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I was cleaning up my writing room the other day (yes, I actually pick up the piles of paper and dust every once in a while) and got thinking about the growing number of craft books I keep near my desk. I haven’t read all the books, but I have read most of them. Some of them several times. I love reading craft books. I always gain some insight from each one. In an ideal world, I would get up and peruse a book on how to improve myself as a writer while I sip my first cup of coffee. I should do that more often that I do.

Anyway, the craft books got me thinking about a writer friend of mine who reads far more books on how to be a “good” writer than I do. She doesn’t actually write much, though. She is afraid of making mistakes. She’s stymied by the fear of “doing it wrong,” as if there is only one way to write a short story or a novel. I have known her for over five years now and she has not written more than ten pages of any one project. She starts a short story and get bogged down somewhere in the middle and buys another book. She ha rewritten the first chapter of her novel at least twenty times. None of the experts she listens to fully agree with each other, so she just gets more and more confused about how to proceed.

This woman’s inability to finish any projects out of fear of making a mistake is one of the reasons I keep a note above my computer screen that reads – DARE TO SUCK. I need to remind myself that I have to write crappy first drafts in order to end up with a beautiful tenth draft.

Do you read craft books? Which one are your favorites? Do you ever have to put them aside in order to just get on with the work of writing your books?