Is there such a thing as having too many books on the subject of writing?
For me, the answer is no, but only as long as you don’t spend all your time reading them and no time putting in to practice what they teach.That is definitely something that, up until now, I’ve been guilty of.
I was looking through the titles on my special writing shelf today and was trying to decide which book to dive in to next. I’m trying to pick one that will keep me motivated, both to keep writing for this blog and also to work on my novel-in-progress. Typically, I concurrently read a writing book while also reading another fiction (and sometimes non-fiction) title. That way I can just grab whichever book I’m in the mood for at the moment.
The books on my shelf range from old college textbooks to old favorites to reference books to several titles that were gifts that I haven’t read yet. Here is a list of what I have by author:
- Pep Talks, Warnings, & Screeds: Indispensable Wisdom and Cautionary Advice For Writers by George Singleton – I have picked this up from time to time and read a bit.
- The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them) by Jack M. Bickham – Haven’t read, bought it in a clearance section of a used book store. It’s quite old I believe.
- Writing Children’s Books for Dummies by Lisa Rojany Buccieri and Peter Economy – A gift from about 5 years ago, I think I’ve read a couple of sections of it, but I typically stay away from these kinds of books.
- The Freelance Writer’s Bible by David Trottier – Just got this one, am leaning heavily towards reading it next. I read Trottier’s Screenwriters Bible for my undergrad screenwriting class and liked his straightforward style.
- Children’s Writer Guide to 2006 – Got it as a gift a long time ago (obviously) and haven’t read it.
- Author! Screenwriter! by Peter Miller – Haven’t read, given to me by a former roommate.
- Pen on Fire: A Busy Woman’s Guide to Igniting the Writer Within by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett – I just finished this one – hopefully will get a review written and posted soon. I recommend it!
- The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspirations For Writing by Monica Wood – I usually keep this in my computer bag whenever I need a writing prompt.
- Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English by Patricia T. O’Connor – I think I had to buy it for a college writing class. Yeah, I really should read it.
- Creating Short Fiction by Damon Knight – I read this for my short story class in college and I remember liking it at the time.
- The Practice of Poetry, edited by Robin Behn and Chase Twichell – Read it for a college poetry class and have done most of the exercises. I have it still because, though I have no desire to write poetry for publication, I like to for writing practice. It’s like finger painting, but with words – it’s messy and usually doesn’t end up being a pretty picture, but it’s fun and I love the combinations and images I come up with.
- Plot (From the Elements of Fiction Writing series) by Ansen Dibell – Old book that I got for like a buck at a used bookstore, haven’t read yet.
- On Writing by Stephen King – Been dying to read this one too!
- Conflict, Action & Suspense (From the Elements of Fiction Writing series) by William Noble – another old one I haven’t read yet.
- Words Fail Me by Patricia T. O’Conner – a recent purchase, haven’t read yet.
- Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury – read this years ago but want to reread.
- Three Genres by Stephen Minot – I keep this one for sentimental reasons – it was the book for my first ever college creative writing class.
- No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty – I just bought this one last week at the WeHo Book Fair. I don’t plan on doing NaNoWriMo but I’ve scanned through this already and think I’ll still get a LOT from it.
- Writing Fiction: A Guide To Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway and Elizabeth Stuckey-French – I read this for my college novel wriitng class, and I really want to read it again. There is a reason it is one of the most assigned books for creative writing students.
- News Reporting and Writing by Melvin Mencher – I read this in college for my first journalism class freshman year. I keep it around for reference.
- Getting Published by Paul Raymond Martin – Little instruction book given to me by an old roommate. I keep it in case, you know, I actually finish something I want to get published.
- Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis – I LOVE old books. This one is about Grammar, and I think its from the 60s maybe. I just like to flip through it for the feel of an old book sometimes.
- Writing in Flow by Susan K Perry – Another recent clearance shelf find that I haven’t read yet.
- Writing Mysteries, edited by Sue Grafton – $2 on the clearance shelf last month, haven’t read yet.
- How To Say It by Rosalie Maggio – This isn’t a creative writing book, but is more for things like letters and correspondence.
- Brain Training: Tips, Puzzles and Other Strategies for Supercharged Mind Power – Okay, so this isn’t a writing book at all, I get it, but I do the exercises in here when I’m feeling a little slow – because of work, lack of sleep, or whatever – and it’s good for making my writing crisper.
- The Travel Writer’s Handbook by Louise Purwin Zobel and Jacqueline Harmon Butler – I’ve read this before, a couple of years ago, but I think it would be useful to reread.
Any recommendations from this list on which book to grab first? Or any big ones I’m missing that I shouldn’t be without in my writing book library?