Reading about writing is much, much easier than writing, and it is the best way to procrastinate positively. That’s what I’m doing these days, I’m trying to be positive while not being able to write anything.
I have just finished reading Writing Tools. 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, and I find it amazing. The author is Roy Peter Clark, ‘America’s writing coach’ (as his website claims), senior scholar and vice president of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. Honestly, I had no idea who he was when I started reading, but it didn’t matter. The book that first appeared as a series of online articles must be read.
There are many books on writing, but almost all of them require your sifting out something that works for you personally. Here, every one of the tools offered by the author is useful. At least for me.
The book is full of tips and advice which can help you polish your style and, even more interesting, redirect your thinking in general, make you pay attention to things you never thought of.
- How to build phrases so that even the longest ones stay readable?
- How to vary the length of sentences and paragraphs to create expressive and convincing narration?
- Why should you be careful with adverbs?
- What is the most important thing in storytelling?
- What is an internal cliffhanger? What is a gold coin?
- How to write cinematically?
- How to deal with writer’s block and procrastination?
- How to find help and inspiration in other art forms?
- How not to be scared off by big daunting tasks, and how can file piles help you?
These are just few of the questions answered by the book. Step by step, it teaches you a lot of things, and within them lies the idea that analyzing, or, how the author calls it, ‘X-ray reading’ books, newspapers, online articles and everything else including sitcom plots can help you learn and use other writers’ secret tricks.
It is not the first book I read about writing and definitely not the last one I will read, but so far it is my favorite, definitely favorite, just because, as lazy as I am, I love when jewels are handed to me in the open palm.