Wednesday, 26 August 2009
Advantage of Writing Craft Books
I am participating in Absolute Write Blog Chain again this month. Corrine asked me this question: On your blog, you mention reading quite a few craft books. What have you found useful in writing craft books to apply to your own work? Have they been more or less useful than writing classes or critique groups, if you've been involved in these? I have found craft books very useful. In fact, it has been my main method for acquiring knowledge of techniques and methods. I read many blogs and articles of course, but they almost always discuss merely the surface of things, whereas books go indepth. I have never been involved in a critique group, and have only attended short, day workshops for beginners. The workshops were fun and good to get creative juices flowing, but not useful. Main reason being, they were aimed for beginners, and I found that by beginner a lot of other writers present simply lacked confidence to write. I don't have that problem. I also feel that unless the workshops/critique groups are led by regularly published authors, there isn't much point. It's not to say that other people - beginner writers and readers - can't give me good advice, but the problem is that there is so much conflicting advice, it's hard to determine who is right. At least if it's coming from a regularly published author, you know for sure that they know what they are talking about. That's where writing craft books are advantageous. I don't just read all random books. I look at them carefully and determine if they have use for me. I also look at who or what they come from. For example, I own several writing book from Writers Digest Publishing. Writers Digest is a reputed, professional enterprise, and so I have faith in their books. Now, I am not saying that I do every exercise these books tells me to. In fact, for the most part I haven't done any. But I absorb what they say, and from that, I learn more about a good book is put together, so that when I am looking at my own manuscript, I am more aware of things that should be what's missing. Before, I used to look at my first draft, and know that it wasn't good enough but without any clue as to how to fix things. But now, because I have been studying craft books, I know more about the ingredients. When you know what's supposed to be in a recipe, you can play around and mix it to your own taste. So in conclusion then - good writing books that give you solid (ideally step-by-step) direction for how to do something are definitely useful. I don't much go for inspirational type books that just talk about writing rituals and getting inspiration and stuff, because I don't need that. I don't need anyone to tell me that I can be a writer. All I want is knowledge of craft that could only come from experience or from learning. Question for Forbidden Snowflake You started your blog to record your journey to improve self-discipline and write 100K words. Has having a blog to record your progress helped you? What do you do to motivate yourself to write? And what is it that demotivates you when you can't write?