Friday, January 13, 2012

How I Write-- The best and worst advice I've received

Last week, we discussed our 2011 in review. What we accomplished. What we would change. What our goals for 2012 are. Today, we're discussing writing advice we've received or heard over the years.

Best writing advice

1. Every artist was first an amateur.

I like this saying because it reminds me that mistakes will be made. Mistakes that even the professionals have done at one point in time. What matters is that they stuck with it. Everyone starts as a beginner at some point.

2. The minute you think of giving up, think of the reason you held on for so long.

Something made you start that story. Whether it's your characters or plot, the muse crack bit you hard enough to write that first word and then the next. If you give up, you're going to sit on plenty of manuscripts that won't go anywhere. Yes, they'll be learning experiences, but there's something about being stubborn enough to see it all through to the end.

3. Discipline is doing what you know needs to be done, even though you don't want to.

Let's face it, there are things we don't want to do. Like plotting. Or some days we just don't feel like writing. While it's fine once and awhile to say that "today I'm not writing" it's what writers do. We write. Yes, sometimes life gets away with us with kids and work and chores...etc, but you also have to find time to get your words.

4. There are no original ideas. What makes a story new is how you write it.

This is something I've always worried about. I've re-written my book so many times because another I've read had a similar idea. I had to get over this because otherwise I would have never finished. Your "voice" and how your characters interact, etc, makes your story different from the others.

5. Everyone has their own process of writing and plotting. There is no right or wrong way.

There are so many different methods of plotting out there. I don't need to list all the various ways some people write. I have my own method. Find what works for you. People will always say that their way is best, but in reality, there is no right or wrong way. What matters is that you figure out how to get from point A to point B and then C.

Worst writing advice

1. Leave out all the parts readers skip.

Every reader is different. How do you know what they'll skip? The only thing you can do is base it off what interests you. If you don't like what you're writing, most likely your readers are going to feel the same way.

2. Writer's block is a sign that you did something wrong.

I've heard people say that if you're stuck, it's because you're going in the wrong direction or something just isn't right and once you figure out what that is you'll be fine again. Yes, knowing your direction helps but blocks happen for a bunch of reasons. Even if something is wrong, will you necessarily know what that is? Or how to fix it?

3. Write to the market.

By the time you write to the market, it's already moved on. There are some overarching themes that are more popular but for the most part, you should focus on genres rather than specific ideas.

4. If you aren't traditionally published then you aren't an author.

I've heard this quite a bit. I've even heard a published author say something similar on Twitter. These days there are many options. You don't need to just have to go the traditional route. You can be epublished through a digital first. You can even self-publish. What matters is what works for you because everyone has different needs. What matters is that you know the pros and cons of each option.

5. You have to follow the rules in order to get published.

Yes, there are some general grammatical and spelling rules you should write by, but there are no rigid rules that you have to write by. There are usually exceptions to most anyway. It all depends on the execution of how you get it on paper.

What advice have you received? Check out my friends' sites: Danie Ford Emma G. Delaney Kimberly Farris Kristen Koster


  1. I loved your first one. So true. I can't remember who it was that was recently talking about just that... they were saying that you cannot learn without making mistakes.

    Great post!

  2. One piece of advice I hear a lot is your story must start with a BANG. Something should be happening when your story opens, but I disagree it has to be a BANG moment. Some stories need to start with a whisper. Or need to build, set things up.

    Great post.