Sunday, January 15, 2012

Writer, help thyself

I was at Chapters/Indigo Sunday night, loitering as per usual, when I wandered into the English Language Self-Help section. My eyes were immediately drawn to the "How to Write Books" books -- their optimistic, can-do titles sucking me in. I know these kinds of books get a lot of writers through tough times, okay, so I'm not poo-pooing the entire genre. But because I often judge a book by its cover, here's a few standouts and the reasons why they'd never be able to help me.

In my case, it was more like 1,460 days. (Imagination, daydreaming and crying time not included.)

All the tools you need, huh? Let's see: your brain; a couple other brains that are more realistic and sensible than yours; a willingness to subject yourself to both rejection and the lineups at Apple's Genius bar... Yep, that about covers it.

I needed to sweat, weep and hunch my way through tough times to get my book to where it is today. It was not easy. And if it was, my readers would have probably insisted upon the kind of refund guarantee that The Easy Way promises.

I cancelled my gym membership in 2010. Also, most writers are weaklings, so the boxing glove metaphor is a bit much. Maybe a picture of a carpel tunnel wrist brace or an ergonomic mouse instead?

Okay, I have to admit that the dragon and the busty lady are the only reasons I included this cover here.

Tips and writing journal aside, this snazzy little kit comes with a pen. A pen? I haven't written with a pen since 2001.

Um, unless this book was a blockbuster, I ain't buying it.


  1. LOL And I love how the busty lady says there are only 6 steps to writing AND publishing your novel. I wonder how that breaks down - 4 for writing, 2 for publishing?

    Step 1: Buy a computer OR buy paper and a pen, if you're old school
    Step 2: Think of an idea.
    Step 3: Write about that idea, giving the characters interesting names.
    Step 4: Make sure to put your name on it!
    Step 5: Call agents.
    Step 6: Get your book published.

    Should I be writing these things??

    1. Yes, you should be writing them, Matt. But only if you can come up with THREE fabulous fantasy/sci-fi character names right... NOW!

    2. Tip from don't name your protagonist Zyxnrid or Jack.

  2. I've been suckered by a good number of these books. They are SUCH a great self-indulgent way to pretend you are being productive at your writing, while not actually writing. They are the equivalent to all those Acai-berry ads in a dieter's Gmail inbox. There's no quick fix to obesity or to lack-of-novel--only blood, sweat, and tears.

  3. Ha! Acai berries! Love it, Elly. I just cracked open your book today, by the way. It's really good!