The Best Advice I Can Give You About Writing
I’m sure every writer under the sun and moon and stars has their own advice for you. You can Google search and find page after page of advice that has been spewed up over the decades since novels and the internet became co-workers. That said, I’m giving you some pieces of advice from me, myself, and I.
“Write anything and everything. Never limit yourself.”
This is some advice I have to give. The days of one-genre authors needs to die off already. If you only WANT to write in one genre, that’s fine. You do you! But never do it because you feel it’s what you should do. If you want to write a vampire romance one day and then a sci-fi dystopian fiction the next, by all means, do it. You don’t NEED to change your pen name (though it’s industry to have a pen name for different genres at least). Normalize authors experimenting in new genres. This applies to prose vs. poetry too. You can be a poet that writes a novel and a novelist that writes poetry. There’s no rule that you have to be one or the other.
“If you only write when you feel like writing, you’ll never write.”
This one is not my advice. I’ve heard it a bunch of times before, and as a writer, it is my humble duty to pass it on. The urge to write is fickle and can be easily squashed. You have to sit down and force your fingers to the keyboard—or around a pen/pencil—and make yourself write. Once you start, you won’t want to stop. You just gotta get those first hundred words flowing.
“The world deserves to hear your story.”
Your story has never been told before because it only exists inside of your head. Even if a story has been written and beaten to death, it hasn’t been written by you. There’s always room to improve a trope or spice up a cliché. You can write whatever you want and it will still be worth something. All stories are important. Yes, that means yours too.
“Writing is easy. Consistency and storytelling is not.”
This may be almost a controversial opinion, but writing is easy. Words can flow out of you with ease. The hard part about writing isn’t writing; it’s the consistency of sitting down every day to write and the planning and story that goes into the writing. Consistency is hard because doing something for an hour a day is a big commitment since we work for eight hours, sleep for eight hours, and have to squeeze everything else into the remaining eight. Storytelling is a skill to develop and can be hard. You have to understand pacing, plotting, and purpose. If you have the foundations and consistency for it, writing becomes much, much easier.
“Take a break for mental health.”
It’s important to allow yourself a break once in a while. This includes a break from anything, really. As much as you need a break from working and schooling, you need a break from writing every so often. If you don’t take breaks, you could risk a burnout. If you hustle hard enough and for long enough, you might experience a massive writer’s block out of nowhere. Myself, I’ve experienced something like this as well. After finishing The Colours Betwixt, I fell into a massive writing rut. I fought it for over two years because I didn’t want to take a break. If I had taken a break where I put writing aside, I could have likely came back with a renewed vigour and creative flow. Instead, I struggled through it and got almost no writing done for two years. Don’t be like me. Take the break.
“It’s okay to write something and then not like it when you’ve finished it.”
This is something I know writers struggle with. I think we’ve all gotten 50k words deep and decided to scrap a project. Worse even is when we finish a manuscript and hate it, so we let it sit in a folder on our desktop to collect dust. This, however, is okay. You don’t have to query and/or publish everything you finish. It’s okay to write something and end up hating it. Just pick up the writing on a new project. Don’t give up on writing just because you don’t like one finished project. I’ve started over twenty projects and only have ten titles (of the like 22) published or in the process of being published. That’s not even a passing grade, 10/22, it’s literally 45%. I’m more likely to start and not finish a project than I am to write it to completion. But that’s okay! That’s my point.
“A lot of people are going to like your work and a lot of people are going to hate it. That’s just how it is.”
Everybody’s a critic and not everybody is going to give you glowing reviews. Some people just won’t like your writing. That’s fine. Some people don’t like a lot of popular writers. Not everybody likes Hemingway or Bukowski or Bronte or Tolkien or Martin, and all of that is okay. Writers write in a variety of styles and genres and writers experiment. We all do this craft differently and that’s why it’s so beautiful. So don’t worry yourself if people don’t like your stuff. Read the constructive parts of the critique and move on. Maybe you use too many comma splices. If that’s the case, that’s a genuine thing to improve. If they don’t like, say, the character you created and review the book poorly, well, screw them. It’s your character, not theirs. It doesn’t have to be perfect to everybody because it never will be. Just write what you want, basically.
Maybe this one is more of a general life advice, but I think it can also apply directly to writes. I literally mean breathe. Take a minute to take a few deep breathes and refocus yourself into wherever you currently are. Focus on where you are. Focus on the small things in life that make you happy. Remember that writing should be fun and a passion, not just something you “have” to do. Remember to breathe.
So, what do you think?
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And have a good wander, friend.