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13 Apr 2013

L is for... Learning

This post was inspired by the differing opinions I've seen and heard about surrounding creative writing books.  I guess it's sort of a continuation topic from my Tuesday post but I was really interested in hearing overall opinions. 

I've had many writer friends in the past who do love to browse through a creative writing book, especially when they started out and pick up tips and advice on how to get started.  Learning how to create and develop characters, help with creating the voice of your character, finding a way to plot and pace the novel etc.

But I've known friends in the past who aren't as keen.  To them they want to write their own way and they see creative writing books as telling you what to do and how to write.  So they avoid and learn through their own experiences.

Neither opinion is right or wrong.  As a beginner I'm glad for these books because they've given me tips on how to get started, context on my chosen genre and market, and advice on how develop an aspect of my WiP that I think I'm weak on.  But after a while I do think there's only so much you can read and then you have to move away from the theory and start the practice yourself.   I don't refer to my creative writing books as much as I used to.

How do you feel about creative writing books? What's your best way of learning the craft? :)


  1. I have a lot of "feels" (as my teenage daughter would say) about this topic. But I'll try not write a blog article in the comments. In fact, I think I've probably touched on this on my own blog (an article about talent, perhaps).

    I think the question is not so much about the validity of writing books, but how we use them. There really aren't any rules about what's good writing. As great as Dickens was, he'd never get an agent today. Styles change, spelling changes, even what's considered good grammar is not fixed. If ON WRITING had been written 100 years ago, King's advice might have been very different.

    That said, I think what writing books present to us is "best practices." They give us a distillation of what writing practices help you communicate to a contemporary audience. They help you look at the world as a writer, and encourage you in your writing endeavors. If you're at all gifted in story-telling, a lot of the how-to about structure and character will make sense, and will probably resonate with what you already instinctively know. That's not a bad thing. Writers need such encouragements.

    Not every writing book is for everyone. But I encourage writers to make use of them for ideas, help, and spurring on when your in a funk. Honestly, any writer that says they don't need to read writing books is saying they don't ever need to hear anyone else's thoughts, ideas, and opinions on the art and craft of writing, which I find incredibly arrogant.

    But that's my thought on the subject. :)

    I learn by reading and hearing from writers I like, and writers I might not like but who have achieved success and can clearly write well. Add to that my own experience, and listening to feedback from people regarding things I've written (novels, short stories, papers, blog articles, emails...).

  2. I have had two poetry books published, I do wish I could write a story/novel but poetry comes easy for me.
    I enjoyed your blog and also your post.


  3. Hello, Robin! I love my books on writing!! I have some that are about craft, but I also have a lot that are just for inspiration and motivation, such as The Right to Write by Julia Cameron, Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul, and Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. Two of my favorite craft books on writing are The Plot Whisperer by Martha Alderson and The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell.

    Happy A to Z-ing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

  4. I'm not a writer but it sounds like writing books would be interesting.
    Peanut Butter and Whine