. I completely forgot about the inspiration factor. If reading these books inspires one to write more, then by all means, they should continue. Just as long as the reader knows that there’s no magic bullet in any of those books. No one thing that will magically transform their writing in to pure brilliance. That has to come from within on top of pages and pages and pages of practice.

      1. The mutual admiration continues: well said. No magic bullets at all. Good writing = practice + vulnerability + hard work. Always.

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