I’ve been thinking long and hard about what I wanted to say in this particular post. One of my personal philosophies when it comes to writing is to give as little actual “advice” as possible, because I prefer to just share my own journey, and if it resonates with someone, that’s groovy. If not, then I’ve caused no harm.
However, the whole purpose of this ‘fest is advice, so I’ll pass along to you seven tenants of my personal writer’s philosophy. If you find something that resonates with you, feel free to claim it for your own. If not, just consider it a peek into the mind of a fellow writer and leave it at that.
If you write, you are a writer. Don’t hide behind “aspiring” or “newbie” or “wannabe”. Even if you have to whisper it, call yourself a writer. In time, you’ll even come to believe that it’s true…and that’s the whole point, more than anything else. When you believe it, others will too. Until you believe, pretend.
Everything you need to know about writing a book, you’ll find in other books. Read. Read widely, across all genres and time periods. Immerse yourself in books, and not just a zillion books *about* writing. Read what you want to write. When you think you’ve read enough – grab another book. The best writers are voracious readers.
Study the craft. Learn all the “rules” and guidelines that lurk on blogs and in writing books and classes. Study plots and structures, and how to outline, and how not to outline. Then when you sit down to write – put all of that knowledge in the back of your brain somewhere, and just write, lest all that technical “stuff” gets in the way of a good story and authentic voice. You’d be surprised how much of what you learned ends up on the page organically.
Show your work. Invite critiques. If you want to be published, you can’t be afraid to let others see your work, so get over that urge to hide it as soon as possible. It only gets harder to share the longer you wait. Find a critique partner, or a trusted group of writers, and learn from whatever comments you get back.
Books are not babies. They’re words on a page (or several). If a story doesn’t sell or gets bad reviews, we can always write another one. Once the story’s written – let it go, and move on to the next. Don’t become so attached that you cripple your chance of success.
Beware of any advice that starts with a definitive (including mine). Never. Always. For every definitive “rule” bandied about for writers, there’s probably a huge, bestselling author breaking it (and a whole bunch of mid-listers too). While we’d all like to believe it’s just because an author has sold a lot of work, I’d urge you to go back and look at his/her debut books. Odds are, you’ll find the broken rules there as well. My point: in the grand scheme of things, story wins over technicalities, eight times out of ten. Tell a good story. That’s what matters most.
Write what you know and what you can learn. Never let a lack of knowledge hold you back from writing what you want to write. If you don’t know something, look it up, travel, or find someone you can experience it vicariously through.
There you have it. Words to write by – or not – as you wish. Feel free to add, subtract or discuss below.
You’ll find links to more (27 more!) posts for the blogfest over at Peevish Penman – enjoy the ‘fest!