Review: About Writing by Gareth L Powell

First of all – if you are a writer and you’re not following Gareth on Twitter get on over there right now and tick that follow box. Gareth is very generous with his time on Twitter and often does AMA’s and opens his feed to help writers. I’ll wait…

GLP _ about writing

As I posted here I’m kinda addicted to writing books. They come in many different flavours as I explain in that post. This one, subtitled “A field guide for aspiring authors” is a collection of dispatches from the front line. I was very happy that I got the chance to read and review this book before it launches in June. (I believe it’ll launch at Cymera where Gareth is on the programme)

If you can’t make that then order a copy from Luna Press

Despite the fact I got an ebook version (in return for an honest review I might add) I think the book is designed to slip into a pocket and carry with you, hence the “field guide” tag. It’s a collection of (often short) essays on many aspects of the writing life. It’s not just craft tips (but you will learn lots along the way) but more on how to approach being a writer. Many of the chapters started as blog posts and the book sometimes has a bit of a grab bag feel to it. The ebook ARC has no table of contents (I assume the actual book will).

Gareth starts by introducing the reader to Gareth’s friend Bill. Someone who desperately wants to be a writer but never writes anything. An instantly recognisable character type. And so the advice to “just write the fucking thing” is the first gem in the book.  The first chapter is advice for young people. The next chapter puzzled me a little – it’s all about how Gareth dislikes the term “aspiring writer” – and yet it’s right there as a subtitle for the book… I get the point though, you either write, and therefore are a writer, or you don’t (yeah Bill we’re all looking at you.)

Throughout the book are text boxes with pithy advice and tips. which are short, memorable and great advice in and of themselves. A few select chapter titles will give you a flavour of the book:

Where do you get your crazy ideas

Choosing your Twitter teachers

How to keep being creative in a crisis

Ten tips for novelists


3 ways of finding more time to write

How I write



No matter what your level is as a writer you’ll find hints and tips in here, and things of interest – like the seven books that had the greatest impact on Gareth or his own journey into becoming a published author.

You can read this in one sitting (I whizzed through it in seemingly no time) and then go back and re-read at leisure (which I’ve done before writing this review). I think the chapters on THE FEAR, how to keep writing, how to get your zing back and the creativity advice are worth buying the book for because they’ll be the chapters you’ll end up revisiting many times. (At least I will – I’m in search of that zing right now in fact)

In short – buy this book: slip it in your pocket along with a notebook and a pen, go for a walk and find a place to write (be it a coffee shop or out in nature) flip to the chapter on generating ideas and start writing.




Published by suttope

Pete W Sutton is a writer and editor. His two short story collections – A Tiding of Magpies and The Museum for Forgetting – were shortlisted for Best Collection in the British Fantasy Awards in 2017 & 2022 respectively. His novel – Seven Deadly Swords – was published by Grimbold Books. He has edited several short story anthologies and is the editor for the British Fantasy Society Horizons fiction magazine.

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