Reading on Writing

The next few posts are going to be overviews and reviews of books on the art of writing. I am hesitant to use the word review because anything which improves ones chances of getting words on paper shouldn’t be denigrated as reviews often do. Nor does one know what motivate a person. What is rah rah to a person may be blah blah to another and demotivating. That said, the books I will be covering are considered “Classics” or books on writing.

Books on writing come in two major forms. The first is the helping individuals get into the “writing zone”. Tips, tools and stories on how to turn off the inner editor and give oneself permission to write without judgment. Writing is a scary task in that every action is a form of commitment. You commit words to paper, ether and others can see it. Others will judge it and the truth others will tear you down. Most will. The art critic Rene Ricard said ‘You can never explain to someone who uses God’s gift to enslave that you use God’s gift to be free.” Those who criticize without the experience of creation have different aims. The first group of books provide exercises to move beyond those voices, even if one of them is your own.

The second set of books focus on the mechanics of writing. These are not books on grammar or style, but instead books on developing voice and point of view. What does it take to create verisimilitude of voice such that truth resonates in the words that emerge. Inevitably, mechanics books focus on the art of rewriting. 

These books do not make writers, but they provide tools, camaraderie, connectedness to other writers and make what is necessarily a lonely practice not an isolated one.

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