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So many books about writing and so little time to read them all. Which one to choose?

Character arcs, point of view, plot, scenes… it goes on. Yet some of us buy so many advice books, we don’t get time to do what we bought the book for in the first place.

The usual advice in these books is: Don’t waffle, cut unnecessary scenes and move the action along so the audience does not switch off out of boredom. It’s repeated in almost all the ‘How-to’ books and if you wait a while, it will appear again in new publications. How many times do we need telling?

As with writing, so it is with life. Don’t waffle, cut unnecessary actions and move along. You are your own audience, if you don’t get to the point, you are spoiling your life story. You’ll be blocked with unnecessary scenes, you’ll switch off and you won’t do what you really want to do.

So, here’s some advice: Pick a book, check its reviews and read the sample pages to see if it’s in a style suitable for you. Buy it, absorb the advice and put it away. Then begin writing. The book has told enough to get moving and if you haven’t picked up enough advice to start your project, you’ve missed the point. If you really want to read more books, read novels, stories that have already been published, by authors who have done what you’re doing. Read for pleasure and widen your experience but Put the advice book down and move away from the table.

I have been guilty of over-researching, buying motivational books until I’m so overwhelmed I’m demotivated. I have read nuances of the same advice until my bookshelves collapsed.

Think about these classic writers. – go site Jane Austen,  F Scott Fitzgerald,  Charles Dickens,  Leo Tolstoy,  Lewis Carroll,  Charlotte Bronte… add whoever you want to that list. Now, how many advice books do you think they read before they started writing? How many advice books do you think there were in those days? Did the lack of advice diminish their work? No, they got behind a desk and started writing. And they wrote with pen and paper; when cutting-and-pasting required a pair of scissors.

Look around, there are hundreds of advice books, all expounding the same thing. -And is our writing any better than the authors listed above?

Stop looking for more advice and start writing. It’s what you’re supposed to be doing isn’t it?


‘Why haven’t you finished your novel yet?’

‘It’s a long story.’