Saturday, January 15, 2011

Self-Help Books

While I do believe that some personal issues can be solved by self-help books, I have to admit that learning to write cannot be solved by any self-help books.

For every one of you out there looking for the end-all, be-all book to magically make you a successful doesn't exist.

Some of you are probably ready to close my blog right now, infuriated by my indignant words toward all those who strove to help us in our quest toward greatness.  Let me say this, in defense of all those writers who have sacrificed their time and energy to write "how to write" books.  There are some great writing advice books out there.  On the top of my list, as well as many others' lists, I would imagine, is "On Writing" by Stephen King.  King's book is well-written, full of useful advice, and inspiring to boot.

No matter how good this book, or any other writing manual, may be, it is only a manual.  Reading a book is not writing a book.  I've spent more than my fair share of my hard-earned money looking for the magical advice from authors who have been there, and got out of the funk and onto the printed page.  I've got at least eight different "how to become a successful writer" books on my bookshelf.  Not one of them has gotten me published.

Here's my advice for those contemplating a purchase of a "how-to" writing book:  Go ahead and buy it.  Read it like you've never read a book before.  Glean every useful tidbit you can get, and then, once you've finished reading it, put it away and never touch it again.  Use your newfound knowledge to fill a blank page with words.  Then, fill another page.  Simply put...write.

No amount of reading will ever make you a successful writer.  The only way to become successful at writing is to write, and write excessively.  Write anything.  Start a blog, like this one.  Create a journal.  Do anything that puts words on the blank page.  Believe me, you'll thank me later.

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