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I've been writing for 4+ years now and have never (completely) read a book on writing.

In all honesty, I tried reading a book on writing recently just to see if I was missing out. It was 20 Master Plots, but I found it to be a waste of time by the time I was a third of the way through.

The hardest part of writing can't be taught... It's just learned.
 

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AuthorX said:
The hardest part of writing can't be taught... It's just learned.
Now that's just ridiculous, but I know there are writers that truly believe that. The same way some people believe they can't become artists because they can't draw. Which, by the way, is a bunch of hooey.
 

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AuthorX said:
The hardest part of writing can't be taught... It's just learned.
All skills are learnt through experience. But asking questions, listening to others who have been there, reading/watching stories (good and bad), and reading about writing definitely help.
 

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Do books on teaching writing count?
Though  to be fair I just bought them I never actually opened them. That was a grand wasted. Live and learn and don't buy textbooks until your professor actually uses them.
 

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dgcasey said:
Now that's just ridiculous, but I know there are writers that truly believe that. The same way some people believe they can't become artists because they can't draw. Which, by the way, is a bunch of hooey.
While I think it's possible to learn to draw, it's not possible to have that extra talent that some people are born with. I doubt Leonardo went to any classes. In my class at school was a girl who, when she was bored, used to sketch other pupils in the class. Beautiful sketches, all exactly like the subject. I don't think anyone can learn that and I don't think anyone can learn to be a story teller, although it's possible to learn how to put a story together.
 

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dgcasey said:
Now that's just ridiculous, but I know there are writers that truly believe that. The same way some people believe they can't become artists because they can't draw. Which, by the way, is a bunch of hooey.
Anyone can learn to draw, just like anyone can learn to write. But the hardest part of drawing --your eye for colors, textures, steady hand, etc.-- must be learned, no matter how much someone tries to teach you. I'm not saying that a teacher can't help speed things along, but this is something that will be learned through practice, not through reading a book or being told what to do.

The same is true with writing. A book on writing can tell you about the hero's journey. It can tell you about plot points, etc. It can tell you to show not tell. But the hardest part of writing is finding your voice and developing your own personal style of writing. If you read a good book and then ask yourself 'What makes this book great?' then you will probably learn more about writing than you would if you had read a book on writing. If you write 100,000 words, your next 100,000 words are likely to be better. If you read a book on writing, you will be lucky if you pick up one or two sticking points if any at all.

When people say that they have a favorite writer, it's generally because that writer is telling stories that are different from other books that they've read. It's not because that writer is following a manual.

Also, learning to draw and learning to write are kind of hard to compare. I'm going to guess that most writers were readers before they began writing, so they have essentially had hours upon hours of study time before they even start their journey. People who say they can't draw probably have never studied drawings and have never took any substantial steps to become good at drawing. If someone is learning to write, and all they've done is watch movies their entire life, then yeah... I guess they should pick up a book on writing as they are going to face the same uphill battle as someone trying to learn to draw. They need as much help as they can get to learn the basics. Someone who has been reading their entire life is way ahead of the game when it come to writing, so long as they are capable to deciphering what made the bad books bad and the good books good. They will see more benefit from writing more words over reading what other authors have to say about writing.
 

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Doglover said:
While I think it's possible to learn to draw, it's not possible to have that extra talent that some people are born with. I doubt Leonardo went to any classes.
Perhaps you're right about the talent, but learning is possible (as you say), and Leonardo da Vinci did study, he was apprenticed to the artist Andrea del Verrocchio.
 

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NedMarcus said:
Perhaps you're right about the talent, but learning is possible (as you say), and Leonardo da Vinci did study, he was apprenticed to the artist Andrea del Verrocchio.
And don't you think there's a reason why the whole word knows who Leonardo da Vinci was, but few know who the other bloke was? I don't believe anyone could learn to paint the Mona Lisa; even picture of it just cannot compare to the original.
 

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Discussion Starter #70
Doglover said:
Why do you assume we all read books on writing?
I don't. Immediately after I ask "Which books on writing and self-publishing, if any..." There's your proviso.
 

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Discussion Starter #73
Thank you, K.D.!

Libbie Hawker is always popping up (perhaps a sign I should read her too).

Patty Jansen has also made an entrance to my wishlist.

KD Ritchie said:
Some of the book off the top of my head that I love!

- 12 Pillars of Novel Construction (C. S. Lakin) - A really great way to get plotting and have it be tied together if you struggle.
- A Writer's Journey (Christopher Vogler) A modern way to apply and know The Hero's Journey (heavy influence by Campbell)
- Spunk & Bite (Arthur Plotnik) - Great for word charisma, and cutting words out!
- Syn & Syntax (Constance Hale) - Again, lovely for knowing how to cut words out!
- The Emotional Thesaurus (Angela Ackerman) - Right by me during my final edits and needing to not be too repetative
- On Writing (Stephen King) - Insights from a writer, with a humbling personal story.
- Take Off Your Pants (Libbie Hawker) - A succinct, clear way to get out a plot. Awesome for refreshers!
- 5,000 Words Per Hour (Chris Fox) - All about getting productive and ideal for those wanting to do dictation.
- Mailing Lists Unboxed (Patty Jansen) - Super good on how to be an author sustainably, practically, and where to put your writing
- The Tough Guide to Fantasyland (Diana Wynne Jones) Avoid all the cliches and tropes - like horses running like cars!
 

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Not unless you count college courses. I read articles but the books are a bit to dry for my taste and in the end it comes down to finding out what works for you anyways. I do need to grab some on marketing though!
 

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Discussion Starter #75
NedMarcus said:
Perhaps you're right about the talent, but learning is possible (as you say), and Leonardo da Vinci did study, he was apprenticed to the artist Andrea del Verrocchio.
Verrocchio was a great artist in his own right, and it's sad that he's mostly known for having been da Vinci's master. It's a common fact that disciples sometimes surpass their masters, provided they're given the space and the proper historical circumstances. We have to thank Verrocchio for giving that space to da Vinci. The art world is full of jealous masters who stifled young promising talents to avoid competition.

(Is this a bit off topic now? :))
 

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Discussion Starter #76
Pandorra said:
Not unless you count college courses. I read articles but the books are a bit to dry for my taste and in the end it comes down to finding out what works for you anyways. I do need to grab some on marketing though!
I think every bit of information counts -- the medium is not that important. Some of us get little information and immediately see the rest of the picture, while others need to be guided step by step.

I only feel that, from a point on, you stop getting new theoretical information. It all becomes redundant. It's then high time for you to go to work. Hopefully, all the knowledge you've accumulated will have blended into your own way of seeing the world to produce something that is truly personal and unique. Methinks it's alchemy. :)

(I need to grab something on marketing as well. That'll be fun.)
 

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Myles said:
Verrocchio was a great artist in his own right, and it's sad that he's mostly known for having been da Vinci's master. It's a common fact that disciples sometimes surpass their masters, provided they're given the space and the proper historical circumstances. We have to thank Verrocchio for giving that space to da Vinci. The art world is full of jealous masters who stifled young promising talents to avoid competition.
That's what I thought, too, and was surprised at how good he was.

(Is this a bit off topic now? :))
Maybe, but interesting. From books on writing, to the value, or even the possibility that we can learn anything about writing or any art form.
 

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I think I first read this advice in something by Joan Didion (don't remember where), which is to do a type-in of a favorite author. It's a way to take yourself inside the words in a different way and use that writer as a personal coach. Kind of a 'Julia and Julia' approach.

re:  the idea of storytelling as "you got it or you don't."

Cannot count the number of times I've heard this from teachers and writing coaches. Over time, I've come to disagree with it profoundly. IDK why it's so popular or widely considered common knowledge. My disagreement grows from learning story the hard way. Writing in general always came easily for me. Storytelling -- conceiving and structuring story--was the hard part on my path.

Good stories are built. The process can be learned. Anyone who's willing to do the work and stay the course can learn.

This is not to say that there aren't writers with the X factor whose work is transcendent and will stand the test of time. I'm talking about mere mortals toiling in the word mines :)
 

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ThirdWish said:
Good stories are built. The process can be learned. Anyone who's willing to do the work and stay the course can learn.
I believe this also. If you're willing to put in the time and effort, I think you can learn pretty much anything.

Right now, I've put my writing on hold for a few days because Udemy was running a sale the past few days and I picked up a seminar course with Chris Vogler and Michael Hauge teaching about The Hero's Journey. I've read the book and also The Hero Of A Thousand Faces, but this series of videos is really opening my eyes to the hero's journey. So yes, I think a person can learn anything if they find the right teachers and the only person better than Vogler and Hauge to teach the hero's journey would be Joseph Campbell.
 
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