“I think you should learn, of course, and some days you must learn a great deal. But you should also have days when you allow what is already in you to swell up inside of you until it touches everything. And you can feel it inside you. If you never take time out to let that happen, then you just accumulate facts, and they begin to rattle around inside you. You can make noise with them, but never really feel anything with them. It’s hollow.”
-- Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in E.L.Konigsburg’s Newbery-award-winning novel, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (p.153 in the paperback version)
Of course, she wasn't talking to Claudia about writing, but I think the quote applies just as easily to what we do, as writers. The more I write, the more I need to learn about writing. And many people have suggested I buy this craft book or that one. Sometimes I do. There's a great deal to be learned from books like Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass or Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell or my favorite, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.
But there comes a time when you need to stop all the studying and let it "swell up inside of you." Let all the advice simmer; let your own ideas marinate so you can feel something. What do you think? Have you learned something invaluable from a craft book? Do you depend on craft books or are you finding your own way?