Writing advice. It’s everywhere. Literally, you could wake up, roll over, and find yourself sinking in a quagmire of do’s and don’ts. You stumble, bleary-eyed, to the fridge and open it. It’s full of writing advice. What’s on the TV? The news, and it’s all terrible. But, after that, writing advice. How do all of these people know what you should do to be a great writer?
“To be a great writer, you have to read a lot.”
“You should always write 3,521 words a day.”
“You have to experience everything and travel and pet lots of dogs!”
Alright, I mean, petting dogs is pretty neat, and they love it. But you don’t need to pet dogs to be a writer. Although, if you’re writing about petting dogs, it couldn’t hurt, right?
So, here’s the deal. You know how I always say that peoples’ reading tastes are as diverse and frustrating as pizza toppings? Well, if you don’t…I say it a lot. I say it so much that I constantly crave pizza. Like, with tons of cheese and thick pepperoni and…crap, okay, I’m off track.
As varied as readers’ preferences are so, too, are writers’ habits and methods. You can’t expect to conform to one thing simply because someone says so. And, yes, maybe it’s Stephen King or J.K. Rowling saying it. What worked for them just might not work for you.
This is probably going to draw a lot of squinty eyes and “What’chu talkin’ ’bout Willis”es, but here goes. I…don’t read as much as most people. I love to read. But I also love to run, and play video games, and I have a job, and I have a wife and two daughters and, obviously, I love to WRITE. Yes, I do read, but I read in spurts and I’m picky about what I read. Am I a really awesome author? I have absolutely no idea. I think I spin a decent yarn. could reading more possibly help my craft? Yes? No? Possibly.
Do I force myself to write EVERY DAY like some authors suggest? No. Do I set deadlines and word counts? Nope. Why not, you ask? Because none of those things works for me. I write exactly as I intend, and it works. Am I going to start telling other writers that they should do as I do?
I really try not to give advice. Instead, I explain my methods. If those work for someone else, great. If they don’t, then no harm done.
Paramount in all of this, however, is keeping an open mind. That might be the only piece of advice that I will give 100% of the time. Don’t feel that you must take writing advice, but don’t discount it. Let ideas in. Maybe try them. If they don’t work, move on. But don’t force a square peg into a round hole. Learn from others’ experience but blaze your own trail and, above all, do what is right for you.
If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to seek out some pizza.