Are You a “How-To” Junkie…Like Me?

One of my daughters once said that I single-handedly kept the how-to genre alive. It could be true.

Writing how-to books alone fill six book cases in my office.

There are how-to’s of every writerly variety. How to plot. How to write dialogue. How to survive rejection. How to find your muse. How to write your life experiences. How to journal. How to…

You get the idea.

A Forever Student

I have felt vaguely guilty over the years that I buy and read so many how-to books on writing. It’s not the money spent. I buy most books used for very little money (so that I can own them and mark them up.) Or I put them on my Christmas list.

I think the guilt comes from something else. For one thing, it feels like an admission that I still don’t “get it.” And I wonder sometimes if I read to avoid the actual writing.

I’m Not Alone!

Then I read Confessions of a “How-To” Junkie and found a kindred soul. As Keith Cronin said,

…the shopworn advice to “just write the best book you can and the rest will fall into place” really doesn’t begin to prepare a writer for the job of creating truly marketable fiction.


Ever since I started getting serious about writing, I’ve been an avid reader and collector of “how-to” books on writing. While some artists cling fiercely to the notion of being “self-taught,” I’ve always felt there’s a lot to gain from exploring the opinions and insights of those who are further along in the game. Even now, as a published author…my appetite for books on the craft of writing hasn’t diminished. In fact, I’m currently reading three of them…

Current Reading

Like Cronin, I’m currently reading three how-to books, and you can tell what they’re about from their titles. They are:

All are very good, and I’m learning new things that I can actually use.

Care to share what writing books you’re reading now? And if you have a classic favorite–the kind of book you re-read and mark up–mention that too.

I have found some of my favorite writing books through suggestions made in the comments section of this blog. Thanks in advance from this how-to junkie!

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