Everyone has it – some tid bit of knowledge they would like to pass on to help you. However, not all advise is… of the same quality. J & K think back to the best and worst pieces of advise they’ve received about writing.
J: I default to a (paraphrased) line from the Sister Act 2: “If you wake up in the morning and all you can think about is singing, you’re a singer.” I wake up in the morning and think about writing–and the foodstuffs of writing like far off worlds, spaceships, characters, etc. So, guess I’m a writer.
K: For me, one of the best pieces of advise I received was “Don’t over think it”. Then I built my personal definition along my writing journey. If you don’t write it, you can’t make it better. It is more productive to get those messy ideas out of your head – then you can start seeing the plot holes and fix them. Spending too much time thinking about what-if even before you have words on a page can derail me. Plotting vs pantsing is a topic for another day. Yes, plotting can be good (and works real well for some and not for others). But if you are always plotting and never writing, you still don’t have a chapter (or a novel)!
J: I’m not certain that I’ve received ‘bad’ writing advice per se. However I have a lot of best practices and stipulations bouncing around in my brain from years of creative writing in college, and sometimes the desire to adhere to them all confines my ability to just sit down and…write. That is what we’re here for, after all. It’s easy to lose sight of that in favor of crafting writing that will be a critical success.
K: The worst advise I received I didn’t really realize had a negative impact until much later. “Write every day”. While this can be good advise to not procrastinate, and encourage you to keep plugging along, its a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Embedded in this quip is the idea that if you don’t write every day you’ve somehow failed as a writer. That you aren’t a writer. That you can’t take breaks. That somehow even though all other jobs are allowed to take sick days and vacations and weekends, that a writer isn’t allowed. How dare a writer think about their family, friends, their life? How dare a writer read books, watch movies, take adventures in the great wide somewhere? Writing is of life and experiences. Those breaks or other activities might just reinvigorate said writer, teach the writer to improve their craft, or spawn other ideas which the hours of staring at a blank page unproductively did not (and staring at the blank page can keep that cycle of negativity going). Take care of you! If writing every day works for you, great – do it! But don’t feel guilty if you skip a day, a week. That’s not a free pass to skip deadlines or perpetuate a serious procrastination habit, though. You are a writer because you love to write; you pen stories to share. Not solely because you do it every day.