I’m just as guilty as everyone else. I’ll admit it.
I fall in to bad habits, lazy writing habits. I get so busy writing that I don’t read other authors as often as I should (or would like to). And, with limited reading time, I really don’t want to spend it reading about writing. I’d much rather read fiction than non-fiction.
However, just because I don’t want to do something doesn’t mean it’s not exactly what I need to do.
Let’s be honest with one another (because, let’s face it, that’s who I am…the one who gives you the bitter truth), I don’t want to exercise. I don’t want to eat right. I don’t want to go to the doctor’s office when I’m sick and wait for hours when I should be working (wait, that went off on a ranty tangent, sorry.)
But, those are all things that I need to do from time to time. It’s part of being a responsible adult. Life isn’t just chocolate and red wine in a pretty glass, toasting my size 3 rear-end while my books write themselves. (Oh, how I wish for any of those three things!!!) Life is hard. Work is…well, work. And that means, from time to time, there are exercises. Practice. Words that will never see the light of day and reading that isn’t necessarily fun, but can be enlightening.
See, writers write. That old adage is true. It reminds us that we don’t just think about writing, plan writing or talk about writing but we actually W-R-I-T-E. Fingers hit the keyboard, pick up a pencil (or writing utensil of your choice) and move until words come out. But we also need to know how.
All jobs and businesses are this way. A real estate agent takes continuing education classes. Teachers attend workshops. Actors continue with coaches, even after landing large roles. And, writers need to continue learning as well. Things change. New words are added to the dictionary every year. People change. You may find that you no longer want to write thrillers but romantic comedy instead. Markets change. This year paranormal might be slower than you’d hoped so you can supplement your income with speaking engagements, workshops or articles.
Life is in constant flux and you, as a professional writer (or aspiring professional) should be as well. This means learning all you can continuously. I have books on making the most of social media next to books on screenwriting. I’m not a blogger (well, not really), nor am I a screenwriter (as of today) but I can learn about storytelling from both of these mediums which can make me a better writer. I have books on goal setting and personal development beside books about the technical aspects of where to place a semi-colon. Why? Because both contribute to my writing career – my outlook as well as my professionalism.
However, this isn’t to say that every book about writing, personal development, and being a writer is right for you. Seek out knowledge, even in the midst of books that you believe are full of bologna (I’ll never understand why it isn’t spelled “boloney.”) In my own pursuit, I find that some advice will stand the test of time (think Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style) and other suggestions will not (not too many of us sending out SASEs any more…few people even understand that acronym any longer!) The point is to hew what you can use from the nuggets you find. Dig for the treasure in any book and then shine it up for your use. The rest of it is just the cast-off chaff.
And, in case you’re wondering, right now, I’m reading Save the Cat by Derek Snyder and just finished 250 Things You Should Know About Writing by Chuck Wendig. In the comments, tell me what books YOU recommend for writers!