Poll: Have You Read Sometimes the Magic Works?

Memoir & Writing Guide
Memoir & Writing Guide
I wasn’t always a writer.

Many people who knew me when are surprised at what I do now.

Once upon a time, I was a student of chemistry. I loved it. It still intrigues me to this day and I keep up on many of the more interesting biochemical news and research. And one day, undoubtedly, I will write a science fiction novel pulling on that very different side of me. But I suppose the two aren’t that far apart really. Writing and chemistry are about puzzles, pure and simple, and how different pieces fit together. The right combination can create something wondrous.

Writing it not something that comes naturally. It is a craft like any other, one that must be honed sharp to best effect. That honing requires knowledge and practice. Knowledge is the key. While practice is a crucial aspect of any writer’s life, we can practice all we want but if we are practicing the wrong things, we learn bad habits. Therefore, it is important to learn as well as work.

The learning can come in many forms. Some new writers visit writing retreats, where professionals dole out their wisdom in hopes of paying it forward. Other new writers form writing groups. They are invaluable. I definitely recommend doing both.

But every once in a while, I really enjoy reading a book on writing. There is just something about being able to re-read a passage if I want. Think on it, leave it, come back to it, and think on it some more.

When I first began this lunacy called a writer’s life, I floundered. I had difficulty writing in college. It’s not that the work wasn’t good; it just took me a long, frustrating time to get there. Then I read Sometimes the Magic Works by Terry Brooks. It changed my writing life. Because in its pages existed exactly what I had been missing. A semblance of structure. Of belief in myself. In learning the craft of publishing is not some magical thing but instead hard work and persistence.

I didn’t stop there though. I read a few other books, to see how other writers did it. I have to confess, I have adopted things from each one of the books below. I hope I can convince some of you to read them if writing is something you are interested in pursuing:

  • Sometimes the Magic Works by Terry Brooks
  • On Writing by Stephen King
  • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
  • Write Away by Elizabeth George
  • Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler

So my question on this Friday is, “Have you read a book on writing?” Do you have any interest in writing? If so, what books have you read? If none, why not?

To read an excerpt from Sometimes the Magic Works, click HERE!

Write away!


13 responses to “Poll: Have You Read Sometimes the Magic Works?”

  1. I actually own a copy of the book, and I got it autographed by Terry in Albany, NY. I haven’t finished all the Shannara books yet, though, so I am not reading it until then for fear of spoilers!

  2. I have read books on writing. However, as a graduate student, they are less about the creative process and more about dissertation structure and academic formats.

  3. i like ones that act like a crib sheet and act as reminders while your going through stuff. not something you feel u need to sit down and read on its own.

  4. Since Terry was the author that got me into writing I of course bought this as soon as it hit shelves. And I greatly enjoyed reading it! It is also signed from when Terry was in Dallas, As are many of my other books.

  5. In my younger days I wrote Terry a very long winded anecdote about the impact his books had on my life. After just a few weeks he responded with a handwritten note on his fantastic Shannara stationary and suggested the book.

    As an aspiring author I have ended up reading “Sometimes the Magic Works” at least once a year.

    As a quiet kid from a small town, Terry’s whole story from his younger years to what he has accomplished always hits me right in the heart, and gives me some hope to feed off of.

    I still have that letter from ’06 hanging in my office at work.

    Also, I guess I’m still a little long winded, apologies.

  6. I have practically zero interest in writing, but was interested in how Shannara was written. This book provides insight into that, as well as behind-the-scenes experiences with the Del Reys and Lucas.

  7. I would’ve voted if there was an option for: “Haven’t read it, but would sure like to”.
    I’ve always written just for fun, but never with any guidance or structure from a pro. Currently I am mired in my own story, stuck, and I feel that I’m just waiting for some fantastic idea to dawn on me that will tie the whole thing together… and that fantastic idea has yet to dawn. Maybe you posting this poll now is a small sign for me to go out and buy this book… maybe save myself a few weekend mornings scratching a whole in my head! Thanks!

  8. I read this book because Terry wrote it. I have no aspirations to become a writer though. I also read Phantom Menace because Terry wrote it. I haven’t read any other star wars books. To me it was worthwhile because Terry wrote it and I have read all his stuff. For me the magic always works if Terry is doing the writing!

  9. Bought it, read it, apply it everyday on the book I am currently writing and, hopefully one day, publishing!

  10. I read it as an autobiography and a self-study of Terry’s writing craft. When I had it signed at his Milwaukee appearance, he was genuinely surprised that I wasn’t an aspiring writer myself. But never say never.

  11. Having read the Shannara series since 1977, I was interested in how Terry got started. Sometimes the Magic Works is not a how-to book on writing, but an autobiographical insight as to how Terry got started and, more importantly, where he gets his ideas. I’ve read the book and ocasionally refer to it for information. I’ve also read On Writing by Stephen King which is written in somewhat the same format. Sure wish he could come to Houston.

  12. Yes I read it a while ago, and the only things I remember were that at two distinct points I was moved deeply in relation to the inner world of writing…and those two (or so) are gems…priceless. The rest is great backstories and anecdotes that are very fascinating, and a look into the world of a very talented, dedicated and often private fellow. 🙂
    Just want to give a shout out to all the writers writing and posting on here! Good luck to all of you and keep writing!!!! Never Give Up…give in(wards), but never give up! Peace.

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