Why You Can Ignore Most Books About How to Write

Most of what we need to know about writing can be summed up in 6 words:

Read daily. Write daily. Get feedback.

That’s it, basically. There’s not much more to say.

This runs counter to conventional wisdom. If you want to learn how to write, you can go to a bookstore (offline or online) and find a shelf’s worth of advice.

What you may not realize is that most books about how to write are probably not worth reading closely.*

I say this as a person who’s read many of those books.

For example, I read On Writing by Stephen King.

I read Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott.

More recently, I read You Are a Writer by Jeff Goins.

Most of these books are misleading. The authors took their individual experiences with writing and tried to raise them to the level of Eternal Truth.

In reality, if you choose to write, no one can tell you how it will go for you. Everyone’s path is unique. What works for one writer may not work for others.

Besides, the “how to write” genre is exhausted. It caters to people who are willing to spend money on book after book about writing—rather than actually write. 

Read a lot. Write a lot. Get feedback on your writing.

Everything else is a footnote.

*Three books are worth reading closely: