DIYMFA: Books on Writing, in which I confess…

Posted 19 September, 2011 by DLWhite in Writers Write 3 Comments

A brief note before I post: Day three of the 30 Day Writing challenge is up on my Tumblr! If you’re participating by blog or Tumblr please let me know so I can follow!

So, today we are discussing building a library on the craft of writing. And I have a confession to make: I buy writing books all the time but don’t read them. I have several books of writing exercises but don’t really make use of them. It hasn’t been a medium that has been effective for me… it’s that feeling of flipping through a book and realizing it’s in a language you can’t read. In fact, I become overwhelmed and quite stressed out after reading them because I feel like I have no idea how to apply what I’ve just read to something I’m currently writing.  I am much more of a writing blog reader than I am a writing book reader, though I do have a couple of writing books I like:

The Holy Grail, it seems: Stephen King’s On Writing. It simply is a good book with easy to follow, level headed advice on not only being a writer, but being a good writer.

Now Write: I used this book extensively when I was jumping back into writing in 2008. It is an entire book of exercises. Some of which worked really well for me. Typically exercises are so existential in nature  (pretend you’re a tree, flowing in the wind. Describe your feelings and actions and motions. Really dig deep into this… zzzzzzzzzzz… nope. I am not a tree. Give me something I can sink my teeth into.) but this book seemed to be full of great story starters.

Write Great Fiction: This a great fiction writing series. I’ve yet to read one cover to cover but have picked great things out of each. I like to use these books for reference or a brush up on what to remember. I will rarely sit down and read a writing book, just to read it.


I also have a number of eBooks on writing but that is even less effective. I need to be able to underline and flag and highlight and write in the book.

Other than these, you might find some reading books on my bookshelf, but I wouldn’t count on my having read them. Maybe they’ll be a good reference point for me at some time in the future.

3 Responses to “DIYMFA: Books on Writing, in which I confess…”

  1. I know what you mean about having lots of writing books but not reading them all. I often “dip into” writing books rather than read them cover-to-cover. I like books that are easy to flip through and look up answers to my questions. The only ones I tend to read beginning-to-end are the ones about the writing life (like On Writing or Bird by Bird or Writing Down the Bones). Those I often go back to and reread chapters that I loved.

  2. Satia Renee

    This is a great list.  I’m still working on mine but I hope to have something pulled together between now and tomorrow.  Or maybe the day after tomorrow.