Friday, January 28, 2011

Learning vs. Writing?

Lately, I've been studying up on the craft of writing. I'm taking notes from The Plot Whisperer's YouTube videos, and I've started reading Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, which I seem to be hearing a lot about lately.

All good stuff, except I'm not really doing any writing. I expected all this reading about different techniques to motivate me to actually try one!

Does reading about writing technique help to motivate you?


  1. Most definitely. It makes me pull out mss to see if I can incorporate the technique and/or what I've learned from the book. I also think that learning and reading time are part of writing. Sometimes writers are too hard on themselves because they feel they have to write all. the. time. We're not machines. Yes, the 'don't think, just write' advice is terrific. But sometimes we have to put the pen down/push the keyboard away, and think.

    Thanks for mentioning this book. Have to check it out.

  2. Depends. When I'm stuck, reading about writing can sometimes trigger a solution. More often, though, I'm reading just to avoid sitting down and committing words to paper.

    I've been enjoying The Plot Whisperer series, though. It's been quite valuable as I find my footing with my new project because I'm the type of writer who likes to have a solid foundation before moving on.

  3. Andrea V. is right on. Thinking is a very important part of writing. But I like craft books formatted like workbooks so I feel like I have to do the exercises.

    And I love the blog's new look!

  4. I think it depends on the book. Some books hit me just the right way and have advice that makes intuitive sense and that I find I can put to use. Other books make me feel like I'm floundering way out of my depth. I think about trying to incorporate what they're saying and it's overwhelming and makes me feel like I have to start my whole project over a totally different way because I'm not doing it right. But I do think it's important to read up on craft. Like Carmella says, I often find I turn to craft books when I'm stuck, hoping to find a solution. Thanks for the book suggestion, and I'm looking forward to a few free minutes to check out The Plot Whisperer!

  5. Susanna, I do feel sometimes that there is so much advice that I'm not applying to my novels, and it makes me feel that I should be. It can be overwhelming. I try to remember that I just need to absorb what I'm ready for at the time. Really good books are the ones I keep on my own shelves and return to again and again to absorb a little bit more.

    Kate, I've tried doing some of those exercises - most recently in Noak Lukeman's The Plot Thickens to think about characters - but I got impatient with how long it took when I wanted to get started with my writing. Probably shorter exercises would be the best for me.

    Car, reading about writing is a good way to procrastinate. At least it's writing-related...

    Andrea V., I think it is important to remember that writers don't have to be writing all the time. It can create a lot of pressure if you think you do, which works against the creative process.


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