When I started this whole writing journey, I knew there were books on how to write. I’m a book junkie, so I’d seen them. I’d even occasionally picked up a copy of “Writer’s Digest” or “Poets and Writers Magazine” to peruse. I was obviously aware there is a publishing industry since that’s where my beloved books come from; I had no idea, however, that an entire world exists that pertains to every possible aspect of writing and publishing.
To a newbie like me, this has been a little overwhelming. I can find not just one helpful piece but numerous articles and even entire books devoted to: why write, how to write, what not to write, why blog, what to blog, the ins and outs of publishing, pitching, querying (what the hell’s a query anyway? I obviously haven’t gotten that far), self-publishing, writer’s effective use of social networks, plot, sub-plots, plot layers, characters, internal conflict, external conflict, scene, structure, setting, story world, theme, dialogue, point of view, action, pacing, the beginning of a story, the middle, the end, how to write short stories, how to write novels, editing, revision, punctuation, the sentence, the paragraph, grammar, and even, the proper use of active/passive voice. And this is just a sampling of topics writers can read about.
This has become a big problem for me. After much midlife self reflection over the past few years, I now know that I like to have all my ducks in a row and know as much as I can before starting any project, and as a writer, I definitely fall into the “outliner” category, not to be confused with the amazing “just write” folks who can sit down, start writing, and see where it takes them. I would not have known that those two disparate categories even existed had I not gotten sucked into reading all about how to write! (Thank God, I found out that there’s a whole group out there like me. I am not alone in my writing OCD-ishness.)
With all this information, all these well meaning authors really want to help others learn to write, and they are sincere in their efforts. The problem is that I am their ideal target market because I feel like I need to learn all this stuff, so I buy it and read it because they convince me that without it, I will fail. Just read some Amazon reviews on them. Any successful writer must have some of these books. Then, I spend all my time learning how to write by reading, researching, and studying about it rather than actually doing it.
But all the master-published-writing teachers out there also say I must write to improve. I just need to read their book first. It’s a vicious cycle. I use my precious writing time reading about how to learn to write when all the teachers say I should really be writing as that’s the best way to improve. So why am I reading all this stuff? And why am I compelled to write about my writing here? What is it about writing that makes one want to write about it? Ah, I think those questions are for another day (and blog).
Generally in these blogs, I reach some sort of conclusion. Not so much in this one. Unless the idea that one must actually write to improve at writing, instead of reading about writing, is a conclusion. But I don’t think so. Even though it keeps me from writing, I still really like to read about how to write.
The only profound conclusion I can reach? I am a sucker. So, if you are thinking of writing a book on any aspect of writing whatsoever, and you are struggling to identify your target market or audience, email me. I can fill you in.