I have upwards of three dozen books on the subject of writing. I buy them, hoping that the key to the Holy Grail will be in its pages and seep from the book into my brain. I’ll read some or even all of the book, then put it down, because the Giants game is coming on, or some other vital event is about to happen and the next time I see the book is when I pull it out from the bottom of a stack of other books that I will also, someday surely read.
Who am I fooling? Myself, of course. The Holy Grail of writing is to Just Write. (Actually it’s Write and Re-write, but you get the idea.) There is little new stuff on how to write, and I’m sure if you’re a writer, you’ve read most of it, so stop reading so many books about writing and write something.
Still there are a few books on writing that are really worth owning AND reading. One is On Writing by Stephen King. This book would be worth your time and money even if it only included King’s diatribe on the overuse of adverbs. The world would be a far better place if it weren’t so cluttered with adverbs (and adjectives.)
Another book that will inspire you to miss the first few innings of that Giant game is Bird by Bird by Annie Lamott. If any book written will help you pick up your writing implement and lay words on paper, while making you smile, Bird by Bird is it.
One more: It’s called Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway. It’s more than a book, it’s a resource of knowledge about the craft of writing. It’s expensive, though, and she keeps coming out with new editions, right now the eighth edition is out; I have the fourth which was published in 1996. Maybe she really does have some bits of grail that she discovered between the first and the eighth edition, but I think she pretty much nailed it in my copy.