author, creative writing, writing

How helpful are books on writing?

There are loads of books out there on the subject of writing. Famously there is the memoir by Stephen King aptly named On Writing. But amongst all the How-To-Write-A-Novel‘s and How-To-Get-Published‘s out there, how helpful actually are these books?

For a long time I didn’t read books on writing. I worried that I’d find them too rigid, too stiff. Writing is meant to be done your own way. Yet over the last couple of years, I’ve found myself picking more and more of these books up. And here is what I’ve found them to be:

One of the best things about writing books is how informative they can be. Many books contain information on agents and publishers. They explain the process of seeking representation and publication, with all the steps you need to take a long the way. They give advice on what to expect throughout your writing journey. You can also get books that inform on a particular area. For example, I own a book that lays out information on police procedure, specifically aimed at crime writers – so good!
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There’s a lot of insight in these books. Particularly those like King’s On Writing that focus on the life of an author. The books often reveal the honest truth about the world of publishing; the lack of income, the odds of getting published, the hurdles to jump with each opportunity. And while this may sound a little disheartening, it is also important. When you go into something with insight, you are more prepared to deal with it. And more prepared for success.
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Not all books want to tell you how to write. Many just want to give practical tips and advice. Books such as Save The Cat Writes A Novel offer brilliant advice on story structure and plotting. These books can also give step-by-step methods for editing, for rewriting scenes, for figuring out plot holes.
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When I read books on writing it always fires up my brain and leaves me inspired. I often find that reading other writers’ thoughts on plotting, on writing, on editing, inspire my own. Sometimes I read a chapter of a writing book simply because it gives me inspiration on where to go with my own work.
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Most of all, these books are usually really encouraging. They are written by people who know what it’s like to start from the bottom, and words of support are present throughout. Us writers are prone to doubt, and anything that provides encouragement is much appreciated.
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It’s important to remember that your methods don’t have to match any of the methods mentioned in books on writing. Your journey will be unique to you, your style, your goals.

What books have you enjoyed? Share your thoughts below.

Until then,
Keep writing,

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11 thoughts on “How helpful are books on writing?”

  1. Great article, I’ve often been on the fence about some of the writing advice books. I have a few that I like, but most of those are specific to things like “How to write a mystery” etc. But I have a list of a few I was considering reading.

    Some of these look good and I’ve not heard of all of them, so they are now on my list. Thanks for your insight!

    Liked by 1 person

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