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.

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  1. Donna Swanson on May 26, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Maybe writing is like riding a bike. No amount of reading about HOW to ride a bike is going to help you; you just have to do it. The cliche “JUST DO IT” might be a very wise adage after all.

    • Amy Isaman on May 30, 2011 at 3:18 am

      My Dad said the exact same thing!! I’m working on it. I wrote almost 2000 words this weekend, so I’m feeling productive and happy. Thanks so very much for your support.

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