This discussion came up in a group on Facebook yesterday and it’s been thinking about it ever since. I have never read a book about writing and if I’m honest, I doubt I ever will. It’s something I have never thought was essential to my writing.
I understand they teach the fundamentals of structure, be it a sentence, dialogue, or a book as a whole. This is something that an be learned, but in my opinion, the rest of it can’t.
As a writer/author – whatever the label is these days – I am always learning. I learn from other authors and my editors. I am constantly evolving in how I write and the types of things I write, but at the core, there is something intrinsically ‘me’ about everything I create.
This is the reason I don’t use these books to ‘further my craft’. I don’t disagree with them, but they are simply not for me. I guess, if I’m honest, I’m scared of them. I worry that they’ll make my writing too clinical. Does that sound ridiculous?
I see a lot of other writers raving about different books they have read and how each has helped them in various ways and that’s great. There’s no person more willing to learn than an aspiring author, but I find that these books spend too much time in telling writers how to write rather than giving the advice to just write.
There are ‘rules’ to writing (I couldn’t tell you one at all) that I’ve been told that they are useful to know, especially if you want to break them. But, surely, as artists (Bleurgh, I hate referring to myself in that way), we make our own rules when we create our work? Am I way off bat here?
I don’t want to come across as pretentious and to bleat on about ‘artistic licence’ because that’s not something at the forefront of my mind when I write. Yes, there are things I will argue with my editor about, things I am adamant about keeping in my books, but I am always willing to come to a compromise with her because, at the end of the day, I want to release the best book I possibly can.
If you read craft books, let me know the best thing about them that has helped you with your writing. Also, let me know if, in any way, these books have hindered your writing in anyway because you’ve tried to ‘follow the rules’ too much.