About five years ago, I revised a new edition of the Beginning Writer’s Answer Book for Writer’s Digest, which is in Q&A format.
A lot has changed since then.
Obviously the industry is transforming, but also my beliefs about writers and writing have changed. (See here for my post about the dirty secret about writing advice.)
Many writers have asked me to do another book, on about every topic imaginable. Every time I consider it, I keep coming back to the same belief.
Most advice books—the types I think could be successful in the marketplace—ultimately must push aside complexity and dilemma.
I don’t mean to say that writers can’t improve or be instructed by advice books. Or that a writing life is something terrible and difficult.
But more and more writing advice can confuse or block people, rather than help them. There’s always conflicting advice to be found! Some writers have to (or SHOULD) ignore advice, and do their own thing.
More writers need to learn how to think for themselves about these issues, to see the nuance, to recognize the paradoxes they will inevitably encounter, and to filter through what advice exists to find what is personally useful—as well as realize when or how the information can be useful or applied, because timing can be everything.
Prescriptive methods and/or encouragements work only some of the time, for some writers—they never work for all. The writing itself never gets any easier, no matter how much you know or publish. The dilemmas never go away.
But the kind of book I would like to write—or that I think writers need—doesn’t offer foolproof methods, or surefire plans. And, as such, it’s probably not so marketable.
So what do you think? What kind of book would you like to see?