Thursday, August 23, 2012

Write This Way...

by Allison Pang

I admit I nearly forgot to write this post, but I'll cut myself a break since yesterday was my birthday and I was busy doing birthday things. (And fellow word-whore Jeffe's birthday was yesterday as well. Birthday twins, ahoy!)

That being said, I've got an odd sort of relationship with this week's topic - because I don't really have any writing resources. Or at least, none that I use on a regular basis.

Now, I'll explain a bit about that. Back when I was starting to actually write for publication, I bought a LOT of books. A lot of them. I'm looking at my shelves right now and I've got various things like Book in a Month and Bird by Bird, and Write is a Verb and a stack of other books either meant to improve craft or to motivate.

But you know what?

I've barely cracked a single one. Certainly not more for then a chapter or two. Couldn't tell you why, but for some reason reading a lot of those books tends to agitate me. Constantly being bombarded by people telling me the right way to do things just completely kills my creativity vibe.

But more importantly, I was using the purchasing of those books as an excuse against actual writing. I started writing A Brush of Darkness in summer of 2008. By that December,  I maybe had 20k done? I kept pussy-footing around and making excuses about why I couldn't write that day. Too tired. Too stressed. Too whatever.

I hid my  issues behind book purchasing. At least then I wouldn't feel guilty about not writing that day or week or whatever. After all, I was doing something to improve my craft, right?

Only thing is, you can't improve what you're not practicing.

So I stopped buying books and I started actually writing. By April of 2009, I had 100k novel that I was able to pitch at RT (badly, but that's another story).

I guess my thoughts here are just that books and blogs can certainly point you in the right direction and help you figure out your  voice, but in the end advice can't write the books for you.

That in mind, when I do use writing resources, they tend to be  specific - something like The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, for instance. Fabulous resource if you need language sources (particularly for fantasy or old English, thieves cant and the like.)

I love learning about where language and words come from and something like this can really help flavor a story.

Also, I've bought a book or two from Holly Lisle  - she's a fantasy author who's been around for a while and has recently started a workshop program and has some pretty good stuff on world building and culture creation (both very important if you're writing fantasy world from scratch and feeling a bit lost.)

I haven't personally taken her workshops, but I know people who have and they have been very satisfied with them.

Otherwise, I just keep my ear to the ground and try to catch up with author blogs as I can. Sometimes I buy books, but I still don't read them much.


  1. "Constantly being bombarded by people telling me the right way to do things just completely kills my creativity vibe." - Exactly.

  2. I have that same issue - I get why writers like Tuck, Linda and Carolyn love books that teach "the tricks," but it makes me crazy to try to think that way. Maybe it's the birthday!

  3. Mm, I will have to put those two books in my "must buy". I recently bought the Steampunk bible to help me with the steampunk technology and such for this piece of writing. Funny how even not knowing all that much I still wrote. I figured I could go over it again once I study up.

    Happy Belated b-day!!! Mine is in two weeks