Tuesday, May 19, 2009

When you're reading about writing instead of writing

Face it, we've all been there. If you're reading this blog instead of writing at this moment, you're doing it now. The problem is, when do you know how much is too much?

I think the Slushbusters all agree that we love Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott, and Stephen King's book On Writing. The Writer's Guide to Crafting Stories for Children by Nancy Lamb has the best technical advice I've read. And although it was intended for younger readers, Gail Carson Levine's Writing Magic has some wonderful story starters. But where do you stop?

I had a birthday the other day. I received several books about writing from my friends. I'm still working on the ones they gave me for Christmas. Now, I know part of this is my own fault, since I'm not an easy person to buy gifts for, and I keep referring people to my Amazon wish list. And I love my Amazon wish list. But suddenly it's become a case of "Be careful what you wish for."

So this inspires two questions: First, how do you find the balance between writing, and reading about writing in order to improve? Second, what are your favorite writing books?


Scott said...

I try – usually unsuccessfully – to balance all areas of my life. I normally – quite successfully (isn’t that ironic) fail in this endeavor.

I quit buying books about writing many years ago. I found myself obsessing about this, that, and everything and . . . not doing what I love most: writing! So, the books became additions to my overflowing bookshelves and I began to concentrate on writing.

Blogs have become my arch-nemesis. I love the blogs. I love blogging. I still write. I think I learn more from the blogs than I ever did from my writing books.

So, how do I maintain balance with the gazillion blogs I follow? I set a timeframe for blogging. I do not blog after 7 PM. I do not look at blogs after 7 PM. At 7 PM, I write . . . at least during the week. On the weekends, I’m pretty good about staying out of the blogsphere. I have no clue why.

This is what works for me.


Amy Allgeyer Cook said...

That's such a great question!! I spend at least an hour every day, perusing my favorite blogs. I'm in the middle of editing, so I don't even have time to work on my WIP, but I make time to see what my blog buddies are up to. Should I be writing instead? I just don't know...

Tess said...

I've read too many books on writing -- some better than others. My fav's?? Hmmm... I liked 'How to Wrtie a Mystery Novel' by Hallie Efron because it was a clear breakdown of information. I also like 'Story Architect' (by ??? - my office is such a mess!). Bird by Bird was nice, but I had to put it on a high shelf away from the kids because of the language. Why put language like that in a writing book? Ok, I'm off my little rant there.

Wendy said...

I like all the books you mentioned above. I also thought Write Away by Elizabeth George was helpful.

I give myself a certain time allowance on blog reading so I can focus on writing. Sometimes I abide by it, sometimes not. :D
~ Wendy

Sarah said...

Oooo... good answers, everyone. (Scott, I don't think I could be so disciplined about the blog-curfew.)

I love blogs. I've learned so much from them- so I couldn't give them up.

When I need to write, I head off to Barnes and Noble. They don't have free wifi, so writing is the only dance in town.

I normally read books on writing when I'm hammering something out in my MS, or just need to recharge. I love anything by William Zinsser. His emphasis is nonfiction, but his books are still incredibly helpful. He's just the sort of person you feel you'd like.