I think I’ve read enough books on writing that they’re all beginning to overlap and become rehashes of one another—each saying essentially the same thing, merely in that author’s style (so it must be true). John’s book is no different in that respect, but I really liked the way he said it. I liked his voice, and if there’s one thing the reader can take away from How to Write Good, it’s how to discover and develop one’s voice.
There are many more things to take away than that, though, making it well worth the investment. Besides, repetition is a good teacher.
Reading John’s contribution was like sitting down in his living room over a beer with a game on in the background (it doesn’t matter who’s playing), and talking shop. I breezed through it in about an hour. Very relaxed and easy to understand. It’s a perfect book for the beginner, which is exactly the person for whom it was written. Some books are too complicated—too much writerspeak—and seem to feed the author’s ego rather than allow for the reader’s ease of understanding (“serve the work, not the ego”).
Yes, I’m a beginner…but not a total newbie. I do always like to approach a new how-to as if I were, though. Once a person thinks they’re the master, they’ve become unteachable. So I read with an open-mind.
This was an instance where I wished I had the hard copy of the book instead of the e-book, though. I don’t know how to highlight or take notes on the page or use the Kindle to my best advantage yet, and I desperately wanted to flip back through the pages to review some of his suggestions.
John writes the way I write…or would write if I listened to his advice, which I will. My voice is very similar to his (even down to the word fruck), but I am probably the world’s slowest writer. I thought last November’s NaNo would have broken me of that, but I still crawl through each sentence, and his suggestion of letting whimsy rule the page is perfect for me. Even this post has already seen many edits and deletions. I have to get over that. Choice is made. Don’t second guess. Move on.
He has a few other solid one-liners in his ditty bag, which may seem simple but speak volumes. Write bad. Fail on the page. There are no wrong choices. Whimsy lets you try things out. Judgement lets you make stuff go away.
Although there are many books on the craft that are more “instructional” or tap into the writer’s spiritual side and get all “if I’m not writing, I’m not breathing,” this was perfect for the “blue-collar” writer. Don’t be highfalutin. Write. Have an active practice. Write bad if you must. Whimsy says so. Judgement can fix it up later.
Keep giving them YOU until YOU is what they want.
I think I’ll spend the $6.00 and get the hard copy, just for the ease of reference. I’m old-school that way. It wasn’t “the book that changed my life,” but it did have too many great points that have already flown out of my head, which I want to highlight in yellow or blue and stick little stickies on my favorite pages.
I highly recommend this for the new writer…or the writer who is stuck…or the writer who has become too full-of-himself and needs to keep it green. It’s good that way, and will show you how to write even gooder.
Our next book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, is one of those more spiritual writer’s guides that I made reference to above. It promises to be very enlightening, and in looking over it, is designed to be a 12-week program.
So that’s how we’ll approach that book…over the course of twelve weeks. Weeks 1-4 will be June’s contribution, 5-8 will be July’s, and 9-12, August’s. I’ll look through it more closely to determine how this will best fit our book club and make a more detailed post. Thanks to all of you who signed up, and the list is still open for those who want to be a part of it.
And congratulations once again to our giveaway winners, Al Diaz and Lexie Cobain!
This post is part of the monthly discussion of The Progressive Book Club. For more information, follow the link to the guidelines above. We meet the third Wednesday of each month and discuss a selected book on the craft of writing. Join in on the titles you like, pass on those you don’t. It’s that simple. We’d love to have you!
For a list of this month’s participants, click on the frog below and see what the others had to say about How to Write Good.