Jul 21, 2009

July Blog Chain

Once more into the breach my friends! Yes, it’s time for the AW Blog chain. This month each post is answering a writing question put forth by the previous poster. It makes for a great variety of both questions and answers!

My question was posed by the previous poster in the chain, jen.nifer over on Live I Must . You can check her chain post HERE . Her question to me was:

If you had to publish a book for writers starting out (think King’s ‘On Writing’ or Bradbury’s ‘Zen In The Art……’), what kind of approach would YOU take?

Funny you should ask . . .

When I first started writing, I spent a lot of time reading books about writing, reading magazines about writing, and looking up information on-line about writing. Many a tree was sacrificed to the almighty photo-copier in the name of research about writing.

In other words, I was doing pretty much everything except writing! It got to the point where someone suggested that I had enough information to write a book about writing and that maybe I should give it a try. Fortunately, I didn’t get very far.

Why do I say fortunately? Because there’s a lot of writing information out there already. Most of it really good information, some of it not so good. There are countless books and magazines and websites, the market is saturated with information about writing.

Come closer and I’ll let you in on a little secret. You ready? This is what I learned from all those books, all those magazines, and all those photocopies. There is no secret. A writer is someone who writes. It’s as simple, and as complicated, as that. Yes, books can help you with the mechanics of writing, but they cannot show you that by putting these particular words together you’re creating something powerful. You can only learn that by doing.

These days I only have five writing books on my shelf and two of them are grammar books. The others, for those who are curious, are: On Writing, by Stephen King; On Writing Science Fiction, by the editors of Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine; and Creating Short Fiction, by Damon Knight. Out of the 20 years worth of writing magazines I’d collected, I have maybe a dozen and to be honest, I’m not even sure where they are.

I haven’t seen Bradbury’s book Zen In the Art of Writing, but I highly recommend Stephen King’s book On Writing. As King himself says, it’s not so much a “how-to” book as a “how-he-did-it” book. If I was ever foolish enough to attempt an instruction book of my own, I would definitely model it after Stephen King’s. But really, what can I say except, get writing!

Next in line for the blog chain is Fame/Infamy over on Ambiguous Vindication and my question is:

Do you believe in writer’s block, and if so, what do you do to combat it? If you don’t believe in writer’s block, do you ever suffer from days where the writing just doesn’t want to come and how do you overcome this?

Don't forget to checkout the rest of the participants in the blog chain. You won't be disappointed!

DniC: Four-Lettered Words
Big Words: The Graveyard
Fokker Aeroplanbau: I'm Always Right, Far Right
harri3tspy: Spynotes
Razibahmed: Blogging37
Forbidden Snowflake: Delirious . . .
bsolah: Benjamin Solah, Marxist Horror Writer
jen.nifer: Live I Must
Lady Cat: Random Thoughts
Fame/Infamy: Ambiguous Vindication
Rosemerry: W.I.P.
aimeelaine: Aimee Laine
Proach: Deanna's Information Center
Apelle: Ghost Words and Other Echoes
lostwonderer5: Lost Wanderers Writing Blog
upsidedowngrl: UpSideDownGrl's Writing Blog
JamieMT: The Variety Pages


DniC said...

Oh my goodness yes! I totally agree. The best way to learn to write is to just do it. No amount of theories, guides, lists, or what have you is as valuable as experience, especially in the case of writing.

Snowflake said...

I totally agree. Also King's book was awesome and it helped me a lot. I spend a lot of my time reading such books too and they helped but in the end it was starting to write and then continuing to write that did it for me.

C R Ward said...

It got to the point where I realized I was doing all that reading and research as a way to avoid writing. I think my biggest hurdle when it comes to writing is procrastination.

Harriet M. Welsch said...

I haven't read many books on writing and I'm pleased to have some recommendations. The books I've used have been mostly about time management because I, like C R Ward, struggle mightily with procrastination.

Benjamin Solah said...

I love Kings book, and a few others but the more technical based books are a waste of time mostly, I think, I tend to like the theoretical ones and the inspiring.

King's book always managed to motivate me to write. That moment where he wins the paperback rights and is lifted out of the horrible conditions he's been in is pretty inspiring, even though it'll rarely be realised by most other writers.

Aimee Laine said...

I ascribe to the jump in with both feet theory. ;) And, to use yet another cliche - practice makes perfect, so yeah for just writing.

Will have to check out Stephen's King book though! :)

Anonymous said...

I remember hearing that every writer should own at least five How To... books, and disregard five pieces of advice from each. Can't remember where I heard that, but I know I have completely ignored some of the 'rules'.

If I were to add anything to what you have already pointed to, it would be this: No rule is sacrosanct, and no guideline is perfect.

Some of what I have written goes completely (I mean 180 degrees) from what is seen as 'good' writing, but it works for me. I start off with dialogue, I begin sentences with 'and', there are numerous technical "deficiencies", but what the hell...

If something comes out sounding 'right', then I leave it be.

C R Ward said...

I just lent my King book to a friend to help get her motivated and I miss it already!

And yeah, I ignore some of the rules too. Especially when it comes to dialogue. But then, how many people do you know who speak using perfect grammar?

Lost Wanderer said...

I really like your post. Definitely agree about King's book. I am not a fan of his books, simply because it's just not my genre, but there is no question that his book is inspiring.

Usually with writing books, I tend to get actual technical books, like about plot and structure, but King's is more about his experience rather than the actual know-how.

For me personally, a writing book with actual ways of improving most common errors by writers is most usual than merely inspirational one. I think now I am past the stage where I need motivation from books. So now it's about improving techniques.

Razib Ahmed said...

Great advice and thanks for it. I learnt almost the same thing about blogging- there is no secret. All you have to do is to write everyday. I do not have the Stephen King’s book as I could not find it in our local market.