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Reading books about how to write novels is making writing novels not fun for me

I wrote this on my Instagram the other day: “Nothing destroys the fun of writing novels for me than reading books about how to write a novel. Now I’m so in my head I can’t hear anything but rules.”

It is true, guys/gals. I sat in my living room last night with two craft books, a notebook, and a pen and thought, “Okay. I am going to outline this sucker and I am going to figure out what my two characters dark moments are and . . .” And I just stared at the page.

I don’t outline. That’s not me. I’m what fiction writers call a “pantser.”

But this time I thought, maybe, I would outline. I can be organized, plot and do all those things “a real writer” do, right?

I don’t know, though. Is that what being a real writer is? Being so organized that you plot every detail to the point you are technically perfect but lack feeling? This is what happened when I fell in love with photography. I learned all the rules and immersed myself in learning about the craft. I needed to be technically perfect, right?!

Within two years I hated the craft because I never felt like I wasn’t doing it right. I finally pushed aside all the books and rules and just photographed from the heart and that’s where I stayed. I couldn’t get clients in the area I live in – they wanted “normal” and “traditional” – but I am a lot happier.

So, I don’t know — maybe immersing myself in everything there is to know about the craft of writing novels isn’t really the way to go this time around. Small bites of information might be better in the long run. As for this week, I just need to write and figure it all out along the way.

Author: Lisa R. Howeler

Lisa R. Howeler is a wife and mom from Pennsylvania who also happens to write. She’s been writing for 25 years, fourteen of those for smalltown newspapers in rural Pennsylvania and upstate New York. When she isn’t writing about love, faith, and family life in a small town, she’s taking photographs and homeschooling her two children. She blogs a little bit about a lot of things on her blog Boondock Ramblings at

7 thoughts on “Reading books about how to write novels is making writing novels not fun for me”

  1. Good to read this post now for me. I haven’t been really productive recently but have started again, telling myself that if I didn’t like writing or have fun that I may stop for good. Fortunately, I am having fun writing again. And, I agree that there can be no “one size fits all” approach to writing, as some book suggest. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. On the day you posted this I was in surgery getting a hip replacement. I’ve finally gotten to read your post. I appreciate your points. We want to do well but it is easy to get bogged down following a whole bunch of “rules.” That is one of the reasons I have appreciated the book The Irresistible Novel by Jeff Gerke. He lists the most common “rules,” gives pros and cons for each, but, in the end, states use what works for you and don’t worry about the rest. I found his approach calmed a lot of my early fears. I too am a panster. It is easy to get sucked into the idea that I am doing it all wrong; but I am learning to trust my instincts and do what works for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds like a good book! I will have to look it up. I think it is good to take a little bit of information from a variety of books but not stress over all the info that is out there


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