Posts Tagged ‘textbooks’

I have been reading about matters relating to my paid employment this week – working on projects as I do, there’s a lot of research because my focus can change pretty regularly.  I even dug out an old project management techniques book to do a little revision 🙂

Yep, this week has been more text books and guidance notes than lost hours travelling through new worlds.

I don’t mind though; I appreciate it’s not the kind of thing I will share here but I do love learning, and having to focus on the core of a topic is definitely filling that need in me.

So for the week, at least, I am going to proudly concentrate on text books and developing my understanding of new areas.

Spoiler alert: I will enjoy myself throughout!

Happy reading,



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After Thursday’s decision, I’ve started my research and planning for my alternative book 2. This involves me reading a number of books about writing.

Although I enjoy writing and find it extremely fulfilling and engaging, it is also a serious academic subject in many ways.

The more advice and techniques I can read about, hear about, absorb and utilise, the stronger my writing will become.  That’s the theory anyway.  So I invest in guides and theories and exercise-filled textbooks, like any good student.

But – and this is the big question – how do you know if the book you read about books is actually any good?  Just as we’ve all read novels we think are badly written and poorly constructed, who can say whether a non-fiction will be badly put-together or, basically, a load of rubbish?

You can’t trust the reviews: people can pay others to give their books reviews, you know, and my internal cynic can’t put this information to one side.  You can’t really glean anything from the write-up in terms of quality or tone of advice.  All you can do is bite the bullet and buy.  Or download.  Or borrow.

But no writer I know wants to borrow all their advisory tomes.  They want them to read and re-read, to flip through when they (or their characters) have an existential crisis.  They want to hold them like life rafts when their plot is going southwards.

So what do you do?  Well, what I do is this: I buy advice on specialisms.  I mucked up my plotting – so I have a book to read about plotting and structure.  I am attempting a specific genre – so I buy a book about writing in that genre.  I want to think outside the box – I buy a book with lots of different inspiration-expanding exercises in it.

Are all the books giving good advice?  Not necessarily, but they all teach me something I didn’t know so they all have value in that sense.

One thing that has really helped me is thinking about how I would study a piece of writing – remembering the elements we were taught to identify, such as themes, motifs, imagery and so on.  The things that give books depth and identity are the same things we need to consider in our own work.  That is not to say we should write artificially, adding unnecessary elements – more that we should consider why these things worked for a particular story, and if they would work in our own.

So, as writers, we need to be both readers, and students; both producers and researchers.  Without that we can miss a fracture-point in our work which will be its undoing.  Sadly I missed that in my woods novel; I hope to fix it in the future but for now will have to learn my lesson and move on.

In other news – book 16 of the 100 best novels is ‘The Scarlet Letter’; I read it as a teenager and in all honesty I don’t think I enjoyed it that much.  It seemed rather staid to someone living in the modern age, and perhaps it’s worth revisiting as an adult with a greater sense of history.  It is interesting to me that my perception of certain books has turned 180 degrees since my teens – whereas others I love consistently!

Also – I was reading an article about copyright regarding Sherlock Holmes and associated characters.  I won’t go into my views on copyright which are convoluted and changeable, but it is a reminder that our work outlives us, as writers – so protect it!

And finally – I’ve just booked to go away on a retreat again, which I am very much looking forward to doing.  I am hoping to start writing the new novel then; so I’d best get on with my research!

Happy writing,



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