I am a firm believer in the idea that what works for one person might not work for another and there is no one way of doing things. This is especially the case when it comes to writing. I have received great writing advice and bad writing advice over the years, and here are all the absolute bullshit pieces of “advice” that I have come across.
But then again, due well to remember that this is just my take. It’s different for everyone.
1,) Write what you know. Hmm… I find this statement quite limiting and insulting. Is someone out there suggesting that I am incapable of learning about something and writing on the subject intelligently because it’s new to me?
2.) Read more than you write. I see the bottom line here, but I am a slow freaking reader. If I read more than I write, I would NEVER get anything accomplished. I try to get through two to three books a month. And that is good enough for me. If I can only manage one a month because my schedule is really that busy, then fine. I am not going to define my writing by how big my reading library is.
3.) Read a little bit of everything, including things you don’t like or things out of your typical genre. Sure, once in a while I can go for an intellectual study non-fiction book or something of that nature, but I’m going to read what I find entertaining. I have read enough material that I absolutely hated in high school to last me a life time. I have the rest of my life to spend reading things I enjoy. And if an author can’t whisk me away in the first fifty pages, it’s his/her own fault.
4.) Outline and plan everything before you start writing. I already wrote an entire blog post about this. It’s the biggest bag of bullshit out there. I need to go where a story takes me. Forcing it is going to MAKE it sound forced. Ever heard of inspiration?? Sometimes you just have to let the ideas come to you as you write.
5.) Research isn’t writing. Only writing is writing. o.O I find everything I do, including research to be a part of the overall process of getting a book from start to finish. If I need to look something up to make sure I get all my information right, then that is what I will do. I can’t get to chapter 6 until I know that I have certain details right in chapter 5. I was always doing research for “The Elder Origins” and “The Keeper’s Realm” because I needed something to go by or a particular detail. And guess what? There is nothing wrong with that!
6.) Talk to people about your book and bounce ideas off them. This is a HUGE no no for me. Maybe I’m biased because I once had an idea stolen from me when I told someone about it, but here is what I believe and what I was told by my first writing teacher. It holds true years later. I don’t talk about a book or the plot in any way shape or form until the book is complete. The moment I start discussing it, is the moment the gremlins enter my brain and make me lose all motivation to finish the story. In order for it to stay fresh, keep it to yourself until the very end. I don’t know why, but this is my mantra and I stick to it because it works for me. Not to mention that there are people out there who will steal your ideas. I have experienced this and it scarred me for life.
7.) Never use “to be” in a sentence. Sorry, but sometimes there is no other way to say something but to stick a “to be” in there, and every author is guilty of it. Even Shakespeare knew the value of a good “To be or not to be.” And heck, now its one of the most infamous lines in literature.
8.) Turn off the internet while you write. Never in a million years will I do this. I depend on Thesaurus.com like nobody’s business. And I have some cool music on YouTube playlists that I crank on when I need some musical inspiration. They should really be on my iPod by now, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Also, I work on the side. I need to check those emails when they come through. It’s imperative.
9.) If a story isn’t working, just give it up and try something else. How dare you!! If you believe in something, work with it. Sure there is the occasional story that needs to be tossed and just plan isn’t going the way it should, but don’t just orphan it. If there is potential and a will to make it right, work with it.
10.) (My personal favorite). Genre fiction isn’t real writing. I already wrote about this in detail in another blog post, but it needs to be said again. YES, GENRE IS REAL WRITING! And it is perfectly okay to love genre over something really literary. I like a good literary story as much as anyone, but sometimes I want a sparkly unicorn thrown into the mix. So stop judging me!
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